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oral history: wafic al samarrai

Photo of wafic al samarrai

Interview with General Wafic Al Samarrai, Head of Iraqi Military Intelligence
to make them die slowly in prison, these methods were followed by Saddam with all top leaders of the party and the army. Those whom he thought of as enemies, or likely enemies, we have many examples. Various types of poisons that lead up to cancer. After administration in six months it leads to death. The other part of these poisons is Thalium. It has a very strong impact on the nerve system. It leads to death within one month of administration. Many cases have happened in this way with opposition figures.

The other kind of poison is that which effects the heart and which have its effects in full bloom within hours. This, for example, what has happened with the former Foreign Minister and member of the regional command of the Ba'th Party. In 1979 he was gaoled and one tablet of this poison led to his death within hours. Very severe pain in his chest and his heart and then he died.


Q: Iraq's situation following the Iran/Iraq War.....

Samarrai: Iraq left the war with Iran heavy under debts. Iraq had ambitions ...Iraq looked to build a major military power and sturdy economy. Towards the end of the Iraq/Iran war the Iraqi army stood at one million and 300,000 soldiers and had more than 4500 tanks and more than 600 combat aircrafts and many pieces of artillery. In addition, this includes the popular army. When Saddam Hussein spoke he thought that Kuwait was the salvation from the poor economic state that resulted from the war with Iran . The economic status was good if not very good, but the financial state of the power..was not providing enough sources to re-vamp the army. Iraq was also heavily in debt and this put a restraint to his research in biological and other sorts of weapon. This is what is meant by the very poor economic state. But as for individuals, they were being able to manage quite alright.

Saddam Hussein always talk about great Iraq. Great Iraq meant that Iraq should become the strongest country in terms of the army, the economy and the politics and he always looked to expand.

Q: The Cold War ...

Samarrai: The Cold War between the Eastern Bloc and the Western Block.. Saddam Hussein thought that the end of this war did not serve his goals. Saddam talked about the fragility in the Soviet Union. In a meeting before the Kuwait invasion, before a group of selected intelligence officers, he said he did not accept France's policy nor the policies pursued by the Soviet Union. He wanted to take a tougher line towards the United States of America and the UK, of course.

Q: Signs that Saddam Hussein would invade....

Samarrai: Saddam Hussein was inclined to keep his secrets to himself. That's why his plans were never disclosed. Such planning, nobody knew of this. Only very selected few. As for us, the intelligence officers, who were well versed in this line of business, we concluded these plans. It was well known to us.

If you remember, the media indications gave a very sure sign of this. For instance, when the summit conference was held in Baghdad, Saddam blamed Kuwait and the Arab United Emirate for the sharp fall in oil prices as well as the depreciation of the Iraqi Dinar and he said on the 17th of July... in a public speech, Saddam said about Kuwait and its role, accusing Kuwait that it was fighting Iraq economically. He said, to justify this, that killing people was a lot more easier than fighting people and their ability to earn money.

Other statements were made. For instance, the government-owned Al Thura newspaper said "Sorry our people in Kuwait, we will not save you... we will not save you so.. we have not saved you so far from the rule of the.. of your Emir."

This is a very clear indication of Saddam's intentions. I think that since the Iraqi/Irani war ended, he started thinking of this matter. As for taking the decision, it was, I think, in the fourth month which is April.

If you remember that on the 2nd of April he delivered a very lengthy speech with media preparations and he also threatened to fire Israel with this weapon. On the same day, he criticised Bush. At that day escalation started. First, you have direct pressure on Saddam to shake his routine and, on the other hand, you had the deteriorating economic situation in Iraq. So the only way out was to invade Kuwait.

. Q: About Saddam Hussein.....

Samarrai: He was very nervous, hot tempered, always tense. He tried always to do something, he was restless. It's very important for you to know something about Saddam's character. We know him because he lived with us. He was a very evil person as early as his childhood. He lived in our district. He is very evil and he has been evil as early as his childhood. He always resorted to terrorist methods and tactics. Anyway he is a very persistent person. He has the capability to work continuously but quite often you see him very tense and tight, particularly when circumstances are pressing.

Saddam.. his psychological composition is built on suspicion. This makes other leaders quite reserved to put forward such proposals. Had you proposed to him "Why don't we take Kuwait?" He would retort "This is a scheme plotted with the West".

Q: His Arab Neighbors....

Samarrai: Generally speaking, he was not comfortable to dealings with all Iraq's neighbours. For instance, he looks at Syria and the leadership in Syria with very deep concern. He thought that intellectual threat came from Syria. He was neither comfortable with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, economically speaking. He thought and he felt that he fought for them and he did favours for them and they should pay him back. He had also a very antagonistic view towards Iran. So you can see he is not comfortable with any of his neighbours and he was quite evil. He often miscalculated situations and that's why we always suffered from this point during our war with Iran. He never thought or visualised that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will take a tough stand towards him. Even towards the very few hours before the invasion, he never thought that the allies will strike against him though we tried very hard to convince him of this.

We had reports, intelligence reports, that the Gulf States had very poor relations at the time with Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, we learned that there were very clear sensitivities in their relations. We also learned, and knew, that the relations between the Gulf States and Jordan were not at their best terms. He built his calculations on these factors and he did not expect that reactions will be severe.

Saddam, before invading Kuwait, improved his relations with Yemen, with Jordan and Egypt and he formed the Arab Cooperation Council. One of the main objectives of this was to prepare the ground for invading Kuwait or any other similar action.. and to guarantee that these three parties would not know the truth.

The relation between Iraq and Jordan was very strong but, in fact, Saddam was really watchful and quite cautious towards King Hussein.

Q: His views of western nations....

Samarrai: He thought that his relations with France were good. He was an enemy to Britain. He hates Britain. As for the United States of America, he thought that he could alleviate their reactions. He thought that the Americans were secretly working against him.. and that he was trying to benefit from his relations with other countries to formulate an alliance against the USA.

That's why you had the initiative on the 14th of.. of February-- after the air assault.

Q: Saddam's ambition...

Samarrai: I believe that Saddam did not, and would not have been satisfied with only Kuwait. Had his invasion of Kuwait been without reprisals, he would have continued to take the Eastern part of Saudi Arabia.

In his further plans, we had planned this in detail, i.e. to take the oil wells in Saudi Arabia, had we engaged in fighting and had we been able to carry on our plans.

Q: A U.S. green light.....?

Samarrai: I am not convinced that the USA was the party that gave Saddam the green light to go ahead in his plans but, on the other hand, I am convinced that the USA did not take a decisive and tough line to deter Saddam from doing this invasion.

The indications were very clear. They had the ability to deter Saddam. For instance, there was no ultimatum or warning issued in public or in secret that could deter Saddam.

The US reaction was very weak, cold. Because, despite the fact that American satellites were monitoring the movements of the Iraqi forces, and it was clear to them that there was massive army build-up, the USA did not issue a warning to Saddam Hussein. This really raised a big question mark.

Q: If Saddam Hussein had captured the Emir of Kuwait....

Samarrai: Saddam was quite irritated. He had preferred to have captured the entire Kuwaiti leadership because he thought that by capturing him will put an end to the demands on liberating Kuwait. Certainly had they captured the Emir, he would have done very ,very bad things that never come out of a normal person. I think that he would have kept them in gaol and killed them by poisoning one by another..... to make them die slowly in prison, these methods were followed by Saddam with all top leaders of the party and the army. Those whom he thought of as enemies, or likely enemies, we have many examples. Various types of poisons that lead up to cancer. After administration in six months it leads to death. The other part of these poisons is Thalium. It has a very strong impact on the nerve system. It leads to death within one month of administration. Many cases have happened in this way with opposition figures.

The other kind of poison is that which effects the heart and which have its effects in full bloom within hours. This, for example, what has happened with the former Foreign Minister and member of the regional command of the Ba'th Party. In 1979 he was gaoled and one tablet of this poison led to his death within hours. Very severe pain in his chest and his heart and then he died.

Q: View of the US military....

Samarrai: He thought that the US troops were not ready enough to engage in land battle. He thought that the lesson of Vietnam was very harsh on the US administration. We used to ask him "Do you think that the Americans will launch a campaign?" He used to say "Perhaps they attack and perhaps they will not".

At the intelligence circles we were absolutely sure that they will launch an attack. He really was quite comfortable with his ideas and he started to boost the morale of his men and we heard him on the air saying that his Iraqi soldiers will break Bush's teeth. He really miscalculated. He said, I remember "Now the allies have 600 aircrafts and we have 600 aircrafts, so we will fight them". We told him "But the technology difference, they have better technology and advanced technology".

But he was not to be talked into this. He used to say that they were crazy about computers and they used to operate along.. pre-agreed programs they were.. which they were crazy about, but they did not really consider the forces we have.

He thought that America's involvement in Vietnam had brought extensive damage to the US force and to US policy making. It was an outright defeat, militarily and politically.

But we had a realistic assessment of what had happened in Vietnam. We know that there were very big differences between the circumstances in Vietnam and here. The land there had vegetation cover, here it was a desert. And since they had the aerial superiority, we will be defeated in this battle. In Vietnam the bushes and the thick vegetation cover helped the Vietnamese.

He kept saying that the Vietnamese soldiers have proved themselves to be quite efficient and that the US plans faltered in Vietnam and that they did not plan well. He said an awful lot of things about the US forces in Vietnam to underestimate the US troops in Saudi Arabia.

Before six days of the land assault he said to us the USA had astronomical debts, more than 300 billion dollars, and that the USA had very poor economic state and that they would not be able to sustain the war for too long.

Q: Fighting the enemy......

Samarrai: Saddam was very boastful. For instance, when we told him that they brought Stealth jetfighters, the F117, he said "This--what you have read in the papers--can be seen by our shepherds!" When we mentioned, for instance, a cruise missile, he would say "A cruise missile on its way to its target. We will just blind it. We will suppress its course. It will mislead, it will mis-hit its target." We say "How do we do that?"

He would say that "We will fire mud and water to the screen of these radars that are leading these cruise missiles." Okay, we would say "How would we do that, when we are facing the Apache helicopters, these machines that can deal with six targets simultaneously at a very long distance?" He said "Oh no, don't bother. This is just a myth."

As a military person, he was very reckless. Yes, he had some experience and some capabilities, but he is not a professional military leader. We had a different opinion; that these technological advances will force our troops to leave their positions, and that the Americans will use these technologies to apply the scorched land policy.

We never dared to say "withdraw", but we kept feeding him in our intelligence reports that there was a massive allied build-up and that their missile strength and their air power, will destroy the country, and this will lead to social disturbances, due to the inconsistency in the social fabric in Iraq. We will have supply shortages, and Iraq will be destroyed. These reports really mandated that he should withdraw, but to him that was impossible.

Q: Terrorism....

Samarrai: Frankly speaking, the first two terrorist regimes in the world are the Iraqi regime and the Iranian regime. This is a fact. This is not a mere accusation. Saddam had really pinned great hopes on his terrorist attacks to eliminate his political opponents and his military opponents.

Secondly, he wanted to shake the stability of his neighboring countries. After his invasion of Kuwait, a higher committee was formed under the chairmanship of the Vice-President. It was called the Guerilla Action Group. This is really terrorism. Its objectives were to attack Western interests around the world, and in the Middle-East in particular, and to attack the military leaders and the political leaders in the neighboring countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

I was a member of this committee, but I declined to engage in the activities under the pretext that I had other commitments. But this committee, despite its activities and the selection of groups, could not really attain much success.

Some leaders of the Palestinian factions claimed to cooperate with this committee, but they did not cooperate. Targets: Schwarzkopf and Sir Peter de la Billiere, were top of the list of wanted targets, but the Iraqi regime could not really do anything against them. Sir Peter de la Billiere was the Chief of the British forces in the Gulf area. But the receding morale in Iraq and the international circumstances, and the deterioration of conditions inside Iraq did not really make this group do anything.

Q: On using biological or chemical weapons....

Samarrai: I wish to talk frankly. Really I think that the weapons which Saddam possessed are directed against the Iraqi people. And we also wish to comply with the international resolutions. Hours before the air attack, we had not less than 200 containers of biological germs. As for nuclear weapons, as far as I know, we did not have... any. As an intelligence officer I am not specialised in production, but I am quite sure that these weapons were biological weapons. For instance I've heard some of the germs cause Black Death, but I am not really quite sure of how authentic this information...

Saddam wanted to stall for time, in order to produce nuclear weapons, so that he can have a deterrent power. But he failed. I do not think that Saddam was capable of taking a decision to use chemical weapons or biological weapons, or any other type of weapons against the allied troops, because the warning was quite severe, and quite effective. The allied troops were certain to use nuclear arms and the price will be too dear and too high.

Perhaps now I'm seriously considering that Saddam might use this weapon when he's about to die. Perhaps he will use it before he dies. And perhaps he would say to himself that he will be immortalised in history text books.

Q: Taking the war to Bagdad.....

Samarrai: He did not think that the Americans and their allies would go as far as this. Except perhaps in the final stages, when the land assault took place. He asked me directly, "Did you think that the allies would come as far as Baghdad?" And he was quite desperate, and he was quite frightened.I said no, I did not think so.

He said "Why?" And I gave him a number of reasons. And he was quite comfortable and gratified. I did not think that the allies would come to Baghdad. First, their announced objectives was to drive the Iraqi forces from Kuwait. And the Iraqi forces left Kuwait. So the justification is done.

Secondly, the USA would not want to repeat its experience in Vietnam. But, had the US gone into Baghdad, there would never have been a second Vietnam, and the people would have applauded the USA. But from the US point of view, they thought they would incur heavy losses, and this contradicts Bush's commitments to the US people. Additionally, going into Baghdad would require huge arms, and a bigger number of troops.

The other essential point is that an alternative government was not ready. So they faced a choice of either installing another military regime in Iraq, or face a devastating civil war. And they did not want to do that, or do either.

Q: Nuclear weapons...

Samarrai: I heard in 1989 ... some people talk at the General Command that we might not need more than one year to produce a nuclear weapon. But then it appeared that this was not accurate. We certainly needed more.

General Hussein said the other day, we had only three months' difference between the first test trials of nuclear weapons. This means that, had Saddam waited for more three more months, we would have been a nuclear state. This may give rise to talk that Iraq then supports to join the nuclear club of states. No, in effect this means that we want to get rid of Saddam and end this war.

Q: Saddam's willingness to go to war....

Samarrai: Perhaps he wanted to go into history books. Had the sanctions been lifted today or the day after tomorrow, this would've meant to him the greatest victory. He fought America, he defied America. All these troops then withdrew, the sanctions lift, and he won! He's faced the biggest alliance in history.

He's very much fond of going into history. Perhaps, when you go to Babel, where are all these ruins...of Nebuchadnezzar... there's this building, with a little inscription saying "This was rebuilt, reconstructed during the days of Saddam." He's very much fond of going into history as a great leader.

Q: Saddam's intelligence reports on the eve of war....

Samarrai: I think it comprised seven full pages, handwritten. We showed in it detailed information about the allied build-up and that we thought they had serious intention to launch an air attack and a land attack later on. We also said in the report that Iran had also amassed more than 15 divisions along the borderline, and all the Islamic groups to attack Iraq and alter its fabric, social fabric, when the Iraqi army fails in Kuwait.

We were quite specific about the targets that would be hit, and that our aircrafts would not be able to reach their targets. We gave him a very dark and optimistic picture. But we were very clear about all the options, and all the eventualities. But he was quite determined to go into the war.

He asked me, as I said, "Are you familiar with the contents of this report? Or are there other officers, who wrote this?" And I replied "No, Sir, I wrote this myself from the very beginning to the very end. I know that Iraq would be destroyed, and I am telling the truth."

He had no unfavorable reaction. He was not upset with me. He was quite calm. I think... this meeting was on the 13th of January. At this meeting he attacked the French policies and the Soviet policies, and he said that the Americans were condemned and were indebted to Japan by 300 billion dollars, and that their economy would not sustain a long-term war, and that the intelligence should be more active.

He also spoke about the Turkish threat. He said he would fight Turkey, and the Iraqi women would be his soldiers.

The meeting took about 3 hours. I made a lengthy presentation of what the intelligence circles had at that time. In the eight years of war with Iran, a bloody war, we gained a vast experience in intelligence work.

We used to send special reconnaisance groups deep into the, these territories. And we obtained information from other sources, not just from Saudi Arabia. We had information. Even when Schwarzkopf said in his memoirs that they feared the Iraqis might detect the movements of their troops when he talked about this, we were quite knowledgable of this point. But what happened matched our expectations. Our intelligence reports were perfect.

We had our spies, or agents, planted all over the region, who kept feeding us with information. The Cuban Intelligence Agency. In fewer cases the Pakistani Intelligence, the Yemeni Intelligence Department... Too many countries supplied information to us. We also made air reconnaisance, but in fewer numbers. We also obtained information from other, friendly intelligence departments, including the Russian. The Russians were about the military build-up and the movements of the divisions. This information was supposed to have come from satellite surveillance, but in fact the details they gave us were not very accurate. There were discrepancies and inaccuracies in these reports, in the Russians' reports.

When we had information from Western intelligence departments during our war with Iran, we also conducted our own intelligence operations and reconnaisance operations, and they were quite efficient. We had a sufficient amount of information produced by our own work. That's why Saddam did not kill us. Had we provided him with wrong information, we would have been killed and blamed.

As I said, he kept saying, "Perhaps they fight, perhaps they would not." We kept telling him that they would.

Q: Hostages...

Samarrai: The release of the hostages placed a very heavy weight on Saddam. It meant a very big psychological and moral impact.

And when he used to release a batch of hostages, we at the intelligence agency gave him our full support, and we commented that this step had a very good effect as far as his public rating... We kept encouraging him to release more hostages.

As for the reasons why he released the hostages...that was because taking the hostages in the first place was immoral, to keep these civilians as hostages was quite immoral, and it was quite wrong from the very beginning.

Q: Security measures....

Samarrai: Saddam never speaks of fear for himself, but he takes very tight security precautions that may be unique around the world. Perhaps it is quite strange to say that a President of the Republic roves around the city using an old cab. Perhaps it's also strange that Saddam uses a lorry, a loading lorry, to move about the city. These were some of the measures he resorted to.

When the air strike started, he kept coming to the disguised civilian headquarters. One of these times he had a slight wound on his finger and he had a bandage on this finger. He kept doing this.. this movement. He kept rubbing his finger as an indication of anxiety. This is a very sure sign of deep anxiety.

Saddam never frequented the well-known palaces all during the war. He moved in the city center and moved out to the outskirts but he was quite well away from where the places where there was shelling. I think the nearest they got was ten kilometers from where he actually was. Saddam personally did not have any particular bunker for himself. There are many bunkers in Baghdad. Some of these are for command and control. Some of them are located under the Presidential Palace. One of them is in Al Amariya which was hit by US aircrafts and it claimed many lives.

He frequented all these bunkers... also many of these bunkers were built recently to protect people against nuclear attacks. He did not come to these bunkers to sleep in them. He preferred to sleep in very usual, normal civilian houses.

Q: Iraq's forces....

Samarrai: The Iraqi army comprised 60 different divisions. We also had more than 4500 tanks and nearly the same number of armored vehicles and artillery pieces. We had a very huge army. We had 600 combat aircrafts. We had the biggest chemical stockpile after the major powers or the superpowers. We also had biological weapons.

All these were available except one thing was missing, the public support. The people did not support Saddam to stay in Kuwait. I'm not saying that the people did not approve of Saddam's going into Kuwait, but they really did not want him to stay there.

So what he did was to set up a front line ditch filled with fuel and this ditch would be set ablaze when the land assault starts.

There were also plans to confront air raids and plans to attack a number of targets inside Saudi Arabia. For instance, the water de-salination stations, the power generation stations and assembly points. These would have been attacked by missiles and aircrafts.

The entire army was in top alert and we had also air defense network, but not quite advanced. He really lobbied all the potentials of the state to defend itself, but still we were quite convinced that we would lose this war.

Q: Saddam's soothsayer....

The soothsayer was a boy of twelve years old from Kirkuk. This boy soothsayer accompanied Saddam in all his special tours. There was another soothsayer from South East Asia, from a country close to China. These two soothsayers I know them very well. They kept telling him that he would win. Saddam, even today, looks at himself as victorious but when he is removed from power he will know that he had failed.

It's quite exotic about the way he thought and the way he behaved. He thought that these soothsayers are really applying astrology and this is some kind of science.

There was this person from my city, from Samura. He used to call this person from time to time to tell him what is going to happen in the future. We are Muslims and according to our beliefs this is prohibited.

Q: The air war....

Samarrai: I was about twenty kilometers to the South of Baghdad. When the air strike started I was very close to the nuclear reactor, to the South of Baghdad. When the air raid started I looked at the sky and I tell you it was indeed a frightful storm. The sky was full of all types of projectiles and shells and the counter air defenses. Iraqi air defenses also played a part. It was a frightening night to everybody.

The scope of devastation was very extensive but some of the targets, for instance the power generating stations and oil refineries, were hit. These were sensitive targets but were not entirely destroyed. There was the possibility of rehabilitating these centers. But other targets were completely smashed and destroyed. For instance, the intelligence headquarters was flattened to the ground.

Some oil refineries received extensive damage. Some military barracks and military installations were completely destroyed. The damage was very extensive but not to the fortified targets, to the open targets.

During the air strike, before the land strike started, 50,000 Iraqi soldiers fled Kuwait. They just fled Kuwait, they left their positions. We told Saddam of this, personally, as one of the indications of the grave indications.

Some of the very heavy shells and projectiles really destroyed or brought extensive damage to our armoured vehicles. One of the armored vehicles was flown high in the sky. It was very effective and very accurate. We lost thousands of tanks. Our losses in this war are estimated as not less than 2,700 hundred tanks.

But, the targeting was accurate. Saddam claimed that too many civilians were killed but I don't think so.

The number of Iraqi aircraft that took to the sky was very limited because of the allied suppression techniques. The suppression aircrafts of the allies really did not allow Iraqi aircrafts to free hunt in the air. They had orders to confront but to whom? All the radar screens were quite blind.

Saddam noted that the bombardment was very accurate, perhaps for the very first time in air strikes and air raids the bombarding was very accurate. He then perhaps felt that he was undoubtedly going to be defeated.

But he kept blaming the air defense system, the Iraqi air defense system. They used to say that they did not do what they should. He once said, before me, that "I very much regret that the Iraqi air defense system did not do what they should".

Q: Iraq's losses....

Neither Saddam nor the Iraq leadership, nobody, can tell the exact figure of the lost soldiers because the army was defeated in this battle and until this day many soldiers did not return to their stations. Nobody knows whether they are dead or deserting. But our estimates say that around 180,000 soldiers had been killed, but this is just an approximate figure.

This figure includes those who deserted, those who fled Kuwait. But those who have been conscribed in the first place... a great percentage of those who had already been conscribed did not return. I can tell you that bodies were scattered all around the streets and particularly supply routes and movement routes.

He tried very hard to boost morale but in the very last days of the air strike, when the day for the land strike was designated, he said he was now convinced that they would destroy the army and that they would go into a land that has no army. This recognition came very late. He once asked me.. he told me "What is your assessment of the battle, General Wafic?"

I was quite tense and very much in pain and I was almost desperate. I said "This is the biggest defeat in history".

He said "What do you mean?" "This outcome of this battle is devastating". I wanted to alleviate the content of my answer, seeing his reaction. "This is bigger than the defeat of Al Mohamara. This is even bigger that Dunkirk, which is the British operation at the French coast".

He was quite upset from what I said. Then he said "How?" I said "Well look at the army. The army is deteriorating, there is no equity or balance between the two fighting parties. This is a totally different war. There is no air supremacy nowadays".

Q: Prisoners of war...

Samarrai: Yes, in the first stages the prisoners of war were treated nicely. Some of the prisoners were, however, beaten but not very harsh beating. Of course that was a time of war and it was very clear that that was a lost war. There was nothing on his mind but to how resolve this and remain President.

Saddam wanted to know more information through these people. He wanted to know details about their training, their organisation and their targets as well. Why did they come from the Western sector? Was there a possibility to drive in operations from that Sector, that was an indication.

They were only thought to be monitoring the missile platforms. Saddam was really admired these persons after when we particularly when we reported to him the details of their operations, when we told him about the very harsh circumstances they er operated. They were very highly trained persons and very courageous.

One of the British SAS, was captured in the western sector and was brought to Baghdad. I met with and I talked to him about an hour. He was very calm, very sure of himself and he knew perfectly well what information to give and what to withhold. He was not ready or willing to give more information.

I talked with him about the situation of his operation, the circumstances of his operation, how he jumped from the plane and what he did. I really derived that he was a highly trained person. I took the map that was in his possession and that was very valuable to us.

The value of the information.. it proved there is great concentration on the Western Sector. This reinforced my impression that the army will be outflanked by airborne and armored forces to be isolated to the South of An Nasiriyah. I also derived that the allied forces were putting great concentration on monitoring the road to Jordan and to monitoring the missiles movement.

Q: Scud missiles...

Samarrai: Those fired at Israel had a moral political objective. He wanted to show that he hit Israel. Then to implicate Israel and drag Israel into reacting and retaliating. He wanted to embarrass the Arab States that colluded with the West. As for those fired at Saudi Arabia, he wanted to hit the American troops.

He did not discuss these matters with anybody. The orders came down through the secretary of the President of the Republic direct to the ones in charge of the missiles batteries. Then the information were fed into the computers and the missiles were fired, without any pre-consent from the command.

We did not have very accurate missiles and they were not hitting the target, they were as far as five to four metres ... Nobody can tell Saddam that the air defense SAM 2, was a poor missile, though it is in fact a very poor missile. No one can tell Saddam that Al Hussein missiles do not hit the targets. No one dare to say this. We told him later that we shot down 30 Western aircrafts, he would say "No, 80 not 30". We would say "But they announce that we shot down 30."

He said.. he would say "No, we shot down 80". He was quite irritated by reports that our weapons are not performing accurately or well. We always had to give him the information he liked.

Part of these missiles, the scud missiles, were loaded with chemical warheads but they were not used and they were kept till after the war. We told him very clearly that should he use chemical weapons they will use their nuclear weapons. You saw for yourselves that Iraq used these chemical weapons on Iran because Iran did not have a nuclear deterrent force. In 1986 the Iranians incurred 45,000 casualties by chemical weapons. This I was told by the Iranians a short while ago.

We had 17 or 18 scud launchers. They are in Iraq orchards and farmlands and there are very many hiding places scattered all over the country. It was very easy to hide these missile launchers. When the war was over Iraq had 95 scud missiles exactly, safe intact and there is of course another number of missiles which is slightly damaged which can be repaired and there are other missiles for training purposes. It's more likely that Iraq has now about 40 to 45 scud missiles.

The chief in charge of the mobile missile launchers told the Americans and told the UN inspectors that none of these were hit. I personally asked the officer in charge of the missile launchers and he confirmed to me that none of them was hit. This is a fact.

Q: The Al Firdos bunker....

Samarrai: This was a bunker--at least one part of it was occupied by intelligence members. It also included the General Directorate of Technical Affairs of the Intelligence Department. Intelligence members frequented this, this bunker and Saddam himself once entered this bunker.

Of course the mistake was that members from the intelligence agency kept coming to this place wearing military uniforms.

Yes, it's true that civilians died in that bunker but also it's true that many intelligence and military personnel died in that bunker as well. In Baghdad there are many bunkers that were built by Korean or South Asian companies. These bunkers, when the war was about to start, a number of military departments allocated parts of these bunkers for their operations.

I can't remember exactly when--I visited this bunker after the strike. As you know, I'm not defending this act, this strike, but when there are military personnels in a bunker. So it was Saddam who gave the chance for the West to hit this bunker, that's why he's responsible for the lives which were claimed in that bunker I visited many bunkers before they were hit and they're almost standard in sizes and structure but I tell you that they were always occupied or a great part of it was occupied by the Intelligence Agency.

Q: Oil wells destruction....

He issued an order in written form to Ali-Hassan al-Majid, his paternal cousin, to prepare all these oil wells for explosion. Preparations were made a long time ago, more than 600 oil wells were prepared for explosion. When things got pretty serious and dangerous he issued these orders to set these oil wells ablaze.

He meant first to hurt the Kuwaiti economy as vengeance, then to burn the oil market and keep the world in urgent need of oil for quite a long time. Thirdly, to create a very huge of thick black smoke to prevent better reconnaissance operation by aircrafts or satellite.

Q: The land war.....

When the land strike started he was quite desperate and he was quite convinced that it was impossible for him to keep Kuwait. He was very angry. Always sullen, very anxious and worried. He had very little to say. Always tight, and he thought that his downfall was very near .......

. I don't want to say it now because it really hurts the pride of our army. But, we were not in this war of our own free will. He used to say that men are now becoming women. This does not befit our proud army. Our army did not believe in this war, it was a very dirty war. He did not use the wireless or wire communications to pass on his orders. There was fixed routines to pass on orders.

But, the land attack, it was not managed properly. Even what the Americans and the British said about land battles is very little, is of very little effect. What actually happened is that the air strike has done the work and the land strike has come to reap the fruits. You've been into many wars all over the worlds and these wars, it was basically an aerial attack that did the job.

But, he was not surprised. As I said we had already given him full and detailed intelligence reports saying that French, British and US troops would come into Iraq and that they would reach the southern Nasiriyah to connect with the Euphrates and thus cut the main supply road between Baghdad and Al Basra, and after destroying all the bridges on the Euphrates, the Republican guards and the regular Iraqi forces would be isolated and destroyed.

He was very upset. He was deeply depressed and for reasons known only to himself, he accused five top ranking officers of betrayal and then ordered their execution. The sentence was carried out immediately by his personal guards.

Even after the war strike was over he was then convinced that there was no way to avert defeat. His only concern then was how to survive in power, so when reports came that the Marines landed in this area or that area, he was not surprised and he was merely trying to survive.

Before the ceasefire was announced his morale was very deteriorated and he was very tense and tired. He was, almost completely collapsed.

When I told him that that was the greatest defeat in history he got very angry. He grabbed a paper and a pen and started to write down orders issued by the Higher Revolutionary Command. I cannot remember the details of these orders, but they were assignment of missions and tasks. He was in very poor condition and at that moment he was really saved by Bush's offer of ceasefire.

Before the ceasefire, he felt that his doom was very close by. As I just said, he sat before me and he was almost in tears, not crying, but almost in tears. He of course cried in other places. He said "We do not know what God will bring upon us tomorrow". This shows that he was virtually collapsing. So, he was at the lowest.



The ceasefire...

Samarrai: I was listening. I know little English and the interpreter was translating. I heard Bush announcing the ceasefire and stating his terms and I heard him also say that this is now 100 hours since the start of the land war. I then rang the President and told him that Bush agreed to the ceasefire and I also called the Minister of Defence and the Chief of Staff and the one in charge in operation. I told them that Bush issued the ceasefire declaration and that I expect that orders will soon be issued from here.

Within two hours of this, Saddam came with his escort and media people to our headquarters and started to issue orders by phone. He became a hero and he felt that everything was now subdued and there is no more danger, and well, we have this legend in our history. He was feeling himself as a great, great hero. He started to go like "We won, we won!"

His morale were boosted from rank zero to one hundred! When he walked in before the ceasefire was announced he came in alone. Sometimes his escort came in too. This time, he walked in with about 30 of his personal protection escort in full view wearing their ranks, smiling, and also the media people walked in. He was laughing and kidding and joking and talking about Bush.


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