LONDON (Reuters) - An Iraqi defector made up claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction to help topple his government, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The defector, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, said in an interview with the Guardian that he had fabricated claims of mobile biological weapons and clandestine factories made to German intelligence officials throughout 2000.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush and other high U.S. officials cited the threat posed by Iraqi biological weapons as justification for the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
No such weapons were found and years of political and sectarian bloodshed followed In Iraq, resulting in more than 100,000 mostly civilian deaths.
“Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right,” Janabi, codenamed “Curveball” by U.S. and German intelligence officials, told the newspaper.
“I had a problem with the Saddam regime,” he said. “I wanted to get rid of him and now I had this chance.”
The information from Janabi formed the basis of a 2003 speech by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell before the United Nations Security Council.
The Guardian said Janabi had told a German official about mobile bioweapons trucks during 2000.
The German secret service, the BND, which had identified Janabi as a Baghdad-based chemical engineer, approached him in March of that year and again in 2002 looking for inside information about Iraq.
“They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime,” Janabi said.
“Believe me, there was no other way to bring about freedom to Iraq. There were no other possibilities.”
Writing by Karolina Tagaris, editing by Chris Wilson
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