Iraqi defector tells Guardian he "lied" over weapons claim

An Iraqi defector who allegedly convinced the US and German intelligence authorities that former leader Saddam Hussein had a secret biological weapons programme has admitted that he lied, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday.

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence, told the Guardian that he fabricated tales of mobile bio-weapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam regime, from which he had fled in 1995, DPA reported.

"Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right," he said. "They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy," he was quoted as telling the Guardian.

In the run-up to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, Washington had "relied heavily" on the information supplied by al-Janabi to Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND.

In a series of meetings with the Guardian in Germany, where he has been granted asylum, al-Janabi said he had told a German official, who he identified as Dr Paul, about mobile bio-weapons trucks throughout 2000.

He said the BND had identified him as a Baghdad-trained chemical engineer and appal-roached him, looking for inside information about Saddam's Iraq.

"I had a problem with the Saddam regime," he said. "I wanted to get rid of him and now I had this chance."

In the interview, al-Janabi portrays the BND as gullible and so eager to tease details from him that they gave him a chemical engineering handbook to help communicate.

"They were asking me about pumps for filtration, how to make detergent after the reaction," he said. "Any engineer who studied in this field can explain or answer any question they asked."

Al-Janabi claimed the officials made him talk by implying that his then pregnant Moroccan-born wife may not be able to travel from Spain to join him in Germany if he did not co-operate with them. "He says, you work with us or your wife and child go to Morocco," al-Janabi claimed.

The US and Britain used the alleged possession by Iraq of Weapons of Mass Destruction as their main reason to go to war - but such a programme was never verified.

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