Skip to comments.UK Newspaper Says Documents Link Bin Laden to Iraq (The Telegraph Gets Another HUGE Scoop!)
Posted on 04/26/2003 2:36:35 PM PDT by Timesink
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper said it had discovered documents showing Iraqi intelligence hosted an envoy from Osama bin Laden in 1998 and sought to meet the alleged September 11 mastermind in person.
The finding, if verified, would appear to support Washington's assertion of links between ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and bin Laden, one of the justifications for the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
The paper said the documents, which its correspondent found in the wrecked headquarters of the Iraqi Mukhabarat intelligence service, showed Iraq brought a bin Laden aide to Baghdad in early 1998 from his former base in Sudan to arrange closer ties.
Iraqi officials sought to have the envoy pass on a verbal message setting up a direct meeting with bin Laden, the paper said.
The 1998 visit described in the documents would have taken place before bin Laden became a household name in the West, when Washington blamed him for the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa later that year.
According to the Telegraph, bin Laden's name had been concealed in several places on the Iraqi documents with white correction fluid. Its correspondent scraped the fluid off with a razor to uncover the name.
In one document quoted by the paper an Iraqi official wrote: "We suggest permission to call the Khartoum station (Iraq's intelligence office in Sudan) to facilitate the travel arrangements for the above-mentioned person to Iraq.
"And that our body carry all the travel and hotel costs inside Iraq to gain the knowledge of the message from bin Laden and to convey to his envoy an oral message from us to bin Laden."
A handwritten note on the same page said the letter had been passed on to the deputy director general of the intelligence service, recommending that he "bring the envoy to Iraq because we may find in this envoy a way to maintain contacts with Iraq."
The documents do not make clear whether the hoped-for meeting between Iraqi officials and bin Laden took place.
Before the war, Saddam's government repeatedly denied any links with bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
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These guys weren't smart enough to run an Evil Empire, let alone an "intelligence" agency. "covered up with correction fluid", yeah, that'll keep it all secret! Makes me wonder if all those stolen computers will be found with white-out on the monitors.
Al Hunt is their substitution for comics.
Nah. Hunt's been on once a week, for some time. More recently Robert Bartley--editorial page editor emeritus--has had a column "Thinking Things Over" on Mondays. Hunt's column appears on Tuesday, I think . . .
Rather: "Mr President, Americans are very much concerned about anyone's connections to Osama Bin Laden. Do you have, have you had, any connections to al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden?"
Saddam: "... Iraq has never had any relationship with al-Qaeda and I think that Mr Bin Laden himself has recently, in one of his speeches, given such an answer that we have no relation with him."
Please explain that.
You should. Think of the economic stimulus!
Isn't it odd that the truth suddenly comes tumbling out at such a rate it's hard to keep up? I keep visualizing all the politicos & journalists scurrying around for cover. MOABs are raining down on them from the UK press!
Where is the American press?
See this for the Arabic Press:
The CIA found the British press? Well, that's a start for them.
No doubt they're looking for (a)ways to spin the money-for-media revelations, (b) ways to blame others for the Baghdad funds in their accounts, or (c) countries with no extradition treaties with the U.S. (Or D, seeking ways to explain this to St. Peter?)
Its possible our intellience is finding and sorting threw them and giving some interesting documents to the press. What better way to get credibility than have them come out through unofficial sources ?
Documents have reportedly been found in Baghdad which show that Saddam Hussein's intelligence service hosted an envoy from Osama bin Laden in 1998 and sought to meet the alleged 11 September terror mastermind in person.
The documents, which a reporter for The Sunday Telegraph claimed to have found yesterday in the wrecked headquarters of the Iraqi Mukhabarat (intelligence service), showed that Iraq brought a bin Laden aide to Baghdad in early 1998 from his former base in Sudan to arrange closer ties.
The documents claim the meeting was apparently so successful that the emissary's trip was extended by a week and ended with arrangements being discussed for bin Laden himself to visit Iraq.
The 1998 visit described in the documents would have taken place before bin Laden became notorious in the West, when the US blamed him for the bombings of two US embassies in Africa later that year.
According to the newspaper, bin Laden's name had been concealed in several places on the Iraqi documents with white correction fluid and the reporter scraped the fluid off with a razorblade to uncover the name.
One paper is marked, in handwriting, "Top Secret and Urgent" and dated 19 February 1998. It refers to the planned trip from Sudan by bin Laden's unnamed envoy and refers to arrangements for his visit. The documents do not say whether a meeting between Iraqi officials and Mr bin Laden took place.
Before the war, Saddam's government denied links with bin Laden's al-Qa'ida network.
Absolutely! To call Saddam or Osama an "evil genius" is a cop-out -- these mutts were/are enabled abroad by the likes of Galloway, Chiraq, Kofi Annan and countless other paid degenerates. In Iraq, Afghanistan and other hellholes, torture, murder and terror don't require a very high IQ.
Rather is a useful idiot.
Much like the WSJ "found" that hard drive in Afghanistan.
Freedom of the press
Today, The Sunday Telegraph reveals a remarkable cache of documents, discovered in Baghdad by our reporter Inigo Gilmore, which provide the first hard evidence of the direct links between al-Qa'eda and Saddam Hussein's regime. Since September 11, the Bush administration and, to a lesser extent, the British Government have been struggling to prove that this deadly relationship existed. The papers, which concern a clandestine visit by an envoy of Osama bin Laden to Baghdad in 1998, do just that.
Saddam's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and his refusal to comply fully with UN weapons inspectors meant that there was a perfectly legitimate casus belli for the war in Iraq. Nonetheless, the inability of President Bush or the Prime Minister to demonstrate a clear link between the Iraqi dictator and al-Qa'eda has always been a source of political embarrassment, not least because some of the attempts to prove such a link by politicians and the intelligence agencies were so feeble. The weakness of this forensic case was often - and understandably - seized upon by opponents of the war on terrorism.
The new papers transform that forensic case: they show beyond reasonable doubt that the Ba'ath regime was taking active measures in 1998 to develop a strong relationship both with al-Qa'eda as an organisation and bin Laden personally. The common cause at this point appears to have been the battle to bring down America's regional ally, Saudi Arabia. But it would be odd if this was the only issue which Saddam's henchmen and bin Laden's representatives discussed.
Our disclosure today does not, of course, amount to evidence that Saddam was directly involved in the destruction of the World Trade Center. But it is a tantalising glimpse of a relationship which may have spawned the most appalling atrocities. We can only speculate about what new revelations - still more explosive - will be made by resourceful journalists in Baghdad.
This is the third week in a row that The Sunday Telegraph has published documents retrieved from the ministry buildings once occupied by the Ba'ath regime. A fortnight ago, papers which our reporter David Harrison had retrieved from the bombed headquarters of the Iraqi intelligence service, showed that Russia had passed intelligence to Saddam Hussein's regime about Tony Blair's private conversations. Last week, we disclosed details of a dossier found in the same building, which revealed that German intelligence officers had offered co-operation with the Iraqi dictator in the build-up to war last year. Two days later, The Daily Telegraph disclosed documents it had found in the Iraqi foreign ministry which produced an outstanding scoop: George Galloway, the papers purported to show, had received at least £375,000 a year from Saddam's regime, money syphoned off from the country's oil-for-food programme.
Mr Galloway, who denies the veracity of the documents, has been quick to insinuate that such stories are being spoon-fed to the press by sinister intelligence agencies. On Monday, he told the Daily Telegraph: "Maybe it's the product of the same forgers who forged so many other things in this whole Iraq picture It would not be the Iraqi regime that was forging it. It would be people like you [Telegraph journalists] and the Government whose policies you have supported." In an article in Thursday's Independent, Mr Galloway warmed to his theme, hinting that it was odd that the Telegraph Group should have "broken three major 'intelligence' stories in two weeks out of Baghdad".
The truth is that these stories are not the result of orchestration or manipulation by the military coalition and Western intelligence agencies, but precisely the opposite. The media has been presented at these ministries with something approaching a free-for-all; a combination of journalistic initiative and serendipity have contributed to the best disclosures. If, indeed, MI6 had got to the Galloway file first, it is highly improbable that the British intelligence service would have leaked it to the press. The practice of such agencies is to keep precious information of this sort to themselves - not least as potential leverage with those, such as Mr Galloway, suspected of questionable dealings with a hostile regime.
What is striking, in fact, is that the coalition apparently had no plans to secure these government buildings - with the presentationally unfortunate exception of the oil ministry. It would seem self-evident that those seeking Saddam's weapons of mass destruction would want first sight of what documents had survived at the dictator's intelligence HQ, the foreign ministry and the agriculture department (vital for biological and chemical technology). However, no attempts were made to seal off these departments, or even to give them a minimal military guard.
That organisational failure was echoed in the failure to heed explicit warnings about the risks of looting. On February 11, for example, the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeological Group wrote to the Prime Minister specifically warning of the risks to Iraq's cultural treasures if Saddam's regime collapsed. The group was told that their letter had been passed to the Foreign Office. But the ransacking of the Iraqi National Museum shows that no action was taken in response - an error for which President Bush apologised on behalf of the coalition in an interview with NBC last week. Such failures of foresight do not detract in the slightest from the greater triumph of Iraq's liberation. But they do show how much the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance headed by Jay Garner still has to do.
Today's disclosure adds weight to the case which has underpinned the war on terrorism since September 11. It adds lustre to the argument - long made by the President and Prime Minister - that rogue states and international terrorist groups share both ambitions and resources. The veil has at last been lifted on the long-suspected relationship between a terrible dictator and the world's most blood-soaked terrorist. It is good that journalistic talent and persistence should have yielded such a discovery. But it is a matter of undeniable concern that the coalition's intelligence agencies were themselves unable to produce comparable information when it was most needed. The most important question posed by the September 11 attacks - was Saddam linked to bin Laden? - has now been emphatically answered. But it should be a source of grave embarrassment to the British and American governments that it has taken a newspaper, trawling through the files in a burnt-out building, to finish the job.
Interesting...same story from two different sources. Apparently both have seen the docs. Wonder who else and if anyone was tipped before the stories broke.
This is a common practice for Faxed documents with confidential portions.
Good point, somebody needs to pass this on to Ted Turner and Bill Maher.