Defecting Syrian Officer Brigadier-General Zaher Al-Saket: I Was Ordered to Use Chemical Weapons Al-Arabiya TV (Dubai/Saudi Arabia) April 27, 2013 - 04:10 MEMRI Clip No. 3822
Following are excerpts from an interview with Syrian army defector Brigadier-general Zaher Al-Saket, former head of chemical warfare in the 5th division, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on April 27, 2013:
Zaker Al-Saket: There are three types of chemical weapons: harassing chemical agents, incapacitating agents, and lethal agents. When the demonstrations started, the regime used harassing agents, like any country in the world using tear gas to disperse demonstrations. As for incapacitating and lethal chemical agents - the regime used incapacitating agents at first, but when the world remained silent about this, and the regime thought that the international community did not care, it used lethal weapons in more than 13 locations. The last incident was in Utaybah. The regime used sarin gas on three occasions, and I am increasingly afraid that they will use agents more powerful than sarin. They have VX gas and mustard gas, also known as iprit.
The regime's accusation that the opposition has used chemical weapons is the most compelling proof that the regime itself has used them, because the opposition does not have the means to use chemical weapons. The means of using chemical weapons are known to the whole world: airplanes, missiles, helicopters, and artillery. Worst still, this regime has binary chemical weapons. The world must understand that there are binary chemical weapons in Syria, and will use them against his people, because he is the Nero of our age.
Binary chemical weapons consist of two non-toxic agents, which are placed in incubators that are loaded onto artillery shells. Then, the shells are launched, and when the two agents mix, a toxic substance is formed.
(Al Assad) has a complete arsenal of chemical weapons. Some came from the former USSR, and some are being manufactured right now.
Iranian experts are working with Syrian officers in the Mazzeh military airport. They manufacture incubators for the toxic substances, which will be loaded onto warheads carried by airplanes. When these warheads hit the ground, they release a toxic cloud.
I was given an order to use these substances, but I replaced them with liquid bleach. This was the reason for my defection from Al-Assad's army.
In the Amoud Horan battle in Busra Al-Harir, I was given an order to launch toxic agents into the trenches and caves to which the F.S.A. was heading. But, Allah be praised, I replaced this substance with liquid bleach, which I diluted with water and launched into the trenches.
I buried these substances with my own hands, so my commander would not find out and send me to prison.
In Utaybah, near the Damascus international airport, the regime used sarin gas three times, because it is close to the airport. The next time chemical weapons were used was in Khan Al-Assal. First, they used incapacitating agents, and then they used lethal agents, because the F.S.A. forces had managed to reach the military academy, which is the main regime stronghold.
The chemical weapons are kept in heavily fortified places in the mountains. I know exactly where they are.
The U.S. can seize control of these weapons right now, but if I reveal their location in the media, they will vanish immediately.
The chemical weapons are kept in several places: In Aleppo, in the Hama region, in Damascus, and in Latakia. The chemical weapons are there.
Iraq's WMD Secreted in Syria, Sada Says by Ira Stoll, Staff Reporter of the New York Sun | January 26, 2006.
“There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands...”
— Iraqi general, Georges Sada
The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.
The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, "Saddam's Secrets," released this week. He detailed the transfers in an interview yesterday with The New York Sun.
"There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands," Mr. Sada said. "I am confident they were taken over."
Mr. Sada's comments come just more than a month after Israel's top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Moshe Yaalon, told the Sun that Saddam "transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria."
Democrats have made the absence of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a theme in their criticism of the Bush administration's decision to go to war in 2003. And President Bush himself has conceded much of the point; in a televised prime-time address to Americans last month, he said, "It is true that many nations believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. But much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong."
Said Mr. Bush, "We did not find those weapons."
The discovery of the weapons in Syria could alter the American political debate on the Iraq war. And even the accusations that they are there could step up international pressure on the government in Damascus. That government, led by Bashar Assad, is already facing a U.N. investigation over its alleged role in the assassination of a former prime minister of Lebanon. The Bush administration has criticized Syria for its support of terrorism and its failure to cooperate with the U.N. investigation.
The State Department recently granted visas for self-proclaimed opponents of Mr. Assad to attend a "Syrian National Council" meeting in Washington scheduled for this weekend, even though the attendees include communists, Baathists, and members of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group to the exclusion of other, more mainstream groups.
Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.
"I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots," Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.
The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including "yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel." The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.
The flights - 56 in total, Mr. Sada said - attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.
"Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming," Mr. Sada said. "They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians."
Mr. Sada said that the Iraqi official responsible for transferring the weapons was a cousin of Saddam Hussein named Ali Hussein al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali." The Syrian official responsible for receiving them was a cousin of Bashar Assad who is known variously as General Abu Ali, Abu Himma, or Zulhimawe.
Short of discovering the weapons in Syria, those seeking to validate Mr. Sada's claim independently will face difficulty. His book contains a foreword by a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, David Eberly, who was a prisoner of war in Iraq during the first Gulf War and who vouches for Mr. Sada, who once held him captive, as "an honest and honorable man."
In his visit to the Sun yesterday, Mr. Sada was accompanied by Terry Law, the president of a Tulsa, Oklahoma based Christian humanitarian organization called World Compassion. Mr. Law said he has known Mr. Sada since 2002, lived in his house in Iraq and had Mr. Sada as a guest in his home in America. "Do I believe this man? Yes," Mr. Law said. "It's been solid down the line and everything checked out."
Said Mr. Law, "This is not a publicity hound. This is a man who wants peace putting his family on the line."
Mr. Sada acknowledged that the disclosures about transfers of weapons of mass destruction are "a very delicate issue." He said he was afraid for his family. "I am sure the terrorists will not like it. The Saddamists will not like it," he said.
He thanked the American troops. "They liberated the country and the nation. It is a liberation force. They did a great job," he said. "We have been freed."
He said he had not shared his story until now with any American officials. "I kept everything secret in my heart," he said. But he is scheduled to meet next week in Washington with Senators Sessions and Inhofe, Republicans of, respectively, Alabama and Oklahoma. Both are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The book also says that on the eve of the first Gulf War, Saddam was planning to use his air force to launch a chemical weapons attack on Israel.
When, during an interview with the Sun in April 2004, Vice President Cheney was asked whether he thought that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had been moved to Syria, Mr. Cheney replied only that he had seen such reports.
An article in the Fall 2005 Middle East Quarterly reports that in an appearance on Israel's Channel 2 on December 23, 2002, Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, stated, "Chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria." The allegation was denied by the Syrian government at the time as "completely untrue," and it attracted scant American press attention, coming as it did on the eve of the Christmas holiday.
The Syrian ruling party and Saddam Hussein had in common the ideology of Baathism, a mixture of Nazism and Marxism.
Syria is one of only eight countries that has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty that obligates nations not to stockpile or use chemical weapons. Syria's chemical warfare program, apart from any weapons that may have been received from Iraq, has long been the source of concern to America, Israel, and Lebanon. In March 2004, the director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying, "Damascus has an active CW development and testing program that relies on foreign suppliers for key controlled chemicals suitable for producing CW."
The CIA's Iraq Survey Group acknowledged in its September 30, 2004, "Comprehensive Report," "we cannot express a firm view on the possibility that WMD elements were relocated out of Iraq prior to the war. Reports of such actions exist, but we have not yet been able to investigate this possibility thoroughly."
Mr. Sada is an unusual figure for an Iraqi general as he is a Christian and was not a member of the Baath Party. He now directs the Iraq operations of the Christian humanitarian organization, World Compassion.
WMD, Insurgents, and the Future of Christianity in Iraq Dr. Terry Law, President and Founder of World Compassion Terry Law Ministries, met with George Sada, special advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq, and key church leaders in northern Iraq to discuss the establishment of the first government-sanctioned Christian Church in Kurdistan, and spoke extensively on the American liberation of Iraq.
Dr. Terry Law, President and Founder of World Compassion Terry Law Ministries, and the World Compassion team have returned from a visit with George Sada, special advisor to Prime Minister of Iraq Iyad Allawi, and key church leaders in northern Iraq to help plan the establishment and building of the first and only officially recognized Christian church in the Kurdistan province.
"Iraq has a Christian history that goes back to 79 AD," said George Sada. "....Muslims didn't come in until 600 AD or later. Iraq historically is not a Muslim nation, but is a Christian nation."
George Sada is particularly in charge of the government affairs of Christians in Iraq, and serves as spokesperson for the prime minister. He is an appointed official, therefore whatever happens in the upcoming election, he will continue to be an advisor to the prime minister.
During this trip Dr. Terry Law had an extensive interview with George Sada. Sada provided great insight into the views of the Iraqi people on the liberation. "In my mind, 85% of Iraqi's are supportive of the American liberation of Iraq," said Sada. "The insurgency in Iraq is made up of Baathists and foreigners from Syria, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, (and other countries). It's made up of the most radical Muslims in the world, called the "Wahabi" sect of Islam. They're the ones fighting tooth and nail to delay the inevitable, which is the creation of a government majority ruled by the Shias (who make up the majority of Iraq's population). I want to tell all Americans clearly that the decision President Bush made to attack Iraq was absolutely the right decision."
The interview also covered the question of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. George Sada believes there were weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein used against Iran and his own people, and that many of those weapons were destroyed by the United Nations. Sada also believes that some of those weapons were hidden or transferred to another country.
"Despite the problems in Baghdad, the evangelical church is alive and well throughout the country," said Sada. World Compassion will be partnering with Sada and the church leaders of Iraq to build the first officially recognized Christian church in KurdistanÂs history.
World Compassion's web site at http://www.WorldCompassion.tv details all the trips to Iraq over the past year through an online photo gallery, a video gallery, and most notably, the audio testimony recorded live from Baghdad during the day of the capture of Saddam Hussein. World Compassion's website offers visitors a free DVD of Iraqi video footage showing the Iraqi people receiving a variety of necessities, including food, medicine, educational supplies, and Christian literature.
About World Compassion
World Compassion is a non-denominational, faith-based international organization. It was founded by Dr. Terry Law in 1969 to assist churches in meeting the physical and spiritual needs of people in their communities. Dr. Law feels strongly that the calling of the organization is to areas of the earth where most men fear going due to political, religious and/or economic instability.
For the past 30 years World Compassion has worked specifically in nations that are difficult to access with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Positive results have been achieved through the distribution of Christian literature, food, clothing, medical supplies, and school supplies and through psycho social counseling among vulnerable populations devastated by years of war and/or oppressive regimes.
Last edited on 09/02/2013 at 09:52 PM (UTC3 Nineveh, Assyria)
Liberating Iraq By: General Georges Sada FrontPageMagazine.com | Saturday, April 01, 2006.
This speech was delivered on March 16, 2006 at the Wednesday Morning Club. - The Editors.
Colonel Buzz Patterson:
“Mainly the Assyrians were in the north of Iraq around Nineveh, the area you Americans know as Kurdistan, the three provinces and the northern part of Iraq, which is Erbil, Dhok and Sulaimaniyah, where the Kurds are trying to have their free federal but in one Iraqi country.”
— Georges Sada
General Sada is quite an amazing man. There was a time in my life as an Air Force pilot back in the first Gulf War, we were looking out of my cockpit window, on my radar, into Iraqi airspace. General Sada was my enemy. I thought at that time the Iraqis were our enemies. I can tell you that, having spent this past summer in Iraq, talking to our soldiers and to the Iraqi people themselves, that our enemy was Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi people are our best friends and our best allies right now.
What we are doing, not only for them but for ourselves, really, is building a tremendous bond and allowing the Iraqi citizens to rise up and have their own self-determination, their own freedom, their own peace, and dictate their own future, apart and away from Saddam Hussein.
General Sada is an Air Force pilot in the Iraqi Air Force. He’s flown 39 different types of airplanes, which is amazing. The first and only, I believe, Iraqi Air Force pilot to come to the U.S., in the 1960s, to Randolph Air Force Base and get his instrument flying training from the U.S. Air Force back in the early 1960s.
He has a book out, which I think is a tremendous read. If you have not picked it up yet, you need to. Not only is it a personal tale of a man and a Christian in a very un-Christianlike atmosphere in Iraq, but also a man who will give you the insight into Saddam Hussein, what we thought to be true and what some of us knew to be true. General Sada nails it in terms of what was going on in Saddam’s mind, the evil nature of that man and the fact that there were WMDs, which they moved. All of us who have believed us all along are very happy to hear General Sada pass that on and confirm what we’ve always suspected.
Currently he still lives in Baghdad. He’s the Iraqi Institute for Peace President/Director. He’s also one of the senior advisors to Prime Minister Allawi as well. He’s a tremendous man and I think an Iraqi patriot. General Georges Sada.
General Georges Sada:
It’s a great honor for me to be between you and I hope my poor English will help me to explain myself to you and then to make myself clear.
I was thinking how to do this, in the short time that we have. But I think I will only speak to you some minutes. I will make some briefs on the subjects and invite whatever questions you would like to ask. Whether they have to do with military, political, or religious issues and anything having to do with the ethnics in Iraq, I am ready to answer them. This will make the discussion much better because I don’t know what you want to ask and which subject you want to talk about.
I belong to a country in which it is very deep in 7,000 years of history. So when you talk here about 100, 200 or 300 years of history, for Iraqis this is very funny, you know, because we talk about 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 years always. That’s why we will give you the chance to ask questions.
I still start with Iraq as the land of Father Abraham and Iraq as the land of Daniel. Of course, most of you know about Daniel in Babylon with Nebuchadnezzar. Then there is Iraq as the country of where Jonah came to Nineveh, which was the capital of the Assyrian Empire. I am very proud that to be descended from the Assyrians and that I am a Christian Assyrian from Nineveh. I am happy about that.
Iraq became a Christian country when Saint Thomas, one of the 12 disciples, came trough on his way to India to evangelize. He came during the first 45-50 years in the first century, and the Assyrians met him and they believed in Jesus Christ from that time in the 1st century. Then he left to India to evangelize, where he died. After him, from the 72 disciples, Saint Aday came in the year 79, also in the 1st century. The first churches in Iraq were built in the 1st century. The Assyrians were Christians since the 1st century and I belong to those people. We are until now keeping our faith and we have been Christians, although the country was taken by the Muslim Arabs in 634 A.C. and since then, Iraq has been a Muslim Arab country. But we were have still been living there, keeping our faith in the mountains.
Mainly the Assyrians were in the north of Iraq around Nineveh, the area you Americans know as Kurdistan, the three provinces and the northern part of Iraq, which is Erbil, Dhok and Sulaimaniyah, where the Kurds are trying to have their free federal but in one Iraqi country.
About myself, I’ll tell you that I joined the Air Academy in 1958. I was trained in Russia for four years and then, after that, I came back to Iraq. I flew the fighter aircrafts, the MiGs. In 1964, we had an exam in Turkey, seven guys, because Americans gave one seat for pilot instrument instructors to fly people at night in bad weather and instrument flying. They wanted the qualified people from Iraq, but only one man. So we took the exam and thank God I was number 1, so I came to Texas, Randolph Air Force Base, in Lackland, in 1964. I was trained as an instructor for bad weather, night and instrument flying. I came back home and then I did a lot of work in the fighter squadrons.
I served in the Air Force for about 40 years. I was retired in 1986 as two-star general. I was supposed to be promoted to three-star, but the Baath Party and the intelligence sent for me. They said, “You are the only general in this country who is not being a Baath Party member. So now a this time we will not invite you to come because we have been inviting you for 30 years and you didn’t accept it. So now, tell us why you are not becoming a member of the Baath Party?” I said, “You want the truth?” and they said, “yes.” I said, “You see, because in your ideology of the Baath Party, you say the body of the nation is Arab and the spirit of the nation is Islam. Therefore, I don’t fit in two ways. I don’t fit in the body because you are Arab and I am Assyrian. I don’t fit in the spirit because you are Islamic and I am a Christian. And I want to keep both of them, my nationality and my faith. And because of that, I don’t want to block you. I don’t want to block myself to get to this party because it doesn’t fit me.” They were very surprised.
So they said, “Okay, General Georges, it’s like this: no three-star general and no Air Force Commander.” Because at that time, I was number two and, of course, well, it’s a shame, I would say, people know it. I was the only man who was trained in Russia, America, England and France. And I had taught in three colleges: staff college, war college and national defense college for ten years. Really, I am very proud of my training in America. I will never forget this country because it was really a blessed country and they have taught me a lot and I can tell you, I am very faithful for that.
So I was forced to retire in 1986. But when Saddam invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, I was the first man who was recalled for active duty. They told him, “Sir, this man is not a party member.” He said, “Yes, I know, but I want him. Bring him.” So I came, I met him. He said, “You are going to be the senior advisor for me on the Air Force, on the Armed Forces.” I said, “Okay, sir. Thank you.” So I was put there. I was given three tasks to do. He knows why he gave it to me because I was to teach these things in three colleges. These three tasks were: what is the capability of the enemy air forces? This means the collegian air forces, including America. Then, what is the capability of five aircraft carriers that are in Red Sea and Gulf? And finally what is the capability of destruction and accuracy of cruise missiles?
So these three duties were given to me. I was very happy. I told him, “Sir, this duty is my daily bread. I used to teach it everywhere and I will start working.” I made three beautiful files for it and I started to tell him and the minister of defense and chief of staff and all the others. But unfortunately, nobody was listening.
The last meeting was on January 12, 1991. There was a presentation because the deadline of United Nations was going to finish on January 15, 1991, as you know. There were only two or three days to prepare for war. So I was sitting in the war room and we started doing the presentation. Everybody was there, except Saddam. He was listening somewhere else to what was going on.
They spoke about the war and the advisors said that they were going to destroy the enemy air force. No enemy air craft would be allowed in the Iraqi air space. Then they said that we would never give up Kuwait, that we would stay in Kuwait. They spoke their nonsense. So I spoke to the air force commander, who had been my student. I gave him solo on MiG-21 when I was a squadron commander in 1970. I told him, “General Hanz-am, please can you stop this nonsense? These lies by these generals?” He said, “No, Georges, don’t talk. For God’s sake, keep it. It’s okay, nothing will happen. Don’t worry. Nobody is going to attack us.”
I said, “Look. I know what’s going to happen. I know America and these forces who are here starting from the Gulf and in Kuwait and in Saudi Arabia, surrounding Iraq and Kuwait and the forces which are in the seas starting from Saratoga and the Red Sea and the others in the Gulf.” I explained everything to them. I said, “Look, they didn’t come here to play. They are going to attack Iraq.” Again nobody listened. Then, at last, I raised my hand. I told the minister of defense and the chief of staff, “Excuse me, I don’t agree with this presentation.”
At last, the minister of defense and chief of staff asked the air force. They said, ‘Please, you as air force, can you tell us that we can operate on the ground without thinking of any enemy threat coming from air?’ The answer was, “Yes you can operate, there will be no threat coming from the air, because the Iraqi Air Force and the Iraqi Air Defense will tackle with that and will handle with them and they will not let the American forces to appear in the Iraqi skies.’”
Here I had to stop them. I said, “Excuse me.” The minister of defense said, “Yes, Georges, do you have anything?” I said, “Yes, I have got many things. I don’t agree with this presentation. It’s not going to be like this.” They said, “Do you have another idea?” I said, “Yes, and my idea is 180 degrees different.” He was surprised. I told them, “The supreme commander has given me these three tasks to do, so please I am the one who should do the presentation. Will you permit me to do the presentation?” Then, they could not say no.
So I went and I did my presentation. I told them, “Remember that you have been told that no enemy aircraft will be flying in the Iraqi skies. But I can tell you that thousands of the enemy aircraft will be flying over this country. Most of the targets will be destroyed and your army, our army, will be in very bad shape.” I spoke everything and then the chief of staff said, “Georges, did we bring you here to frighten us?” I said, “No, sorry, I am not frightening anybody, but I am telling you the truth to the best of my knowledge.”
I continued speaking about what an aircraft carrier is because, ladies and gentlemen, I understood that they thought an aircraft carrier is a fishing boat. I explained to them what an aircraft carrier is, what it can do, how many aircraft are there on deck and what are the three classes of aircraft carriers. I explained everything. Again, the chief of staff said, “Don’t you think you are exaggerating very much about what America can do?” I said, “No, sorry, I’m not exaggerating. But this is according to the paper given to me. But, remember, Americans can do even more than this.” Nobody listened.
Then at last there was a question. They said, “Okay, if it’s like this, what’s the solution? What’s your solution?” I said, “My solution is very easy. We have sent our forces to Kuwait by a paper and by same paper we can make them to withdraw from Kuwait and come back. Because President Bush and United Nation are asking the Iraqi forces to get out of Kuwait. This is the only solution left. Today is January 12, 1991. Please I beg you to listen to me.” I really meant I begged, because I knew what was going to happen to my nation. You know what their answer to me was? “If you speak again of pulling the Iraqi forces from Kuwait, your head will be separated from your body.” I said, “Okay, thank you very much. I am advisor and I must be faithful.” I told them all this, but nobody listened.
Then, on January 17, the war started. Let me tell you where I was. General Hanz-am had an apartment in the operation room. It was the only apartment in operation room, next to the nuclear weapon room. It has walls and ceilings made of reinforced concrete 3 meters thick. General Hanz-am was my student, I had been his instructor and his commander. In the air force, we love our instructors and commanders. I had flown General Hanz-am solo and many other times, which he remembers. So he insisted on giving me the use of his apartment out of respect. I tried to refuse, because the apartment is for the use of the air force commander, but he insisted from his heart that I was the man who deserved to be there.
I went to sleep at 1:00 in the morning. I don’t know what woke me up, but I looked at my watch and saw it was 2:30. I thought, “My God, I was supposed to sleep until 7:00 at least.” I wondered what made me wake up at this time? So I decided to go and see Colonel Ban-am, who’s another Christian, and in command of the radars and radio in the operation room.
So I went into the corridor and this is when the ground started shaking. I knew then that the attack had started. The lights started going out and water running everywhere. I went back to my apartment and I had to force the door open. I looked at my bed. It had been flattened to the ground by huge concrete blocks. I had missed being flattened by only 17 seconds. I thought, “My God, who woke me up in time to escape this?” When the first American rocket hit the operation room, it hit the apartment of the air force commander.
Then an officer was there saying, “Where is General Georges? Where is General Georges? The commander wants you.” I talked to him and he said, “Shall we scramble the aircraft?” I said, “No. Don’t scramble anything, Hanza-am.” He said, “How I’m going to scramble? We are attacked!” I said, “Look, I told you the solution. Where you will scramble them? You see, in this moment, this room is already destroyed. But remember, all command posts have been attacked. I am sure now. All the targets have been attacked. Most of the radars are destroyed. So where you are going to send these boys to go and fight American aircraft coming from everywhere? Without radars, without control from the ground? Don’t do that.” He said, “No, I cannot listen to this. This is not good advice.” I said, “Okay, it’s not good advice. Do whatever you like.”
But I said, “Look, if you are going to send these airplanes, remember, very, very little of them will be back.” He said, “I will send them.” He sent 18 aircraft, the best aircraft we have, to intercept the American aircraft which were attacking. Most of them were destroyed, some on the runway, some just after take off, some as they were climbing, Then they realized their mistake.
You see, there are some people who live in the mishap and there are some people who live in the “prehap,” before the things happen. So let us always live in the “prehap,” before the thing happens. Because after it happens, I think then it will be too late.
After this, Saddam came to the operation room. When he came, he was asking, “What has happened? Why it has happened like this?” We five generals were sitting. It’s the picture they always show on TV. I was sitting on his right, the air force commander on his left and the other in front of him. He started asking questions. The guy who was the officer, the commanding officer for the air force, he was Saddam’s cousin. He became a higher general than all of us just because he was a cousin. He looked at me, begging with his eyes. I know him and I understood him. I knew he was saying, “Please, Georges, you answer to the president.”
So I took all the answers. Then he said, “General Hanza-am, why Georges is answering everything?” Then after that, I had a telephone call. There was a telephone there on the table and it was ringing. I took the call, it was from Nasiriyah airbase in the south. They said, “Sir, we have shot down one Tornado and two pilots are captured. One’s name is John Peter and the other John Nichol.” I told Saddam, “Sir, we have shot down a Tornado aircraft with two pilot captures.” He said, “What’s a Tornado?” I explained to him what a Tornado is. He said, “Are you sure the pilots are prisoners of war?” I said, “yes.”
He said, “Okay, I need one pilot to be responsible for the prisoner of war.” Then he came to me and said, “I want a man knows the tactics, offensive and defensive, and who speaks English. Georges, you are the one who will be responsible for the pilots.” I said, “Okay, Sir. My pleasure.” I told them to send the pilots. I am sure the Americans are very good pilots, but remember, even a good swimmer may sink in the sea and even a very good pilot, he may be shot down in the war.
So many good American pilots were shot down: F18s, F15s, F16s, Thunderbolts. Many pilots were shot down. At the last, I had 44 of them: 31 or 32 were Americans. The others were Saudis, Kuwaitis, British and Italians. I was responsible for them. I received orders to execute them on January 24 from the president through his son Qusay, who came to me in the operation room.
I refused. I told Qusay, “Look, these people are prisoners of war.” He said, “No, they are not prisoners of war. They are criminals of war.” At the time of this discussion, we were under bombing. He said, “Don’t you see how they are destroying the country?” I said, “Mr. Qusay, look, I have told you on January 12, this is what’s going to happen. But all of you said, ‘nobody will be attacked.’ So now, it’s war and wars have rules and you must go and fight according to the rules, and one of the most important rules concern how to treat the prisoner of war. These people should be treated according to this.”
I was carrying with me the book of the United Nations, the Geneva Convention. He said, “What is that?” I said, “This is the Geneva Convention, which Iraq has signed for. Therefore, we must respect our sign.” He said, “No, that is for prisoners of war, but these are not prisoners of war. These are criminals of war.” I said, “No, they are prisoners of war and they should be treated according to this. Please remember my rank and my seniority. I was brought out of retirement. I am an international officer. I cannot deal with these people except according to this one book, according to the Geneva Convention.”
He was very angry and he said, “Okay, I will take them, I will put them in the targets. Let the Americans from up there kill the Americans on the ground.” I said, “No, no, no. You would be using them as human shields. You cannot do that. That’s also against the Geneva Convention.” It was a very big tough discussion between me and him, with the officers all surrounding us. One was saying, “Now Qusay will shoot him.” Another was saying, “Georges is finished.”
But believe me, I was doing this for two reasons. One was my faith in Jesus Christ and to make Him happy as His son. The second, because I am a high-ranking officer, I have experience, and I was not a Baath Party, to do what they like. I wanted to behave as an Iraqi general, loyal to this country and this country’s deep history, should behave.
I did this knowing that the price would be very heavy. I said to myself, “I have flown supersonic air craft for 40 years. I could die at anytime. But this is a very good reason to die, to make this mission happen.” Qusay left and he was very angry. Before he left, I said, “Excuse me, I want to tell you one last thing. You see now there is a war between Iraq and America. If you are going to kill these people, America will declare a new war. This time it will be war between America and your family.”
When I told him this, his eyes were opened. He just then realized what it meant to kill the prisoner of war. So before he left, I said, “Mr. Qusay, please, I am sure you going to see the supreme commander, the president. Tell him he knows me very well. I am his advisor. Tell him that General Georges is saying that these people are not criminal of war. They are prisoner of war and they should be treated according to the Geneva Convention.”
He left and the next day, people came from the Republican Guard, special guards and said “Come with us.” I knew that the time had come but it was okay. I had done my duty in the best way and my thought was, “let happen what happens.” They took me and they put me in prison. On February 5, I was released because Saddam himself said, “I don’t want to see his face. I don’t want him to be in the Army anymore. But you can’t kill him because he was right.” That is the only thing that saved me and the only reason I am alive now here. Because even thought he was a dictator and evil, he realized the truth of what I had said about a new war between America and his family. Once again I was dismissed from the Army and I have stayed safe until now.
Before any of this had happened, Saddam had wanted us to attack Israel with chemical weapons, using different aircraft: Sequoyah 24, Mirages, and MiGs. Again I stood in front of him and I told him, “Excuse me, sir. You are saying that these aircraft will attack Israel in two waves: one through Jordan and one through Syria. I know the Israelis have a plan to destroy all incoming aircraft before entering Israeli borders. This means that these aircraft are going to be destroyed by two waves, over Jordan and over Syrian. Of course, Israelis have got good air defenses, but still the pilots know that many aircraft still can penetrate. You know what’s going to happen, sir? There will be three attacks of chemical weapon on three countries: Jordan, Syria and Israel. By doing this, we will be giving the Israelis the right to retaliate by using their nuclear weapons. They have got very good delivery systems to carry the nuclear weapons. The delivery systems are rockets are called Jericho 2. They are going to destroy Mosul, Baghdad, Basra and all our cities.”
I told him, “Sir there will be disaster in the region. The four countries are going to be completely destroyed. Please, please, sir, let us not do that.” I begged him. He started asking me questions and the discussion lasted one hour, 41 minutes. At last, thank God, this attack didn’t happen. This talk took place on December 17, 1990. He said, “Look, if one American rocket will hit the Iraqi lands, I want these 98 aircraft to go and destroy Israel, and the 12 divisions to go in Saudi Arabia and destroy all the industrial area of Saudi Arabia from Kuwait to al-Daran .” Another big, big job, given to the army and you can just imagine 12 divisions destroying all the industrial area of Saudi Arabia and open sky without air defense for them. I understood what was going to happen to these 12 divisions. But this man was not thinking at all what would happen to the forces.
I will keep it for your questions but I will tell you about Saddam. He is the man who killed more clerics from Sunni and Shia in the history of Iraq. He is the man who killed more Baath Party members, starting from central command, since the party was founded in 1947. Saddam is the man who killed more of his own people. Saddam is the man who killed more Tikritis, his own cousins from his city, than anyone since Iraq was founded in 1920.
Saddam is the one who killed more Kurds. In the Amfal operations, he killed 203,000 Kurds. He used chemical weapons. In Halabja, he killed 5,375 people, all women, children and old men, in one attack—only one attack. Saddam killed more officers from the Iraqi army since the army was founded in 1921. Saddam did this with the hatred that I know was in his heart. With his revenge, only God knows what he was going to do. Because he had love of power, of making Muir rockets, paying millions to make some development for rockets to go further and warheads to become more destructive and to have weapon of mass description.
At last Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They were used against our nation in the north and south, and even against the Iranians when they penetrated the last defense lines in our terroritory. They were used by helicopters, by fighters and even by transport illusion 76, which it is not for bombing. But they were used in order to stop the invasion of Iran to the east of Basra, south of Iraq.
This is Saddam. I want all the Americans please to know what Saddam was and then to make the assessment: Was it worth it? Was it good that America took the decision to go and liberate that country by removing Saddam’s regime or not? This is a very good question also.
From what I know about Iraq and about Saddam, I am now one of the people who believes very, very, very clearly that the decision taken by this blessed nation, America, to go and liberate Iraq from the evil regime of that dictator, it was the right decision and the proper time.
I don’t want to interfere in your politics. You are a free nation. You are the nation of democracy. It’s up to you, you have got many parties. I respect everybody in this country. I love America but this is the truth as an Iraqi I want to tell you that this was a great decision. I am very sorry for those who lost their beloved ones. I know it is difficult for them. But you should remember always you have done a great job. You have done a dramatic change in that country and you have liberated 27 million people from a dictatorship regime.
How Assad chose his killing fields: The greatest threat to the Syrian leader lies on his doorstep – in the district of Ghouta which was targeted by his chemical weapons Kim Sengupta meets the local businessman leading the fight against the dictator – and hears his account of that tragic day by Kim Sengupta. The Independent, September 10, 2013.
ALEPPO, Syria — The rebels had almost reached the border when the hidden explosive device was set off; minutes later came bursts of intense firing. Four were killed immediately; around a dozen injured, some of them unlikely to survive because of the severity of their injuries. Three of the men were captured and, their comrades fear, may not be seen alive again.
The target of the well-planned ambush by Bashar al-Assad’s forces was a group of 26 opposition representatives from Ghouta, the place where a few days earlier a chemical attack had killed more than a thousand people, a massacre which had led to one of the most serious international crisis in recent times with threats of US air strikes. What happened on 21 August in the Rif Dimashq governorate will be, the revolutionaries want to believe, the catalyst for foreign intervention with immense impact on the course of the vicious civil war. Ghouta now craves a key role in the crucial next stages of the conflict; less than 10 miles from the centre of Damascus, it would be the ideal strategic point for the rebels to strike at the fraying heart of the regime. Little wonder it became the target of Assad’s most vicious crime to date.
After two and half years of increasingly savage strife, at a cost of more than 100,000 lives, many rebels hope the killings in Ghouta are the turning point; at last the US and its allies will take action. Even if the bombing does not take place, they expect a rapid escalation of support. If the West does not step in even now, they are certain the flow of arms from the Gulf will increase.
The seeming willingness of President Assad to hand over his chemical arsenal to international control is, they hold, a stalling tactic. However, if the stocks really are removed from the battlefield, with it will be removed the primeval fear such weapons have inspired among his opponents.
The Independent has spoken to people from Ghouta – some still living there, some in northern Syria in areas outside regime control and others in neighbouring Turkey – in an attempt to piece together the circumstances surrounding the chemical attack and also what the opposition on the ground want to see unfold in its aftermath.
The group of rebels killed last week were approaching the Jordanian border from Syria. They were a mixture of senior fighters and civilians on their way to meet foreign supporters of the Syrian opposition and members of its exiled leadership in Amman. There are, they claim, more than 40,000 fighters in Ghouta waiting for supplies and a co-ordinated plan to mount an assault on the capital.
The regime is fully aware of the grave danger on its doorstep and infuriated by the obdurate resistance it faces. The assault which had been going on for the last 10 months is continuing in Ghouta despite movements of its forces being restricted in other areas due to apprehension of American action.
“We are used to a hundred rockets and artillery a day and that is still going on”, Abu Abdullah who has been trapped in the eastern part of the area for the last year was keen to stress. “We hear the Americans are going to be bombing, but the only bombing is being done by Bashar.”
An influential civic leader from Ghouta, using the name Mustapha Omar, maintained that the time of having to bear the constant pounding is coming to an end. He had arrived in Turkey from Jordan with a list of weapons needed to spring forward into the regime’s lair.
Mr Omar, a wealthy businessman, had spent a considerable amount of his own money equipping some of the khatibas (battalions) of rebel fighters in the area. He also helped facilitate the visit by UN inspectors to the sites of suspected chemical attacks in Ghouta by liaising with different groups of fighters. Mr Omar was now on a mission, in Jordan and Turkey, to obtain weapons from international backers. British officials have been among those he had been in contact with; they have not, he insisted, provided him with any arms. That is likely to come from sympathisers in the United Arab Emirates.
“We are really after the UK’s help in training, but we may have to turn to the Americans, there is a lot going on in Jordan”, he said. Barack Obama announced last week that a first batch of 50 trained in the country by former US forces’ personnel were being sent into Syria.
“We are not saying that we in Ghouta are the best fighters, the toughest ones. But we are the ones the nearest to the capital, there is nowhere else that is such a good location to go to Assad and his people,” Mr Omar maintained. “Of course, Assad and his people know that. And that is the reason they had surrounded us for months, continually attacked us, used chemical weapons.” The Russian proposal on the regime’s chemical arsenal proves that “they have been using this poison. It’s a manoeuvre to avoid strikes, but it’s also a confession.”
People inspect bodies of children and adults allegedly killed in a toxic gas attack in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, last month (Getty)
Whether the regime used its chemical arsenal is, of course, at the centre of the raging accusations and recriminations and the view of Mr Omar and his side is, inevitably, highly partisan.
The US, Britain and France, among others, have charged the regime with deliberately attacking with sarin gas; it is the side with the military capability to do so. President Assad’s regime and its allies, chiefly Russia and Iran, have disputed that any weapon of mass destruction had been present .However, if it was used, then the responsibility for it, they claim, lies with the rebels.
Soon after the news of the deaths broke, a Russian foreign ministry spokesman stated that the nerve agent had been delivered by a home-made rocket fired from a rebel-held village. No evidence of this has been produced so far. Another account, widely circulated on the internet, is that Jabhat al-Nusra, a hardline Islamist group among the rebels, and foreign jihadists with them, were supplied with chemical components by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi chief of intelligence, and stored in a tunnel where it was fatally mishandled.
Testimony from residents of Ghouta – not all of them supporters of the rebels – together with maps they provided, some of them hand-drawn, calls these scenarios into question. They repeatedly recounted separate landings of “chemicals” at Kafr Batna, Zayina, Ein Tarma, Zamalka, Ain Tarma and Moadamiyeh Al Sham, at varying times, pointing out that a single home-made rocket could not have carried out multiple strikes.
The Jabhat al-Nusra “own goal” explanation is also hotly disputed. The group, which has declared itself affiliated to al-Qa’ida, has grown in size and power in northern Syria, but it has no presence of any significance in Ghouta. The largest Islamist group in the area are the Liwa al-Islam, which the activists say are not as hardline as al-Nusra or the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (Isis) – which is a branch of al-Qa’ida.
“Liwa al-Islam are not like al-Nusra, it is a different organisation, in a different area,” said Mr Omar. “We hardly have any foreign fighters in Ghouta. There is a Libyan I know, two or three from Saudi Arabia and a Jordanian. No Syrian rebel would use chemical weapons on their own communities; foreigners? But would the Saudis or anyone give such a big task to these few, no.”
Abu Abdullah was adamant: “Both east and west Ghouta are surrounded by the government. Do you think we would not know about some rebels bringing in chemical weapons? Do you think we would allow such things when we have our families, children there? Don’t we have enough problems with regime’s chemicals?”
The tunnels do exist and have been used to move about to avoid checkpoints, but any chemical accidents in them would not have reached the areas affected, the residents insisted.
Riadh Al-Nasri, a 23 year old medical student who was in eastern Ghouta on the night of the killings recalled: “There was a lot of shelling and rocketing, heavier than at many nights before, Moadmiyeh was particularly bad. We kept on hearing the word ‘chemical’ and people were suffocating. I went with friends to the field hospitals to help. We have seen lots of bodies, injured, dead, in this revolution. But these were different, there was no blood. When we were there they brought in more people, they were foaming at the mouth, through their noses, like children who have taken in soap.”
Sae’d, another medic, who was at Zamalka, said he was shocked: “The people brought in were vomiting, the pupils of their eyes were so small, they could not breathe, not just one or two, but dozens of them. I saw one whole row of people having muscle spasms, they had gone down to the cellars because they thought it was an ordinary bombing, neurotoxic agents fell through the air to them.”
Mr al-Nasri continued: “We had been to the field hospitals other times when they said they had chemical attacks, there have been people suffocating, not being able to speak, but nothing like this. Most of the people could not be saved, but we knew how important it was, it was decided that we must document everything very properly.”
He thought around 600 had died that night and morning, although “many more died because we did not have things like atrophine or biperiden”. Different opposition groups had put forward the number of fatalities between 350 to 1,729, the higher end making it the biggest loss of lives from a chemical attack since Saddam Hussein’s gassing of Kurds at Halabjah in 1988. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, had repeatedly used a figure of 1,429, a precision which military and intelligence figures believe would have been impossible to pin down.
“Why does it matter, 500 or 5,000? You did not see what we saw, the mothers with dead babies, the mothers crying, the babies with their eyes just open,” Mr al-Nasri said angrily. “What about all the people killed by the regime using just bombs and their planes? Do we need to achieve a certain total of dead children before America, Britain does something?”
Mr Omar held that even without game-changing strikes, the regime will collapse soon. “We are seeing more and more soldiers coming over to us. Others are just running away, ministers are still defecting ” he stated. “Our friends need to back us so that this happens quickly. We want al-Ghouta to lead this not because we want revenge. It is to prevent revenge; we are not extremists. I know government officials who are technocrats who will be needed to rebuild the country; we don’t want to chop their heads off like some of the Islamists.”
Mr Omar and his colleagues feel that even with a rebel victory there has to be a negotiations. “We don’t want Assad to be killed the way Gaddafi was killed, we are not like that. We want him to face a court,” he said. “If that’s not possible he should leave the country with 100 of those closest to him. Look, some of us are still materially alright despite all that’s happened. What I say to the opposition who will form the next government is that when we negotiate to end this, we must not think of us, we must think of the mothers with poisoned babies in Ghouta.”
Footage Claimed by Pro-Opposition Internet Sources to Be of Recent Chemical Attack in Syria The Internet - August 28, 2013 MEMRI Clip No. 3963
The following video contains footage of a missile launch. Syrian opposition sources on the Internet claim that the footage depicts the launch of the recent chemical attack on Eastern Ghouta. The footage is said to have been taken in the Al-Mazzeh military airport, and was posted on the Internet on August 28, 2013.
\ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)
1: an ancient empire of Ashur
2: a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern
Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)
a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of
its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender
4: a democratic state that believes in the freedom of
religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the
principles of the United Nations Charter —
Ethnicity, Religion, Language
Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
\ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)
1: descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur
2: the Assyrians, although representing but one single
nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now
doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle
ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding
hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the
East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.
These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the
Christian Era. No one can coherently understand the Assyrians
as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church
from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly
difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for
in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control,
religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a
criterion of nationality.
the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya,
Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean,
Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu,
Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye,
Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. —
1: a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of
the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.
2: has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical
Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.