BALTIMORE (CN) - Iraqi expatriates and the Kurdish National Congress say three U.S. companies sold equipment and chemicals that Saddam Hussein needed to make the poison gas he used to kill thousands of people in Halabja and other cities in 1988.
The federal class action claims that VWR International, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Alcolac did it though they knew Saddam was using chemical weapons, and that other chemical manufacturers had refused to do business with Iraq for precisely that reason.
Defendant VWR International is based in Westchester, Pa.; Thermo Fisher aka Oxoid in Waltham, Mass.; and Alcolac in Cumberland, Md. The five individual plaintiffs, all of whom now live in Tennessee, also sued the Republic of Iraq.
According to the complaint: "The company defendants sold goods and services to Iraq that were necessary for Saddam Hussein and his regime to procure his chemical and nerve gas weapons of mass destruction despite knowledge that Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons and nerve agents against his own people, including Kurds living in northern Iraq, as well as citizens of neighboring states. The company defendants further knew that other major chemical, biological and/or equipment manufacturers, such as Imperial Chemical Industries, had refused to do business with Iraq for precisely the reason that Iraq's chemical/biological weapons program was widely known."
Plaintiff Mohammed Aziz said he was injured by mustard gas in an attack on Halabja, and his lung capacity has been reduced by 75 percent.
The other plaintiffs describe, in graphic detail, their suffering and the deaths of their families in the poison gas attacks.
One plaintiff, Mossa Abdullah Mossa, says three of his family members were killed and 13 injured. "More recently," he said, he "returned to Baghdad to testify against Saddam Hussein during his trial."
According to the complaint, Thermo Fisher, parent company of Oxoid, sold "laboratory materials to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq that was used to manufacture chemical warfare agents. ...
"Alcolac's predecessor company, Alcolac International Inc., sold more than 300 tons of thiodiglycol - a precursor material used to make mustard gas - via Nu Kraft Mercantile Corporation ..."
VWR is accused of "selling chemicals to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq that were used to manufacture chemical warfare agents."
Plaintiffs' lead counsel is Stanley Todman of Fulton, Md.