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News, 7-13/10/01 (1) Late mailing this week, owing to travels. Any responses should be sent to me not at the above address but at firstname.lastname@example.org. Most important item is probably (under Fingerı, the Czech Prime Minister telling us he has no evidence that Mohammad Atta met an Iraqi diplomat in Prague. Will that get as much publicity as the anonymous Czech officialı who said that he did, or might have done? Beyond that, only one bombing raid last week, presumably in reaction to the shooting down of a third drone. A fairly arbitrary collection of articles relating to the recent terrorist attacks on Afghanistan will be found in the Supplement. FINGER POINTING AT IRAQ * Japan tells nationals near Afghanistan, Iraq to leave * Saddam could be the next target of US strikes [Daily Telegraph. Extracts. Includes a mysterious hint at the improved relations between the US and Sudan. See first item in the Supplement] * Iraq should be attacked says [David] Owen * Bombing goes on as US hints at attack on Iraq * Liberating Oppressed Iraqis Ought to Be Among the War Aims [Or The only good Muslim is a starving Muslimı by William Safire. Interesting compendium of American delusions, as for example: Mindful of the defeat of Soviet troops by brutalized Afghans in the 1980s, America and Britain, leaders of the civilized world, are making this a war of Muslim liberation. ... Bombs on the bad will alternate with food drops on the good ...ı and, most amusingly: Cool, calm killing is not our way.ı] * Tory leader warns of Saddam threatı * Hussein receives warning from US [US ambassador to the UN John Negroponteıs visit to the Iraqi UN ambassador. He refused the latterıs offer of a cup of tea.] * What About Iraq? [Jim Hoagland has startling new evidence of Iraqi involvement in the twin tower attack. Someone who might have been involved in the 1993 bombing is living in Iraq. An Iraqi defector with a military background wasnıt interrogated by US intelligence. Another one thinks he remembers seeing Islamists training to hijack a plane in an Iraqi airport. Clearly Iraq deserves to be bombed] * Mission [by former CIA director James Woolsey to UK] sought Iraqi links to attacks [but apparentlyfailed to find them] * Czech Leader Denies Atta Meetings in Prague * The Bioterror Road Doesn't Lead to Iraq [by Scott Ritter. Disappointing article. If I were Jim Hoagland, William Safire or Charles Krauthammer, I wouldnıt be convinced. And Ritter, who is anything but a genuine paid-up peacenik boobie, approves the war on Afghanistan]] AND, IN NEWS, 7-13/10/01 (2) IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Lorries carrying food continues to cross border from Turkey to Iraq * Iran Accuses Iraq of Sowing Discord in Iran-Arab Ties * Jordan asks Syria to hand over Iraqis * The First Iraqi ambassador in Bahrain since 1990 * Turkish concern over possibility of expanding its military operations to include Iraq MILITARY MATTERS * Iranian Soldiers Offer Grim Glimpse [of what chemical warfare is like] * US loses third Predator in Iraq * Allied planes strike Iraqi military targets CAMPAIGNING * Iraqis know what New Yorkers are suffering [Interview with Kathy Kelly] SCRAPING THE BARRELL OF SELF RIGHTEOUS INSENSITIVITY * Americans used as 'human shields' sue Saddam [Will anyone mention the odd fact that S.Hussein DIDNıT use them as human shields? or that the bombing started the moment the last of the hostages had been released?] INSIDE IRAQ * Sanctions and Religion Threaten Iraqi Brewery * More Iraqi children died in July, August because of imposed UN sanctions * The good life may be at stake in Iraq * Iran move closer to a place in the 2002 World Cup OIL * [Saudi former oil minister] Al-Yamani warns that attacking Iraq will increase oil prices * RBI nod for OVL's $5m in Iraqi block FINGER POINTING AT IRAQ http://home.kyodo.co.jp/all/display.jsp?an=20011008085 * Japan tells nationals near Afghanistan, Iraq to leave TOKYO, Oct. 8, Kyodo - The Foreign Ministry on Monday issued an evacuation order to Japanese nationals in areas close to Afghanistan and Iraq following retaliatory attacks by the United States and Britain against Afghanistan. The ministry raised the danger level to 5, the maximum alert level in its travel advisory, for areas within 100 kilometers of Afghanistanıs borders with neighboring nations. The ministry also listed Iraq, which is critical of U.S. policy against Afghanistanıs ruling Taliban, at danger level 5. Danger level 5 means Japanese people should leave an area so designated as soon as possible. http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/10/08/wirq08.xml&sSheet=/news/2001/10/08/ixhome.html * Saddam could be the next target of US strikes by Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor Daily Telegraph, 8th October IRAQ could find itself next in the line of fire after President Bush warned last night that other countries sponsoring terrorism must change their ways or face the consequences. He said: ³Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader. Every nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground. ³If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents, they have become outlaws and murderers themselves. And they will take that lonely path at their own peril.² The Senate Minority Leader, Trent Lott, a Republican, said action against Iraq could follow the military operation against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. He said proposals to strike Iraq, made by senior Washington officials but played down in recent days, had not been entirely abandoned by the Bush administration. ³One adviser that we have met says to remember that revenge is better eaten cold,² Mr Lott told Fox News Sunday before the strikes. ³In other words, take your time, have a plan, go after your first target, second target. ³Somewhere down the line weıre going to have to deal with Iraq. Clearly, they have their own form of terrorism, and they still have Saddam Hussein. So weıre going to have to contend with that problem, but probably a little later down the line.² Iraq has been subjected to international sanctions since it occupied Kuwait in 1990. But Saddam remains president and has become more belligerent in recent months. [.....] Sudan has in the past harboured bin Laden and was also the target of US missile strikes after the bombing of American embassies in Africa in 1998. But Khartoum has distanced itself from bin Laden and has improved relations with Washington. [.....] http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/news/story.html?in_review_id=463182 * Iraq should be attacked says Owen London Evening Standard Former Foreign Secretary David Owen called for the attack on Afghanistan to be widened to include an assault on Saddam Husseinıs Iraqi regime. Saddam should be ³removed² along with ³every other state sponsor of terrorism², he argued. The ex-Labour cabinet minister, who went on to co-found the SDP, said it was ³right² to make the first target of the Allied attacks Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. However, he added: ³The broadening of that campaign to all state sponsors of terrorism, starting with Iraq, should be seamless. ³We must assemble the machinery for the removal of Saddam Hussein.² Lord Owen claimed Mohamed Atta, believed to have flown a jet into the World Trade Center, met Iraqi agents in Prague. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,566014,00.html * Bombing goes on as US hints at attack on Iraq by Julian Borger in Washington and Ian Black in Luxembourg The Guardian, 9th October The US launched a second series of air strikes on forces loyal to the Taliban militia and Osama bin Laden last night, as Washington gave its clearest indication yet that its war on terrorism could extend beyond Afghanistan to include more controversial targets. In a move likely to spread unease among several countries backing the US mission, the Bush administration presented a letter to the United Nations security council in which it formally reserved the right to pursue a wider war. The letter asserted that the bombing campaign was in self-defence, and added that the inquiries into the September 11 terrorist attacks were ³still in the initial phases². Delivered by the US ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, the letter said: ³We may find that our self-defence requires further actions with respect to other organisations and other states.² The most likely target of an expanded campaign would be Iraq, which was taken off the Pentagonıs target list in order to build an international consensus for the current Enduring Freedom operation - a victory for the diplomatic approach advocated by the secretary of state, Colin Powell. That could change if Baghdad is found to have sponsored the September 11 attacks. The Arab world has warned the White House that it will not support a war beyond the borders of Afghanistan. Before they agreed to support the operation, Arab leaders were led to understand that Iraq would not be on the target list. But the Pentagon is still lobbying for Saddam Husseinıs regime to be considered a target in a later phase of a long-running campaign, which could possibly take in other states such as Syria and even Iran, suspected of providing a haven to terrorists. [.....] http://www.iht.com/articles/34979.html * Liberating Oppressed Iraqis Ought to Be Among the War Aims by William Safire International Herald Tribune (from The New York Times), 9th October LOS ANGELES: ³America is full of fear,² crowed a jubilant Osama bin Laden in his taped message anticipating Americaıs response to his massacre of the six thousand. ³They cry for their children.² .In a gleeful expression of pride in his guilt of mass murder, the fanatic promised that ³nobody in the U.S. will feel safe² unless America withdraws from Arab lands. He then identified his terms for U.S. surrender: removal of Jews from Palestine and the end of Americaıs interference with Iraq. .That brings a note of clarity to the basis for Sundayıs opening proceedings. No longer can any nervous Arab ruler pretend to doubt bin Ladenıs direct culpability for the hijack attacks. .And because the interests of Middle Eastern terrorists are clearly the same, no longer can the world separate his Qaida cult, the terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah and the PLO warring on Israel, and the center of world terror in Baghdad run by Saddam Hussein. .The strategy of world terrorism was to provoke the West into an outraged invasion and bombardment of Afghanistan. This would then be interpreted by radical mullahs as a new crusade against Islam by the infidels, allowing the Arab streets to become the corridors of power. .The United States did not fall for that. Mindful of the defeat of Soviet troops by brutalized Afghans in the 1980s, America and Britain, leaders of the civilized world, are making this a war of Muslim liberation. The allies will go to great lengths to divide and arrange for the conquest of the fanatics. Bombs on the bad will alternate with food drops on the good. All rhetoric will be to side with the oppressed Afghan people and with mainstream Muslims everywhere. We will destroy the Taliban radio towers broadcasting hate and step up our local-language broadcasts of anti-fanatic truths. .That liberation counterstrategy makes sense. ³Donıt get mad, get even² is not the furious Western reaction that the fanatics expected. Cool, calm killing is not our way, but adapt we must to accommodate an unnatural enemy who welcomes death. Another part of the strategy, however, does not make sense. By failing to listen to and take seriously bin Ladenıs open message stating his purpose, we act like those in the past century who failed to read or take seriously ³Mein Kampf.² .The stated purposes of the terror network are (1) to drive any manifestation of democracy and human rights, such as Israel, out of the Middle East and (2) to free the avatar of totalitarian savagery, Saddam Hussein, from Western sanctions. These are not mere street-acclaimed goals adopted to gain fundamentalist adherents; these are steps to gain weapons of mass destruction by which to intimidate and dominate the world. .The troubling part of U.S. strategy is its blinkered tidiness: We seem to be going after one terrorist group at a time. Thus we leave Hamas and Hezbollah, with their Syrian and Iranian sponsorship, off the list of groups whose assets we freeze. .Secretary of State Colin Powell dismisses this with ³Theyıre on another list,² which is true but disingenuous. The new restrictions are more severe; by pointedly excluding the ³charities² supporting these groups that suicide-bomb Israelis, General Powell hopes to build bridges to Damascus and Tehran. .That isolates and undermines Israel. It was combined with the leak of a plan to reward the Arab violence by prematurely recognizing a Palestinian state, thereby conferring the sovereignty that would allow the import of arms and attract fleeing fanatics. .Small wonder that Ariel Sharon objected to a double standard that refuses U.S. negotiations with bin Ladenıs terrorists but demands Israelıs negotiations with Yasser Arafatıs terrorists. Another reason for not narrowing the target was just given by bin Laden on his provocative tape: Americans will ³not feel safe² while his ally, Saddam, is in power, gaining strength. .As the allies liberate long-ravaged Afghans, let us be equally ³relentless² - George W. Bushıs word - in liberating oppressed Iraqis. Itıs the same fight against the same mortal enemy. http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_418852.html * Tory leader warns of Saddam threatı Ananova, 9th October Iain Duncan Smith says the international community might have to consider hunting down Saddam Hussein. The call comes amid signals the United States is considering expanding the war against terrorism beyond the Taliban. Mr Duncan Smith has told the Tory partyıs annual conference in Blackpool he has raised this issue of Iraq with the Prime Minister. He stated: ³I simply said that Iraq has a huge record for sponsoring terrorism around the world. I donıt know whether there is any evidence or not, I havenıt been told of any involvement with bin Laden and al-Qaida, but it is very difficult to pinpoint who is and who isnıt involved. ³But the reality is that we know that Saddam Hussein is a menace and we know that his Government and his country at the moment are beyond the rule of law. ³So we must keep a very very vigilant eye on him and his operations because it may well turn out to be that we will need to deal with him in due course.² Mr Duncan Smith insists the West is not trying to settle old scores in the wake of the Gulf War 10 years ago. He said: ³No I donıt really think this is about old scores ... we are just simply saying that if the war and the battle is against this global international terrorism, then you really have to be prepared to look carefully at all the sponsors of terrorism, and clearly Saddam Hussein is one of them. ³Now if it turns out that we donıt have any concerns and there donıt need to be any concerns then that is fine. But my concern is that we need to look carefully at him and find out once and for all just exactly what his and his governmentıs involvement is in any of these organisations.² http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/283/nation/Hussein_receives_warning_from_US+.shtml * Hussein receives warning from US by Evelyn Leopold, Boston Globe (Reuters), 10th October UNITED NATIONS - The United States has delivered a stern warning to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that he would pay a heavy price if Baghdad took advantage of the crisis surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks, US officials said yesterday. US Ambassador John Negroponte sent a message to Hussein Sunday through his UN envoy, Mohammed Aldouri, who replied Monday to the US Mission to the United Nations, the officials said. One official described Negroponte's message: ''Don't try to take advantage of the situation or there will be a price to pay.'' ''It was a stern warning,'' the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. ''There was enough in there to indicate that they really got the message.'' Specifically, Negroponte told Aldouri that Iraq should not make any moves against Iraqi Kurds, who live in areas generally outside of the control of the Baghdad government, and to keep its hands off its neighbors, the official said. Iraq in 1980 attacked Iran and invaded Kuwait a decade later. It rained missiles on Israel during the 1991 Gulf War when a US-led coalition drove Baghdad's troops from Kuwait. Aldouri said a US emissary had ''knocked on the door and we answered it and received him.'' ''The Iraqi policy is that we confront the United States openly so we don't need a crisis to gain benefit,'' he said. ''We have no aggressive intentions vis-a-vis our neighbors at all. ''Certainly, we are against the war in Afghanistan not because it is an American war but because it is illegal and against international law and they have not given any acceptable evidence that Afghanistan was involved in what happened on Sept. 11,'' Aldouri said. Iraq is one of the few countries that has not condemned the suicide attacks against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington, as well as the downing of a plane in Pennsylvania. More than 5,500 people were killed in the attacks. Aldouri told the UN General Assembly last week it would be hypocritical for Iraq to do so in light of US bombing raids against his own country and 11-year-old UN sanctions. But he said messages of condolences had been sent to individuals in the United States sympathetic to Iraq's case. In Doha, Qatar, yesterday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said the United States could target Iraq to settle old scores. He was speaking before an emergency meeting of the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference after the United States launched another barrage of airstrikes on Afghanistan. ''It is a hope, more than an expectation, that Muslim countries should defend themselves and their religious values which are being targeted by the new US-Zionist war campaign,'' Sabri told reporters. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46558-2001Oct11.html * What About Iraq? by Jim Hoagland Washongton Post, 12th October [.....] If President Bush is serious about the war he has declared on terrorists and those who harbor them, that must change. The fate of Abdul Rahman Yasin -- and his Iraqi sponsors -- becomes a key measure of this White House's commitment to stamping out terrorism with a global reach. Bush on Wednesday named Yasin as one of the world's 22 Most Wanted Terrorists for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Bush's list is headed by Osama bin Laden and his cohorts in al Qaeda, the terror group accused of finishing the destruction of the New York landmark begun by Yasin and others. [.....] The visibility that Bush has focused on Yasin stands in welcome contrast to the quiet neglect and bungling that marked the handling of this case by the FBI and CIA during the Clinton years. But publicity is only a first step. Homeland defense chief Tom Ridge must break down the bureaucratic walls and defensive reactions that have crippled what should be a key component of the U.S. anti-terror campaign: a thorough examination of the accumulating evidence of Iraq's role in sponsoring the development on its soil of weapons and techniques for international terrorism. Exploring this role was given low priority by U.S. agents as it became clear the Clinton White House did not want to hear about or deal seriously with Iraq. Defectors ranging from Khidhir Hamza, one of Saddam's chief nuclear scientists, to lowly intelligence officers have been met with a cold shoulder and reluctance by the FBI, CIA, DIA, etc., to listen to, assess and then share the information about terrorism the defectors possess. Take Sabah Khalifa Khodada Alami, a 47-year-old former Iraqi army captain who from 1994 until 1998 was a military instructor in the elite militia known as Saddam's Fighters. He escaped with his family into Iraqi Kurdistan and then to Turkey in 1999 and received U.S. permission to settle as a refugee in Fort Worth last May. Alami, a soft-spoken man with the engaging quiet smile endemic to the Tigris and Euphrates delta, guardedly outlined to me here Wednesday details of the training given for airliner hijacking and assassinations in the Salman Pak area of Baghdad while he was there. The Iraqi National Congress had tracked Alami to Fort Worth and made him available for an interview here while he sought a meeting with the FBI. Discussing Iraq's links to terrorism with an American was a novel experience, Alami said. The Immigration and Naturalization Service official who interviewed him in Turkey for his refugee visa did not probe his military specialties. More surprising: An Iraqi ex-intelligence officer who has told the Iraqi National Congress of specific sightings of "Islamicists" training on a Boeing 707 parked in Salman Pak as recently as September 2000 says he was treated dismissively by CIA officers in Ankara this week. They reportedly showed no interest in pursuing a possible Iraq connection to Sept. 11. Neither defector presented a smoking gun tying Iraq to the al Qaeda terror assault. And neither is an angel who should be believed automatically. Moreover, focusing on al Qaeda and Afghanistan now is the right immediate priority for Bush. But the mounting evidence of Iraqi involvement in the brand of terror practiced by al Qaeda can no longer be swept under the rug or minimized. Abdul Rahman Yasin's presence in Baghdad makes Iraq part and parcel of this war on killers and their protectors. It is time for Washington to act on knowledge postponed but now inescapable. http://www.miami.com/herald/content/news/world/digdocs/106926.htm * Mission sought Iraqi links to attacks by WARREN P. STROBEL Miami Herald, 11th October WASHINGTON -- Senior Pentagon officials who want to expand the war against terrorism to Iraq authorized a trip to Great Britain last month by former CIA director James Woolsey in search of evidence that Saddam Hussein played a role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, U.S. officials said.. The unusual, semi-official trip was at least the second such mission undertaken this year by Woolsey, a leading proponent of the theory that Iraq masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the suicide hijackings last month, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The onetime CIA chief acted with the blessing of senior Pentagon officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Under Secretary for Policy Douglas Feith, current and former U.S. officials said. Wolfowitz's office did not respond to inquiries Wednesday about Woolsey's travels. Woolsey, in two telephone conversations this week, declined to discuss his trips to England last month and in February. A U.S. official who asked that neither his name nor his agency be identified said Woolsey traveled to Britain on a U.S. government plane in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, accompanied by a team of Justice and Defense Department officials. The former intelligence chief was seeking proof that the man who planned the first attack on the World Trade Center, who lived in England in the late 1980s, was an Iraqi agent, officials said. Wolfowitz and several other officials have argued repeatedly in interagency meetings that the United States should bomb Iraq and topple Hussein after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Secretary of State Colin Powell and others have successfully those arguments, arguing that such an attack would fracture the international coalition President Bush has assembled. Powell, Vice President Dick Cheney and other U.S. and British officials have said there is no evidence linking Iraq to the Sept. 11 attacks. Mohammed Atta, one of the suicide hijackers, met with a low-level Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in June 2000, but U.S. officials said they do not know whether the meeting had anything to do with the terrorist attacks 13 months later. Woolsey's trips, however, suggest that the debate about whether, when and how to expand Bush's war on terrorism is far from over. Wolfowitz and others at the Pentagon ``are seized'' with the idea that Iraq was behind the attacks, and want to finish the job Bush's father started in the 1991 Persian Gulf War by toppling Hussein, said a senior U.S. official. According to this theory, Iraq's intelligence apparatus supported Osama bin Laden, accused of sponsoring the terrorist attacks. Former Secretary of State George Shultz on Wednesday added his voice to those who suspect Iraq was behind the Sept. 11 attacks that killed 5,600 people. ``I would be surprised if Saddam Hussein's fingerprints were not in some ways on this,'' Shultz was quoted as saying during an appearance in Seattle. ``An Iraq ruled by Saddam Hussein is basically a Kmart for terrorist weapons.'' Several officials said Woolsey's mission angered officials at the State Department and the CIA and left British authorities puzzled about whether he was representing the U.S. government. ``We don't need to deputize former DCIs to play gumshoe,'' said one official in Washington, using the acronym for Director of Central Intelligence. The argument that Saddam was behind the 1993 attempt to topple the World Trade Center was advanced by scholar Laurie Mylroie in her book, Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America. A new edition of the book, with a forward by Woolsey and an endorsement by Wolfowitz, is due in bookstores next week. The man convicted of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing used the alias Ramzi Yousef, but was arrested with a Pakistani passport bearing the name Abdul Basit. He is now in a U.S. prison. Mylroie writes that Iraqi intelligence officers probably stole Basit's identity during Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, where a man named Abdul Basit lived at the time. She and Woolsey point to the fact that Basit and his family disappeared during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, and to physical differences between Basit and the man in custody. FBI and CIA specialists met with Mylroie in the mid-1990s to examine her evidence, but concluded there was nothing to it, said a former government official with knowledge of the events. Woolsey went to England to determine whether Basit's fingerprints matched Yousef's, current and former officials said. Several of those with knowledge of the trips said they failed to produce any new evidence that Iraq was behind the attacks. Mylroie disputed that, saying Woolsey has just penned a new forward to her book. ``Otherwise, he would have backed off,'' she said. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011012/wl/attack_czech_atta_dc_1.html * Czech Leader Denies Atta Meetings in Prague by Adam Tanner Yahoo, 12th October BERLIN (Reuters) - Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman denied on Friday reports that suspected suicide plane hijacker Mohamed Atta twice met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague before the World Trade Center attacks. His remarks follow comments by a U.S. source on Thursday that Atta had met an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague in June 2000 and April 2001. ``Atta spent a day in the Czech Republic in transit at Prague's Ruzyne airport, but neither before nor after was he in the Czech Republic,'' Zeman told a joint press conference with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. ``There's no reason to assume that his stay had any connection with the attacks on September 11.'' He also said: ``I cannot be informed about all of Saddam Hussein's agents.'' Atta lived for much of the 1990s in the northern German port of Hamburg where two of the other suspected lead pilots of the attacks were also students. Atta is believed to have piloted the first plane into the World Trade Center on September 11, the first of four attacks that day. The Czech Republic has only publicly acknowledged that Atta made a summer stopover in 2000. [.....] http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-000081446oct12.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dcomment%2DopinionsOctober 12, 2001 * The Bioterror Road Doesn't Lead to Iraq by SCOTT RITTER Los Angeles Times, 12th October [Scott Ritter, a former U.N. weapons inspector, is the author of "Endgame: Solving the Iraqi Problem, Once and For All" (Simon & Schuster, 1999)] The threat of a biological attack against the United States has become a major theme in the aftermath of Sept. 11. The investigation of an outbreak of anthrax infection in Florida fuels this concern. While Operation Enduring Freedom targets Afghanistan as the home of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, the complexity and sophistication of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon strongly suggest a state sponsor. Now reports out of the Czech Republic indicate that one of the terrorists met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague earlier this year. It has become all too convenient to automatically link Iraq with biological weapons. While there is a legitimate concern about the status of the United Nations' efforts to account for all of Iraq's weapons programs, this concern must be tempered by the reality that most of Iraq's biological agents, along with its production facilities, have been destroyed. In any event, Iraq isn't the most logical choice for sponsoring terror activities undertaken by fundamentalist Islamic groups. Iraq is a secular dictatorship that has for 30 years undertaken its own brutal internal oppression of Islamic fundamentalists. On the other hand, Iraq does possess the wherewithal and motivation to plan, organize and assist in such a terror operation. For more than a decade, Iraq has chafed at the U.S.-led economic sanctions and enforcement of "no-fly" zones in northern and southern Iraq designed to contain the regime of Saddam Hussein--who was reported to be chortling over the killing of thousands of innocent Americans. The stalemate that currently exists concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs further exacerbates its anti-American demeanor. Iraq maintains that its weapons programs have been eliminated and that U.N. weapons inspectors had become pawns of U.S. intelligence. The United States, in turn, says that Iraq lied to the weapons inspectors and continues to maintain stockpiles of prohibited materials. It is said that politics makes for strange bedfellows. But Iraq has sought to embrace the Western model of economics and society, however misguided the Iraqi interpretation of these may be. Hussein and Bin Laden are complete opposites in terms of ideology and motivation, making them natural enemies as opposed to secret allies. The Bush administration has shown little inclination to pursue the issue of returning U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq, instead using the absence of inspections to hype the threat of a rearmed Iraq. The alleged meeting in Prague creates the additional specter of Iraq as a state sponsor of terror and makes talk of a renewed bombing campaign against Iraq suddenly appear to be more imminent than conceptual. With its military poorly trained and equipped, its economy in tatters and once-vaunted weapons of mass destruction largely dismantled by U.N. weapons inspectors, Iraq today represents a threat to no one. Investigations into the anthrax cases in Florida point more toward sources other than Iraq. In this time of crisis, the United States must stay focused on the mission that confronts it. Throwing Iraq into the mix of targets associated with the terror attacks against the United States--absent any verifiable linkage--should be avoided at all costs. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.