Skip to comments.Saddam link to Bin Laden
Posted on 03/16/2003 10:45:03 AM PST by IowaHawk
Saddam Hussein's regime has opened talks with Osama bin Laden, bringing closer the threat of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to US intelligence sources and Iraqi opposition officials.
The key meeting took place in the Afghan mountains near Kandahar in late December. The Iraqi delegation was led by Farouk Hijazi, Baghdad's ambassador in Turkey and one of Saddam's most powerful secret policemen, who is thought to have offered Bin Laden asylum in Iraq.
The Saudi-born fundamentalist's response is unknown. He is thought to have rejected earlier Iraqi advances, disapproving of the Saddam Hussein's secular Baathist regime. But analysts believe that Bin Laden's bolthole in Afghanistan, where he has lived for the past three years, is now in doubt as a result of increasing US and Saudi government pressure.
News of the negotiations emerged in a week when the US attorney general, Janet Reno, warned the Senate that a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction was a growing concern. "There's a threat, and it's real," Ms Reno said, adding that such weapons "are being considered for use."
US embassies around the world are on heightened alert as a result of threats believed to emanate from followers of Bin Laden, who has been indicted by a US court for orchestrating the bombing last August of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which 259 people died. US delegations in Africa and the Gulf have been shut down in recent weeks after credible threats were received.
In this year's budget, President Clinton called for an additional $2 billion to spend on counter-terrorist measures, including extra guards for US embassies around the world and funds for executive jets to fly rapid response investigative teams to terrorist incidents around the world.
Since RAF bombers took part in air raids on Iraq in December, Bin Laden declared that he considered British citizens to be justifiable targets. Vincent Cannistraro, former chief of CIA counter-terrorist operations, said: "Hijazi went to Afghanistan in December and met with Osama, with the knowledge of the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar. We are sure about that. What is the source of some speculation is what transpired."
An acting US counter-intelligence official confirmed the report. "Our understanding over what happened matches your account, but there's no one here who is going to comment on it."
Ahmed Allawi, a senior member of the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC), based in London, said he had heard reports of the December meeting which he believed to be accurate. "There is a long history of contacts between Mukhabarat [Iraqi secret service] and Osama bin Laden," he said. Mr Hijazi, formerly director of external operations for Iraqi intelligence, was "the perfect man to send to Afghanistan".
Analysts believe that Mr Hijazi offered Mr bin Laden asylum in Iraq, most likely in return for co-operation in launching attacks on US and Saudi targets. Iraqi agents are believed to have made a similar offer to the Saudi maverick leader in the early 1990s when he was based in Sudan.
Although he rejected the offer then, Mamoun Fandy, a professor of Middle East politics at Georgetown University, said Bin Laden's position in Afghanistan is no longer secure after the Saudi monarchy cut off diplomatic relations with, and funding for, the Taleban militia movement, which controls most of the country.
Mr Fandy said senior members of the Saudi royal family told him in recent weeks that they had received assurances from the Taleban leader, Mullah Mohamed Omar, that once the radical Islamist movement secured control over Afghan territory, Bin Laden would be forced to leave. "It's a matter of time now for Osama." He said Bin Laden would have a strong ideological aversion to accepting Iraqi hospitality, but might have little choice.
Under the current circumstances that would not appear to be a really mouth-watering offer.
Yes, but it depends on what the meaning of "IS" is.
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Everyone knows that. ;-)
My guess is that bin Laden was happy to cooperate and Iraq threw him a few bucks in exchange for a bit of friendly consultation on target selection.
It's pretty suspicious that bin Laden went after the WTC, since the early 1993 attack was almost certainly Iraqi-influenced. So Iraq chose another go at the WTC, and bin Laden provided troops and motivation.
That hangs together awfully well, in my view.
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