‘Dr Germ’ in custody in Iraq




By Mark Huband in Kuwait

Financial Times, 13 May 2003

Iraq’s expert on anthrax and the deposed regime’s former army chief of staff have been taken into custody by American forces, US military officials said yesterday.

Rihab Rashid Taha, a British-trained microbiologist nicknamed “Dr Germ” and described by the US Central Command as the former director of Iraq’s bacterial and biological programme, surrendered in Iraq at the weekend after days of negotiations.

Also caught was Ibrahim Ahmad Abd al-Sattar al-Tikriti, the former army chief and the 11th most-wanted of 55 members of the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein.

Mrs Taha’s surrender means that three key officials in Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programme are now in custody. She was not on the most-wanted list, although her husband Amer Rashid, a missile specialist and former oil minister, was number eight on the list. He surrendered on April 28.

US forces are also holding Amer Hammoudi al-Saadi, Mr Hussein’s former scientific adviser, and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, nicknamed “Mrs Anthrax”, who also worked on Iraq’s biological weapons programme.

According to intelligence officials hunting Iraq’s banned weapons programmes, neither Mr Saadi nor Mrs Ammash has so far provided any leads as to where, or in what condition, the weapons might be found. Both deny any exist.

Mrs Taha said in an interview earlier this year that she had produced germ warfare agents in the past, including anthrax and botulinum, but that all such Iraqi weapons were destroyed.

She told ABC television that Iraq’s weapons programmes helped protect Iraqis from Israel.


© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2008.