hussein on trial 298.
(photo credit: AP)
Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein told an FBI interviewer before he was hanged that he led the world to believe that his country had weapons of mass destruction because he did not want to appear weak to the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to declassified FBI documents released Wednesday.
Hussein was quoted as saying that he was so concerned about radical Iranian leaders that he was ready to sign a security agreement with the United States guaranteeing protection from Iran.
In the interviews, Hussein maintained that Iran was Iraq's major threat due to their common border and believed that Iran sought to annex southern Iraq into Iran.
Hussein also referred to Osama Bin Laden as a "zealot" and said that he did not deal with al-Qaida.
The former Iraqi president was convicted of crimes against humanity in the Iraqi High Tribunal in Baghdad and put to death by hanging on December 30, 2006.
The National Security Archive released a statement Wednesday saying that 20 "formal" interviews and five "casual conversations" took place in 2004 and the documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the independent non-governmental research institute.
According to the statement, Hussein took personal responsibility for ordering the launching of SCUD missiles against Israeli targets during the 1991 Gulf War, because he blamed Israel and its influence in the US for "all the problems of the Arabs." However, Hussein denied that his purpose was to draw Israel into the conflict and to divide Washington from its Arab allies.
Hussein went on to say that "Israel was a threat to the entire Arab world, not specifically Iraq," according to one document.
The interviews took place between Feb. 7 and May 1, and the casual conversations between May 10 and June 28, after which Hussein was transferred to Iraqi custody.
In March 2003, the Bush administration ordered the invasion of Iraq, citing a threat to international security due to Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. The US also accused Hussein of having ties to al-Qaida.