Iraq Apparently At It Again

Those seeking to extend the war on terrorism to Iraq are very interested in what Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri has to say.

Al-Haideri is a construction engineer who recently fled Baghdad. And he claims that since U.N. weapons inspectors were expelled from Iraq in 1998, Saddam Hussein has begun a new crash program to develop biological, chemical even nuclear weapons — a program of which al-Haideri was an unwitting part.

"Heavy work is beginning and concentrated works and they are working day and night," said al-Haideri.

With an eye toward the U.S. bombing campaign of four years ago, Al-Haideri says the Iraqis had him build high-tech, leak-proof research and storage facilities in places where they would be hard to find and difficult to destroy — in hospitals, under Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces and deep in wells on farms outside Baghdad, reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips.

Unlike the munitions, which are easy for inspectors to check, the wells and other facilities, Haideri says, were designed to avoid detection, if Saddam ever allows the U.N. investigators back into the country. It's a highly-mobile program, he says, where materials, which he admits he never actually saw, can be moved frequently from place to place, frustrating those looking for them.

And a former senior U.N. weapons inspector says al-Haideri's claims are credible.

"What he has described makes sense. All of the locations make sense they are all places where we know missile and chemical and biological activities were taking place in the past," said Charles Duelfer.

The U.S. has often been skeptical of similar Iraqi defectors in the past and the emergence of Adnan al -Haideri now is suspiciously convenient for those seeking the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But al-Haideri's claims seem plausible. And CBS News has learned he's now under the protection of and being questioned by U.S. intelligence officials.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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