The Iraq War started ten years ago based on a lie told by an Iraqi defector spy to Western intelligence agencies. The Iraqi defector was code-named ‘Curveball.’
The Iraqi defector codenamed Curveball, who falsely claimed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, admitted to the lies today and said he is proud he was able to trick the U.S. and its allies into launching the Iraq War.
“They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime,” Rafid al-Janabi told the British newspaper The Guardian “I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”
Al-Janabi had defected from Iraq to Germany in 1999 and told the German intelligence service, the BND, that Iraq possessed a mobile biological weapons program. That information was passed on to U.S. intelligence services and became the cornerstone of then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s infamous 2003 speech before the United Nations in which he made the case for going to war.
Al-Janabi said he made up the bio-weapons program in hopes the U.S. would push Saddam out of power, according to The Guardian.
“I had a problem with the Saddam regime,” he said. “I wanted to get rid of him and now I had this chance… Believe me, there was no other way to bring about freedom in Iraq. There were no other possibilities.”
The former chief of European operations at the CIA, Tyler Drumheller,said in 2007 he tried repeatedly to warn his superiors that Curveball’s information was dubious — even by specifically attempting to redact all mentions of Curveball’s information in Powell’s 2003 speech.
A month after the speech, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told ABC News, “We know where [the WMDs] are.”
Not all the intel was wrong.
The CIA’s source was Iraq’s foreign minister, Naji Sabri.
Former CIA man Bill Murray – then head of the agency’s station in Paris – dealt with him via an intermediary, an Arab journalist, to whom he gave $200,000 (£132,000) in cash as a down payment.
He said Naji Sabri “looked like a person of real interest – someone who we really should be talking to”.
Murray put together a list of questions to put to the minister, with WMD at the top.
The intermediary met Naji Sabri in New York in September 2002 when he was about to address the UN – six months before the start of the war and just a week before the British dossier was published.
The intermediary bought the minister a handmade suit which the minister wore at the UN, a sign Mr Murray took to mean that Naji Sabri was on board.
Mr Murray says the upshot was intelligence that Saddam Hussein “had some chemical weapons left over from the early 90s, [and] had taken the stocks and given them to various tribes that were loyal to him. [He] had intentions to have weapons of mass destruction – chemical, biological and nuclear – but at that point in time he virtually had nothing”.
Drumheller had a different take on al-Janabi’s admitted deceit in 2007.