After the arrest, the police turned over the documents they say were confiscated from Hindawi to U.N. inspectors in Baghdad. The papers turned out to be photocopies of material the inspectors already had, and, unlike other defectors Saddam’s security agents have nabbed, Hindawi is being kept alive and offered up to the U.N. team for interviews. “The scam was to show that this was a guy who was a rogue operator,” says a senior Administration official, “and that Saddam is now cleaning up and cracking down."
The Iraqi government announced last week that Nassir al-Hindawi, a 70-year-old microbiologist who is the former director of Iraq’s biological-weapons program, was arrested trying to fly out of Baghdad with 200 pages of documents on Saddam Hussein’s germ-warfare program. Though Iraqi police claim he was taking the documents to a “rogue” nation, White House aides suspect that the arrest was staged as part of an elaborate psychological operation by Saddam to persuade the United Nations that he is now serious about dismantling his weapons of mass destruction.