FIRST PYONGYANG, NOW BAGHDAD ? PAYING THE ANTIWAR LEFT'S BILLS:
has linked to a Daily Telegraph article on an apparently damning financial connection between Saddam's regime and a leading British antiwar activist, anti-American critic and Labor MP. The World Worker's Party, the mainstay behind ANSWER has long been subsidized by North Korea but these Iraqi intelligence documents are the first to connect the Antiwar Left to Saddam's regime.
Galloway was in Saddam's pay, say secret Iraqi documents
By David Blair in Baghdad
George Galloway, the Labour backbencher, received money from Saddam Hussein's regime, taking a slice of oil earnings worth at least £375,000 a year, according to Iraqi intelligence documents found by The Daily Telegraph in Baghdad.
A confidential memorandum sent to Saddam by his spy chief said that Mr Galloway asked an agent of the Mukhabarat secret service for a greater cut of Iraq's exports under the oil for food programme.
George Galloway: 'I have never in my life seen a barrel of oil, let alone owned, bought or sold one'
He also said that Mr Galloway was profiting from food contracts and sought "exceptional" business deals. Mr Galloway has always denied receiving any financial assistance from Baghdad.
Asked to explain the document, he said yesterday: "Maybe it is the product of the same forgers who forged so many other things in this whole Iraq picture. Maybe The Daily Telegraph forged it. Who knows?"
When the letter from the head of the Iraqi intelligence service was read to him, he said: "The truth is I have never met, to the best of my knowledge, any member of Iraqi intelligence. I have never in my life seen a barrel of oil, let alone owned, bought or sold one."
In the papers, which were found in the looted foreign ministry, Iraqi intelligence continually stresses the need for secrecy about Mr Galloway's alleged business links with the regime. One memo says that payments to him must be made under "commercial cover".
For more than a decade, Mr Galloway, MP for Glasgow Kelvin, has been the leading critic of Anglo-American policy towards Iraq, campaigning against sanctions and the war that toppled Saddam.
He led the Mariam Appeal, named after an Iraqi child he flew to Britain for leukaemia treatment. The campaign was the supposed beneficiary of his fund-raising.
But the papers say that, behind the scenes, Mr Galloway was conducting a relationship with Iraqi intelligence. Among documents found in the foreign ministry was a memorandum from the chief of the Mukhabarat to Saddam's office on Jan 3, 2000, marked "Confidential and Personal".
It purported to outline talks between Mr Galloway and an Iraqi spy. During the meeting on Boxing Day 1999, Mr Galloway detailed his campaign plans for the year ahead.
The spy chief wrote that Mr Galloway told the Mukhabarat agent: "He [Galloway] needs continuous financial support from Iraq. He obtained through Mr Tariq Aziz [deputy prime minister] three million barrels of oil every six months, according to the oil for food programme. His share would be only between 10 and 15 cents per barrel."
Iraq's oil sales, administered by the United Nations, were intended to pay for only essential humanitarian supplies. If the memo was accurate, Mr Galloway's share would have amounted to about £375,000 per year.
The documents say that Mr Galloway entered into partnership with a named Iraqi oil broker to sell the oil on the international market.
The memorandum continues: "He [Galloway] also obtained a limited number of food contracts with the ministry of trade. The percentage of its profits does not go above one per cent."
The Iraqi spy chief, whose illegible signature appears at the bottom of the memorandum, says that Mr Galloway asked for more money.
"He suggested to us the following: first, increase his share of oil; second, grant him exceptional commercial and contractual facilities." The spy chief, who is not named, recommends acceptance of the proposals.
Mr Galloway's intermediary in Iraq was Fawaz Zureikat, a Jordanian. In a letter found in one foreign ministry file, Mr Galloway wrote: "This is to certify that Mr Fawaz A Zureikat is my representative in Baghdad on all matters concerning my work with the Mariam Appeal or the Emergency Committee in Iraq."
The intelligence chief's memorandum describes a meeting with Mr Zureikat in which he said that Mr Galloway's campaigning on behalf of Iraq was putting "his future as a British MP in a circle surrounded by many question marks and doubts".
Mr Zureikat is then quoted as saying: "His projects and future plans for the benefit of the country need financial support to become a motive for him to do more work and, because of the sensitivity of getting money directly from Iraq, it is necessary to grant him oil contracts and special and exceptional commercial opportunities to provide him with an income under commercial cover, without being connected to him directly."
Mr Zureikat is said to have emphasised that the "name of Mr Galloway or his wife should not be mentioned".