WASHINGTON – A woman seen on Iraqi television Thursday meeting with Saddam Hussein is believed to be one of the regime's top biological weapons scientists, U.S. intelligence officials said.
The video recording of the meeting, which included other Iraqi leaders, was portrayed as current by Iraqi television, but U.S. officials said it was unclear when it was made.
Intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the woman among the half-dozen men in the video is Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, believed to have played a key role in rebuilding Baghdad's biological weapons capability in the mid-1990s.
The officials did not know whether to place any significance on Ammash's appearance in the video. Qusai Hussein, Saddam's younger son and probable successor, also appeared on the recording.
Ammash is among a new generation of leaders named by Saddam to leading posts within Iraq's Baath party, intelligence officials said. In May 2001, she assumed a high-level post with the Baath party regional command.
She was trained by Nassir al-Hindawi, described by U.N. inspectors as the father of Iraq's biological weapons program, the U.S. officials said.
Ammash and al-Hindawi are among Iraq's top weapons scientists. Others include Amir al-Saadi, a chief chemical weapons researcher, and Dr. Rihab Taha, a woman who was dubbed "Dr. Germ" by inspectors.
Ammash served as president of Iraqi's microbiological society and as dean at Baghdad University, officials said. She attended college in Texas and received additional training in Europe.
She played a role in organizing Baath activities in Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen, officials said.
Her father was a high-level party revolutionary who was believed to have been ordered killed by Saddam, officials said.
Iraqi television has aired two speeches by Saddam and video of several meetings since the war started. None contain any conclusive proof of when they were recorded.