Pubdate:  Mon, 09 Feb 1998
Subj: Saddam's son made millions shipping cocaine to Britain
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Contact:  SADDAM'S SOM MADE MILLIONS SHIPPING COCAINE TO BRITAIN

SADDAM HUSSEIN'S elder son, Uday, helped to run a multi-million-pound
racket smuggling cocaine into Britain and the rest of Europe, according to
lawyers for a high-ranking Iraqi defector.

Details of the alleged Iraqi plot to flood Britain and Europe with the drug
are said to have been provided to the British and American authorities by
Majid al-Samarra'i, a former Iraqi ambassador in Venezuela, whose family is
close to Saddam. Solicitors for the defector, who is talking to the
intelligence services about the operation of the Iraqi secret services,
claim they have seen documents showing how some of the cocaine was
transported from Venezuela on British Airways flights to Heathrow.

Officials at MI6, the British foreign intelligence service, said that,
while they were aware of Samarra'i's presence in Britain, they could not
discuss his case. The Home Office confirmed that an application from him
for political asylum was being considered by Jack Straw, the home
secretary.

Samarra'i was held at Heathrow three months ago after trying to enter
Britain on a false Venezuelan passport. He was detained for six weeks
before being released to pursue his claim for asylum.

His lawyers say he has documents that relate to alleged shipments of
cocaine from Venezuela to Europe in the 1980s and 1990s. They give details
of secret bank accounts in which the Iraqi security service is thought to
have stashed millions of dollars. According to legal sources, one document
purports to show a shipment of more than 140kg - worth between 3.5m and
4.2m at current street prices - on a BA flight from Caracas to Heathrow
two years ago.

Samarra'i told his solicitors that Uday Hussein had "indirect" control over
the trade. It is well established that Uday and Qusay, Saddam's younger
son, oversee a number of international smuggling operations to help to
finance their family's extravagant lifestyle.

Uday's jealous control of the sanctions-busting business has led to blood
feuds among his relatives and is thought to be connected to the murder of
eight Iraqis in Amman, Jordan, last month.

The defector says he faces certain death if he returns to Iraq; but he is
being shunned by Iraqi exiles, who are convinced he has been planted as a
spy. Samarra'i, 49, is one of the most senior Iraqi officials to defect to
the West in recent years. He fled his post in Caracas last year after an
alleged assassination attempt at his home.

He claims supporters smuggled him out of the country and over the next 11
months he travelled a circuitous route via the Dutch Antilles, Cuba and
Portugal to England. Maria Garcia, his Venezuelan mistress, has travelled
with him. His wife, who lives in Libya with his children, is said to be a
distant relative of Saddam.

General Wafiq al-Samarra'i, former head of Iraq's military intelligence,
said he could vouch for Majid, who is not a relative, although he could not
say whether the drug allegations were true.

Yesterday Samarra'i was in hiding in a flat in Knightsbridge. Initially he
declined to comment but later he told The Sunday Times that detailed
statements to journalists by Ghazi Khan, his solicitor, linking him to
knowledge of the drug trade were unauthorised.

He denied being involved in the trade. "I'm a diplomat and I have no
connection with this. I am not a businessman or a trader. How do I know
such a thing?"

Samarra'i said his full case would be heard later this month. His lawyers
have suggested that, if Britian rejects his asylum plea, he may be offered
asylum in America.

A senior Iraqi opposition source said it was known that Samarra'i had been
recruited by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the early
1990s and his activities had been reported back to Baghdad after his wife
reportedly found $40,000 (24,000) and secret papers in his safe.

Asked whether he had ever worked for the CIA, Samarra'i said: "I am an
Iraqi diplomat and ex-ambassador. I came here to seek asylum."