[July 17, 2021] One of the justifications for invading Iraq in 2003 was that their military possessed weapons of mass destruction. Although chemical weapons were found in abundance, the most sought-after WMD was nuclear. Did Iraq have its own Operation Werewolf that took WMD materials out of the country?
After the initial invasion of Iraq, U.S. forces were on the hunt for WMD materials. WMD is usually thought of as either Chemical, Biological, or Nuclear materials, including containers and manufacturing. There were persistent rumors that inside government workers within the Ba’ath Party of Iraq had taken these out of the country to places like Iran or Syria.
In mid-2004, as things tensed up in the occupation of Iraq, I reminded our Military Intelligence folks of the Nazi Operation Werewolf in World War 2. The war had left the German population in a state of shock, displaced people roamed the countryside (often looting), transportation was at a standstill, and Joseph Goebbels, Operation Werewolf, was in play.
The mission of those involved in Operation Werewolf was to operate behind enemy lines and harass Allied forces. They were usually unsuccessful; they did work as an underground railroad to enable higher-ranking German officers to travel escape routes called “ratlines” and flee the country.
As U.S. Army Engineers, we were most interested in this operation and did what we could with limited time resources to study it. Was such an operation transporting Ba’ath Party officials out of the country? Were they sending WMD materials to nearby Iran? Were they assassinating Iraqis who were cooperating with the Coalition? Answers to these questions were important.
I want to say, upfront, that what I’m writing today is not classified information. I have no unique insight into what went on behind closed doors between the senior Coalition Generals who ran the war. When I brought this parallel between Operation Werewolf and what many believed was happening in Iraq, I was told to mind my own business and do “engineer stuff.”
One day while working on a highway project, I was approached by one of my Iraqi contractors who had good standing with us. He told me that he had been approached by a friend who would like to sell “proof” that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons. His friend wanted $10,000 in cash. But would only give it to Army Engineers since we were the only ones helping rebuild Iraq.
After obtaining permission from those same Intell officials, I went to an agreed-upon place to meet this “friend.” He never showed up.
The questions remain, and perhaps one day, we will find out. Did Iraq whisk away its nuclear weapons? Was there an Operation Werewolf? Perhaps one day I will write about it.