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Radwaniyah Presidential Site

Radwaniyah, about nine miles west of central Baghdad and adjacent to the Saddam International Airport, served as Hussein's main residence. The 9.3-square-mile compound is also known as Al-Qaddissiya, after a 7th-century battle in what is present day Iraq.

Radwaniyah prison is inside the Radwaniyah Presidential Site. The Al-Radwaniyah detention center is a former prisoner of war facility near Baghdad, and reportedly the site of torture as well as mass executions. This prison was the principal detention centre for persons arrested following the civil uprisings of 1991. Human Rights Watch and others have estimated that Radwaniyah has held more than 5,000 detainees.

The special group of UN Special Commission for Iraq (UNSOM) weapons inspectors, diplomats and representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) completed its initial inspections of Iraqi presidential sites on 02 April 1998. It took eight days to complete the so-called baseline inspections of the presidential sites. Access to these sites, which Iraq had declared off limits to the United Nations, was granted only after Secretary General Kofi Annan signed an agreement with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during his visit to Baghdad, allowing UN weapons experts, accompanied by a special group of "diplomatic observers," to inspect the compounds. Unfettered access to these and other sites was one of the conditions that needed to be met to complete the weapons inspections and ultimately lift UN sanctions.

All eight "presidential sites" visited appeared to be well defined by high walls or fences. They all had a rather similar landscape pattern: main guesthouses, with an integrated system of ancillary buildings and villas for accompanying dignitaries. Often an artificial lake with small artificial decorative islands located in a way to give access to the lake from each guesthouse. The mission was not intended to be a search for prohibited material and none was found. In fact, there was very little equipment, documentation or other material in the sites at all. It was clearly apparent that all sites had undergone extensive evacuation. In all the sites outside of Baghdad, for example, there were no documents and no computers. The buildings were largely empty. A key accomplishment of the mission was to plot more precisely the boundaries of the presidential sites.

During the course of the visits the Iraqi authorities were observed by senior diplomats to raise national security concerns in respect of (a) general aerial photography from the helicopter that was used as distinct from photography of specific situations; and (b) the use of global positioning system (GPS) instrumentation. Following negotiations conducted on site, the rights of UNSCOM to general aerial photography embodied in relevant Security Council resolutions (e.g. resolution 707 (1991)) were emphasized by the Head of the Team of Experts and the Iraqi authorities finally agreed, on an ad hoc basis, that this could take place for a reasonable amount of time. With regard to the use of GPS instrumentation, a compromise agreement was reached, again on an ad hoc basis, in deference to Iraqi concerns and in a spirit of cooperation. This would apply to initial visits to presidential sites and would not be regarded as a precedent for future visits since UNSCOM asserts its rights to use GPS instrumentation as standard equipment. National security concerns were also raised in respect of drawings and sketches of buildings, which UNSCOM required as part of its "baseline survey". This matter was also resolved satisfactorily.

Soil sampling and the use of other equipment was conducted by the experts without difficulty. The helicopter was able to obtain all the imagery it required. With regard to the baseline survey conducted by the experts, discrepancies were found between the survey conducted earlier and the ground realities and after some discussion these were resolved satisfactorily. The helicopter used by UNSCOM was able to land within the Radwaniyah Presidential Site so that the senior diplomat in the helicopter, Ambassador Antonio Monteiro of Portugal, could have consultations with the Head of the Special Group, who was also provided with the opportunity to observe the site from the air.

There is some considerable confusion on the part of Western intelligence concerning the most appropriate nomenclature for the palace complex that envelopes the airport to the South, East and North. In the DoD Briefing on Iraqi Denial and Deception of Oct. 8, 2002 the Radwaniyah presidential palace was said to be the extensive complex to the East and North of the Airport. Subsequently, the NIMA map of Baghdad assigns this nomenclature to the much smaller palace complex to the South of the Airport. This map assigns the name Abu Ghurayb to the palace to the East of the Airport, while the palace to the North of the Airport is termed "Presidential Palace North" -- otherwise known as the Qasr Al-Faw Palace.

Camp Slayer

Camp Slayer, a former Iraqi government palace and amusement complex near the Baghdad airport, featuring man-made lakes filled with Carp, was transformed into a logistics and operations base for US intelligence and weapons-hunting teams. The camp has also hosted US eavesdropping and other classified operations. Most of the 1,200 or so troops that have been based here, plus CIA and FBI officials, covert Special Forces teams, civilian experts and others, camp in two dozen or so garish guest houses that line three artificial lakes.

Upon completion of the renovations, the Iraq Survey Group staff worked in the Perfume Palace. The ornate building has an indoor pool on the ground floor, military murals on the second floor, and a blue-domed ballroom on top level. The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) was an international, inter-agency organization that operated in Iraq from June 2003 to April 2005. The group's mission focused on the search for and elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Its responsibilities also included the exploitation of documents and media related to terrorism, war crimes, and POW/MIA issues.

Also, a building at Camp Slayer was assigned a Forensic Analysis Facility, with equipment to analyze exhumation evidence from mass graves.

Additionally located at Camp Slayer, the pair of Iraqi trucks which the CIA claimed were mobile biowarfare production facilities, and a stockade that has been used to store some captured Iraqi weapons scientists and other top regime officials.

All the buildings were looted, and most lacked air conditioning or running water. Soldiers have furnished their accommodations with chandeliers, wingback chairs, gilt-edged tables and pieces sculpture scavenged from the complex's five major palaces. One palace has an underground bunker with thick steel doors and gold wallpaper.

From February to March 2004, soldiers from 1st Armored Division's 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment trained soldiers from the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps at Camp Slayer. The corps is a guard unit consisting of Iraqi citizens who volunteer to serve their nation and fight terrorist insurgents within their homeland. The training included both classroom and hands-on instruction. It encompassed 1 st Armored Division battle drills and focused on five key missions: dismounted patrolling, setting up traffic control points, performing route security, securing a forward operating base, and conducting raids and cordon and searches. The Iraqi soldiers also spent two days qualifying on an AK-47 assault rifle.

In July of 2004, officers based at Camp Slayer were working out of lake front buildings that were once holiday guest houses for Baath Party loyalists. Opinion seemed to agree that the best part of the lake front offices were the marble bath rooms, complete with modern toilets and bidets that worked. Throughout Iraq water systems have been the last of the major infrastructure systems to be restored. On BIAP the soldiers were still using porta-johns, although contractors were working diligently to bring in toilets that flush. Looking across the lake from the headquarters are the ruins of one of Saddam Husseins vast palace complexes. One in particular was a recreational facility, with a huge theater, ballroom, conference room and swimming pool. One corner of the palace was completely demolished. It was attacked on the first night of the war by cruise missiles as it was suspected that Saddam Hussein was there. Unfortunately, this intelligence turned out to be wrong.

As of mid-2004, troops staionned at Camp Slayer had access to running water, functional toilets and showers. In addition, troops garrisoned there also had access to the internet.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:50:11 ZULU