Estimates of casualties arising from the conflict in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion of the country (and including the ensuing occupation and insurgency) vary widely. Scientific surveys relating to the first four years of the Iraq War estimate that between 151,000 and over one million Iraqis died as a result of conflict during this time. The Iraq Body Count project, a web-based effort to record civilian deaths resulting from the 2003 invasion, found 174,000 Iraqis were reported killed between 2003 and 2013 (between 112,000-123,000 of those being civilian non-combatants).
“I tell you something when I hear anybody, not just in Iraq but in any war, killed, I am very sad. But give me another solution. Can you give me another solution? Believe me, there was no other way to bring about freedom to Iraq. There were no other possibilities.” These are the words of the man who convinced the CIA that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme. Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, referred to by intelligence agencies as “Curveball”, claimed that he had worked as a chemical engineer at a plant that manufactured mobile biological weapon laboratories as part of an Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme. He later admitted his allegations, seized upon by the White House to justify the war against Iraq, were nothing but a pack of lies.
Janabi defected from Iraq in 1999, harbouring a grudge against Saddam’s regime. Having initially entered Germany seeking political asylum on the basis that he had embezzled Iraqi government money and faced prison or worse if sent home, he changed his story and told officials at a refugee centre near Nuremberg that he had worked for British-trained microbiologist Rihab Rashid Taha, known as “Dr. Germ”, as part of a team building mobile labs to produce lethal biological WMD. The German secret service, the BND, interviewed him throughout 2000 and initially gave full credence to his tales of mobile bioweapons trucks and clandestine factories. “I had a problem with the Saddam regime,” Janabi said. “Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right. They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.” Portraying the BND as hopelessly gullible, Janabi, having been granted asylum in Karlsruhe, south-west Germany, provided reams of information that were duly passed on to the CIA.
He was first exposed as a liar as early as mid-2000, when the BND travelled to Dubai to speak with his former boss, Dr Bassil Latif. Latif strongly denied Janabi’s claims of mobile bioweapons trucks and another allegation that 12 people had died during an accident at a secret bioweapons facility in south-east Baghdad. By 2003, UN weapons inspectors led by David Kay had all but trashed Janabi’s credibility, but the Bush administration ignored all the evidence that his claims were false and Colin Powell’s landmark speech to the United Nations on 5 February 2003 went ahead, relying heavily on the lies that Janabi had told the BND. Janabi is believed to be still living in Germany under strong protection of the German police.