According to the source, the CPA had passed to the Badr militia my name, the dates of my planned trip to Baghdad, my proposed agenda and a list of Iraqis I had planned to meet with, including Mohammed. This information was in turn passed on to the unit in the Badr militia which specialized in targeted assassination in Baghdad. “Mr. Ritter cannot come to Iraq,” the Mukhabarat agent told Mohammed. “If he does, his life is at risk, your life is at risk, and everyone associated with his visit’s life will be at risk.” And so Mohammed sent his e-mailed warning to me.That was in late 2003, when Ritter was on assignment for Harpers Magazine. But his source, a former Iraqi WMD scientist identified only as "Mohammed", also had a story from June that year:
On the surface, Mohammed’s story was too much to believe. I was willing to accept any account that held that specific Iraqi groups, such as Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, were opposed to my visit to the extent that they might issue threats in an effort to intimidate me from coming. But the concept of the United States government being involved boggled the mind.
The problem with disbelieving was there were too many pieces of this puzzle that seemed to fit together...
Dave was on his feet, pacing before Mohammed, before turning to him and asking straight out, “Where are the weapons of mass destruction?” Mohammed, who had intimate knowledge of certain aspects of the Iraqi WMD effort, replied straight back: “There are no WMD in Iraq.”The first reader comment on this story at ICH is a rather disturbing:
Dave continued pacing back and forth in front of Mohammed. “My president,” he said, “is in trouble. Can you help him?”
Mohammed was taken aback by the question. “Excuse me?” he asked. “Could you repeat yourself?”
Dave sat down next to the Iraqi. “George Bush is in trouble. Our people did not find any WMD in Iraq. Can you help us?”
Mohammed looked back at Dave. “How?”
“Can we prepare something for that? We could bring in some nuclear material from the former Soviet Union, and pretend they are Iraqi.”
Mohammed, stunned by the unexpected nature of the request, indicated that such a ploy could be easily uncovered by forensic examination of the evidence by outside experts, such as UNSCOM (the United Nations Special Commission) or the IAEA, who would undoubtedly be called in to verify such a finding. Dave sat in silence for a few moments, before springing to his feet. “I have to leave for a meeting,” he said. “Stacey will show you out.”
Mohammed was to meet again with Dave, Stacey and Carol in the weeks that followed. The subject of WMD, Iraqi or otherwise, was never again broached by Dave or anyone else in his team.
Question, sort of off topic: Have the good ICH readers notice that "Riverbend" has been absent for the past few months...Is that meant to be a threat to ICH readers?