Newly found Iraqi files raise heat on British MP
Documents indicate payments of more than $10 million for support of Labour Party official.
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An Iraqi general attached to Hussein's Republican Guard discovered the documents in a house in the Baghdad suburbs used by Qusay, who is chief of Iraq's elite Guard units.Skip to next paragraph
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The general, whose initials are "S.A.R.," asked not to be named for fear of retribution from Hussein's assassins. He said he raided the suburban home on April 8 with armed fighters in an effort to secure deeds to property that the regime had confiscated from him years ago. He said he found the new Galloway papers amid documents discussing Kuwaiti prisoners and Hussein's chemical warfare experts, and information about the president's most trusted Republican Guard commanders.
The documents appear to be authentic and signed by senior members within Saddam Hussein's most trusted security circle, but their authenticity could not be verified by the Monitor.
The British newspaper The Guardian raised possible questions about the first round of documents, including the possibility that while the documents could be real, they might include false allegations from which Iraqi agents could profit internally.
Galloway - a colorful Scot who is sharp of suit and even sharper of tongue - made regular visits to Iraq, and was dubbed by conservatives in Britain as an "apologist for Saddam Hussein." He once told the dictator, "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability."
In Parliament, Galloway, an MP since 1987 and a controversial figure, has championed the plight of Iraq, and blasted Blair for going to war in league with President Bush in his "crusade" against the Muslim world. He labeled Blair and Bush "wolves" for attacking Iraq, sparking a firm rebuttal from Blair, who called the remarks "disgraceful."
Galloway has vehemently denied he accepted any cash payments from the regime, initially, suggesting the documents may have been forged. The outspoken Labour Party member called earlier Daily Telegraph stories about his dealings a "smear campaign" against war opponents, and his lawyers have initiated legal proceedings against the newspaper.
Repeated efforts to contact Galloway, who is currently traveling in Portugal, were unsuccessful. No one answered at his House of Commons office, and his mobile phone was switched off.
David Blair, the British reporter who first broke the story, told the BBC: "I think it would require an enormous amount of imagination to believe that someone went to the trouble of composing a forged document in Arabic and then planting it in a file of patently authentic documents and burying it in a darkened room on the off-chance that a British journalist might happen upon it and might bother to translate it. That strikes me as so wildly improbable as to be virtually inconceivable."
According to the documents Blair found in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Galloway received money from Hussein's regime, taking a slice of oil earnings worth at least $600,000 a year. A top-secret memo sent by Hussein's spy chief requested that Galloway get an even-greater cut of Iraq's exports under the UN-sponsored oil for food program.
The document said that Galloway was profiting from food contracts, and sought "exceptional" business deals.
The most recent documents obtained by the Monitor suggest that payoffs may well have been made by checks in lump sums. The Iraqi general, who is familiar with financial dealings of Hussein's inner circle, said that checks of several million dollars could have easily been cashed in a bank on the ground floor of one of the President's most important palaces in Baghdad.