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Iraqi Chemical Weapons Official Shot Trying to Escape By: London Times
Times Online | Sunday, March 16, 2003


A SENIOR Baghdad official who feared for his life after helping to hide Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons was executed after he tried to flee the country, Iraqi sources revealed last week.

Khalis Muhsin al-Tikriti, 35, had been working in the scientific department of the president's office under the authority of the Special Security Organisation (SSO), headed by Qusay Hussein, Saddam's younger son and political heir.

Al-Tikriti, an engineer, had supervised an operation to bury a significant quantity of Saddam's chemical weapons before United Nations weapons inspectors arrived last November.  Some weapons were buried near the river Tigris in the Baji area north of Baghdad during the operation, which was carried out by a specially formed group in the SSO.

The Iraqi sources said that, in a chilling attempt to ensure that the location of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) remained secret, the SSO members who concealed them were executed.  Al-Tikriti then tried to escape.  "I think that he knew he would be executed after the killing of the people who participated in the burial of the WMD," said Abu Hajjaj, an Iraqi exile.

Abu Hajjaj served for 20 years in the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi security service, and helped Saddam set up a European network before escaping when he came under suspicion.  His information comes from former colleagues still serving under Saddam.

While it is almost impossible to confirm the information independently, a second Iraqi source known to The Sunday Times for 15 years verified that Abu Hajjaj's information had proved correct in other cases.

Before Republican Guards moved into Baghdad to defend the city, Abu Hajjaj correctly reported the plans; he also warned that trenches would be filled with oil and set ablaze.  Pools of oil have now been observed from satellites.

It is nearly two months since he first told The Sunday Times of the execution but only now, through sources in Baghdad, has he been able to obtain the victim's name.  A Western intelligence source said his story "sounds credible", but could not confirm the name.

Further evidence of merciless oppression has emerged in another incident.  Several weeks ago, the Iraqi president decreed that anyone discussing reports that he might step down to avert a war would face execution.  According to a western intelligence source who has verified the information, an Iraqi civilian named Mohammed Hadid, was later overheard talking of Saddam's possible exile.

He was arrested by members of Saddam's Fedayeen, a militia headed by the president's eldest son Uday, and brought to Baghdad.  There, he was tied to a post, his tongue was cut out and he was left to bleed to death.

Al-Tikriti, the engineer, suffered a swifter but no less brutal death. He was allegedly shot in the head just after the UN inspectors' arrival.



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