IRAQ: SPECIFIC ISSUES
In this Chapter, we consider a number of detailed issues arising from the intelligence on Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programmes that have attracted particular controversy or which illuminate our analysis of the quality of the intelligence and the effectiveness of the way in which it was handled.
LINKS BETWEEN AL QAIDA AND THE IRAQI REGIME
We start with the intelligence available to the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), and the assessments made of it, on links between Al Qaida and the Iraqi regime, and of the availability to Al Qaida of chemical and biological weapons as a possible consequence.
THE ‘POISON CELL’ IN KURDISH NORTHERN IRAQ
In the wake of the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan, a number of Al Qaida refugees arrived in the Kurdish Autonomous Zone (KAZ) outside Baghdad’s control.
Between October 2002 and February 2003, the JIC described their presence and operations1, including the production of various poisons, in three assessments.
We conclude having read these assessments that the JIC made it clear that the Al Qaida-linked facilities in the Kurdish Ansar al Islam area were involved in the production of chemical and biological agents, but that they were beyond the control of the Iraqi regime.
Fixed installations associated with Ansar al Islam were destroyed by air strikes in March
CO-OPERATION BETWEEN THE IRAQI REGIME AND AL QAIDA
There was, however, other evidence of an association between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaida. Contacts between Al Qaida and the Iraqi Directorate General of Intelligence had dated back over four years. “Fragmentary and uncorroborated” intelligence reports suggested that in 1998 there were contacts between Al Qaida and Iraqi intelligence. Those reports described Al Qaida seeking toxic chemicals as well as other conventional terrorist equipment. Some accounts suggested that Iraqi chemical experts may have been in Afghanistan during 2000. But in November 2001, the JIC concluded that:
. . . there is no evidence that these contacts led to practical co-operation; we judge it unlikely because of mutual mistrust.
[JIC, 28 November 2001]
A photograph of one of their facilities was used to illustrate Secretary of State Powell’s speech to the United Nations Security Council on 5 February 2003.