Skip to comments.On Alert for Al Qaeda in Iraq, U.S. is Tracking 2 Suspects
Posted on 09/29/2003 12:01:20 AM PDT by Freedom of Speech Wins
As United States officials try to determine what role Al Qaeda may have had in recent attacks in Iraq, investigators and Special Forces are also pursuing two men known to have had previous connections to Osama bin Laden, American officials said this week.
On a half-dozen occasions in recent weeks, one of the men, Abdul Rahman Yasin slipped through the net officials said. He has been indicted in connection with the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and is on the F.B.I.'s most wanted terrorist list. He has been living in Iraq for about 10 years.
The Americans have also been trying to track Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a more senior Qaeda operative; according to American officials, he has been moving in and out of Iraq since the war ended this spring. They say he has ben bringing in money for local terrorists and trying to establish a beachhead for Al Qaeda.
While President Bush said recently there was no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 plot, investigators said they concluded that Qaeda operatives were in Iraq now. The investigators are trying to figure out how many there are and what role they are playing.
On Friday L. Paul Bremer III, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, said at least 19 Qaeda members were in custody here, but he offered few details about where and when they had been captured.. It was the first public mention by an American official of the detention of Qaeda members in Iraq.
Since before the war United States officials have singled out Mr. Zaqawi to illustrate Al Qaeda's presence in Iraq. Officials say they believe Mr. Zarqawi, a Jordanian, has worked with Ansar al-Islam, which the Americans describe as a terrorist group that had a base in the Kurdish region of Iraq.
German authorities have linked Mr. Zarqawi, who was in Iranian custody for a time, to a militant Palestinian group, and said he ran training camps in Afghanistan alongside Mr. bin Laden.
An American law enforcement officer said Al-Qaeda was seeking to form "new alliances, new associations" with Baathists and other groups putting up resistance to Americans in Iraq.
It is not a natural alliance, however, because the Iraqis are far more secular than the fundamentalists. But lately an American official here said, some of the Iraqi resistance groups have been wrapping themselves in more religous rhetoric.
It is an easy climate for terrorists to operate in, an American law enforcement official said. Officials are quick to acknowledge however that they do not have a strong sense of the dimension of the problem.
"Right now, I don't think anybody has a good handle on it," said a senior American counterterrorism official.
Estimates of the number of Qaeda fighters here range widely from a few hundred to 2,000. But those numbers are based largely on extrapolations from the number already caught, an American diplomat in the region said.
Mr. Yasin's roots in terrorism run deep, but he may have abandoned them. He was born in 1960 in Bloomington, Ind, where his father was a graduate student, and grew up in Baghdad.
He returned to the United States in the early 1990s to live with his mother and a brother who were living in Jersey City.
It was then that he met Ramzi Yousef, an early operative for Mr. bin Laden long before he had become a notorious public figure. Mr. Yousef recruited Mr. Yasin for the plot to blow up the World Trade Center.
Mr. Yasin helped mix the chemicals, at one point severely burning his leg.
The F.B.I. detained Mr. Yasin after the attack and then released him but only after he provided information about Mr. Yousef, the mastermind. Mr. Yousef fled to Pakistan then Manilla, where he was plotting to blow up 12 airlines over the Pacific, a precursur to the Sept. 11 attacks, officials now say. He was later captured.
Mr. Yasin returned to Iraq.
Ostensibly Mr. Hussein put Mr. Yasin under house arrest, but American officials said this week that they now have evidence he was being liberally supplied with money, women, and alcohol.
In an interview with CBS News program "60 Minutes" in June 2002 Mr. Yasin expressed regret for what he had done. "I'm very sorry for what happened," he said, "I don't know what to do to make it up."
There is a $25 million bounty for information leading to his arrest. But officials say it may not be money that brings him in.
"It will be some transgression," said an American official involved in the search for Mr. Yasin, Mr. Hussein and others.
That was the case with the $30 million reward that was offered for information about Uday and Qusay Hussein, two of Mr. Hussein's sons. Western officials said.
According to that account, the brothers' landlord gave them away after they started molesting his wife and daughter. Special Operations soldiers killed the brothers at home.
Egypt lets out the guy responsible for Sadat's murder.
NY Representative Charles Rangel expressed sorrow on national when Uday and Qusay who have declared themselves enemies of America get taken out.
The Democratic candidates go on parade criticizing the decision to go to war with Iraq.
Media talking head Robert Novak heavily rumored over the net to be a CIA agent himself, and a man with some pro-Muslim country leanings, clearly out of his mind before this, releases the name of a CIA agent, and George Tenet, Clinton's man in the CIA launches an investigation of the Bush White House.
Seem like a setup?
Do the Democrats care to pursue the enemy terrorists?
That's three big terrorists that have been in Iraq pre-invasion. I'm sure Sen. Daschle is deeply saddened by this news.