I guess Obama found Saddam's WMDs right where Bush said they were.
As Congress holds hearings to determine whether or not it will vote to authorize President Barack Obama to use military force in the Syrian civil war, it's hard not to think of the Bush administration's arguments for military intervention in Iraq 10 years ago.
The justification at that time was to disarm then-dictator Saddam Hussein and his Ba’athist regime of alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) — namely chemical and biological weapons. Of course, long after military operations began and continued into the next decade, those weapons were never found.
However, even back then, there were accusations from several sources that Hussein had smuggled his WMDs over the border into Syria long before coalition forces began the Iraqi invasion. Today, there is now video evidence of chemical and biological weapons having been used in Syria to kill countless victims. While the blame game rages on as to who actually used said weapons, Assad forces or rebel fighters, many seem to have forgotten to ask a very important question: Where did these chemical weapons come from?
Was the Bush administration right all along? Could these indeed be the very same WMDs that intelligence agencies from around the world claimed were in Hussein’s possession which he then transferred over to Syria?
The earliest account of Hussein having hidden his WMDs in Syria came in January of 2004. Nizar Nayouf, an award-winning Syrian journalist who was granted political asylum in France, said in a letter to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf not only that he knew Iraq’s WMDs were being hidden inside Syria, but that he could pinpoint precisely where they were being kept. According to Nayouf’s witness, described as a senior source inside Syrian military intelligence he had known for two years, Iraq’s WMDs were in tunnels dug under the town of al-Baida near the city of Hama in northern Syria, in the village of Tal Snan, north of the town of Salamija, and in the city of Sjinsjar on the Syrian border with the Lebanon, south of the city of Homs. Nayouf claimed that the transfer of Iraqi WMDs to Syria was organized by the commanders of Hussein’s Iraqi Republican Guard with the help of General Dhu al-Himma Shalish and Assef Shawkat, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s cousin and brother-in-law, respectively.
We know for a fact that Shalish had a working relationship with Hussein long before the war in Iraq. The Syrian government awarded Shalish and his company, SES International Corporation, exclusive rights on contracts to supply the Iraqi market with goods from construction materials to detergent. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Shalish and SES helped the former Ba’athist regime access weapons systems by issuing false end-user certificates to foreign suppliers that listed Syria as the final country of destination. SES International then transshipped the goods to Iraq, and Shalish was subsequently sanctioned by the U.S. for procuring defense-related goods for Hussein in violation of sanctions against Iraq.
When two sources from the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) — a 1,400-member team organized by the Pentagon and CIA — spoke with the Washington Timesin August 2004, they reported that Hussein periodically removed guards on the Syrian border and replaced them with his own intelligence agents who supervised the movement of banned materials between the two countries. The shift was followed by the movement of trucks in and out of Syria suspected of carrying materials banned by UN sanctions. Once the shipments were made, the agents would leave and the regular border guards would resume their posts.
A similar claim was made by Lieutenant General Moshe Ya’alon in December of 2005, a former Israeli military officer who served as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces from July 2002 to June 2005. “(Hussein) transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria” six weeks before Operation Iraqi Freedom started, according to Ya’alon. “No one went to Syria to find it.”
Just a month later in January 2006, the Iraqi general who served as the No. 2 official in Hussein’s air force, Georges Sada, claimed Iraq moved WMDs into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into two civilian aircrafts in which the passenger seats were removed, as well as in multiple ground convoys of trucks.
“There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands,” Sada stated. “I am confident they were taken over [to Syria].”