23 Feb

Saddam’s WMD Program & Site 555

                                       

An interesting segment of the great book Shadow Warriors is about the discoveries of Company X in Iraq regarding the “missing” WMD in Iraq. I’m gonna split this up into two parts seeing as how it is quite long but well worth the time to read:

The most intriguing evidence of hidden Iraqi WMD stockpiles, however, did not come from any of these sources. It came from a source that Hoekstra had developed all on his own: a former top CIA operations officer, who had returned to Iraq after the war and stumbled onto information pointing to a vast and previously unknown site, buried deep beneath a hillside north of Baghdad, where former Iraqi officials alleged Saddam had pursued nuclear weapons wrok in the utmost secrecy.

After a business trip to Iraq in February 2004, the former operations officer was contacted by an engineer, working for a company in a former Eastern European country, who had worked on infrastructure projects under Saddam. The engineer and his company were hoping to win new contracts in Iraq, and had also traveled to Baghdad. On their way back to Turkey, on of the Eastern Europeans pointed to a hilltop east of the Baghdad-Mosul highway, on the far side of the Jebel Makhoul, along the Tigris. He had always been told that the hilltop disguised an underground weapons plant, he said.

Some of the engineers traveling with them offered that they had worked on a nearby infrastructure project. As they got to talking, they mentioned that they had always whispered among themselves that the underground site housed a secret centrifuge uranium-enrichment plant.

When he first heard this story, the former operations officer felt it had the ring of authenticity. “These guys had been there for thirteen or fourteen years,” he told me. “They would get drunk with the Iraqis and learn things about the WMD programs they were not supposed to know.”

Along with a business partner, he began tracking down the Eastern European engineers who had worked in Iraq and interviewing them. “We found five or six independent sources who all noted that they had seen eighteen-wheel trucks pass through an entrance into the hill area we were looking at,” the former operations officer said. What the trucks did once they entered the hillside, nobody knew. The entire area was a military zone, ringed with several rows of barbed wire.

In his reports to Hoekstra, the former operations officer referred to himself and his partners as “Company X of McLean, Virginia” (where the CIA is located), and encrypted the names of sources in CIA-style diagraphs. He and his associates interviewed thirty-one engineers and workers from a former Soviet-block country who had never been debriefed by any U.S. or UN agency before. One of the engineers, identified as LYHUNT/103, had been in Iraq from September 1984 until April 1994 “with a short interruption for the Gulf War.” He returned to Iraq several times a year after that until 2000.

LYHUNT/103 and his colleagues worked directly with TECO, the Technical Corps for Special Projects, project manager for “Iraq’s highest priority weapons projects.” TECO was headquarted with the Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization, and “reported directly to Saddam’s household,” the former operations officer said. Among TECO’s responsibilities were Iraq’s clandestine nuclear weapons, its long-range ballistic missile programs, and the Super Gun that was being built by the former American ballistics genius Gerald Bull. LYHUNT/103 and other colleagues agreed to talk to the former CIA operations officer on condition that they not be identified in any way. They were well aware that their activities in Iraq after 1991 were in violation of international sanctions, U.S. law, and the laws of their own country. They risked serious jail time if they were identified. But they said they were willing to share their knowledge, because they now understood the full import of the highly compartmented project where they had worked, and it scared them. They referred to it as Site 555.

Site 555, also known as the al-Fajr facility, was “intended to be an electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) uranium-enrichment facility,” the former CIA operative told Hoekstra. Bombed and partially destroyed during the Gulf War, it was leveled in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 687 in 1991. According to Iraq’s declarations to the UN, the al-Fajr facility was a “duplicate” of an EMIS plant in Tarmiya, but uranium-enrichment equipment was never installed. Once the buildings were leveled, the site was no longer inspected.

But there was much more at the site then the UN inspectors ever saw, the Eastern European engineers said. Hidden beneath a nearby hill was an underground structure about 600 meters deep not related to any mineral quarry. Another East European source, LYHUNT/101, commented that it would have taken only minimal effort to level the entry to the shaft and cover it with sand, leaving the deep underground installations hidden, the former CIA operative told Hoekstra.

In April 2004, the Eastern European engineers drove together down from Mosul to Baghdad, and LYHUNT/103 pointed to a series of low hills beyond the road. “That’s where the shaft is,” he said. But upon further questioning, the former agency officer realized that neither LYHUNT/103 or his colleagues had ever seen the actual opening or visited the underground site itself. They had worked on a water purification plant and other engineering works on the surface.

Bit by bit, as Company X debriefed more of the Eastern Europeans who had worked in the area, they got a better idea of where to look for the underground site.

“The debriefings indicated that the underground facilities had been dug by 2,500 Vietnamese laborers during the mid-1980s, who toiled for $4 per month,” the former CIA officer said. “They dug at night to avoid infrared signatures. It was done by drill and blast, without heavy machinery.” To the trained eye, these were all telltale signs of Iraq’s intent to camouflage the work from satellite surveillance.

The former operative informed Hoekstra of information he had learned from another of the East European engineers:

Per LYHUNT/105’s knowledge and his recollection of documentation that had been available to him, the factories at Site 555 were installations for the enrichment of uranium and nuclear chemistry, with one production building having a large internal movable horizontal crane for some kind of assembly, and a single airstrip runway at the bottom of the hill near the cave. The cave represented the entry to a major underground structure, with horizontal elements (tunnels or pathways), but LYHUNT/105 did not know how many tunnels or how deep the structure was. The location of the entry to the underground structure was by the end of the airstrip towards the bottom of the hill.

What was found and what was done with it in Part 2 here.

About Curt

Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 20 years.
This entry was posted in The Iraqi War, The Shadow Warriors, WMD. Bookmark the permalink. Saturday, February 23rd, 2008 at 11:22 am
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17 Responses to Saddam’s WMD Program & Site 555

  1. Skye says: 1

    What? No comment from the ‘The No WMD in Iraq’ denziens??

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  2. John Ryan says: 2

    Thousands and thousands of people have supposedly worked of this program but NO ONE has sold their story to either the world press or the CIA. What has happened to all of the Iraqi nuke specialists don’t they know that American citizenships are waiting for anyone who can show us their WMD ? This whole “underground secret lab of the arch villan” sounds like someplace that only Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery could find
    Look at the huge amounts of infrastructure that Iran has for their nuclear program. Somehow Saddam was able to keep it all hidden and buried, and not only way back then but even to this day.
    And 4 dollars per month is a really low wage I can’t see anybody working for 1 dollar per week. Anyone who has ever spent time in poor counries knows that no one is going to work for 15 cents per day, especially on a top secret,hush hush, can’t tell anybody for 10 years project.

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  3. ChrisG says: 3

    John,

    You would be surprised as to how effective Saddam’s “I have your kids so keep quiet” strategy worked.

    The Iraqis are finally beginning to wake up from that and turn terrorists/islamofascists and Saddam’s party members in more and more. The Maadis are not doing much better.

    And the UN reports contradict your views that these programs could not be hidden. They were and no huge labs are required for most Chem, Bio, and Nuclear programs. Look what a deathcult in Japan did with some Sarin and tin cans out of their own cramped apartments.

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  4. jainphx says: 4

    Now see you got me excited, then you say be patient. Saddam was no dummy, I suspect there is more that we haven’t found.

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  5. ChrisG says: 5

    I should also add the 2 Sarin shells used as IEDs in Iraq along with the chlorine gas bombs AQI used against civilians in 2007. No massive infrastructure there, just WMDs that were most likely re imported from Syria. Oh, and we can go into Syria’s new found stocks of VX since no one admits to selling them VX in recent years. They had a small accident a few months ago. Zero VX stocks to operational VX warheads in just a few dozen months.

    I doubt my fellow Soldiers who arrived to assist the wounded Iraqi civilians will ever forget that sight of watching Iraqi civilians suffer chlorine poisoning and death from their Muslim AQ “Brothers”.

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  6. Richard says: 6

    It is of note that the same EU specialist who crafted the extensive underground bunker complexes for Tito in the now former Yugoslavia back in the 70’s, is the same hired by the now dead former dictator of Iraq. That even after 5 years on the ground we have not even scratched the surface (sic) of what I am sure are MASSIVE complexes buried deep beneath the Iraq desert is a testament to the designer, and not a failing of our military. Time will tell, if time we have.

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  7. Scott says: 7

    Richard. That was a good point. I’ve several CNN articles saying the same thing, and there’s a History Channel show on modern day bunkers (part of a series) that actually goes inside the Yugoslavian bunker AND Saddam’s. It was amazing.

    To those who say Saddam had no WMD, I submit one question: where did the WMD that he declared to the UN in 1998 (which the UN in turn agreed he had) go, and remember, the entire idea behind a WMD is that it is a weapon of mass destruction; a single wmd warhead is equal to hundreds of conventional warheads so vast warehouses aren’t needed?

    “[I]t is possible to turn to biological attack, where a small can, not bigger than the size of a hand, can be used to release viruses that affect everything…”
    Babil, September 20, 2001 (State-controlled newspaper)

    “The United States must get a taste of its own poison…”
    Babil, October 8, 2001 (State-controlled newspaper)

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  8. Aye Chihuahua says: 8

    For those who say “we haven’t found them” could you tell me how long the Amber Room has been missing?

    Sometime in the 1940’s right?

    Did you see what was in the news this week?

    That’s right….they believe that they have found the hiding place for the Amber Room and tons of Nazi gold.

    Things not located may continue to exist.

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  9. Scott says: 9

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/04/06/wpois06.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/04/06/ixnewstop.html

    Mustard gas and cyanide have been found in river water in the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, coalition forces said yesterday.

    The poisonous substances are believed to have been dumped in the Euphrates either by Iraqi soldiers fleeing from American troops or local factories that produced weapons of mass destruction.

    A spokesman for the United States marines, based just outside the city, described the quantities of chemical agents found as “significant” and claimed that it was further evidence that Saddam Hussein has produced weapons of mass destruction.
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    He said yesterday: “I think this discovery shows what kind of guy is running this country.

    “This stuff is just dumped in the Euphrates without any concern for the many people who drink and wash with water from the river.”

    The poisons were discovered by the marines’ scientists who were testing the quality of water taken from the Euphrates before purifying it and distributing it to the residents of Nasiriyah, a city of 250,000 people.

    It follows the discovery of hundreds of gas masks and chemical warfare suits at a military base near the city.

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  10. SealPatriot says: 10

    Actually John Ryan, you ought to read Chris G’s “Why Iraq” post, and see for yourself that you are wrong about how noone from the world press wrote about WMD’s being found in Iraq. I would hardly consider China Daily, and the U.K. Sunday Times as not being apart of the world press.

    In fact, a lot of sources from Chris’s post are news websites as well as military documents that were released for distibution to the public, why noone reports on them? I honestly don’t know.

    At the same time, four dollars a month is not a little bit of money. If you are poor, then that wage would be worth it. To top it all off, you may not have a choice and even if you did, your other options may not be better. Also, Vietnam owns some of Iraq’s oil fields nowadays, they had purchased them sometime in the early eighties.

    How do you know that these Vietnamese people weren’t forced into participating in this project through business liasons? As shown by many VietnAmericans, the Viets do not exactly have freedom to make their own decisions. After all, their country has sweat shops in total abundance, which is the modern version of slavery.

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  11. Pingback: Flopping Aces » Blog Archive » » Saddam’s WMD Program & Site 555, Part II

  12. David says: 11

    This isn’t really surprising. Here are some other items for your consideration –

    ITEM: In Dec 2002/Jan2003, it’s reported the Saddam government contacts Finnish government with regard to anthrax decontamination. When the Finnish refuses to provide information on those decontamination methods, they make the same request of Sweden. (The AP, APF, and Reuters articles on the Iraqi request cannot be found in their current archives.) Why would they need to know about anthrax decontamination? We certainly weren’t going to be using bioweapons.

    ITEM: In the push to Baghdad, elements of the 101st Airborne Division find warehouses full of new, empty artillery shells next door to a chemical plant. It’s reported by CNN, FOXNews, AP, and Reuters that the shells had appeared to have been steam cleaned a few hours before the arrival of US troops at the chemical/warehouse complex.

    ITEM: In northern Iraq, in May 2003, US troops discover an underground oil refinery complex built into the side of a mountain. The technology found in the complex had indicated it was built in the 1990s.

    ITEM: July 2003, a US Army patrol heading west out of Baghdad into Anbar province makes a refueling stop. It’s during this stop, some soldiers notice something sticking out from the ground. They discover it’s a tail fin of an advanced MiG-29 fighter. A full excavation of the site reveals several MiG-29s have been buried. Once the dig is completed, it’s reported 40-50 planes were recovered.

    ITEM: August 2003, a buried stockpile of Russian made and Soviet-era air to air missiles are discovered. Since the Russian and Soviet equivalent of the US-made Sidewinder do not have proximity detectors, they rely on a small ball of weapons grade uranium to serve as part of the detector assembly and fuse assembly. The amount of uranium in each missile is enough for use in a radiological weapon. The missiles are removed and shipped back to the US for disposal.

    And, this is only a small snippet of finds that were reported in the media.

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  13. Pingback: » Saddam’s WMD Program & Site 555 NoisyRoom.net: Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace. Amelia Earhart

  14. Scott says: 12

    “Iraqi leaders say ‘Chemical Ali’ will be executed”
    http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/29/mideast/iraq.php

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  15. Davey says: 13

    January 26,2006 the New York Sun reported that Georges Sada a former Iraqi Air Force general, had stated in an interview that the vast majority of WMD had been moved from Iraq to Syria in the months prior to the Iraq War II. The had clandestinely removed the seats from commercial airliners and coverted them to cargo planes for the specific intent of avoiding suspicion and possible investigation.
    The same basic story was carried by the Middle East Quarterly in the Fall issue of 2005. In the same article the Quarterly reported that Ariel Sharon, the late PM of Israel, had stated on December 2002 at the Israeli TV channel 2 studios that all the CW and Bio wepons had been moved into Syria prior to the war. He also expressed extreme concern that the Syrians might be tempted to use them against Israel.
    These stories and others like them have circulated in the media for years, but there’s a lot to be said for the power of invincible ignorance.

    ReplyReply
  16. Pingback: Tony Blair Says WMD Not The Only Reason For Iraq War, As Did Bush…..Both Were Right

  17. James says: 14

    @ChrisG:
    ChrisG,

    How effective is that Saddam strategy six years after his death? At any point in the last nine years these Iraqi scientists could come forward and say they worked on clandestine programs. To a man, and woman, they deny it. In order to be effective a WMD program needs people working on it.

    ReplyReply

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