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News, 14-20/10/01 (1)

News, 14-20/10/01 (1)

The news is still dominated by the question of whether or not Œwe¹ should
bomb Iraq, a question which, this week, takes the form of speculation about
Iraq¹s possible involvement in the anthrax scare. Hence pages and pages of
repetitive, nerve jangling tosh. No-one of course makes the point that if
Iraq is behind it then, on the basis of the same argument the US is using to
bomb Afgjhanistan, it could reasonably be considered to be acting in
legitimate self defense.
The piece de resistance of the case against Iraq is the supposed meeting
between Mohammad Atta and an Iraqi diplomat in Prague. Readers of last
week¹s news will remember the statement from the Czech Prime Minister, Milos
Zeman, that he has no evidence of any such meeting. This has been studiously
ignored in all the following articles until ŒAtta visited Prague twice¹, at
the very end. This article seems set to refute Mr Zeman¹s statement but ends
up effectively confirming it.
Otherwise it may be worth nothing that there don¹t appear to have been any
bombing raids on Iraq this week (surely the effort in Afghanistan hasn¹t
taken up all their absurdly inflated resources). Most recommended article in
what follows is the Pat Buchanan piece ŒWhy do they hate us?¹ (in the
General Policy section). But actually I think the most important
developments are those that are indicated, though I don¹t pretend to
understand them, in the Kurdish supplement.


*  The suicide bomber and the Baghdad conspiracy [Supposed meeting between
Atta and Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir Al-Ani (see last week¹s
news and ŒAtta visited Prague twice¹, below) described in loving railway
station novel style detail, which I¹ve cut. Dispute between Pentagon and
State Dept. Efforts of James Woolsey (see last week¹s news). Spat between US
and Iraq ambassadors to the UN (see last week¹s news). Possible sighting of
OBL in Baghdad by Arkan¹s lawyer (see last week¹s news).]
*  Ex-U.N. weapons inspector: Possible Iraq-anthrax link [Richard Butler,
wouldn¹t you know, thinks anthrax might have been delivered at the famous
Atta/al-Ani meeting in Prague]
*  Anthrax Market Easily Accessed on Internet [³It used to be easy enough to
get, and presumably was available in other countries as well. Lots of people
had it before ATCC ­ American Type Culture Collection ­ tightened up,'']
*  Iraq stockpiled anthrax in run-up to Gulf war [Brief history of Iraq¹s
programme. Ends with this rather surprising sentence: ³Ex-CIA head James
Woolsey has maintained that it was Iraq which provided fake passports for
all the 19 US hijackers.²]
*  Senator says administration can't forget about Iraq [Joseph Liberman on
the need to give miitary support to the INC]
*  Invading Iraq would turn a small threat into a big one [Defence of
current policy]
*  Iraq may be behind anthrax attacks, says ex-CIA chief [Woolsey of course.
But doesn¹t include claim in ŒIraq stockpiled anthrax¹, aboveŒthat it was
Iraq which provided fake passports for all the 19 US hijackers.¹
*  Iraq Denies Role in Spread of Anthrax as U.S. Seeks Source [US experts
arguing against the Iraqi link to the anthrax scare. Except Butler. But
Butler not sure ...]
*  Look for Iraq's Hands to Be Dirty [Free speculation as to everyone¹s
possible motives. No evidence.]
*  To Do Iraq or Not Do Iraq ‹ That's the Question for Dubya [Call to war
against Iraq as a pre-emptive strike regardless of evidence. Pearl Harbour
style, though that analogy is not given, strangely enough.]
*  Iraq's chemists bought anthrax from America [More details on pre-Gulf War
*  Top-level source of spores feared [This article concentrates more on the
possibility of a Russian source]
*  IRAQ: Fingers pointing toward Baghdad [Iraqi National Congress trying to
persuade the US to bomb their country by claiming OBL/Hussein links.
Otherwise just Prague ... Mylroie ... Butler ... high grade anthrax]
*  Iraqi Opposition Wants to Go Hunt Anthrax in Iraq [Give us more money. We
can¹t do anything without your money ...]
*  Hawks chasing the bugs all the way to Baghdad [Details on the Œcabal¹
formed to press for an attack on Iraq and on their plans, which may be of
interest to Turkey, for a Œnew Kurdish government of Iraq¹!]
*  Don't blame Saddam for this one [by Scott Ritter. This is a better, more
detailed argument than the previous one from Ritter in last week¹s news.
Particularly telling is the political argument - that Iraq was Œwinning¹ the
political and diplomatic war and had no interest in a sudden escalation of
the military confrontation. Though I disagree that Baghdad¹s aim has been to
lift sanctions. I think they had, rightly in my view, given that up as
hopeless. The aim was to get countries anxious to do business with them to
break sanctions, so that the sanctions regime would become increasingly
*  Atta visited Prague twice, Czechs confirm [This is probably the most
important article in this section. It appears to contradict the Czech Prime
Minister¹s statement that Atta visited Prague only once and that there is no
evidence that he met al-Ani. On reading it, however, we find that on Atta¹s
first visit to Prague, he was turned back at the airport for lack of the
relevant papers.  And the sole source for the meeting with al-Ani turns out
to be ... the Iraqi National Congress! So much for the colourful fantasies
about ŒCzech officials¹. James Woolsey¹s claim that all nineteen hijackers
got their passports from Iraq also seems to have been quietly buried. But
now we know: for Œscholars¹, Œexperts¹, Œofficials¹ (even ŒCzech
officials¹), read the Iraqi National Congress.]

by David Rose and Ed Vulliamy
Kurdistan Observer (from The Observer, London), 14th October [Several of the
above pieces bill this as an important article but it contains nothing we
don¹t have from other sources. Essential argument is that only Iraq has the
capacity to produce airborne anthrax (not the US, Britain, Russia, China,
Israel, Syria ...)]
by Jerry Seper
The Washington Times, 17th October
Atta and Iraqi official in Prague. Woolsey ... Butler ...
by Richard Cohen
Miami Herald, 18th October
More of the same ...
Reuter's, 20th October
Not very interesting views of Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, the Republican
chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations

AND, IN NEWS, 14-20/10/01 (2):


*  Iraqi Citizen Planned to Kill Russian President [Happily doesn¹t seem to
have any real significance with regard to Russian-Iraqi relations]
*  Iraq 'determined' to thwart any US-British strike [The interest of this
article lies in the recent visit of a Russian envoy to Iraq, keeping up
*  TCP [Trading Corporation of Pakistan] considers Iraq's plea for replacing
*  Saddam Sends Condolences to American


*  Saddam criticizes Arab nations in U.S. airstrikes
*  U.S. Assures Turkey, No Separate State in Iraq [The American ambassador
to Turkey informs the Turks that Œonce peace had been brought to the Middle
East,  the Caucasus and the Balkans then Turkey would be the leading country
in these  regions.¹ Is this a declaration of US policy?] 
*  Turkey offers help, is wary of involving Iraq


*  487 brides in mass wedding
*  Seven Iraqis killed in mine explosions
*  Sanctions bring unintended result, observers say [They hit necessities
and don¹t touch luxuries]
*  IRAQ: Years of sanctions hurt Iraqis more than regime [This seems to be
essentially the preceding article with the paragraphs in a different order]


*  Iraq Says U.S. Navy Set Ship Ablaze in Gulf
*  Saddam moves chemical weapons factories into no-go zone [Considering that
the existence of chemical and biological weapons stocks in Iraq is supposed
to be a matter of controversy the authors of this article seem to know a lot
about them]


*  Iraqi exports drop slightly under UN's 'Oil-for-Food' program


*  Don't repeat the misery inflicted on the Iraqis [by George Carey,
Archbishop of Canterbury. Not quite the prophetic anger that the subject
merits but nonetheless to his credit]
*  "Why do they hate us?" [One of the dumbest sentiments that has been
touted about lately is that at least Sept 11 has had the Œgood¹ effect of
pulling the US out of its Œisolationist¹ mode. The end of US isolationism
means the murder of hundreds of thousands of people. Buchanan is the
arch-isolationist. It is also the best account I have seen by an American of
how the US appears in the eyes of the Muslim world. The paragraoh giving the
Œindictment¹ of the US by the ŒImams¹ is particularly fine.
*  Global Eye -- Idiot Wind [On Bush Sr¹s involvement in SH¹s pre-Gulf War
crimes. Talking about Œidiocy¹ the constant repetition of the phrase Œhe
gassed his own people¹ rather glosses over the fact that the incident
occurred in the middle of a civil war. Is the other side your Œown people¹
in the middle of a civil war? Was General Sherman attacking Œhis own people¹
when he attacked Atlanta?]


by Chris Blackhurst
The Independent, 14th October


Unfortunately for them, and alarmingly for all of us, there is mounting
evidence of an Iraqi role in the suicide attacks. Senator Orrin Hatch, a
senior Republican on both the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees,
and a recipient of high-level briefings since 11 September, said he is "very
confident" that Iraq played a role in 11 September. He refused to elaborate
but added: "Iraq has been harbouring these terrorists for a long time ... I
believe that Iraq is ultimately going to be proven to have been a part of

Investigators are convinced Mr bin Laden did not have the financial and
logistical capacity to organise 11 September. There is some truth, they
acknowledge, in the Taliban assertion that he was holed up in the Afghan
mountains, unable to draw upon the resources necessary to mount such an
onslaught. Everything they are coming across points to the participation of
intelligence machinery from a state, probably Iraq. The amount of false
documentation the hijackers carried suggests they must have been sponsored
by a state: one individual on his own, no matter how powerful, could not
have arranged all those bogus IDs and passports.


Vince Cannistraro, the CIA's former counter-terrorism chief, said Baghdad
made an overture to Mr bin Laden in December 1998. Saddam was apparently so
impressed by the bombings that year of the two US embassies in East Africa
that he sent Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, Farouk Hijazi, to Afghanistan to
meet Mr bin Laden. The CIA believed Mr Hijazi offered Mr bin Laden and
al-Qa'ida, then being pursued by the Americans, a permanent refuge in Iraq
but the offer was refused.

Iraq has consistently denied any involvement in 11 September, accusing the
US and Britain of using the atrocities to settle old scores. "The US and
Britain know very well that Iraq has no relation whatsoever to what happened
in the United States and no relation whatsoever to the parties accused of
doing it," said Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri.

Nevertheless there are other links between Iraq and previous terror attacks.
One of the men on President's Bush 22 "most wanted" list of suspected
terrorists was questioned in the wake of the first attack on the World Trade
Centre in 1993. Abdul Rahman Yasin, a second generation Iraqi immigrant from
Indiana, was questioned at length after the bombing, which caused extensive
damage to one of the towers and killed six people.

The FBI asked him about his flatmates in Jersey City, many of whom were
later indicted for involvement in the bombing, about his contact with
explosive chemicals and about his relationship with Ramzi Yousef, later
identified and convicted as the operation's mastermind.

Nevertheless he was released and allowed to leave the country because the
FBI thought it had no case against him. He is now in Iraq.

In the face of this evidence the real dilemma for the Bush-Blair axis will
come once the Taliban are defeated and Mr bin Laden and his al-Qa'ida
members in Afghanistan are captured, dead or alive. If the allies' promise
to pursue international terrorism is maintained, argue hard-liners in
Washington and London, then Saddam Hussein, who has already displayed a
desire to construct weapons of mass destruction, must be next.

The matter is yet more complicated because five of the 22 "most wanted" are
thought to live in Iran. They are headed by Imad Mughniyah, head of special
operations for the Lebanese group Hizbollah, who already had a $2m reward on
his head in the US. He is wanted in connection with a series of incidents,
including the kidnap, torture and murder ­ alleged to have been at his own
hands ­ of the Beirut CIA chief William Buckley and the abduction and
seven-year confinement of the American Terry Anderson.

CNN, 15th October

NEW YORK: Richard Butler, the former U.N. weapons inspector, pointed Monday
to a possible Iraq connection to the recent anthrax mailings, saying he did
not believe terrorist groups could have made the deadly bacteria.

In an interview with CNN, Butler cautioned that there's been no verification
that Iraq had any role in the recent incidents, but he said the country is
known to have produced anthrax.

"What we've got to be certain about above all is whether it came from a
country supporting these terrorists as a matter of policy, such as Iraq,
which we know has made this stuff," Butler said. "And there's a credible
report, not fully verified, that they may indeed have given anthrax to
exactly the group that did the World Trade Center."

Mohamed Atta -- one of the suspected suicide hijackers -- had two meetings
with Iraqi intelligence officers in Prague, Czech Republic, U.S. and Czech
officials told CNN.

U.S. officials called the two meetings "interesting" but said they did not
prove Iraq's involvement in any terrorist acts. Czech officials said they
believed fake identification documents may have changed hands, but they
don't have any indication that anything more was involved.

Butler, however, said Egyptian authorities believe that Iraq could have
handed some anthrax over to one of the suspected terrorists in the September
11 attacks.

"It's possible that many months ago anthrax, a small quantity of it, was
handed over in Prague to Mohamed Atta ... and the person who handed it over
in Prague was an Iraqi," Butler said. "If that proves to be true, there's a


by Sabin Russell
Cox News Service, 15th October


In 1984, followers of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh obtained salmonella
from American Type and used it to sicken 700 patrons of 10 restaurants in
The Dalles, Ore. In 1986, a time the United States was friendlier to Iraq
than it is today, the University of Baghdad purchased anthrax, along with
strains of bacteria that cause botulism and brucellosis. And in 1995, an
American white supremacist used phony letterhead to order three vials of
bubonic plague bacteria for $240. He was caught.

``It used to be easy enough to get, and presumably was available in other
countries as well. Lots of people had it before ATCC tightened up,'' said
Dr. Mac Griffiss, professor of lab medicine at the Veterans Affairs Medical
Center in San Francisco.

Griffiss said people should not jump to the conclusion that the anthrax
cases are linked to the Sept. 11 attacks.

``There was a time not long ago when those of us in the academic world were
very careful about opening mail,'' he said, referring to a letter-bomb
campaign that spanned several years. ``It turned out the person doing it
(Unabomber Ted Kaczynski) was neither Muslim or Middle Eastern. There are
crazies among us.''

In her book ``Germs, Biological Weapons and America's Secret War,'' New York
Times reporter Judith Miller and colleagues Stephen Engelberg and William
Broad detail the trade in biological specimens and the subsequent passage by
Congress of tight restriction on pathogen sales.


by David Leigh
The Guardian, 15th October

Iraq has possessed large supplies of anthrax, processed into a form usable
as a weapon of biological warfare, studies of Saddam Hussein's military
build-up have found.

On the brink of the US launching the Gulf war against him in January 1991,
Saddam is estimated to have had 50 an thrax-filled bombs ready for use. He
also had prepared 10 missiles loaded with anthrax warheads dispersed to
separate locations.

This was the fruit of a crash six-year biological warfare programme, and it
was because the Americans were afraid he might use anthrax at the time, that
they may have held back from trying to topple Saddam's rule altogether.

"The assessment was that the Iraqis were likely to use weapons of mass
destruction if the survival of the regime was threatened" said Paul Rogers,
professor of peace studies at Bradford University.

His recent book, Losing Control, draws on a US document to that effect - the
"national intelligence estimate" of November 1990, prepared after Iraq
invaded Kuwait but before the US launched its Gulf War counter-attack.

A classified report relating to it was later released in error by the US
department of defence in 1996.The report was quickly removed from the
website, but not before it had been read by a number of analysts.

The main source of technical information on Iraq's anthrax weapon programme
is the series of subsequent Unscom UN inspection reports produced between
October 1995 and October 1997.

Iraq started researching anthrax warfare in 1985, at its Muthana chemical
weapons centre, as part of its prolonged war effort against Iran, covertly
backed by the US.

Large-scale fermenters were used to produce anthrax spores in bulk at a
pilot plant, Al Salman, after field trials on monkeys and sheep.

In May 1989, large-scale anthrax production began at a factory constructed
at Al Hakam. Unscom estimated that Al Hakam manufactured 8,425 litres of
anthrax bacteria during the course of 1990.

A parallel programme began to design weapons that could deliver the spores.
Rockets, bombs and spray tanks were all tested netween 1988 and 1990 when
Saddam took the decision to invade Kuwait in August 1990.

During the six months of crisis before the US-led coalition attacked, Saddam
greatly speeded up the biological weapons programme.

Iraqi commanders were told the weapons were intended for use as a last
resort if Baghdad was destroyed by nuclear attack.

As well as anthrax, other missiles contained chemical agents, and two more
biological killers - the food poisoning agent botulinum, and aflatoxin, a
rare cancer-inducing toxin derived from a fungus.

After Unscom made these discoveries, Iraq prevented further inspections.
However, according to Prof Rogers: "There were credible reports Iraq was
continuing work, probably in underground re search and devlopment centres".

None of this proves that the latest anthrax scares can be traced directly to
Iraq. But US hawks pressing for an attack on Baghdad have been been
strengthened by publication of reports linking Saddam to Osama bin Laden.

The Czech foreign minister, Jan Kavan, is reported to have flown this month
to Washington to deliver intelligence files on meetings between Iraqis and
Islamist terrorists to the US secretary of state, Colin Powell.

Ex-CIA head James Woolsey has maintained that it was Iraq which provided
fake passports for all the 19 US hijackers.

Boston Herald, 16th October

WASHINGTON (Associated Press): Sen. Joseph Lieberman urged the Bush
administration to expand its war on terrorism by supporting democratic
opponents to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, stopped short of
calling for an immediate military strike on Iraq.

But the Connecticut senator said there should be a ``phase two'' of the
United States' response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade
Center and Pentagon.

Since Oct. 7, the United States has been bombing Afghanistan to destroy
training camps of Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of
the attacks.

The administration should eventually turn its attention to Iraq as a state
that is suspected of supporting and harboring terrorists, Lieberman said.

``As long as Saddam is there, Iraq is not just going to be a thorn in our
side, but a threat to our lives,'' Lieberman, D-Conn., told reporters Monday
outside a conference of the New Democratic Network, an organization that
raises money for centrist Democratic candidates.

Lieberman, a member of the Armed Services Committee, is considering reviving
legislation he co-sponsored in 1998 that would authorize the president to
provide military training, money for radio and television broadcasting, and
humanitarian aid to Iraqi democratic opposition organizations.

The bill's prime sponsor was Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. Lieberman
was an original co-sponsor.

Saddam's ouster has ``got to start with more support of the Iraqi
opposition, that's the beginning of it,'' Lieberman said. ``At some point,
there would be a military component.''

While Lieberman is among those who hope to go after Saddam in the wider war
President Bush has pledged against terrorists, others - even some usually
outspoken advocates of intervention in Iraq - have counseled a wait-and-see

``I don't think we should do too much at once here,'' said Sen. Sam
Brownback, R-Kan., senior Republican on a Senate Foreign Relations
subcommittee on the region. ``At the appropriate time, we should move
forward in pressing for a regime change in Iraq.''

The Bush administration is leaving Iraq for another day because it has been
unable to link Saddam to the Sept. 11 attacks and is hesitant to alienate
Muslim allies in the region. Nevertheless, the administration is watching
Saddam ``very carefully,'' Bush said.

Overall, Lieberman has had strong praise for Bush's handling of the crisis.
In his speech Monday, he cautioned against giving too much power to allies,
saying the United States must be willing to take unilateral action in the
ongoing campaign when necessary.

by Steve Chapman
Baltimore Sun, 16th October

CHICAGO - This war is different from the wars Americans are used to. Not
because the enemy is mysterious and elusive. Not because we are unable to
define our exact mission. Not because we may never achieve a clear victory.

What distinguishes this war from our other recent military undertakings,
from Kosovo back to Vietnam, is simple: It wasn't optional.

We didn't choose to go to war against the al-Qaida terrorists and their
sponsors in Kabul. They chose to go to war against us. Osama bin Laden and
his allies have taken our past retreats (from Lebanon and Somalia, for
example) as proof that the United States can't endure casualties. But that's
a gross error.

This time, we're fighting to protect Americans on our soil from foreign
attack, and that makes all the difference. Retreat offers no escape.

Much has been made in recent weeks about the alleged demise of the Powell
doctrine. Authored by the current secretary of state, it says that the
United States should use military force only when it has precise goals, an
exit strategy and firm public support - and then only if it's willing to
employ decisive force. Yet today, we are told, an administration in which
Colin Powell plays a central part has embarked on a war that fails to meet
those conditions.

In fact, there's no contradiction. The essence of Mr. Powell's view is that
you shouldn't resort to military force unless your stake is big enough to
justify the cost. We lost more than 5,300 lives on Sept. 11, and if the
terrorists aren't stopped, more Americans will die. Stakes don't get much
higher than that.

The real reason many people want to discredit the Powell doctrine is not
because they want to attack the terrorists and their accomplices in
Afghanistan. It's because they want to take the war to someone else.

The Weekly Standard magazine recently published an open letter to President
Bush, signed by a long list of conservatives, urging "a determined effort to
remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq." Anything less, they claim, "will
constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on
international terrorism."

While the signers recommend assisting Iraqi opposition groups, they also
say, "American forces must be prepared to back up our commitment to the
Iraqi opposition by all necessary means."

If Hussein had a hand in the attacks, taking him out would make perfect
sense. But there has been a conspicuous lack of evidence against him.

Last month, reports the Wall Street Journal, an al-Qaida spokesman denounced
the Iraqi dictator, whose regime is secular rather than Islamic, as a "false
God." And no one has made a good case why we should use this opportunity to
settle an old score.

The disadvantages are obvious. Going after Iraq would destroy the coalition
against the terrorists. It would spark violent unrest in the Muslim world.
It would likely precipitate the overthrow of governments that have sided
with us. It would probably embroil us in a bloody ground war in Iraq.

The advocates, however, say we have no choice. Hussein's possession of
biological and chemical weapons, they argue, makes him an intolerable threat
to carry out atrocities far worse than what happened last month. But we know
better. If he were inclined to use these weapons against Americans, he could
have done so during the Persian Gulf war. Even as he was losing, he chose
not to. Why? Because he knew that the consequence would be annihilation.

Terrorists are harder to deter, because they operate secretively, hoping to
carry out their attacks without being identified and punished. And bin Laden
has already shown his determination to kill Americans on U.S. soil, which is
why his network has to be eradicated.

Saddam Hussein is different. The aftermath of Sept. 11, if anything, makes
him less of a threat than before. He now knows quite well that anyone
launching an attack on the American homeland can expect an overwhelming
military response. What is happening to the Taliban could happen to him. And
he's never shown an interest in martyrdom.

The only thing that could cause the catastrophe feared by conservatives is
the very action they propose. Faced with an all-out U.S. invasion aimed at
demolishing his regime, he would no longer have any reason for restraint. If
he's going to be destroyed, he might as well use every weapon he has.

Better for us to continue the tedious and unsatisfying - but so far
successful - effort to contain the danger posed by Iraq. Some causes require
committing America to war. Some causes don't.

Wise leadership, of the sort shown so far by Colin Powell and his boss,
consists of knowing the difference.,,2001361178,00.html

The Times, 16th October

Iraq may be behind the current spate of anthrax attacks in the United
States, a former head of the CIA warned today as it was confirmed that
anthrax was sent to Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader.

Jim Woolsey, who was director of the American spy agency for two years in
the 1990s, said he believed at least some of the attacks could not have been
carried out without some form of state backing.

"I find the sophistication of at least some of the anthrax attacks in the
United States suggestive that a state may be involved, not just a bunch of
terrorists in Afghanistan," he told the BBC.

"The inhaled anthrax has to be in spores of a rather precise size, right
down to the nearest micron or two, in order to be able to be ingested and to
stay ingested.

Some of these spores, the ones that killed the man in Florida, clearly had
been produced to be the right size. That is not the kind of thing that one
would ordinarily associate with work out in the middle of the Afghan

His comments came as authorities closed an entire wing of an eight-story
U.S. Senate office building and prepared to test hundreds of people for
possible exposure to anthrax.

Mr Woolsey said he believed that the regime of President Saddam Hussein was
behind a number of terrorist attacks on America since 1993, including an
attempt that year to assassinate former President George Bush in Kuwait.

There now needed to be a concerted effort by the US, British and other
Governments to establish whether Iraq, or possibly Iran, was involved in any
recent attacks.

If evidence was found, then the current war against Afghanistan would have
to be widened to deal with the state involved, he said.

"If we find indications that Saddam¹s regime has been involved, then I very
much think we should not stop with Afghanistan," he said. "And if the
consequences are that we need a change of regime, say, in Baghdad as well as
Kabul, we should not flinch from that. We are at war."

His comments reflect the mood among the more hawkish elements within the
Bush administration and the Republican Party in Congress who have been
pressing President Bush to extend the war to Iraq.

But British ministers have been anxious to keep the focus of the campaign
firmly on Afghanistan in order to prevent any fracturing of the
international coalition assembled by Tony Blair and Mr Bush.

by Paul Basken 17th October


While cases discovered so far in Florida, New York and Washington involve a
high-grade variety of anthrax, experts cautioned against drawing conclusions
about its origin.

If there were a strong indication of Iraq's involvement, then the faction of
the Bush administration that favors military action against Iraq ``would be
winning in the administration battle,'' said David Siegrist, a bioterrorism
expert from the PotomacInstitute for Policy Studies. ``So far it doesn't
appear to be, but we're all waiting for more data.''

Some experts suggested the possibility the anthrax came from stocks produced
by the Soviet Union, and others emphasized the need to consider domestic

``There are dozens and dozens and dozens of countries that could produce
very clean anthrax,'' said Jon Wolfsthal, deputy director of the
non-proliferation project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
``Just the quality of the anthrax doesn't give me that link'' to Iraq, he

It is ``much more likely'' that domestic terrorists are involved, since
foreign organizations have more effective means of creating mass hysteria,
Wolfsthal said.

The Observer newspaper of London said Sunday that U.S. intelligence
officials with both the CIA and the Defense Department, which it did not
identify by name, feel the apparent use in Florida of an airborne form of
anthrax suggests a technical sophistication that leaves Iraq among only a
small number of possible suspects.

``There are probably a number of nations that could do that,'' said Dr.
Rodney Tweten, who directs anthrax research at the University of Oklahoma
Health Sciences Center. ``To me, anyway, there's not enough information to
make any kind of assessment like that.''

Administration officials are declining to comment on the possibility of an
Iraqi role in the spread of anthrax. They have only repeated warnings that
Afghanistan may not be the only country to face a U.S. military assault in
the terrorism fight.

``We will do whatever it takes to defeat terror abroad, wherever it grows or
wherever it hides,'' President George W. Bush today told a group of business
leaders during a stop in California en route to an economic summit in China.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declined in an interview with the
Qatar-based satellite television station al-Jazeera to say whether Iraq
faces any U.S. action.

``The only way you can defend against terrorism is not by self-defense,
because a terrorist can attack any place at any time,'' Rumsfeld said in
response to a question about Iraq. ``You simply must take the battle to

Chief among those publicly placing suspicion on Iraq is Richard Butler, a
former head of the United Nations inspection team in Iraq.

Butler said his suspicion is based on a report from Egyptian officials
indicating that anthrax supplied by Iraq was delivered several months ago in
Prague to Mohammed Atta, one of suicide hijackers in the Sept. 11 attack,
Butler said.

``I think this is something that deserves investigation,'' said Butler, now
a diplomat in residence at the Council on Foreign Relations.

A spokesman for the Egyptian Embassy in Washington declined to comment on
the matter.

The U.S. has been bombing military targets in Afghanistan for 11 days,
blaming the country's Taliban leadership for harboring the militant leader
Osama bin Laden, who the U.S. accuses of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks
against New York City and Washington.

Butler acknowledged he doesn't have ``hard evidence'' linking Iraq to the
anthrax cases, and he also noted a report in the Wall Street Journal
suggesting terrorists could have obtained anthrax produced in large
quantities by the Soviet Union.

Another former member of the UN inspection team, Charles Duelfer, said the
apparent use of an airborne anthrax was notable. ``But to draw the
conclusion that it's therefore Iraq is a bit more speculative,'' Duelfer

Los Angeles Times, 17th October

Avigdor Haselkorn is the author of "The Continuing Storm: Iraq, Poisonous
Weapons and Deterrence" (Yale University Press, 1999)

There is little doubt that several U.S. institutions have been intentionally
attacked with anthrax. While most of the exposures reported have been of the
cutaneous variety--where anthrax spores penetrate the body through cuts in
the skin--the two cases of inhalation anthrax discovered in Florida should
be of special interest.

Inhalation anthrax is contracted when enough aerosolized spores of one to
five microns in diameter find their way into the lungs, where they have a
direct route to the bloodstream. Once infection has set in, death is almost
always assured. However, producing and disseminating inhalation anthrax is
no easy feat. The spores must be cut to size and dried to ensure their
extended suspension in the air. This is a complicated and expensive process.

The Washington Times on Saturday cited a senior defense official as saying
the U.S. believes that Al Qaeda terrorists "have a crude chemical and
possibly biological [weapons] capability." That would seem to exclude the
ability to indigenously produce inhalation anthrax. Two other sources may
thus seem more likely: the largely defunct Soviet biological weapons program
or Iraq.

Kenneth Alibek--who was, before his defection to the U.S. in 1992, the first
deputy director of Biopreparat, the civilian arm of the Soviet Union's
biological weapons program--told the House subcommittee on national security
on Friday that "Russian biological weapons are no longer contained within
its borders." The fear that some ex-employee of the Soviet program would
seek to sell his skills or a stolen vial of germs to a rogue regime or a
well-funded terrorist organization has haunted the U.S. for some time.

Given Al Qaeda's vast financial resources, its efforts to acquire
mass-destruction weapons and its emphasis on fostering links within the
former Soviet republics, it would seem reasonable to assume that the source
of the inhalation anthrax discovered in Florida is Russia or its environs.

Under this scenario, the Taliban and Al Qaeda are responding to the current
U.S. offensive by launching crude biological attacks against targets on U.S
soil. The aims are to exact a price for the U.S. "aggression"; to
demonstrate America's inability to defend itself against the warriors of
Islam; and to undermine the U.S. will to fight by sowing fear at home.
Attacking U.S. media outlets with anthrax is thus not coincidental.

More intriguing is the Iraqi connection. Scientists investigating the
attacks say the bacteria used are similar to the "Ames" strain of anthrax
cultivated at Iowa State University in the 1950s and later given to labs
throughout the world, including ones in Iraq. Last week, the Associated
Press cited a senior Czech government official as indicating that Mohamed
Atta, believed to have piloted one of the planes that crashed into the World
Trade Center, had met with an Iraqi diplomat "more than once" in June 2000
in Prague. Last April, the Iraqi diplomat was expelled after what Czech
authorities described as "activities incompatible with his status as a
diplomat." On Sunday, the London Observer reported that U.S. investigators
were talking to Egyptian authorities who say members of Al Qaeda detained
and interrogated in Cairo had obtained vials of anthrax in the Czech

Why would Saddam Hussein involve himself in Osama bin Laden's plot, given
the risks of exposure and severe retaliation by the U.S.? There are two

First, Hussein was not necessarily aware of the scope of Bin Laden's plan.
The Iraqi leader's idea was to secretly foment trouble inside the U.S. as
punishment for the continuing embargo on Iraq. He might even have hoped to
divert U.S. attention from Iraq to free his hand to strike against the Kurds
or to reinvade Kuwait. Hussein might have thought that once the U.S.
realized he possessed inhalation anthrax, it would hesitate rather than
react to his planned military moves.

Alternatively, Hussein and Bin Laden are cohorts. These biological attacks
are an integral part of the plot to undermine the U.S. Moreover, they are
meant to signal to the U.S. that it should think twice before punishing
Baghdad for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Thus, if Hussein is behind the inhalation anthrax in Florida, he is also
trying to send a deterrent message to the U.S. If he is responsible for this
anthrax demonstration, he is seeking to convince Washington of his ability
to hold the U.S. population hostage to full scale biological warfare. The
U.S. ought to call his bluff promptly.

New York Daily News, 17th October

Like a narcotic, we get our fix each day as we watch our military do what it
does best: pummel an inferior force from the air with precision weapons that
only rarely miss their targets.

The result is predictable: Sooner or later, the combined toll will become
unbearable, the Taliban will fold, a new, presumably moderate regime will
take power in Afghanistan and, unless Osama Bin Laden has been caught or
killed by then, the hunt for him will continue.

And sooner or later, that mission, too, will succeed.

But then what?

Despite President Bush's promise to press the war against terrorism
everywhere, there's a growing sense that with Bin Laden's demise, the U.S.
will declare victory and retreat.

We'll still try to choke off the terrorists' money, but that strategy is
proving lame even now, when we're fully at war: Spigot nations like Saudi
Arabia are reliably reported to be stonewalling the effort for fear of
upsetting their citizens.

Similarly, the impressive sharing of intelligence among nations accustomed
to jealously guarding their secrets will likely revert to meager, low-level

There's a common denominator here: As the world got used to the mere threat
of terrorism before Sept. 11, so it will again live with that possibility ‹
unless and until those threats are translated into atrocities.

At which point it will be shown that we've learned nothing: We'll find
ourselves responding to acts of terror after they happen, when the clear
lesson of Sept. 11 is that we must act beforehand.

The obvious test case for this proposition is Iraq ‹ and the signs are not

Although Richard Butler's incorruptible United Nations weapons inspection
team proved long ago that Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass
destruction, senior Bush administration officials question the evidence.

This is a stunner, for official "United States Government White Papers"
regularly assert that Iraq has such weapons and the means to deliver them.

The only reason for a Bush official to doubt those conclusions is because
the plain English interpretation of the President's many statements since
Sept. 11 would demand that we do something about it.

Two words sum up the impediment to acting on Bush's rhetoric: coalition

Among the Arab members of America's latest alliance against evil, there is
simply no appetite for extending the campaign beyond Bin Laden and the
Taliban without convincing proof that some other individual or group ‹ or
some other state ‹ can be unambiguously tied to Sept. 11.

But it's not just the Arabs. Even Washington's strongest ally has stepped
away from taking the war to Iraq if the only rationale for doing so is that
Saddam presumably will use what he has against someone at some time.

On his third trip to the Middle East last week, British Prime Minister Tony
Blair said there would have to be "absolute evidence" of Iraq's complicity
with Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network before striking Saddam ‹ evidence the PM
said does not yet exist.

Taking Blair at his word ‹ and assuming such proof never materializes ‹
fighting Saddam might ultimately require America to act alone ‹ a move many
experts say would shatter the coalition against Bin Laden and the Taliban.

To which there should be only one response: So what?

It is beyond dispute that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and that he
harbors, finances and encourages terrorists.

The time to deal with the worst of Iraq's capabilities is now, even if that
would cause angry Arabs to topple their governments in a fit of collective

The time to worry about our actions causing the destabilization of regimes
that are themselves illegitimate is long past ‹ or rather, 36 days past.

If doing what's necessary to ensure our homeland security means losing the
support of other nations, the President should at least know that he can
count on American public opinion ‹ for a time.

Unless other terrorist acts are perpetrated against Americans on U.S. soil,
the urge to get serious, and the support for doing so, will wither ‹ but if
we fail to get serious about Saddam now, we will rue the day.

Daily Telegraph, 18th October

Saddam's bio-warfare scientists were trained in Britain and sent off for
bacteria by mail order, reports Roger Highfield

THE intelligence community has focused on Iraq as a possible source of the
anthrax used in the bio-terrorist attacks in America.

If Iraq is the culprit, it is likely that Saddam Hussein would have used one
of 21 strains of the anthrax bacterium which his scientists bought by mail
order from America in the 1980s.

In a further irony, most of the leading scientists in the Iraqi bio-warfare
programme, including its project chief, Rihab Rashida Taha, were trained in


Iraq still has the best biological expertise in the region and experts agree
that, since the UN inspectors left, Saddam has been back in the bio-warfare

Britain has played an unwitting role in arming Iraq, although a spokesman
for the successor to Unscom - the UN monitoring, verification and inspection
commission - said: "There is not an awful lot of difference between making
vaccines and making bio-weapons - it is a bit unfair to mark those who
supplied Iraq as guilty."

British companies exported to Iraq large quantities of the growth media in
which biological weapons are cultivated and its leading scientists were
trained here.

The covert biological weapons research programme was directed by Gen Amer
Saadi, who obtained a masters degree in chemistry at Oxford, and Rihab Taha,
who studied microbiology at the University of East Anglia, said Richard
Spertzel, the UN's former chief biological inspector.

Overall supervision was conducted by Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein
Kamel, the director of Iraq's Military-Industrial Corp, and Ahmed Murthada,
a British-trained engineer.

The country's biological weapons programme is believed to have started in
1974 at Salman Pak in the al-Hazan Ibn al-Hathem Institute, where Dr Taha
arrived in 1980.

Five years later, Salman Pak was taken over by the Technical Research Centre
and, in 1987, Dr Taha moved her team into the new al-Hakem facility at
Salman Pak, where construction of facilities for production of anthrax
began, among other agents.

At the time of the Gulf war, Iraq later acknowledged the large-scale
production of anthrax spores and to have filled 50 bombs and five missile
warheads with anthrax.

However, even in its "full, final and complete declaration" regarding its BW
programme, submitted in September 1997, Baghdad continued to present the UN
weapons inspectors with a false picture.

Iraq approached Porton Down in Britain for the Ames strain of the anthrax
bacterium, said Dr Spertzel. "That [request] was fortunately denied," he

Iraq obtained much of its anthrax supply from the American Type Culture
Collection. Between 1985 and 1989, it obtained at least 21 strains of
anthrax from ATCC and about 15 other class III pathogens, the bacteria that
pose an extreme risk to human health.

One strain had a British military pedigree and three of the other strains
were listed as coming from the American military's biological warfare

This came as a shock, said Dr Spertzel, although he added that at that time
the ATCC had a policy to supply laboratories with credible reputations. The
anthrax strains were ordered by the University of Baghdad and then diverted
to the bio-warfare effort.

Mohamed Atta, the September 11 hijacker, reportedly had encounters with an
Iraqi operative in Prague as recently as April and there have been reports
of meetings between Iraqi agents and associates of Osama bin Laden in

However, Dr Spertzel added that what took place in these encounters, and
whether bio warfare was discussed, was a matter of speculation.

New Zealand Herald, 18th October

LONDON (Reuters): The confirmation that lethal anthrax powder has been sent
through the mail to victims in the United States has set alarm bells ringing
among bioterrorism experts.

They say that only a state would have the know-how to manufacture the
powdered form.

Although Iraq is the only country in the world known to have an active
anthrax biowarfare programme, the experts say that Libya, Iran and North
Korea are rumoured to have a similar weapons programme.

Russia is also believed to have continued production clandestinely.

Dick Spertzl, a biowarfare consultant based in Maryland who formerly carried
out weapons inspections in Iraq, said that "any dedicated individual can
learn how to make weapons grade anthrax. If they had an adviser, it would be

But converting the laboratory-produced liquid into powder spores, thus
turning the bacteria into a weapon, is much more tricky and would require
state backing. "The knowledge of drying is not that common," Spertzl said.

The US, Britain and Russia, the states known to have "weaponised" anthrax,
were supposed to destroy their stocks under the terms of the 1972 biological
weapons convention. But Russia continued to produce anthrax into the 1990s,
a fact which only became known thanks to a key defector.

The defector, Ken Alibek, a former deputy-director of the Russian germ
warfare agency known as Biopreparat, told a congressional committee last
week that "there are pieces of Biopreparat that are still running, some with
a very high level of secrecy".

He also said that "no one knows" where up to 50 Russian scientists
possessing anthrax weaponisation secrets might be today.

US investigators say that while bioterrorism is suspected in the US cases,
there is no definite link to the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden. None
of the 19 hijackers of the September 11 attacks have been linked to Russia,
although the purported ringleader, Mohammed Atta, is reported to have met an
Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague.

United Nations weapons inspectors charged with disarming Iraq after the Gulf
War have not been able to account for nine tonnes of concentrated anthrax in
liquid form, which Baghdad claims to have destroyed in 1991.

As the US grapples with a worsening anthrax scare, the Bush Administration
is nearing a final decision on an initiative to strengthen preventions
against the spread of biological weapons.

The initiative was launched after the Administration rejected a global
accord in July. But it has gathered urgency since the anthrax incidents and
fears that those wishing to strike the US might turn to chemical or
biological weapons.

by Rebecca Carr - Cox Washington Bureau
Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 18th October

Washington: In February 1999, the Iraqi National Congress issued an urgent
warning: A top Iraqi intelligence officer had traveled to Afghanistan to
meet secretly with wealthy Saudi exile Osama bin Laden.

The December 1998 meeting between bin Laden and Farouk Hijazi suggested a
strong connection between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and bin Laden.

An alliance between Hussein and bin Laden's al-Qaida network of terrorists
would "bring a whole new level of terrorism," said Nabeel Musawi, a member
of the Iraqi opposition group.

While terrorism experts knew about the meeting, most of the international
community brushed aside the Iraqi National Congress' concerns as "paranoid,"
Musawi said.

Now terrorism experts are not so sure.

The connection between Saddam and bin Laden is under close scrutiny as
federal investigators attempt to piece together who masterminded the Sept.
11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The suspected coordinator of the 19 hijacking suspects has a history with
Iraqi intelligence agents, including Hijazi, who later became Iraq's
ambassador to Turkey.

Suspected hijacker Mohammed Atta reportedly met with Hijazi in Prague, Czech


Ties between bin Laden and Hussein go back to the end of the Persian Gulf
War in 1991, when Iraq opened an intelligence unit in Khartoum, the capital
of Sudan.

Bin Laden was living in Khartoum, running a cluster of businesses. The Iraqi
National Congress said bin Laden met with Iraqi intelligence officials

In 1995, Hussein opened a terrorist training camp known as Salman Pak,
terrorism experts say.

After Sudan forced bin Laden out in 1996, he took refuge in Afghanistan.
>From there, bin Laden sent top members of al-Qaida to Iraq for training,
Iraqi National Congress officials said.


by Jonathan Wright
Reuters, 18th October

WASHINGTON: The Iraqi opposition in exile asked the United States on
Thursday to finance urgent missions into Iraq to gather information on
anthrax and other weapons of mass destruction, a leading member said.

But the State Department is not yet ready to release U.S. aid funds for the
purpose, despite the possibility of an Iraqi role in the latest anthrax
incidents, Sherif Ali bin Hussein of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) told

"We want to be able to use U.S. support to build up our networks inside
Iraq, especially in the current environment, where we are worried that the
Iraqi population will be at risk from mass destruction," he said in an

"We want to find out if Saddam (Iraqi President Saddam Hussein) is behind
the anthrax attacks, what are his capabilities, whether he has weaponized
and what kind of stockpiles he has. We want to get the human intelligence
out of there on a real-time basis," he added.

Sherif Ali, a member of the former Iraqi royal family and of the INC
leadership, had talks at the State Department on Thursday with Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State Ryan Crocker and staff on the Iraqi desk.

Joined by some leading Kurdish members of the INC, he will have talks at the
Pentagon on Friday with Peter Rodman, assistant secretary of defense for
international security.

The INC, which is based in London, says it has credible evidence of links
between Iraq and the al Qaeda organization of Saudi-born militant Osama bin
laden, despite the vast ideological gulf between them.

Saddam is a secular Arab nationalist while bin Laden is a militant Islamist
whose rhetoric is mainly religious. But they do share two goals -- an end to
U.N. sanctions against Iraq and the overthrow of the Saudi royal family.

Sherif Ali declined to reveal the evidence of a link, other than to see that
meetings between al Qaeda members and Iraqi officials have taken place in
Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said that so far the United States has not decided on the INC request.
"It's still on hold and we are here to urge the United States that this
cannot wait," he added.

"Time is not on our side. There's talk of smallpox (in the Iraqi biological
arsenal) so we really don't have the luxury of waiting any more. We need to
know now what's the real nature of this threat," he said.

State Department officials were not immediately available to explain the
U.S. reluctance to finance INC missions.

Sherif Ali said the U.S. officials he met said the United States had not yet
decided whether to broaden the campaign against "terrorism" from Afghanistan
to include Iraq.

The Bush administration, anxious not to anger Arab and Muslim countries,
says it is concentrating for the moment on the Taliban and al Qaeda in

"We understand that point of view, that there are priorities involved in
this," said Sherif Ali. "But our feeling is that Saddam will be uncovered as
the real villain."

by Paul McGeough.
Sydney Morning Herald, 19th October


The plan to hit Baghdad is not chatter from the coffee urn. The Defence
Policy Board, a think-tank made up of former serving members of the
executive - including the likes of Henry Kissinger, James Schlesinger and
Dan Quayle - locked themselves away for two days in the week after the
September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

Significantly, the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz were
there. Significantly, the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, was not there,
nor was he invited to the retreat which agreed that Saddam should be
challenged as soon as "the initial stage" of the war in Afghanistan was

The group's scenario is this: under US and allied air cover, ground troops
would move into the north and south of Iraq. In the north they would use the
Kurdish opposition to form a new government, installing exiled Iraqis from
London at its head; the troops also would throw a cordon around Iraq's
southern oilfields and sell the oil on the world market to raise funds for
the new Kurdish Government of Iraq.

They even commandeered a US government plane to fly a former CIA chief, R.
James Woolsey, and officers of the Defence and Justice departments to London
on what was described as a "mission to gather evidence to link Saddam to
September 11".

Woolsey was quoted in The New York Times: "The first thing we have to do is
develop some confidence that Iraq is involved in terrorist incidents against
us, not meaning September 11."

He talked about a 1993 assassination plot against then President George Bush
and of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs making the country "a
prime candidate for regime replacement".

And then came the anthrax scares. There are hordes of US reporters climbing
all over this story, but it was Britain's Observer that was given the leak
last Saturday to publish on Sunday: the anthrax "outbreaks" - that's the
word used - had all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack and investigators
had named Iraq as a prime suspect as the source of the deadly spores.

It might well be - but there was no proof then and there is no proof now.
The Observer report then went on to flesh out the cabal's case against
Saddam, making the point that this new evidence would strengthen it.

It all makes you wonder where are the leaks coming from - the cabal, because
they are so pleased with themselves? Or the office of the Secretary of
State, who just might be very concerned about what he's hearing from the
Defence Department coffee urn?,3858,4280517,00.html

by Scott Ritter
The Guardian, 19th October

The current spate of anthrax attacks on media and government buildings in
the United States has heightened the undercurrent of concern since September
11 about the possibility of links between the perpetrators and the Iraqi
regime. However, fears that the hidden hand of Saddam Hussein lies behind
these attacks are based on rumour and speculation that, under closer
scrutiny, fail to support the weight of the charge.

First, there is the history of UN weapons inspections in Iraq from 1991 to
1998. It is true that Iraq has not fully complied with its disarmament
obligation, particularly in the field of biological weapons. However, this
failure does not equate to a retained biological weapons capability. Far
from it. Under the most stringent on-site inspection regime in the history
of arms control, Iraq's biological weapons programmes were dismantled,
destroyed or rendered harmless during the course of hundreds of no-notice
inspections. The major biological weapons production facility - al Hakum,
which was responsible for producing Iraq's anthrax - was blown up by high
explosive charges and all its equipment destroyed. Other biological
facilities met the same fate if it was found that they had, at any time,
been used for research and development of biological weapons.

M oreover, Iraq was subjected to intrusive, full-time monitoring of all
facilities with a potential biological application. Breweries, animal feed
factories, vaccine and drug manufacturing facilities, university research
laboratories and all hospitals were subject to constant, repeated
inspections. Thousands of swabs and samples were taken from buildings and
soil throughout Iraq. No evidence of anthrax or any other biological agent
was discovered. While it was impossible to verify that all of Iraq's
biological capability had been destroyed, the UN never once found evidence
that Iraq had either retained biological weapons or associated production
equipment, or was continuing work in the field.

Another mitigating factor is purely scientific: Iraq procured the Vollum
strain of anthrax from American Type Culture Collection, a company based in
Rockville, Maryland, which provides commercially available viruses - such as
anthrax - to consumers worldwide. While Iraq had investigated other strains,
including those indigenous to the country, it was the Vollum strain that
Iraq mass-produced for weapon use. It is a unique, highly virulent form of
anthrax, and its use would represent the kind of link needed to suggest Iraq
as a likely source. That is not to say that the presence of a Vollum strain
would automatically indict Iraq, or that a non- Vollum strain clears Iraq.
However, federal investigators currently think that the anthrax used in New
York and Florida is the same strain, most probably the Ames strain, a
variety native to the US. The strain used in Washington is as yet
unidentified, but it has been assessed as non-weapons grade and responsive
to antibiotics. Based upon this information, it would be irresponsible to
speculate about a Baghdad involvement.

There is also the political factor. Despite the ongoing efforts of the US
and Great Britain to maintain economic sanctions, Baghdad has been very
successful in developing a political and diplomatic momentum to get them
lifted since weapons inspectors left three years ago. The events of
September 11 brought this anti-sanctions momentum to a halt. It makes
absolutely no sense for Iraq to be involved in a bio-terror attack that, in
one fell swoop, undermines what has been Iraq's number one priority over the
past decade: the lifting of economic sanctions.

There is another side to the political equation. America's policy towards
Iraq continues to be one of abject failure, and President Bush's
administration exhibits the same level of frustration and impotence shown by
its predecessor in trying to piece together a viable plan for dealing with
Saddam's continued survival. Washington finds itself groping for something
upon which to hang its anti-Saddam policies and the current anthrax scare
has provided a convenient cause. It would be a grave mistake for some in the
Bush administration to undermine the effort to bring to justice those who
perpetrated the cowardly attacks against the US by trying to implement their
own ideologically-driven agenda on Iraq. Those who have suggested that Iraq
is the source of the anthrax used in the current attacks - including Richard
Butler, a former chairman of the UN weapons inspection effort - merely fan
the flames of fear and panic. There is no verifiable link whatever and it is
irresponsible for someone of Mr Butler's stature to be involved in
unsubstantiated speculation. His behaviour has, it seems, been guided by
animosity towards Baghdad, rather than the facts.

Scott Ritter was a UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-8. His book
Endgame is published by Simon & Schuster.

by John Crewdson and Naftali Bendavid, Tribune staff reporters. John
Crewdson reported from Prague and Naftali Bendavid from Washington. Tribune
staff reporters Stephen J. Hedges and Jill Zuckman in W
Chicago Tribune, 20th October

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- After weeks of downplaying potential links between
the Sept. 11 hijackings and a reported visit here by one of the hijackers,
Czech authorities acknowledged Friday that Mohamed Atta, suspected of
piloting a Boeing 767 into the north tower of the World Trade Center,
traveled to Prague at least twice in the days before he entered the U.S. in
June 2000.

The Czech federal police said they were investigating Atta's contacts in
Prague, as well as the possibility that he later returned here on a third or
even a fourth occasion using forged documents and an assumed identity.

Asked about reports that Atta met with Iraqi intelligence agents on one or
more of his visits to Prague, Interior Minister Stanislav Gross said in an
interview Friday that "it wouldn't be very responsible of me if I denied

On Monday, Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman had declared that Atta came to
Prague for "a one-day visit, and just one visit only." Since then, the
police have turned up what police spokeswoman Ivana Zelenakova termed "a lot
of other knowledge about the case."

Indications of an Iraqi link with at least one of the hijackers have pushed
the U.S.' volatile relationship with Iraq back into the spotlight. Thus far,
however, the only place where any of the hijackers is suspected of crossing
paths with the Iraqis is in Prague.

Investigators say that Atta's first visit occurred at the end of May 2000
when he flew to Prague from Hamburg, Germany, where he lived for eight years
while studying engineering and city planning. Atta, who was carrying an
Egyptian passport, was refused admission because he did not have a visa.

He returned with the proper documentation a few days later and spent the
night before catching a Czech Airlines flight to Newark on June 7, 2000.
Police say they don't yet know where Atta stayed on the night of June 6,
with whom he might have met, or what he might have taken to the U.S.

The Iraqi National Congress, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition opposed to
the current Iraqi regime, says it believes Atta met in Prague with a
suspected Iraqi intelligence agent, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, whom
the group claims to have been "watching."

Al-Ani, a former consul and second secretary in the Iraqi Embassy in Prague,
is identified by the coalition as the chief of Iraqi intelligence in the
city before his expulsion in April for "activities incompatible with his
status as a diplomat," a phrase that generally connotes espionage.

The government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been stockpiling
chemical and biological weapons, including anthrax, that could be used by
terrorists--leading to suspicions that the anthrax being mailed to news
organizations and political figures in the U.S. might have originated in

Gross, who promised to make details of Atta's visits to Prague public soon,
emphatically rejected suggestions that Atta had obtained anthrax bacteria
while in Prague, from the Iraqis or any other source. "That there could be
some purchase of anthrax in the Czech Republic, that we absolutely deny,"
Gross said.


If Iraq was privy to the planning of the hijacking plot or the anthrax
attacks, it would not be the first time bin Laden's Al Qaeda network has
shared information with Hussein's government. The two passionately
anti-American forces have a history of interaction, experts say.

In the early 1990s, after the Persian Gulf war, Iraqi agents traveled to
Sudan to participate in training exercises with bin Laden's forces, who were
then based near the capital of Khartoum, according to Iraqi opposition

"Iraqi intelligence after the gulf war moved a great number of assets to
Khartoum and Sudan," said Francis Brooke, a spokesman for the Iraqi National
Congress. "Bin Laden was there at the same time, from 1991 to 1996. There
were extensive contacts between him and the Iraqi intelligence station

In December 1998, Farouk Hijazi, Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, traveled to
Kandahar, Afghanistan, to talk with bin Laden. That session, which was
widely reported, caused consternation among Western intelligence services,
in part because it occurred just four months after bin Laden-backed
terrorists set off car bombs at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania,
killing 224 people.

On Thursday, a federal judge in New York handed four men life sentences
without the possibility of parole for their roles in those bombings.


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