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To: onyx
US: Terrorists Entering Iraq From Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran
VOA News

A top U.S. diplomat says Washington is greatly concerned by the infiltration of foreign terrorists into Iraq from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage made the comment in a Friday interview with the Arab language Al-Jazeera television network.

Mr. Armitage made it clear the United States is not saying the governments of Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran are responsible for the infiltration. But he also said the terrorists are not being stopped at the borders.

U.S. officials have long suspected some terrorists have come through Syria and Iran, and have warned both countries against interference in Iraq. Saudi Arabia has not been previously singled out.

On Friday, U.S. General John Abizaid, the top U.S. military commander for the Persian Gulf region, said terrorism is becoming the number one security threat in Iraq. The general called Iraq "the center of the global war on terrorism."

General Abizaid also said a revived terrorist group, Ansar Al-Islam, is now firmly established in Baghdad. The group has been linked to the Al-Qaida network.
9 posted on 08/23/2003 2:12:22 AM PDT by F14 Pilot (What Goes Around, Comes Around...!)
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To: AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; nuconvert; onyx; Pro-Bush; Valin; seamole; RaceBannon; Texas_Dawg; ...
Iranians deny Al-Qaeda given safe passage into northern Iraq
By Ilnur Cevik

Iranian diplomatic sources categorically denied Iraqi Kurdish claims that al Qaeda operatives had been allowed to slip into northern Iraq from Afghanistan via their territory in the past few months, thus helping to fan the rising wave of violence in and around the Baghdad area.

Iraqi Kurdish sources were quoted in a Turkish Daily News report on August 16 that more than a thousand al Qaeda operatives and other Arab extremists had been allowed to pass through Iran from Afghanistan and join the pro-Saddam militants who are currently waging a war against the coalition forces led by the U.S. The Iraqi Kurds said they had caught some of them while most managed to slip into Iraq.

The Iranians categorically denied this, saying they were not at all on good terms with al Qaeda or the Taliban in Afghanistan. They also pointed out that several al Qaeda operatives and some high-ranking officials were in custody in Iran. "It is no secret that the al Qaeda people are Vahabis and they are strongly against us Shiites so it would be irrational to think we would be cooperating with them," a ranking Iranian diplomatic source told the Turkish Daily News.

Al Qaeda operatives and Arab extremists are being blamed for the gradual rise of attacks against coalition forces led by the U.S. Observers say the attacks have become more organized and have the marks of Middle East-based experienced terrorists. They say the attack on the United Nations representation in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing more than 20 people including U.N. Special Representative in Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello, may well be the work of these experienced terrorists. There are claims that these terrorists have joined forces with the pro-Saddam groups to wreak havoc in Iraq.

Terrorism experts have said while the Iranian argument that Tehran would not allow al Qaeda people to use their territory to slip into Iraq would be valid still Arab extremists could slip into the rugged areas bordering Iraq and use the mountain passes formerly used by Turkey's PKK separatist Kurdish terrorists to move in and out of Iran at will.

On August 16, the Turkish Daily News also published Iraqi Kurdish claims that the Ansar al-Islam terrorist group was resurrected and its fighters had slipped into the region from Iran to assassinate Iraqi Kurdish leaders and disrupt reconstruction efforts in the north.

The bases of Ansar al-Islam, a small shadowy fundamentalist group, were destroyed during the war when American troops backed with fighters of Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) attacked them in the mountains bordering Iran. Most of the Ansar fighters were killed but some managed to escape into Iran.

An analysis in the New York Times on Wednesday quoting American intelligence sources confirmed the resurrection of Ansar and said some 150 fighters had managed to slip into northern Iraq. However, the NY Times story said the Ansar fighters aimed to attack allied military forces or the administrative offices of those involved in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Until now the Americans have pointed the finger directly at Syria for helping the Arab extremists slip into Iraq to attack the coalition forces. Iran has not been directly mentioned but the U.S. has charged Tehran of interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq. The Iranians have denied this.

In a related development, diplomatic sources in Ankara told the Turkish Daily News that al Qaeda fighters linked to the Chechens had started leaving Chechenya and were infiltrating into Iraq through Syria in a steady flow since June.

Iraq's U.S. administrator Paul Bremer said in remarks published on August 19 that foreign militants were entering the country from Syria and that he hoped Damascus would cooperate more in stopping the flow. Bremer said in an interview with the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat that Iraq's neighbors, including Iran, should not interfere in the country's internal affairs.

"The truth is that there are still problems and there are still foreign terrorists entering Iraq across the borders from Syria," Bremer said. "We have discussed this with the Syrians and we hope to see better cooperation."

"We believe that a free Iraq must not be subject to any interference from its neighbors in its internal affairs," Bremer said, adding that official Iranian bodies were working against the United States and its allies in Iraq. He did not identify them.

10 posted on 08/23/2003 2:15:24 AM PDT by F14 Pilot (What Goes Around, Comes Around...!)
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