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Source: The London Times
Author: BY DANIEL MCGRORY
Posted on 10/28/01 7:06 AM Pacific by Spirit Of Truth
|SATURDAY OCTOBER 27 2001|
|Hijacker 'given anthrax flask by Iraqi agent'|
|BY DANIEL MCGRORY|
|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-Qaeda’s terrorist missions.
Iraqi ministers have spent the week protesting Baghdad’s 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 Saddam’s 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 Saddam’s 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 can’t 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 Pentagon’s 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 Saddam’s 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 Baghdad’s 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 Saddam’s involvement, there are many influential figures in US intelligence who claim that Iraq’s 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 Laden’s 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 Saddam’s 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 Laden’s 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 Saddam’s 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 Saddam’s violent son, Uday, who wanted to conscript some of bin Laden’s 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 Laden’s 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
ABCNEWS has been told by three well-placed and separate sources that initial tests on an anthrax-laced letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle have detected a troubling chemical additive that authorities consider their first significant clue yet.
An urgent series of tests conducted on the letter at Ft. Detrick, Md., and elsewhere discovered the anthrax spores were treated with bentonite, a substance that keeps the tiny particles floating in the air by preventing them from sticking together. The easier the particles are to inhale, the more deadly they are.
As far as is known, only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce biological weapons.
Just minutes before ABCNEWS' World News Tonight aired this report, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer (news - web sites) flatly denied bentonite was found on the letters. Moments later, another senior White House official backed off Fleischer's comments, saying it does not appear to be bentonite "at this point."
The official said the Ft. Detrick findings represented an "opinionated analysis," that three other labs are conducting tests, and that one of those labs had contradicted the bentonite finding. But, the official added, "tests continue."
While it's possible countries other than Iraq may be using the additive, it is a trademark of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program.
"It means to me that Iraq becomes the prime suspect as the source of the anthrax used in these letters," former U.N. weapons inspector Timothy Trevan told ABCNEWS.
In the process of destroying much of Iraq's biological arsenal, U.N. teams first discovered Iraq was using bentonite, which is found in soil around the world, including the United States and Iraq.
"That discovery was proof positive of how they were using bentonite to make small particles," former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Spertzel told ABCNEWS.
But officials cautioned today that even if Iraq or renegade Iraqi scientists prove to be the source, it's a separate issue from who actually sent the anthrax through the mail.
"What you have to keep in mind is the difference between knowledge about what type of information you have to have to produce it, and who could have sent it," Fleischer said. "They are totally separate topics that could involve totally separate people. It could be the same person or people. It could be totally different people. The information does not apply to who sent it."
Experts say the bentonite discovery doesn't rule out a very well-equipped lab using the Iraqi technique. In fact, commercial spray dryers that Iraq used to produce its biological weapons were bought on the open market from the Danish subsidiary of a U.S. company for about $100,000 a piece.
Starting Thursday, FBI agents began asking company officials in Columbia, Md., if anyone suspicious in this country had recently acquired one of them. — Brian Ross, Christopher Isham, Chris Vlasto and Gary Matsumoto
Raising new questions about whether Saddam Hussein was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, officials in the Czech Republic now confirm for the first time that a key hijacker met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague.
Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross said Mohamed Atta, believed by U.S. investigators to be a ringleader of the hijackers, met an Iraqi diplomat shortly before the consul was expelled after Czech intelligence officials saw him casing the Radio Free Europe building in the city.
"At this point we can confirm," Gross said, "Mohamed Atta made contact with Iraqi intelligence officer Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir Al-Ani, who was expelled from the Czech Republic for conduct incompatible with his diplomatic status on April 22, 2001."
"The details of this contact are under investigation," Gross said.
The meeting took place on Atta's second known visit to Prague. A year earlier, on June 2, 2000, he had came to Prague from Germany by bus in the morning hours. The next day, Gross said, Atta left for the United States.
Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz had previously denied Al-Ani had any contact with Atta in Prague. In recent weeks, Minister Gross also had said there was no evidence to support Prague media reports citing Czech intelligence officials who said Atta had met Al-Ani.
The meeting, along with Iraq's stockpiles of biological weapons, have led some to question whether Atta — and Hussein — were not somehow behind the anthrax attacks in the United States.
"There are reports that one of the things that may have happened at that meeting was that [Atta] was given by the Iraqi some sample of anthrax," former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler told ABCNEWS. "We do not know if that is true. I believe it is something that should be investigated."
For his part, Gross would not give further details on the Atta meeting.
"At this point, neither I nor anyone else from the police or Czech intelligence services will provide any further information concerning this contact and [Atta's] stay and movement on the territory of the Czech Republic until the investigation is finished," he said.
BACK TO IRAQ JACK
See also prior discussion, Here
When I attempted to get more information on bentonite on Google, this was the first entry on the list.
Kind of strange, huh?
I think I've got it...
Saddam Hussein is actually an American right-wing hate group extremist, operating under very, very 'deep cover'.
That explains why Saddam Hussein, and Cletus Funderberg have never been seen in the same room together.
Those in the know will recognize Cletus as the proprietor of the 'Bait & Beer' stand in Mississippi who mysteriously disappeared at about the same time that Saddam Hussein took power in Iraq.
I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the hijackers weren't actually 'good ole boys' from the south (and maybe the west) who first went to the middle east, to learn to be arabs, before returning home, to learn to be pilots!
It's all starting to come clear...
But, but........just this week we're being told it's "homegrown" terrorism,
probably "right wing hate groups." Golly, what's a poor old patriot to believe??
When and not if, irrefutable evidence can be produced that Iraq was compliant or helped orchestrate the ongoing terror attacks against the USA, there can be only one response.
Biological warfare must be cauterized. Give Iraq and the world 6 days to evacuate Baghdad and then nuke that hellhole of Satan worshipers. Fusion weapons have never been deployed in war.
Their use in this instance will ensure that they will not be needed
Thanks for the post. In case you haven't seen this, there is good background information on Atta and his travels here:
Here's a little:
By May 2000, his new Egyptian passport containing a U.S. visa obtained in Berlin, the beard he grew for religious reasons shaved off, and flush with money beyond his known means, Atta was ready to move.
He traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic in early June and 24 hours later took a flight to Newark. In the next year, he learned how to fly aircraft in Florida. But during this period, he returned to Europe twice.
The first time was in January 2001 when he flew from Miami to Madrid. He returned to the United States six days later, apparently with a new visa despite having overstayed by one month on his previous trip. On July 7 he flew to Spain again for 12 days, renting a car and visiting the northeastern Catalan resort of Salou. Spanish press reports say he left the hotel where he first checked in, trading it for a more modest hostel, whose room he inspected before deciding to stay.
Atta flew back to the United States on July 19. His time in Europe was over.
"But, but........just this week we're being told it's "homegrown" terrorism, probably "right wing hate groups." Golly, what's a poor old patriot to believe??"
You mean it might not be homegrown terrorists? I'm shocked, shocked, I
There's a slight problem with this story.
If Iraqi intelligence were to take the risk of providing a weapon of mass destruction like Anthrax, which is traceable, to Mohammed Atta and Osama bin Laden's U.S. terrorist cell, why would an agent only provide a "flask" of the super lethal compound?
Also, let's bear in mind that Czech intelligence is basically former KGB.
What we have here is U.S. intelligence effectively being told by the KGB-of-old: 'The Anthrax attacks in the U.S. are the handiwork of Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, feel free to go after Iraq without major risk because only a "flask" of Anthrax was provided to the Iraqi terror cell operating in the U.S.'
Problem is, Iraq works for Moscow and Russia is still planning to take us out.
Iraq has tons of Anthrax spores like Senator Daschle's office received. Entire boat loads of the stuff could easily have been shipped into the U.S. (America has thousands of tons of another white powder covertly imported every year, cocaine....what's a few hundred pounds of Anthrax?!) If Iraq was seeking to get Anthrax into the U.S. for domestic terrorism, they wouldn't slip in just a flask of the stuff that, upon use, would quickly be attributed to Baghdad.
We're being duped into an attempt to overthrow Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime and this, in turn, will provide Iraq the excuse he needs to unleash a true, all-out Jihad against Israel, America and the Western powers involving widespread, large-scale attacks using weapons of mass destruction like Anthrax. Once the West is debilitated and with America wrongly focusing on Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein for the erupting holocaust, Russia can unleash an all-out, strategic nuclear blow against Israel, America and the Western powers. As Soviet military planners foresaw so long ago....this is their checkmate move in seeking to dominate the world in the global chess game of Real Politik...
Just a thought...
Great thinking. That's reason #1 of why we won't go there. Secondly, if it
takes us this protracted time to get bin Laden how long would it be in Iraq.
Thirdly. if we do not close the boarders & sent the student visa persons
home then we are not interested in protecting us. Americans are going to have to
insist on getting the enemy out of this country by sending most of these
socialists dems to their retirement. THE ENEMY IS WITHIN.
The problem with your scenario is that MAD still exists, and would not be
taken out by the sort of attacks that you envision. Even though our nuclear
posture has been tremendously relaxed, there is still enough to destroy anyone
employing a strategic nuclear attack.