Skip to comments.Hijacker "Given Anthrax Flask By Iraqi Agent"
Posted on 10/27/2001 10:27:09 PM PDT by Fulbright
INTELLIGENCE agents from Prague to Swansea are uncovering a trail of clues that point to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq having a hand in al-Qaedas terrorist missions. Iraqi ministers have spent the week protesting Baghdads innocence to the United Nations, but will not say why some of its diplomats who met Mohammed Atta, one of the suspected September 11 hijackers, disappeared from their European posts after that date.
Nor will Baghdad explain why Saddams agents were spotted at various times this year with Atta in Germany, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic. Many in the Pentagon are sure Saddam helped to orchestrate the simultaneous hijackings and the anthrax attacks, but President Bush and Tony Blair have yet to be convinced. To get proof of the Baghdad connection, senior officials in the Bush Administration even sent a former CIA Director to Britain on a covert mission.
Intelligence officers in Washington have deliberately leaked the testimony of an Iraqi defector hiding in Turkey who said that Saddam set up a terrorist training school on the outskirts of Istanbul to practice hijacking a Boeing passenger aircraft. The CIA says that it is assessing the claims.
Meanwhile, a special FBI team sent to Europe to uncover al-Qaeda cells say that they are studying a report from Prague that anthrax spores were given to Atta during his last meeting in Prague in April with Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, the Iraqi consul. If it can be shown that Atta was given a flask of anthrax, a Western intelligence official said, then the link will have been made with Osama bin Laden and with Iraq.
What is known is that Atta made at least four visits to the Czech Republic to see Mr al-Ani. Czech intelligence officers who saw them embrace at Ruzyne Airport admit that they had no idea who the man greeting Saddams envoy was. When they were followed to the headquarters of Radio Free Europe the suspicion was that they may have been plotting to bomb it.
Yesterday the German newspaper Bild suggested a more sinister motive for their meetings. The claim, according to Israeli security sources, is that Atta was handed a vacuum flask of anthrax by his Iraqi contact. From Prague, it is believed Atta flew to Newark. From New Jersey, letters laced with anthrax were sent to broadcasters and politicians in New York, Washington and Florida. Czech officials have been to Washington to reveal all they know, but they cant question the Iraqi envoy because Mr al-Ani was deported from Prague in April for activities incompatible with his status as a diplomat.
Stanislav Gross, the Czech Interior Minister, confirmed yesterday a meeting in Prague between Atta and Mr al-Ani just weeks before the envoy was expelled. US scientists believe the anthrax spores sent to Tom Daschle, the Senate Majority Leader, had been treated with a sophisticated chemical additive only three countries can manufacture: Russia, America and possibly Iraq. Former UN weapons inspectors suggest that Saddam could have helped bin Laden to get nuclear material. Critics of the Pentagons view say that Iraq would not share its nuclear secrets, but might watch for others trying to buy on the black market.
Italian police say they are investigating how Saddam also used his Embassy in Rome to foster his partnership with al-Qaeda. One of Saddams intelligence agents, Habib Faris Abdullah al-Mamouri, was sent to be the new headmaster of a school for Iraqi diplomats in Italy. The bogus headmaster has not been seen in Rome since July, shortly after he also met Atta. The pair are also said to have been together in Hamburg and Prague. There is no proof the men were in direct contact, but as one intelligence source in Madrid said: They chose a strange time and place to take a holiday. The Rome daily Il Messaggero, quoting Western intelligence sources, said of Mr al-Mamouri that he spent more time pursuing contacts helpful to the Iraqi regime among fundamentalist Islamic groups than he had on his supposed teaching duties.
Italian officials say that Mr al-Mamouri held the rank of general in the Iraqi secret service, and from 1982 to 1990 worked in the Special Operations Branch forging Baghdads links with Islamic fundamentalist groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Gulf and Sudan. He was transferred to his teaching duties in 1998, although all the Iraqi Embassy will say of his sudden departure is that he had money problems. Although Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, and others in his department are sceptical of Saddams involvement, there are many influential figures in US intelligence who claim that Iraqs links with bin Laden go back to the early Nineties.
Desperate for allies after the Gulf War, Saddam sent Faruq Hijazi, his secret service director, to Sudan in 1994, where bin Laden then had his headquarters. The meetings were brokered by Hassan al-Tourabi, the Sudanese Muslim leader, who was bin Ladens protector. The Sudanese belatedly offered to show the CIA all they knew about bin Laden and his visits, to ingratiate themselves back into the international fold, but the Americans scorned the approach. The Iraqi connection with bin Laden continued when the terrorist leader moved to Afghanistan. Mr Hijazi, who is now Saddams envoy in Turkey, reportedly met the al-Qaeda leader at his fortified home in Kandahar and in Kabul.
Mr Hijazi also disappeared from his embassy last month after the first reports of his meetings with al-Qaeda, and he is believed to have slipped back into Ankara earlier this week. The Foreign Ministry in Turkey says it has not been told that the Ambassador had returned, although the Iraqi Embassy says that he is resting. What puzzles Turkish officials is that there are no airport records of his return. US Intelligence says Saddam cultivated the relationship with al-Qaeda at the start of 1998 by inviting the man regarded as bin Ladens deputy Ayman Zawahiri to dine with Taha Yasin Ramadan, the Iraqi Vice-President. That was such a success that a delegation from al-Qaeda attended Saddams birthday celebrations that April, and it was during this trip that arrangements were made for bin Laden recruits to receive the sort of advanced weapons training they could not get in their camps in Afghanistan.
The hand-picked bin Laden agents found themselves under the supervision of Saddams violent son, Uday, who wanted to conscript some of bin Ladens skilled fighters into his own militia. Bin Laden reciprocated by dispatching 400 Afghan Arabs to Iraq to fight Kurds. The most curious attempt to implicate Saddam was in South Wales last month when James Woolsey, the former CIA Director, is reported to have visited a Swansea college. The hope was that the testimony of college lecturers and recollections of former students could be used to convince sceptics in the US Administration and Downing Street that Saddam has helped to provide agents to carry out al-Qaeda attacks.
Mr Woolsey, who refuses to give details of his British itinerary, has always believed that the Iraqi leader masterminded the 1993 terrorist bombing of the World Trade Centre. The trip to the Swansea Institute was to establish the true identity of one of bin Ladens bombers, who claims to have studied computer-aided engineering in South Wales.
Additional reporting by Roger Boyes in Berlin; Richard Owen in Rome and Andrew Finkel in Istanbul.
For educational and discussion purposes only.
Oh, they're convinced all right. They have yet to figure out what to do about it.
Here is the article on the flask incident posted earlier.
Focus on Afghanistan and Al Queda. Hold Coalition #1 together for the years it takes to see the Taliban thrown down, AL Queda broken up, etc. A stable Afghanistan installed so we don't have to go back in a few more years.
Meanwhile, use the threat of "You're next" against Sudan, Lebanon and Iran to get what agreements/concessions/intelligence/support we can from them. Simultaneously, begin rebuilding the CIA's human assets in these countries.
When Afghanistan is done, decide what to do next. We may be able to fight in the shadows completely via new CIA assets, Delta Force raids, etc. Or we may try to build Coalition #2 to openly take on, say, Iraq.
The important thing is to focus and buckle down. If we get all worked up about Iraq and the pressure builds to openly attack them now, we're sunk. If Pakistan actually turns on us, we will be unable to defeat the Taliban. It'll be another Vietnam, except that it's a thousand-mile border instead of a Ho Chi Min trail and those sending in the supplies and giving sanctuary have nuclear weapons.
There's the rub. Especially if they know that Sadaam has more weaponized (i.e. antibiotic resistant) strains, and that he and bin Laden have agents all over the U.S. waiting for some signal to release it, like we attack Iraq.
By the way, the VRWC theory is not just in the FBI.
If the FBI has only recently begun testing the hijackers apartments for anthrax, we need to ask for our money back.
Sorry, I misplaced my code book. If you can't translate in the clear, then please FReepmail me.
For want of a comma the meaning was lost. Still, I didn't know we were throwing rocks. I've only heard about bombs and MRE's.
You know, I don't think there was ever any doubt about the source of the anthrax, at the highest levels. This search is just a dog-and-pony show for the proles. I actually wonder if the FBI is even in the loop.
Whatever happened to the FBI?