LONDON – Evidence offered by a top CIA man could confirm the testimony given by Saddam Hussein at the opening of his trial in Baghdad Thursday that he knew of the Halabja massacre only from the newspapers.
Thousands were reported killed in the gassing of Iraqi Kurds in Halabja in the north of Iraq in March 1988 towards the end of Iraq’s eight-year war with Iran. The gassing of the Kurds has long been held to be the work of Ali Hassan al-Majid, named in the West because of that association as ‘Chemical Ali’. Saddam Hussein is widely alleged to have ordered Ali to carry out the chemical attack.
The Halabja massacre is now prominent among the charges read out against Saddam in the Baghdad court. When that charge was read out, Saddam replied that he had read about the massacre in a newspaper. Saddam has denied these allegations ever since they were made. But now with a trial on, he could summon a witness in his defense with the potential to blow apart the charge and create one of the greatest diplomatic disasters the United States has ever known.
A report prepared by the top CIA official handling the matter says Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the massacre, and indicates that it was the work of Iranians. Further, the Scott inquiry on the role of the British government has gathered evidence that following the massacre the United States in fact armed Saddam Hussein to counter the Iranians chemicals for chemicals.