Were WMD found in Iraq? Yes, on the battlefield. Between 2004 – 2009 Several Chemical Warfare Improvised Explosive Devices Were Found or Used

WMD world map
WMD world map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perusing the Iraqi Sigact files acquired by Wikileaks, I found much to my surprise not only that WMD were found in Iraq, but that there were used at least several times on the battlefield. These typically involved Chemical Improvised Explosive Devices made of 150/2/5 mm artillery shells filled with mustrad gas, Sarin, VX, or Tabun, all produced by Sadam Hussein’s regime during the 1980s. I learned about the use of chemical weapons during the Iraqi insurgency from the book SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden. The book asserts that ten thousand chemical warfare weapons were buried in the sands of Iraq or transferred to Syria and that many made their way to Al-Qaeda bunkers in Afghanistan (pages 140-143). The book, however, is poorly sourced and makes a number of confusions, including that all instances in the reports where CWIED are reported indicate a chemical weapon. In fact, CWIED might refer to Command Wire Improvised Explosive devices, not to Chemical Warfare IEDs. However, a search for the term “Chemical” reveals multiple situations in which chemical devices were found or used in Iraq, as detailed below.

This CIA report on WMD findings in Iraq, issued in 2005, affirms that all the chemical bombs were made with weapons misplaced or forgotten on the battlefield by the Saddam regime during the Iraq-Iran war. 

ISG believes the bulk of these weapons were likely abandoned, and lost during the Iran-Iraq war because tens of thousands of CW munitions were forward deployed along frequently and rapidly shifting battlefronts. – page 1

The report also affirms that most WMDs were in fact destroyed by Saddam’s regime, although it cannot completely rule out that some of them were transferred to Syria.

Based on the evidence available at present, ISG  judged that it was unlikely that an offcial transfer of  WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place. However, ISG was unable to rule out unofficial movement of limited WMD-related materials.

Excerpts from the Wikileaks IED reports that refer to use of chemical devices on the battlefield or to chemical weapon installations used after 2003. %%% marks terms or passages edited due to operational significance.

SUSPECTED CHEMICAL WARHEADS COLLECTED BY %%% IVO AN NASIRIYAH”,”AT , %%% TOC RECEIVED INFORMATION THAT FORCES FROM /%%% IN COOPERATION WITH US TECHNICAL ESCORT UNIT (%%%) PICKED UP %%% OF %%% ROCKETS (%%% MM SYSTEM  WITH SUSPECTED TOXIC MATERIAL WARHEADS. THEY ALSO PICKED UP TWO 120MM MORTAR GRENADES THAT POSSIBLY CONTAIN TOXIC MATERIAL. THE ROCKET HEADS ARE FROM THE SAME TYPE AS THE ONES THAT WERE DELIVERED ON 04JUN04 TO CAMP . %%% THE %%%, THE ROCKET HEADS WERE MADE DURING THE /%%% WAR(%%%) AND WERE STORED IVO %%%, AND HIDDEN FROM %%% INSPECTORS. ALL THE AMMUNITION THAT WAS PICKED UP WAS DELIVERED TO, AND IS BEING STORED BY US %%% IN CAMP ALPHA FROM 241500DJUN04.

“UNKNOWN SUBSTANCE TURNED IN TO -%%% IVO AD %%%”,”AT , -%%% REQUESTED %%% ASSISTANCE WITH VIALS THAT MAY CONTAIN PRECURSORS FOR CHEMICAL WEAPONS. THE VIALS WERE TURNED IN TO FOB %%% BY THE MAYOR OF HAWIJA.

MORTAR ATTK (CS %%%) ON -%%% IVO CAMP HABBANIYAH: %%% INJ/DAM”,”AT , -%%% REPORTED 1X 82MM MORTAR RD IMPACT WEST OF CAMP HABBANIYAH %%%.5KM %%% OF MSR %%%. IT WAS %%% AS A GROUND BURST CONTAINING CS. IMPACT AREA TESTED NEGATIVE FOR OTHER AGENTS. 15X PERSONNEL REPORTED IRRITATION TO THE NOSE AND EYES. THE -%%% REPORT WAS SENT TO THE DIVISION CHEMICAL OFFICER. %%% INJ/DAM. %%% MAR DIV IS WORKING ON PROVIDING MORE INFORMATION. MORE TO FOLLOW.

POTENTIAL MUSTARD %%% CONTAINERS OFFERED BY %%% IVO %%%”,”AT , -%%% CAV REPORTED A %%% INFORMED THE THT TEAM AT FOB %%% INFORMATION OF THE LOCATION OF ,%%% CONTAINERS OF LIQUID MUSTARD %%% IN %%%. THE %%% REQUESTED COMPENSATION OF , %%% PER CONTAINER. AT %%%, TF SABRE INITIATED COORDINATION TO ACQUIRE AND TEST A SAMPLE OF THE %%%. TESTING BEGAN AT 191640AUG04 WITH , %%%, AND %%%. ALL TESTS WERE CONDUCTED WITH THE FOLLOWING RESULTS: %%% TEST POSITIVE, THE %%% GAVE TWO SEPARATE READINGS OF %%% BARS, AND %%% REPORTED TWO POSITIVE RESULTS FOR BLISTER %%%. THE CHEMICAL %%% WAS TRIPLE-SEALED AND TRANSPORTED TO A SECURE SITE JUST OUTSIDE OF FOB , %%% THE FOB. PHOTOS OF THE SUBSTANCE CONTAINER HAVE BEEN SENT TO DANGER %%%, AND AN INITIAL %%% DETAILING SEQUENCE OF EVENTS HAVE BEEN FORWARDED TO DANGER . : –%%% 2101C]: THE MASS %%% TESTING FROM THE FOX RECON VEHICLE DETERMINED THE %%% TO BE %%%

ENEMY CAPTURED, WEAPONS SEIZED IVO BAGHDAD (ZONE ): %%% INJ/DAMAGE, 5X DET”,”AT 1130C, -%%% REPORTS THAT ONE OF THEIR UNITS WAS TALKING TO SOME LN’%%% WHEN ONE OF THE IRAQI’%%% BROKE AWAY AND ATTEMPTED TO HIDE AN AK-%%%. THE ING ATTACHMENTS LOCATED THE WEAPON AND THE UNIT MOVED TO INVESTIGATE THE HOUSE. THE SEARCH YIELDED THE FOLLOWING ITEMS: CS GAS, A CHEMICAL %%%, PROTECTIVE MASK, EMPTY %%% ROUND, %%% SNIPER RIFLE, %%% AK-, %%% ERA . %%% MALES WERE DETAINED.

RECON OF THE %%% CHEMICAL WEAPONS COMPLEX SW OF BALAD”,”AT 1245C, -%%% SCOUTS CONDUCTED A RECONNAISSANCE OF THE %%% CHEMICAL WEAPONS COMPLEX (%%%) AND THEY OBSERVED THAT ONE OF THE BUNKERS (%%%) HAS BEEN TAMPERED WITH. LARGE EARTH MOVERS HAD MOVED SOME OF THE LARGE %%% THAT WERE PUT IN PLACE AROUND THE OUTSIDE OF THE BUNKERS. INTEGRITY OF THE SEAL APPEARS INTACT, BUT IT SEEMS SOMEONE IS INTERESTED IN TRYING TO GET INTO THE BUNKERS.

SUSPECTED CHEMICAL LAB FOUND/SECURED IN SE FALLUJAH”,”AT 1145C, //%%% WAS CONDUCTING CLEARING OPS IN BLOCK . //%%% LOCATED A HOUSE WITH A CHEMICAL LAB IN SE FALLUJAH ( %%%). MARKED THE HOUSE AND CONTINUED CLEARING MISSION. SUBSTANCES FOUND ARE SIMILAR TO ONES (IN LESSER QUANTITIES) LOCATED AT PREVIOUS CHEMICAL LAB THAT WAS MITIGATED ON %%% NOV %%%. NO VAPOR HAZARD DETECTED BY / %%%. DIVISION %%% AND %%% WORKING SITE %%% AND %%%. NO CASUALTIES OR DAMAGE TO EQUIPMENT WERE REPORTED.

 

NOTE: A previous version of this post used the CWIED acronym to mean “Chemical Warfare Improvised Explosive Device”, as suggested by the book cited above. Further research revealed that this is not a valid interpretation and the necessary corrections were made, including to the number of dead and wounded. The URL of the post, however, could not be changed, so that the permalink to the post is not lost. 

 

 

 

Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

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