Germany’s ZDF television news reported the scientist asked one of their camera crews to accompany him as he turned himself in to American soldiers. Al-Saadi was one of 55 Iraqi leaders whose faces are on a deck of cards distributed to U.S. troops in order to identify and capture the “most wanted” members of Saddam’s inner circle, appearing on the seven of diamonds card.
Besides advising Saddam, al-Saadi was formerly the head of Iraq’s Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization.
Al-Saadi told ZDF he had spent the war in his cellar and decided to emerge after he saw a British TV report that he was being sought. ZDF footage showed al-Saadi bidding his German wife Helga farewell before being driven away in the front seat of a military jeep.
Al-Saadi had worked closely with U.N. weapons inspectors prior to the war, although he was an outspoken critic of the inspections program. He reportedly told ZDF he did not know the fate of Saddam and insisted that Iraq does not have any chemical or biological weapons, despite the claims made by President Bush and his allies.
“I was knowledgeable about those programs, the past programs and I was telling the truth, always telling the truth, never told anything but the truth and time will bear me out, you will see. There will be no difference after this war,” al-Saadi said according to ZDF’s German translation.
Al-Saadi said that he did not fear justice because he was not a member of Saddam’s Ba’ath Party and had nothing to hide.
“I am saying this for posterity and for history and not to defend a regime… I am saying exactly what I believe in, I knew. Nobody told me what to say. Never,” he said.
Meanwhile, U.S. military officials say the search for weapons of mass destruction is far from over. At Saturday’s CentCom briefing, Brigadier General Vincent Brooks said coalition forces in the western city of al Qa’im were searching a number of facilities, “including searching a train station, and air defense headquarters, a phosphate plant, a cement factory, and a water treatment plant. Worthy of note, they found two drones at the phosphate plant, and at this point we don’t have any additional information on that.”
In his March 17th address to the nation, President Bush said U.S. intelligence “leaves no doubt” that Iraq “continues to possess and conceal” weapons of mass destruction. Because of such dangers, the president said, the U.S. has the “sovereign authority” to use force to disarm Iraq.