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Newly found Iraqi files raise heat on British MP

Documents indicate payments of more than $10 million for support of Labour Party official.

By Philip SmuckerSpecial to The Christian Science Monitor / April 25, 2003



BAGHDAD

Editor's note: Documents at the center of the allegations contained in this article have since been shown to be forgeries. The story detailing that Monitor conclusion is available here: http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0620/p01s03-woiq.html. The Monitor therefore acknowledges that the allegations in the documents are false and has apologized to Mr. Galloway for their publication and for the embarrassment and distress caused to him. To underline the sincerity of this apology, the Monitor has paid Mr. Galloway a sum in damages.

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A fresh set of documents uncovered in a Baghdad house used by Saddam Hussein's son Qusay to hide top-secret files detail multimillion dollar payments to an outspoken British member of parliament, George Galloway.

Evidence of Mr. Galloway's dealings with the regime were first revealed earlier this week by David Blair, a reporter for the Daily Telegraph in London, who discovered documents in Iraq's Foreign Ministry.

The Labour Party MP, who lambasted his party's prime minister, Tony Blair, in parliamentary debates on the war earlier this year, has denied the allegations. He is now the focus of a preliminary investigation by British law-enforcement officials and is under intense scrutiny in the British press, where the story has been splashed across the front pages.

The most recent - and possibly most revealing - documents were obtained earlier this week by the Monitor. The papers include direct orders from the Hussein regime to issue Mr. Galloway six individual payments, starting in July 1992 and ending in January 2003.

The payments point to a concerted effort by the regime to use its oil wealth to win friends in the Western world who could promote Iraqi interests first by lifting sanctions against Iraq and later in blocking war plans.

The leadership of Hussein's special security section and accountants of the President's secretive Republican Guard signed the papers and authorized payments totaling more than $10 million.

The three most recent payment authorizations, beginning on April 4, 2000, and ending on January 14, 2003 are for $3 million each. All three authorizations include statements that show the Iraqi leadership's strong political motivation in paying Galloway for his vociferous opposition to US and British plans to invade Iraq.

The Jan. 14, 2003, document, written on Republican Guard stationary with its Iraqi eagle and "Trust in Allah," calls for the "Manager of the security department, in the name of President Saddam Hussein, to order a gratuity to be issued to Mr. George Galloway of British nationality in the amount of three million dollars only."

The document states that the money is in return for "his courageous and daring stands against the enemies of Iraq, like Blair, the British Prime Minister, and for his opposition in the House of Commons and Lords against all outrageous lies against our patient people...."

The document is signed left to right by four people, including Gen. Saif Adeen Flaya al-Hassan, Col. Shawki Abed Ahmed, and what the Iraqi general who first discovered the documents says is the signature of Qusay. The same exact signatures are also found on a vast array of documents from the offices of the president's youngest son. The final authorization appears to be that of Qusay, who notes the accounting department should "issue the check and deliver to Mr. George Galloway," adding, "Do this fast and inform me."

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