An Iraqi Defector Speaks Out

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, December 11, 2002. Click here to order the entire transcript of the show.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: I want you to meet Mohammed Tuma. His former job: Saddam's elite Republican Guard. And now beauty school in Nebraska. What a difference. I sat down with Mohammed, and I asked him what his job was in Saddam's Republican Guard.


MOHAMMED TUMA, IRAQI DEFECTOR: My duty was like a prevention and disinfection -- or I can call it like a clean-up after the chemical attack.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that to say that Saddam Hussein was using chemicals?

TUMA: Well, I'm talking right now about my duty. But Saddam Hussein, yes, he's been using chemical weapons against Kurdish people, and I believe that he use chemical weapons in Karbala in Iraq in 1991.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you ever see anyone who was -- who had had the chemical weapons used against him or her?

TUMA: Not -- no, not personally, no.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you know that he was doing that, then?

TUMA: Excuse me?

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you know that Saddam Hussein was using these chemical weapons?

TUMA: Well, I do remember in 1988, when he used the chemical weapons against the Kurdish people in Halabja. It was, like, everywhere -- TVs, media.

VAN SUSTEREN: In the time that you were serving in the Republican Guard or even in the military, did you ever see executions?

TUMA: Yes, I do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tell me about them.

TUMA: It was in 1991 during the uprising, the Shia uprising in the south of Iraq, especially in al-Karbala city and Najaf city, as-Samawa (ph) and Nasariyah (ph), even al-Basra.

And I do remember a story about that when I was in Karbala during the uprising. They gave me an order to get, like, 20 guys to the joint operations group, which is -- those are bunch of criminals from the Iraqi intelligence, from the military police, the military security, the military guards, the special guards, those who execute people. So they gave me an order to take, like, 20 young guys to that joint operations groups.

And it was really incredible when I took those guys. They -- the good thing about it, nobody gave me any list of names or numbers about them. So I was asking myself, Am I really am going to do that? I'm going to take those guys, who's going to face, I mean, death? Even the driver was with me. He start crying. And well, I just, like, gathering my guts, and I have to do something. I got to do something. And well, I'm just, like, I give an order to the driver. I'm just, like, Turn left and go south, and let's send them free. And that's what I did.

VAN SUSTEREN: So the 20 that you were supposed to take to get executed, you actually set free.

TUMA: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know what -- do you know if anybody was executed, of any other instances when people were executed or -- these weren't, but might have been?

TUMA: Thousands of people get executed, even innocent (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sometimes. As I said, in Karbala and Najaf, as-Samawa, different cities south of Iraq.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you deal with that as a member of the Republican Guard, that people are being executed?

TUMA: How I deal with that?


TUMA:& Well, myself, thanks God, nobody give me an order to execute anybody because my job wasn't like a fighter, so -- and that's why right now I am here. That's why I left the army.

VAN SUSTEREN: What year did you leave Iraq?

TUMA: In 1995.

VAN SUSTEREN: And did you leave with your family, or did you leave alone?

TUMA: Yes. I leave with my family.

VAN SUSTEREN: And any thoughts tonight about Iraq and the American policy towards Iraq?

TUMA: Well, myself, I support the war. And I just want to say a message for Mr. President. I say, please, no more -- no more talking. Let's take some action. And believe me, it's -- when the American troops will go there to Iraq, they will find all the people there waiting for them. They will throw flowers on them and rice.


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