February 20, 2006

Ex-Official Says "Russia Moved Saddam's WMDs"

The headline article on NewsMax.com today uncovers a rather disturbing report by the former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, John A. Shaw. In a speech he gave at the "Intelligence Summit" in Virginia, Shaw presented his evidence claiming that the Russian military moved Saddam's weapons for him right before the start of the Iraq war.

NewsMax quotes him as saying, "They were moved by Russian Spetsnaz (special forces) units out of uniform, that were specifically sent to Iraq to move the weaponry and eradicate any evidence of its existence." Shaw says they were moved to Lebanon and Syria, while others were placed on ships and sunk in the Indian Ocean. Shaw claims that the Russians, who sold the weapons to Iraq, wanted to get rid of any evidence of doing business with Iraq.

The article goes on to list all of Shaw's findings, which, if true, appear to be pretty damning to the Russians:

In December 2002, former Russian intelligence chief Yevgeni Primakov, a KGB general with long-standing ties to Saddam, came to Iraq and stayed until just before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

Primakov supervised the execution of long-standing secret agreements, signed between Iraqi intelligence and the Russian GRU (military intelligence), that provided for clean-up operations to be conducted by Russian and Iraqi military personnel to remove WMDs, production materials and technical documentation from Iraq, so the regime could announce that Iraq was "WMD free."

Shaw said that this type GRU operation, known as "Sarandar," or "emergency exit," has long been familiar to U.S. intelligence officials from Soviet-bloc defectors as standard GRU practice.

In addition to the truck convoys, which carried Iraqi WMD to Syria and Lebanon in February and March 2003 "two Russian ships set sail from the (Iraqi) port of Umm Qasr headed for the Indian Ocean," where Shaw believes they "deep-sixed" additional stockpiles of Iraqi WMD from flooded bunkers in southern Iraq that were later discovered by U.S. military intelligence personnel.

The Russian "clean-up" operation was entrusted to a combination of GRU and Spetsnaz troops and Russian military and civilian personnel in Iraq "under the command of two experienced ex-Soviet generals, Colonel-General Vladislav Achatov and Colonel-General Igor Maltsev, both retired and posing as civilian commercial consultants."

Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz reported on Oct. 30, 2004, that Achatov and Maltsev had been photographed receiving medals from Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed in a Baghdad building bombed by U.S. cruise missiles during the first U.S. air raids in early March 2003.

Shaw says he leaked the information about the two Russian generals and the clean-up operation to Gertz in October 2004 in an effort to "push back" against claims by Democrats that were orchestrated with CBS News to embarrass President Bush just one week before the November 2004 presidential election. The press sprang bogus claims that 377 tons of high explosives of use to Iraq's nuclear weapons program had "gone missing" after the U.S.-led liberation of Iraq, while ignoring intelligence of the Russian-orchestrated evacuation of Iraqi WMDs.

The two Russian generals "had visited Baghdad no fewer than 20 times in the preceding five to six years," Shaw revealed. U.S. intelligence knew "the identity and strength of the various Spetsnaz units, their dates of entry and exit in Iraq, and the fact that the effort (to clean up Iraq's WMD stockpiles) with a planning conference in Baku from which they flew to Baghdad."

The Baku conference, chaired by Russian Minister of Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu, "laid out the plans for the Sarandar clean-up effort so that Shoigu could leave after the keynote speech for Baghdad to orchestrate the planning for the disposal of the WMD."

Subsequent intelligence reports showed that Russian Spetsnaz operatives "were now changing to civilian clothes from military/GRU garb," Shaw said. "The Russian denial of my revelations in late October 2004 included the statement that "only Russian civilians remained in Baghdad." That was the "only true statement" the Russians made, Shaw ironized.

Interestingly enough, the article goes on to claim that Shaw's voice was silenced by higher ups in the Intelligence Community. The Bush Administration walks a fine line when it comes to finding out what happened to the WMD's. According to NewsMax, some say that if Bush acknowledges that Russia did move the weapons, than peace talks with Iran could be severed. However, is Russia did send soldiers (dressed as civilians) to aid Saddam, then the War on Terror could be escalated to an even grander level.

(Quoted sources from NewsMax.com article by Kenneth R. Timmerman)

Posted by MikeRubino at February 20, 2006 11:24 AM