Sunday, June 13, 2004

Saddam adviser studied at MU

Saddam adviser studied at MU

Saddam adviser studied at MU

By NATE CARLISLE of the Tribune’s staff
Published Friday, March 28, 2003
The woman who U.S. intelligence officials say is a top Iraqi biological weapons scientist is a University of Missouri-Columbia alumna who was once issued a summons by campus police for disturbing a speech about Iraq and Iran.

AP photo
U.S. Intelligence officials believe this image taken from a video on Iraqi television yesterday shows Huda Salih Mahdi Amash, one of Saddam Hussein's top biological weapons scientists. Amash received her doctorate in 1983 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Seated next to Amash is Saddam's son, Qusai.
Huda Amash received her doctorate from the MU microbiology area program in 1983, according to campus records. Yesterday, she was seen on Iraqi television with Saddam Hussein.
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 to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, said that one of those on the video was Amash, who is believed to have played a key role in rebuilding Baghdad’s biological weapons capability in the mid-1990s.

Amash’s 1983 doctoral thesis was titled "The Effects of Selected Free Radical Generating Agents on Metabolic Processes in Bacteria and Mammals." According to the paper, she was born on Sept. 26, 1953, in Baghdad and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Baghdad in 1975.

She came to America "on a scholarship from the Iraqi government to complete her graduate study" and earned a master’s degree from Texas Women’s University. She came to MU in the fall of 1979.

She dedicated the paper to her parents and also thanked her husband, Ahmed, and children, Zena and Sayf Al-Deen.

According to an MU police report, Amash was among a crowd of about 200 who on April 2, 1983, gathered in Allen Auditorium to hear a speaker discuss conflict between Iran and Iraq.

"I remember we were having trouble with a couple in the group," MU Police Maj. Jack Watring said this morning. "I think it was during the Iran-Iraq war and there were a couple in the group who disrupted it."

The report, which spells her name "Hoda Amash," says Amash began yelling and disrupting the speech and was removed from the auditorium. She then was issued a summons.

"Mrs. Hoda Amash was not cooperative," reads the last line of the report.

University payroll records say Amash was a graduate research assistant in the Dalton Research Center from June 1981 until she resigned Oct. 20, 1983. Her annual salary was $5,920.

Over the years, Amash has been cited in many news articles and a few books that mostly discuss the impact sanctions have had on Iraq. But the fact that she attended MU was apparently not common knowledge until NBC and CNN reported it last night. News reports all spell Amash’s name "Ammash," however MU records spell her name with only one ‘m.’ MU also lists her full name as "Huda Saleh Amash" while news reports from CNN and the AP give it as "Huda Saleh Mehdi Ammash."

Richard Finkelstein, who served as chairman of the microbiology department at the MU School of Medicine from 1979 to 1993, said he never heard of Amash until last night.

Finkelstein was quick to say this morning that Amash should not be referred to as having graduated from MU with a microbiology degree.

In the early 1980s, according to Finkelstein, MU had what was called a "microbiology area" where the medical school, the College of Veterinary medicine and other schools and departments contributed to educating students wanting to study microbiology but who couldn’t get accepted to a specific college’s program.

"The department of microbiology prides itself on its graduates," Finkelstein said. "I can’t say the same about the area program.

"If she graduated from the area program, I feel a lot better about" Iraq’s "weapons," Finkelstein added.

-Reporter Josh Flory and the AP contributed to this report.

Reach Nate Carlisle at (573) 815-1723 or

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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