Named, the defector who misled US over Iraq

Philip Sherwell and Tim Shipman

The Iraqi defector whose fabricated account of Baghdad’s biological weapons programme was crucial to the US case for war will be identified today on American TV as an accused thief and failed chemical engineering student.

Known as Curveball by Western intelligence agencies, the man is named for the first time on CBS’s 60 Minutes show as Rafid Ahmed Alwan.

After escaping Iraq and reaching Germany in 1999, he claimed to be an engineer who had run a biological weapon plant for Saddam.

But according to the programme, he earned low marks in chemical engineering at university and was accused of theft at an Iraqi TV station where he worked.

Alwan, who is understood to be living in Germany under an assumed name, was briefly employed at the biological weapon site, allowing him to embellish his story.

The revelations come as a new book on the case shows how MI6 warned the CIA in April 2002 that Curveball had probably been fabricating his accounts – five months before the same claims appeared in Tony Blair’s “dodgy dossier”.

The book also shows that it was a British intelligence analyst who exposed Curveball’s lies by using satellite imagery to show that he could not have watched bio-war trucks leaving a facility because a high wall was in the way.