Wed May 29, 3:33 PM ET
By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS - The chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor has turned over information about one of the Sept. 11 hijackers to the United States, France and the Netherlands, the U.N. spokesman said Wednesday.
The prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, said last October that she gave information concerning people "with connections to terrorist groups," primarily in Bosnia, to Pierre Prosper, the U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes.
But U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard confirmed for the first time that the information included material "in relation to one of the named terrorists said to have been on one of the hijacked aircraft" on Sept. 11, and that it was also supplied to the French and Dutch governments.
The cooperation between the United Nations (news - web sites) and other countries, especially the United States, has raised concerns that Washington may be exerting undue influence on the world body.
But Eckhard said the United Nations should cooperate in the fight against terrorism just as all 189 member states in the organization have been called on to cooperate by the Security Council and the General Assembly since Sept. 11.
"The United Nations considers that it, too, has an obligation to assist countries, particularly if a state has been the target of terror activities," he said.
The United States is clearly interested in any information the United Nations can provide.
"Since Sept. 11, we've had discussions with various U.N. officials on how we can improve the international effort to fight terrorism," a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Some U.N. officials contend the United States has exerted too much power.
Madeline Rees, the head of the U.N. human rights office in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, asked for an investigation in January of the way the United States pressured Bosnian officials to turn over six Algerian terrorism suspects. She suggested the action had damaged the legal system Washington was trying to build in postwar Bosnia.
"The international community had definitely played a role in this unlawful handover," she said Wednesday.
Following the attacks in New York and Washington, which killed more than 3,000 people, Del Ponte was approached by the U.S. Embassy in The Hague (news - web sites), Netherlands where the tribunal for prosecuting war crimes in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda is based and asked for information in identifying those responsible, Eckhard said.
"The office of the prosecutor did in fact have some information in relation to one of the named terrorists said to have been on one of the hijacked aircraft," Eckhard said, refusing to disclose the hijacker's identity.
In The Hague on Oct. 9, the prosecutor gave an electronic version of the information to Prosper, Eckhard said. "An identical copy of the same material was supplied to the French and the Dutch governments as well following requests from them to the prosecutor."
After Del Ponte's meeting with Prosper, she told a news conference she gave him information concerning "people who were staying in Bosnia in connection with terrorist groups."
In August, just weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, the Yugoslav tribunal unsealed an indictment against three Muslim generals held responsible for war crimes allegedly committed by volunteer foreign fighters under their command, mostly from Islamic countries. They were accused of murdering hundreds of civilians and committing other atrocities.
Many volunteers, described as mujahedeen or holy warriors, were believed to be veterans of the campaign against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan (news - web sites) that ended in 1989.
Florence Hartmann, the spokeswoman for Del Ponte, said at the time that U.N. investigators may have had information about some volunteers who stayed on in Bosnia after the war ended in 1995.
Hartmann said handing over documents was not unusual, citing the example of how Del Ponte provided Belgrade authorities with information about former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic (news - web sites)'s financial dealings as part of an investigation that led to indictments against him for war crimes.
Associated Press writers George Jahn in Vienna, Austria, and Aida Cerkez-Robinson in Sarajevo, Bosnia, contributed to this report.
Yup!! And that is the Clinton originated scandal known as BIN LADEN GATE