BACKGROUNDER: Compiled by Bill Gertz
Russia denies taking Iraqi intelligence archives
Sergey Lebedev, director of the Russian SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, said that Russian intelligence and diplomatic personnel had not removed the intelligence archives of Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabarat intelligence service when they vacated the Russian embassy in Baghdad.
Lebedev said, however, that an SVR operative was given an award for protecting a convoy of Russian diplomats who drove to Syria during the March 2003 military operation to oust Saddam.
“I can say quite definitely that that is complete rubbish,” Lebedev said of reports that the Russians removed the Iraqi intelligence archive in their retreat. “But the publication of that story undoubtedly created a hullabaloo over the convoy. And I am personally convinced that this provocative report may have been the reason for the attack on the convoy.” Lebedev made his comments in an interview published last week.
U.S. forces fired on the convoy, wounding the Russian ambassador and an SVR officer. Former Pentagon official John Shaw, a deputy undersecretary has said Russian special forces personnel removed sensitive Iraqi weapons of mass destruction goods and documents in the weeks prior to the U.S.-led invasion.