FBI: Saddam feared Iran more than U.S.

July 2, 2009 6:07:24 AM PDT
After his capture, Saddam Hussein told the FBI that he falsely allowed the world to believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction because he feared revealing his weakness to Iran, the hostile neighbor he considered a bigger threat than the U.S.

Saddam also dismissed Osama bin Laden as a "zealot," said he had never personally met the al-Qaida leader and that the Iraqi government didn't cooperate with the terrorist group against the U.S., according to FBI interview notes made public by the National Security Archive, a non-governmental research institute.

The institute obtained the FBI summaries through a Freedom of Information Act request and posted them on its Web site Wednesday.

Saddam was interviewed by the FBI after he was captured in December 2003, nine months after the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq. He was later transferred to Iraqi custody and was hanged in December 2006.

The FBI special agent who interviewed Saddam, George Piro, described their talks in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" last year. Saddam told him he had "miscalculated" former President George W. Bush's intentions and expected only a limited U.S. attack.

"Hussein stated Iraq could have absorbed another United States strike, for he viewed this as less of a threat than exposing themselves to Iran," according to a June 11, 2004, FBI interview report.

Saddam denied having unconventional weapons before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, but refused to allow U.N. inspectors to search his country from 1998 until 2002. The inspectors returned to the weapons hunt in November 2002 but still complained that Iraq wasn't cooperating.

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