Hussein told US of worries over Iran

Washington Post / July 2, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein told an FBI interviewer before he was hanged that he allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction because he was worried about appearing weak to Iran, according to declassified accounts of the interviews released yesterday. Hussein also denounced Osama bin Laden as “a zealot’’ and said he had no dealings with Al Qaeda.

Hussein, in fact, said he felt so vulnerable to the perceived threat from “fanatic’’ leaders in Tehran that he would have been prepared to seek a “security agreement with the United States to protect [Iraq] from threats in the region.’’

Former president George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq six years ago on the grounds that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat to international security. Administration officials at the time also strongly suggested Iraq had significant links to Al Qaeda, which launched the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Hussein, who during the interviews was often defiant and boastful, at one point wistfully acknowledged that he should have permitted the United Nations to witness the destruction of Iraq’s weapons stockpile after the 1991 Persian Gulf War .