Monday, December 08, 2003

That 45-minute source: utter nonsense and a possible explanation

The Daily Torygraph reported over the weekend that they had found the "senior Iraqi officer" who was the source for the now infamous claim that Iraq could use weapons of mass destruction at 45 minutes' notice. Lieutenant-Colonel Al Dabbagh was supposedly the commander of an air defence unit in the western desert of Iraq and stated that "containers" had arrived shortly before the war from Baghdad containing a "secret weapon" that was only to be used in a critical situation. He further stated that the weapon was made in Iraq and was fired in a similar way to a rocket-propelled grenade. Well - nice try! According to, an RPG7 has an effective range of 500 metres and a maximum range of 920 metres. Now, what kind of weapon of mass destruction would anyone release within a kilometre of their own location? And would fit in a 2.25kg round? And what did his air-defence unit have to do with it?

Several newspapers have also carried quotes from the famous "security sources" saying that it was expected that several Iraqi officers would claim responsibility - after all, thye have careers to look after. There is another possible explanation though - remember the mystery weapon that destroyed an American tank on the 28th of August? The story only leaked out at the end of October after it became clear that the Americans were baffled as to what the projectile was. On Thursday, the 6th of November, I blogged on the affair. Opinion seems to be leaning towards some kind of advanced warhead used to boost the effects of an RPG. Could those have been the secret weapons Lt Col Al-Dabbagh saw?

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