WASHINGTON – The Iraqi defector code-named “Curveball,” whose false tales of biological weapons labs bolstered the U.S. case for war, wasn’t the prominent chemical engineer he claimed to be and invented stories to help his case for asylum in Germany, a new report says.
“Curveball” is Rafid Ahmed Alwan, who did study chemical engineering but made poor grades and never managed a biological weapons facility, according to CBS’ “60 Minutes,” which will broadcast on Sunday a report describing how Alwan became a secret intelligence source.
Although known publicly only by his code name, Curveball has been repeatedly discredited by investigations of the United States’ faulty prewar intelligence and became an embarrassment to U.S. spy agencies. A presidential intelligence commission found that Curveball, who mostly told his stories to German intelligence officials who passed them on to the U.S., was a fabricator and an alcoholic.
“60 Minutes” reports that Alwan arrived at a German refugee center in 1999 and began spinning his tales of a facility making mobile biological weapons in an effort to gain asylum. The ploy apparently achieved his goal, and Alwan is assumed to be living in Germany today under an assumed name.
Although German intelligence officials warned the CIA that Curveball’s claims of mobile bioweapons labs were unreliable, and U.N. inspectors determined before the war began in 2003 that parts of his story were false, the Bush administration continued to promote the existence of such mobile labs for months after the invasion, until it was widely accepted that they could not be found.