Ex-Iraqi FM: Saddam-era diplomats expelled for not working with CIA

This file photo shows Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri waving to the media during the regular bi-annual Arab foreign ministers meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Monday, March 24, 2003 where foreign ministers discussed the Iraq crisis. (AP)

Foreign intelligence services including the CIA strived to recruit Iraqi diplomats to work against former President Saddam Hussein’s regime, and those who refused were expelled from countries they had been serving in, a former Iraqi foreign minister told Al Arabiya News.

“In late 2002, the American and British intelligence services started to pursue Iraqi diplomats abroad, asking them to work for them,” Naji Sabri al-Hadeethi, who served from 2001 to 2003 as Iraq’s last Saddam-era foreign minister, said in an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel’s weekly program Political Memory, which aired on Friday.

An Iraqi diplomat stationed at Mali was the first one to be contacted by the UK and U.S. intelligence services, but after his refusal, he was expelled from the west African country.

One of the Iraqi diplomats was considered as “a persona non grata for refusing to deal with American intelligence,” Sabri added.

Nuclear scientists targeted

Not only diplomats, but the recruiting attempts also targeted Iraqi nuclear scientists such as Jaafar Diaa, who snubbed a deal with the CIA when a U.S. official working at the agency called him and made the proposal.

Iraq was widely assumed to have been producing and running biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs.

However, after the U.S.-led invasion and the toppling of Saddam’s government in 2003, the CIA did not find “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (WMD).

The ex-official also recalled that Maj. Gen. Hossam Amin, former head of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate, a government agency established as the interface between Baghdad and the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), also rejected a CIA’s offer in return for appointing him as Iraq’s new prime minister.

UNSCOM was created to ensure Iraq’s compliance with policies concerning Iraqi production and use of WMD after the Gulf War.

The foreign minister himself was not exempt from being a potential target.

Hadeethi talked about a journalist, whom he did not name, telling him that he lost a huge amount of money in a failed attempt to convince the former minister of turning his back against Saddam.

“‘I lost $100 million because I was commissioned by the French who were cooperating with the Americans to convince you [Hadeethi] of defecting. However, I brushed it aside because you told me that you had an excellent relationship with him [Saddam]’,” the ex-minister recalled the journalist as saying.

 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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