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Terrorism Expert, Author, and Publisher of Iraq
October 30, 2001
Note - audio file link file:
Mordechai Twersky: How concerned are you that the current crisis will spill over into Iraq, and perhaps, by extension, into the State of Israel?
Laurie Mylroie: Sooner or later, the United States is going to have to go to war with Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein. Iraq was behind the September 11th attack and Iraq is also behind the anthrax letters.
MT: Now that's a sweeping statement. How can you say that?
LM: The September 11th attacks had to be sponsored by a state. Only a state has the resources to carrry out the most massive, stupendous terrorist attack in human history. In fact, if this had occurred a decade ago, we in the United States would have recognized that a hostile state was behind what happened. A decade ago, the prevailing assumption was that major attacks against the United States were state-sponsored. That really meant Iran, Iraq, Syria or Libya. But what happened in the intervening years was that the Clinton administration treated terrorism as a law enforcement issue, with an emphasis on arresting individuals and bringing them to justice. That had the effect of obscuring the role of states, specifically Iraq, in the terrorism that hit the United States in the 1990's.
MT: So are you suggesting that it is not as much Bin-Laden who may be responsible for this act of terror, but Iraq?
LM: Iraq and Bin-Laden are working together. Bin-Laden provides the ideology, he provides the foot soldiers, and he provides a smoke screen for Iraq, while Iraq provides the direction and the expertise for these attacks.
MT: In your estimation, is it only a matter of when, not if, allied forces will target Iraq, and if so, what are the chances Saddam Hussein will target Israel, as he did during the Gulf War?
LM: If the United States does not target Iraq in the present war on terrorism, it will have to target Iraq after the next major attack against the United States. And when the U.S. targets Iraq with the aim of overthrowing Saddam, and Saddam realizes that [he is going down], then Saddam is going to do his best to bring his enemies down--and very high among those enemies to be targeted is Israel.
MT: In your estimation, is Israel prepared to deal with the consequences of a biological or chemical attack that could emanate from Iraq?
LM: No, I don't think Israel is prepared for the kind of attack that Saddam may launch against it when he is going down. There has been a tendency, over the last decade--and people I've spoken with as well, and what one reads in the press and hears privately from individuals--to focus on nuclear weapons, specifically Iran, to the exclusion of biological and chemical weapons, and to discount the kind of damage they can do, and to almost pretend as though that kind of damage is acceptable to the Israeli population.
MT: Have you been in consultation with anybody on the Israeli Home Command or military front, whereby you have information that would lead you to this conclusion?
LM: I'll give you an example. Current assumptions about Iraqi use of anthrax seem to be based on the notion that the anthrax that Iraq may use in the future against Israel or any other target can be treated with antibiotics. But it is not difficult for Iraq to develop anthrax which is resistant to all known antibiotics. What will happen then, if Iraq launches scud missiles with anthrax warheads, and the warheads explode according to the way they are supposed to explode and anthrax that is resistant to antibiotics falls on Israeli cities?
MT: As an expert on terrorism and intelligence, how can Israel effectively prepare for such an attack?
LM: The first thing I believe is that Israeli officials have to address a strategic intelligence failure that occurred in the 1990's. It's not less than the strategic intelligence failure that preceded the Yom Kippur War. It is the failure to recognize that Iraq has systematically been working with Islamic militants throughout the 1990's. That includes Islamic militants targeting the United States, as well as Egypt.
I explained this to a friend from the Dayan Center in 1998. He recognized the problem in our discussions; he was rather stunned by it. But he failed to do anything when he went back to Israel. Most, recently, early this year, I was discussing this with a very well-known Israeli journalist. He responded by saying: 'Does anyone in Israel think like this?' And I told him, 'No, I don't think so.' But that journalist then failed, again, to do anything significant that would bring this to the attention of Israeli authorities. Israeli authorities do not recognize Saddam's vengefulness and viciousness, in part because they do not recognize Saddam's role in the terrorism that has occured in the 1990's or how Saddam has been working with the militant Muslims.
MT: Are there any threats in addition to anthrax that Western Civilization, for that matter, needs to be concerned about?
LM: Iraq's VX advanced chemical agent is very dangerous. It is lethal to the touch and it does not dissipate. There need to be special procedures for dealing with VX. If it is used against Israeli cities, it requires special evacuation procedures and has to be treated entirely differently from other Iraqi known chemical agents. And again, to my knowledge, Israeli authorites have not prepared the Israeli population at all for that kind of attack and what to do about it.
MT: Tell our listeners exactly what VX is and how do we know how much VX Saddam Hussein has.
LM: In 1995, when Saddam's son-in-law Hussein Kamil, defected, Iraq acknowledged having the precursors to make four tons of VX. VX is an advanced chemical agent. It is lethal when someone even touches a surface that has been hit by VX. It is sticky and viscous. It does not dissipate. Following a VX attack, it will be necessary to evacuate people from that part of a city that has been hit by VX. They have to be careful not to touch any surfaces that might have been hit by the chemical agent and not to step in any puddles that might be left behind. They either have to walk out, or one would have to bring transportation from areas which have not been affected by the VX and pick them up and take them to another part of the city that has not been hit. All that requires knowledge and organization communicated to the population ahead of time.
MT: How is the US, for that matter, handling this possible threat?
LM: The United States does not face a VX threat. What it faces is biological terrorism, because Iraqi missiles can't hit the United States. Regarding biological terrorism, very unfortunately, the US officials are in a state of denial. We have had finely-milled, military-grade anthrax in the United States in the form of a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and somehow, the White House cannot bring itself to say that that anthrax was produced by a state-- which is the only possibility. And therefore, we cannot warn or deter the state which almost certainly produced it, which is Iraq.
MT: Thank you for being with us today, Dr. Mylroie.
LM: My pleasure, Mordechai. Thank you very much.
PBS Frontline Interview: Gunning For Saddam
NewsMax Interview - Mylroie: Evidence Shows Saddam Is Behind Anthrax Attacks (11/8/2001)
Jerusalem Post Interview with Mordechai Twersky (11/02/2001)
CNN.com - Laurie Mylroie: Is Iraq involved with US terror (10/29/01)
Washington Post Interview - America Attacked: Iraq & Terrorism (9/24/01)
AEI Press: An interview with Laurie Mylroie
Familiar Rogue: The order for the World Trade Center attack came from Iraq (9/17/01)
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