Skip to comments.1998 Meeting Between Bin Laden and Iraqi Intelligence Getting New Look in Attack Investigation
Posted on 09/27/2001 1:11:00 AM PDT by kattracks
WASHINGTON (AP) - A 1998 meeting between Osama bin Laden and a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Afghanistan is coming under new scrutiny as U.S. officials search for clues of a state sponsor of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Farouk Hijazi, an Iraqi intelligence officer who is Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, met with bin Laden in Kandahar, a region in southeastern Afghanistan where bin Laden is known to have training camps, a U.S. official said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. It is not known what was discussed at the December 1998 meeting.
Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday there was no evidence to link Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to the attacks by suicide hijackers on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
A second U.S. official said that investigators and intelligence agencies have no hard evidence linking any country to the attacks, and all indications are that bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network was responsible. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
The meeting between Hijazi and bin Laden is the second known link between Iraqi intelligence and those suspected in the hijackings.
One of the suspected hijackers, Mohamed Atta, believed aboard one of two planes that slammed into the World Trade Center, met in April with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Europe, officials said.
Atta himself has not been publicly linked to bin Laden's network.
Both Iraq and bin Laden have denied taking part in the attacks, which left more than 6,000 people missing or dead.
Saddam accused the U.S. government of using the attacks as an excuse to settle old scores with Muslim countries. The U.S. lists Iraq as a state sponsor of terrorism, and some in the U.S. government are advocating strikes against Iraq regardless of specific ties to Sept. 11.
Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the anti-Saddam Iraqi National Congress, is among those who contend that the Iraqi president supported the attacks. Chalabi said Hussein's and bin Ladin's ties date back to the early 1990s, when bin Laden lived in Sudan. Bin Laden was later expelled.
"We believe that Saddam sees the (al-Qaida) network as a great avenue to take revenge on the United States," Chalabi said.
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