Iraqi Files Seized By UN Inspectors Seen As Possible 'Hit Lists'
AMONG documents seized from Iraq during United Nations inspections of that country's nuclear weapons program are lists of Iraqi personnel involved in the effort. As one Washington-based report put it, having these names in hand will make it "easier to monitor any attempt to resume the program."But beyond the lists' importance to UN monitors, Iraq has said the documents are personnel files of atomic energy workers whose release would put their lives in jeopardy from United States and Israeli intelligence services. Canadian scientist Gerald Bull was killed in March 1990 outside his Brussels apartment, apparently by a professional assassin. Three weeks after his murder, British officials seized an Iraq-bound shipment of massive, precision-made steel pipes - parts of the "supergun" Bull had designed for Iraq. Bull's son Michael has said he believes an Israeli agent was responsible for his father's death. According to Michael, a friend of Gerald Bull in contact with the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, had warned him that he was targeted. While Bull was the most prominent arms inventor to be killed in recent years, Arab states have long accused the Mossad of targeting Arab scientists for assassination. Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent who wrote a book about the activities of his old employer, claims the service killed Egyptian-born physicist Vahia al-Mashad, who was in charge of the Iraqi nuclear project. He was murdered in June 1980 on a trip to Paris to complete a deal for Iraq, according to Mr. Ostrovsky. An official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. Shortly after her husband's death, Mashad's widow traveled to Baghdad where the Iraqi government "provided for her and the family because [Mashad] had died in the line of duty," an Egyptian close to the family told the Monitor. In July 1989 Sayyed Said Bideer, an Egyptian microwave scientist, fell to his death from a balcony in Alexandria, Egypt. Just one month before he died, the Bideer had left his research position at a West German university. Before his return to Egypt, he told colleagues of fears that he was under surveillance and reported that his apartment had been searched and documents and computer files taken. The initial Egyptian police report listed his death as suicide by asphyxiation and slashing of the wrists, and from the fall. His family disputed the findings. Bideer was an internationally recognized scientist and had spent years researching microwave circuitry. The field has application in development of satellite technology and missile guidance systems. The Monitor has learned that Bideer was employed by Egypt's defense ministry with the rank of lieutenant colonel while under contract in Germany.