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[casi] News, 19-25/10/02 (2)

News, 19-25/10/02 (2)


*  U.S. Distributes New Iraq Resolution
*  We won't help spies: UN weapons inspector
*  U.S. Circulates New Draft on Draft
*  U.N.Pays $469 Million for Gulf War Damage


*  Spanish diplomat resigns over Iraq
*  Muslim states urged to use oil weapon
*  LUKoil: No Guarantees on Iraq
*  Nobel Laureates Say "No" to War With Iraq
*  Venezuela Won't Support Arab Oil Blockade If US Invades Iraq


*  Protest against attack on Iraq [in Glasgow] draws 15,000
*  An Interview with Milan Rai


*  Iraqis linked to Oklahoma atrocity
*  Sept. 11 chief didn't meet an Iraqi spy


*  U.S., British Experts Leave Ukraine
*  Serbs blame Iraqi arms deals on Milosevic legacy
*  Missile igniter smuggled towards Iraq


by Edith M. Lederer
Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 21st October

UNITED NATIONS: The United States on Monday distributed a revised U.N.
resolution on Iraq to the other veto-wielding members of the Security
Council that it said would toughen weapons inspections and ensure there will
be "consequences" if Iraq fails to comply.

But France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-David Levitte, whose country has been
pressing to give Iraq a last chance to comply with inspectors without a
threat of military action, put a damper on prospects for quick agreement on
a new resolution.

Levitte said there was no agreement on a text, and when asked if one was
close, he replied: "I don't think so."

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte distributed the revised text at a meeting of
the five permanent members - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and
France - who have been divided on how tough a new resolution should be.

The United States and Britain want a single resolution that would allow the
use of force if Saddam did not comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. Last
week, Washington backed down from its demand that the resolution authorize
"all necessary means," but it is still demanding language stating that
Baghdad would face "consequences."

France, backed by Russia and China, favors a two-stage approach that would
give Iraq a chance to cooperate and only authorize force in a second
resolution if Baghdad failed to comply with inspections.

In Moscow , a top Russian diplomat on Monday warned that Moscow would oppose
any new resolution on Iraq that would allow "automatic use of force" or
contain "unfeasible" demands.

The United States had previously only given out language on some key
sections of the draft resolution to the permanent members. On Sunday,
Secretary of State Colin Powell said he expected to formally introduce a
resolution to the entire 15-member Security Council early this week.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that, along with the revised
document, "We're also making clear it is time to wrap this up."

The 10 other council members, who are elected for two-year terms, are
expected to get the text on Tuesday, diplomats said, and negotiations will
then begin in the full council .

Boucher said the new text "will accomplish our goals, identifying the
violations of U.N. resolutions by Iraq, mandating and giving the inspectors
authority to carry out strong and unrestricted inspections, and making clear
that the council is determined to ensure that there will be consequences if
Iraq fails to comply."

The United States made some changes to take into account "the ideas that
were raised by our partners," he said.

The five permanent council members met at the U.S. Mission to the United
Nations, across the street from U.N. headquarters.

About 10 protesters held placards across the street from the U.S. Mission
saying "Hands Off Iraq" and shouting "1-2-3-4, We Don't Want Another War." A
passing taxi driver shouted out the window: "Why don't you join the army?"

Later, six protesters chanting anti-war slogans were arrested after they sat
down outside the mission, blocking its main entrance.

Inside the United Nations, 13 protesters opposed to a new war with Iraq
tried to disrupt the General Assembly where the 191 member states were
voting for new judges for the International Court of Justice. Chanting
anti-war slogans, the protesters were lifted and half dragged out of the
visitors gallery and handcuffed by U.N. security guards.

They were turned over to New York police for prosecution for disorderly
conduct, said General Assembly spokesman Richard Sydenham.


by Bob Drogin, Maggie Farley
The Age (Australia), from Los Angeles Times, 23rd October

When United Nations inspectors last scoured Iraq for weapons of mass
destruction in 1998, the CIA and its sister spy services were rarely far

Undercover United States agents working with the UN teams secretly planted a
high-tech "black box" device in Baghdad that year to eavesdrop on Saddam
Hussein's phone calls, among other Iraqi communications, former inspectors
say. The signals then were encrypted in other UN data and transmitted via
satellite to the National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade,

Other operatives helped the UN team track Iraqi officials abroad. In one
case, they planted hidden cameras and microphones in the hotel room of an
Iraqi scientist trying to buy banned missile parts in Romania - and then
sneaked into his room at night to photograph the contents of his briefcase.

As new UN inspectors plan to return to Iraq after a four-year absence, and
as the Bush administration prepares for a possible war there, the role of
intelligence in the effort to disarm Iraq is the subject of sharp debate at
the UN, in Washington and in other world capitals.

Hans Blix, chief UN weapons inspector, argues that UN credibility was badly
hurt by disclosures about covert CIA, British MI6 and Israeli Mossad
operations with the former UN inspection teams.

Some of the intercepts and other data were used to help identify and target
President Saddam's suspected hideouts when US and British bombers launched
the Desert Fox air strikes in December, 1998, after the UN inspectors were
withdrawn, former inspectors say. If UN teams go back to Iraq in coming
weeks, Mr Blix insists that he will not provide any direct assistance or
information to US or other intelligence agencies that could compromise the

"We are not an espionage service, a spy organisation," Mr Blix said in a
recent interview. "We want intelligence from member governments, but it must
be a one-way street. We will tell them what we are interested in."

But US diplomats are fighting to ensure that a new UN resolution on Iraq
will allow Washington and other permanent Security Council members to send
their own "experts" and equipment with the disarmament teams, which
otherwise would be limited to UN employees.

France, Russia and Iraq, among others, objected to the initial US proposal
last month, saying the addition of such outside experts was a pretext to
permit spying under the UN flag.

A second US draft resolution emerged on Monday, three days after Mr Blix met
US Secretary of State Colin Powell to discuss the inspections. It suggested
they had reached a compromise.

The new draft would allow Mr Blix and Mohamed El Baradei, director-general
of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is responsible for finding
and dismantling Iraq's suspected nuclear weapons program, to choose which
outside experts could join their teams.

"The key thing is that (the UN and IAEA) shall determine the personnel, not
Iraq," said a Security Council diplomat.

Significantly, the new proposal does not bar outside experts from reporting
to their home governments. The draft also would guarantee experts "the right
to unrestricted voice and data communications, including encrypted
communications", as well as the right to use "equipment or materials for
inspections and to seize and export any equipment, materials or documents
taken during inspections".

by Edith M. Lederer
Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 23rd October

UNITED NATIONS- Stepping up pressure to get quick U.N. action, the United
States distributed a new draft resolution on Iraq to the entire Security
Council for the first time Wednesday but Russia immediately rejected it and
said France and China were also opposed.

It drops some demands but would give U.N. inspectors immediate and
unconditional access to all sites in Iraq and warn Baghdad of "serious
consequences" if it fails to cooperate.

The U.S. decision to widen the debate from closed-door talks with four other
permanent members to the entire council came as White House spokesman Ari
Fleischer made clear the United States wants to wrap up negotiations. Talks
have reached their "final moments," he said, and a vote could go either way.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said the council would discuss the text
again Friday and then hear from U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix on
Monday. Diplomats said Blix's assessment of whether inspectors can operate
under the provisions in the U.S. draft will be critical for some members
weighing their support for the plan.

A senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said
Wednesday's meeting was part of a new U.S. strategy to pressure France,
China and Russia by actively taking the U.S. case to a wider audience.

For a resolution to pass, it needs nine "yes" votes in the Security Council
and no veto by any permanent member - the United States, Russia, China,
Britain and France.

The 10 elected council members got their first look at the new U.S. draft
during Wednesday's closed meeting where each got to make comments.

Ambassadors from several elected states, including Mauritius, Colombia,
Bulgaria and Singapore were optimistic after the meeting but said they
needed time to study the draft before coming out with official positions.
Syria reiterated its opposition to any new resolution.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov quickly rejected the text, saying it
contained an unacceptable authorization of force if Iraq fails to comply
with its terms and that it provides U.N. weapons inspectors with
requirements they can't fulfill - just as the initial U.S. text did earlier
this month.

"Unfortunately, so far we have not seen changes in the text which would take
into account these concerns, and they are shared by France and China,"
Lavrov said, stepping to the microphone while a senior U.S official was
briefing a mob of journalists a few feet away.

Lavrov said Russia hadn't ruled out a veto at this stage. French diplomats
said, however, that it was unlikely France would use its veto to block the

The United States and Britain have been at odds with France, Russia and
China over how tough a new resolution should be.

Washington, backed by London, is pushing a single resolution that would
allow force to be used against Iraq if it doesn't meet its U.N. disarmament

"The text ... is very clearly intended to be a last chance offer to Iraq,"
said Britain's U.N. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock. "It's a genuine offer.
Take the inspection process seriously. It's going to be a tough one, but
it's going to be a fair one under U.N. rules, and if you get it wrong,
that's a disaster for you."

A senior U.S. official stressed that the resolution "is not an attempt by
the United States to seek an excuse to go to war."

"It's an attempt by us and the British to send a clear message to Iraq and
to get a good inspection regime under way and operating," the U.S. official
said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But Paris, Moscow and Beijing still want a two-stage approach giving Iraq
another chance to comply with weapons inspectors and only authorizing force
in a second resolution if Baghdad obstructed inspections.

President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice said the United
States was talking to France and others "to see if we can find a way to
bridge any remaining differences."

"But a resolution has to be tough enough and has to be clear enough that you
might have a chance to get the job done," she said.

Iraq's Culture Minister Hamed Yousef Hamadi on Wednesday called the U.S.
draft a "declaration of war."

The new text, a product of nearly six weeks of difficult negotiations,
includes two references to Iraq being in "material breach" for violating
U.N. resolutions, a phrase some legal experts say could open the door for
military action.

It also recalls Security Council warnings that Iraq would face "serious
consequences," as a result of its continued violations of its obligations.

The draft directs U.N. inspectors to report to the council "any interference
by Iraq with inspection activities, as well as any failure by Iraq to comply
with its disarmament obligations." The council would convene immediately "to
consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the
relevant Security Council resolutions in order to restore international
peace and security."

The text calls on Iraq to allow U.N. inspectors "immediate, unimpeded,
unconditional and unrestricted access to presidential sites equal to that at
other sites." Under current arrangements, surprise inspections are barred at
presidential sites.

The new proposal also gives inspectors the right to declare no-fly and
no-drive zones around inspection sites but drops a demand for armed security
guards to help enforce the zones. The U.S. draft also drops earlier
proposals that the five permanent members be allowed to join inspection
teams and receive information gleaned from their work.

But it would still allow inspectors to remove Iraqi scientists and their
families from the country in order to conduct interviews, without the
presence of Iraqi government minders.

The latest American plan would also speed up the arrival of inspectors.

Iraq would have seven days to accept the resolution once its adopted and
must declare its programs to develop nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons and ballistic missiles within 30 days.

Inspectors would have up to 45 days from adoption of the resolution to
resume work. Earlier drafts had them beginning work 45 days after the
council received Iraq's declaration.

The issue of a new resolution has been at the United Nations since President
Bush addressed the General Assembly on Sept. 12 and warned that if the
Security Council didn't act decisively to disarm Saddam Hussein, the United
States would take action on its own.

Wednesday's meeting follows comments from senior U.S. military officials
that failure to secure quick agreement in the council - coupled with the
possibility that Iraq could initially cooperate with weapons inspections -
could delay military action beyond winter and spring. Those are considered
the most suitable times for conducting war in Iraq.

Inspectors must certify that Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons
programs have been destroyed before sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990
invasion of Kuwait can be lifted.

Yahoo, 24th October

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations Gulf War reparations body said on
Thursday it had paid a further $469.2 million in claims for damage caused by
Iraq in the 1991 conflict.

The Geneva-based U.N. Compensation Commission has received more than $300
billion in damage claims for Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait and its
seven-month occupation of the oil-rich emirate.

The commission said in a statement it had paid the latest claims to 708
individuals, companies and governments in 28 countries, bringing the total
paid to date to nearly $16.05 billion.

Kuwaiti individuals, companies and state-owned entities get the lion's share
with $350.3 million, followed by Saudi and German concerns. The commission,
established by the U.N. Security Council, receives 25 percent of the
proceeds from the U.N.'s oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell oil
in spite of sanctions imposed after the war.

Officials said earlier this month the fund's income was running at about
$150 million per month.


Dawn, 19th October

MADRID, Oct 18: A war of words erupted on Friday between Spain's
conservative government and opposition parties after the top Spanish
diplomat in Baghdad stepped down in protest at Madrid's support for a US-led
military campaign against Iraq.

Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio attributed the resignation of charge
d'affaires Fernando Valderrama to "pressure and stress" in an interview
aired on Spanish public radio.

"This is someone who has not been able to withstand a tense situation and
has sought to justify this with a flimsy alibi," Palacio said. "Fear is only
human, and life in Baghdad is very difficult," she added.

Her remarks drew scathing condemnation from the opposition Socialists, with
senior party leader Jose Blanco blasting her for a "pathetic" attack on a
government employee.

"No minister should allow herself to insult a public official," Blanco said.
"The truth is that the government and the minister are nervous because they
are finding themselves rather isolated over Iraq," he said.

Eager to add to the government's embarrassment, the communist Izquierda
Unida (IU) party has requested that Palacio and Valderrama appear before the
parliament's foreign affairs committee for further discussion of what it
called his "courageous resignation".

Deputy Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy meanwhile blasted Valderrama for having
breached the "rule of common sense", telling a press conference that any
diplomat "must defend his country's position, whether or not he shares it

Valderrama told national radio he had resigned because he could no longer
represent his country's official views, which he described as "subordination
to the American government" in breach of international law.

He said he had taken the decision despite its "very high professional cost".

Financial Times, 20th October

JEDDAH (Reuters) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, on a visit to
Saudi Arabia, renewed his call on Muslim oil producing states to use oil as
a weapon to defend their interests.

Mahathir stopped short on Sunday of linking any oil embargo to a possible
U.S. attack on Iraq or to the Middle East conflict.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has repeatedly said it was
opposed to any oil embargo.

"The Muslim nations have a lot of oil, which can be used as part of our
strategy," Mahathir told reporters in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

He also repeated a warning that any attack on Iraq would not be productive
or help the global war on terror.

"You can take over Iraq or any other country but that does not mean people
will not launch further attacks, because all it takes is one person to cause
a sufficient amount of damage," he said.

Washington has accused Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction.
Baghdad denies the charges and has agreed to let U.N. arms inspectors to
return to Iraq after a four-year absence.

Saudi Arabia, a key regional U.S. ally, has said it was opposed to any
attack on Iraq.

The Moscow Times, 22nd October

LUKoil said Monday it had received no guarantee that its assets and
interests in Iraq will be protected under a future government if Saddam
Hussein is driven from power, Reuters reported.

"We have warned the government many times, but we still don't know if any
concrete measures have been taken," the news agency quoted a LUKoil
executive, who requested anonymity, as saying.

The statement appears to contradict remarks made earlier this month by
LUKoil chief Vagit Alekperov, who said President Vladimir Putin has assured
him that the company's interests in Iraq, including a $4 billion deal with
Baghdad to develop Iraq's West Qurna oil field, would be protected whether
or not Saddam is driven from power.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov denied Friday that Moscow had held secret talks
with Washington regarding the protection of its interests in Iraq.

"We are not in confidential talks with Washington. This is not about trade,
this is about solving problems," Ivanov said.

Tehran Times, 24th October

ROME -- Nobel Peace Prize laureates meeting in Rome Delivered a resounding
"no" to war with Iraq and gave their full backing to the need for
UN-brokered diplomacy to avoid a conflict.

In a joint statement at the end of the third annual forum of Nobel Peace
Laureates, participants including former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev
(a winner in 1990) and former Polish president Lech Walesa (1983) said
recourse to arms as a way of settling problems between states was
unacceptable, AFP reported.

"I believe that now we can be more optimistic regarding Iraq," Gorbachev
told reporters before leaving for Moscow. "The United States has in fact
accepted a plan for a double resolution, which will allow UN inspectors to
verify the destruction of weapons of mass destruction and therefore to
present their report to the Security Council."

Other prize winners attending included Britain's Joseph Rotblat (1995),
Betty Williams (1976) of Northern Ireland, Adolfo Perez Esquivel (1980) of
Argentina and Guatemala's Rigoberta Menchu (1992).

"The real problem today is not that Iraq possesses nuclear weapons, but that
Bush's America does not exclude the possibility of using them first -- even
as a response to a conventional weapons attack," said Rotblat, a scientist
who was awarded the Nobel for his anti-nuclear work.

Other main points of the conference's declaration covered the importance of
disarmament work; the war on terrorism and its potential risk of curtailing
civil rights; and the search for peace in the Middle East.


by Jim Burns
Crosswalk, 22nd October

( - Venezuela, America's third largest oil supplier, will not
support an Arab oil blockade if the United States decides to take military
action against Iraq, its president said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in an interview with BBC News Online
that oil should not be used as a political weapon. He said OPEC ministers
should realize this.

"We cannot endorse any oil embargo. We cannot use oil as a political weapon
and OPEC should be fully aware of this," Chavez told BBC.

"Oil is a strategic resource so you cannot use it so people won't have
heating, electricity, air transportation because then we will be damaging
people, the economy and the society as a whole," he said.

Last April, Iraq called on Arab oil producers to use oil as a weapon to prod
the West to force Israel to stop military actions against the Palestinian

Iran's foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi was asked at the time whether Tehran
would back Saddam Hussein's appeal. He said the tactic could be effective
but would need support from all the Islamic states involved.

The Arabs used an oil embargo as a political weapon in the 1970s, but in
recent years leading OPEC nations have made it clear they do not want a

But Chavez cautioned that the "aggressors" must accept the blame if the oil
market is destabilized.

"In case it is impossible to prevent this war, the large (oil) consumers
cannot blame OPEC if the price goes beyond $28, because if they attack Iraq
there will be a destablization of the markets and Middle East," he said.

Earlier this month, Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Islamic
nations should use oil as a weapon to defend Muslims against "exploitation,"
but they have failed to use its leverage against the rest of the world
because of disunity.

Mohamad said, "Oil is the only thing that the Muslims have which is needed
by the rest of the world."

"If they cut back on the supply, then people will not be oppressive to
them," Mahathir said of the oil-producing Muslim countries.

Rather than present a unified front, however, the nations worked against
each other.

"When one party wants to cut back the supply, another party will increase
supply - legally or illegally."

Because of this, he added, they were unable to use oil as a weapon to defend


The Scotsman, 19th October

THOUSANDS of anti-war demonstrators brought the centre of Glasgow to a
standstill yesterday in what is believed to be the biggest peace
demonstration Scotland has ever seen.

An estimated 15,000 people took part in the protest against a US and UK-led
attack against Iraq.

The event was organised by the Scottish Coalition For Justice Not War and
backed by the Scottish CND and public service union Unison.

It followed a similar demonstration in London on September 28, when 400,000
people took to the streets in protest at the impending military action.

Among those who took part in a march followed by a mass rally in George
Square were MSPs Tommy Sheridan and John McAllion as well as Labour MP
Mohammed Sarwar.

Sheridan, the leader of the Scottish Socialist party and a regional MSP for
Glasgow, accused America and Britain of wanting to "unleash hell on the
innocents of Iraq".

Sarwar, the MP for Glasgow Govan, said: "Today the message is loud and clear
to our Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that we donąt want this evil war."

by Ben White
Counterpunch, 21st October

By now the signs are familiar. A build up of rhetoric and demonisation of
the 'other'. Documents and dossiers on horrible threats. Newspapers fill
their pages with battle plan graphics. War is looming.

At the same time as citizens in Baghdad wait for the bombs to start falling,
and government spokesmen prepare to wrap their tongues around that poisonous
phrase 'collateral damage', some in Britain are marching to a different

One such campaigner is Milan Rai, founding member of the anti-war group
ARROW, and joint founder of Voices in the Wilderness UK, the British branch
of the sanctions-breaking group. His book, 'War Plan Iraq', has just been
published, and he is now travelling the country telling whoever will listen
why war must be avoided.

'Regime change' is the phrase of the moment. America wants it, international
law prohibits it, others warn of the dangerous precedent it would set. Yet
surely, some ask, getting rid of Saddam would benefit the Iraqi people, even
if the motivations for doing so are suspect?

"You have to consider the objective of 'regime change'," Milan emphasises.
"Since 1990 the issue has consistently been about leadership change, thus
allowing for an iron ruler to remain in place, placating Saudi Arabia and
Turkey." Moreover, this is a policy still favoured. Milan drew attention to
the recent comments made by the White House spokesman Ari Fleischer when he
said that 'regime change' could be done by "one bullet". "The talk about
coups, fermenting dissent within army circles and parachuting in exiled
Iraqi generals mean that a different face is all the Americans are concerned

Many objections to the war on Iraq centre on the possible humanitarian
disaster that such a conflict could spark. There is an echo in the warnings
that preceded the attack on Afghanistan, caution some feel was misguided.
Milan is keen to point out however that the number of Afghan dead is an
unknown. "We don't actually know the full extent of the human toll because
nobody has thought it necessary to investigate it thoroughly. How many lives
were lost because there was no pause in the bombing in October?" Estimates
range from 3,000 to 8,000 civilian deaths due to US bombing, without taking
into account those who died from the cut off of aid.

The Kurds, perennial victims of both the West's post-colonial map-making and
the repression of local regimes, have seen their persecution at the hands of
Saddam raised like a Papal banner by Bush and Blair. Whether they would
actually benefit from a war, however, is open to question, according to

"Their plight will worsen as a consequence of war. They will be subjected to
an Iraqi assault and might then be incorporated by Turkey into a 'security
zone'." Last week the Turkish Defence Minister specifically suggested this
idea, promising "a show of force if necessary, or an intervention". The
northern no-fly zone illegally set up by USA and Britain ostensibly to
protect the Kurds, has in fact witnessed numerous, and tolerated, Turkish

The retort of "well, what would you do" was frequently fired at critics of
'the war on terrorism' after September 11th, and sensible replies were
mostly lost amongst the rubble and 'anti-American' smears. Milan gave a
nuanced outline of his alternative. "What is our moral responsibility to the
people of Iraq? I would say it is to take our boot off their necks, to lift
the economic sanctions." He points out the principal issues with Iraq;
weapons of mass destruction and the humanitarian crisis. "There is in fact
an international consensus over a sensible way to tackle these problems,
with the exceptions of US and Britain."

Milan does not pretend that the Iraqi government has a perfect record in
cooperation, but he does raise an important point. "Why should the lives of
innocents be conditional on the actions of their government?" It is also
unlikely that any future Iraqi government could accept intrusive inspections
without something similar in Israel and Iran. U.N. Resolution 687 talks of
weapons of mass destruction in the context of establishing "a
nuclear-weapons free zone in the region of the Middle East."

Most of the media's focus recently has been on the diplomatic manoeuvrings
at the U.N., but Milan is under no illusions about this bartering. "The
American strategy will be either to prevent them (the inspectors) from
entering in the first place, or to provoke a crisis when they are there. At
the moment they are trying to table a resolution designed to be

If a U.N. fig leaf is forthcoming then Milan predicts some drop in
opposition to the war. He will be personally involved in ARROW's 'Pledge of
Resistance', a campaign of non-violent civil disobedience, the participants
of which, he says, come from a varied background.

Before we finish, Milan asks if he can add one more thing. "The mainstream
debate is focussed on two options, containment or regime change. This is a
choice between killing Iraqis through sanctions and killing them by bombs.
It is a framework I completely reject."

Ben White is a student at Cambridge University in England. He can be reached


by James Langton
London Evening Standard, 21st October

The FBI is under pressure from the highest political levels in Washington to
investigate suspected links between Iraq and the Oklahoma bombing.

Senior aides to US Attorney-General John Ashcroft have been given compelling
evidence that former Iraqi soldiers were directly involved in the 1995
bombing that killed 185 people.

The methodically assembled dossier from Jayna Davis, a former investigative
TV reporter, could destroy the official version that white supremacists
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were solely responsible for what, at the
time, was the worst act of terrorism on American soil.

Instead, there are serious concerns that a group of Arab men with links to
Iraqi intelligence, Palestinian extremists and possibly al Qaeda, used
McVeigh and Nichols as front men to blow up the Alfred P Murrah Federal
Building in Oklahoma City.

Davis, who was one of the first reporters on the scene after the blast, has
spent seven years gathering evidence of a wider conspiracy. But it is only
as America prepares to wage war on Iraq and Saddam Hussein that her
conclusions are being taken seriously at the highest level. Finally, she
says, the authorities are examining the idea "that the Oklahoma bombing
might not simply be the work of two angry white men".

After hearing her evidence, several senior members of Congress have called
for a new probe.

What triggered Davis's investigation was a report immediately after the
Oklahoma explosion of Middle-Eastern looking men fleeing in a brown
Chevrolet truck only minutes earlier. The FBI launched an international hunt
for the men but later cancelled the search.

Within days McVeigh and Nichols were arrested, and the case seemed to be one
of home grown terrorists, motivated by a hatred for authority. But the case
has always had loose ends. In particular, several witnesses in Oklahoma City
that April morning saw a third conspirator with McVeigh. The elusive
dark-haired suspect became known as "John Doe 2".

Terry Nichols, now serving life for conspiracy in the bombing and
involuntary manslaughter, was the original "John Doe 1" but, with his
arrest, the FBI claimed that the case had been wrapped up. They eventually
concluded that "John Doe 2" was Nichols all along.

Davis thought otherwise. Early on, she found that a brown Chevrolet truck
almost identical to that once hunted by the FBI had been seen parked outside
the offices of a local property management company several days before the

The owner was a Palestinian with a criminal record and suspected ties to the
Palestine Liberation Organisation. Later she found that the man had hired a
number of former Iraqi soldiers.

He had recruited them to carry out maintenance on his rental properties, but
several were later discovered to be missing from work on the day of the
bombing. Eyewitnesses have told Davis that they saw several of them
celebrating later that day.

But what increasingly drew her attention was another Iraqi living in
Oklahoma City, a restaurant worker called Hussain Hashem Al Hussaini, whose
photograph was almost a perfect match to the official sketch of "John Doe

Al Hussaini has a tattoo on his upper left arm, indicating he was once a
member of Saddam's elite Republican Guard.

Since then, Davis has gathered hundreds of court records and the sworn
testimony of two dozen witnesses. Several claimed to have seen a man fitting
Al Hussaini's description drinking with McVeigh in a motel bar four days
before the bombing.

Others positively identified former Iraqi soldiers in the company of McVeigh
and Nichols. Two swore that they had seen Al Hussaini only a block from the
Murrah building in the hours before the bombing. With the case against
McVeigh and Nichols seemingly watertight, the FBI has until now consistently
refused to reopen it. McVeigh went to his death in the execution chamber two
years ago, insisting he alone was responsible.

Davis thinks he may have done so out of loyalty to his family, not wishing
to go down in history as a traitor to his country.

But she has evidence that up to 12,000 Iraqis were allowed into America
after the Gulf war. Some of these, she suspects, are using their status as
refugees for cover. "They are here," she said. "And they are highly trained
and motivated."

The renewed interest in Washington is clearly linked to America's case
against Saddam as broker of world terror.

And there is more. Al Hussaini, who entered the US from a Saudi refugee
camp, worked after the Oklahoma bomb as a cook at Boston's Logan Airport -
from where the two hijacked aircraft that hit the World Trade Center took

There is another confirmed incident that suggests something more sinister.
Two of the 11 September conspirators held a crucial meeting at a motel in
Oklahoma City in August 2001. The motel's owner has since identified them as
ringleader Mohammed Atta and Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th
hijacker, who has known links with shoebomber Richard Reid.

The motel is unremarkable - except for one thing. It is where a number of
Davis's witnesses are sure they saw McVeigh drinking and perhaps plotting
with his Iraqi friends.

by James Risen
International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 22nd October

PRAGUE: President Vaclav Havel has quietly told the White House that he has
concluded that there is no evidence to confirm earlier reports that Mohamed
Atta, the suspected leader in the Sept. 11 attacks, met with an Iraqi
intelligence officer in Prague just months before the attacks on New York
and Washington, according to Czech officials.

Havel discreetly called Washington to tell officials in the administration
that a report from the Czech domestic intelligence agency that Atta had met
with an Iraqi intelligence officer, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir Ani, in
Prague in April 2001 could not be substantiated.

Czech officials did not say precisely when Havel told the White House to
disregard the reports of the meeting, but extensive interviews with leading
Czech figures make clear that he did so quietly some time earlier this year
in an effort to avoid publicly embarrassing other prominent officials in his
government, who had given credibility to the reports through their public
and private statements in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks. The
statements by those officials, including the Czech prime minister, had
helped turn the reports of a meeting between an important Qaeda operative
and an Iraqi spy into an international issue.

When the reports of a meeting between Atta and Ani came to public attention
in October 2001, they appeared to provide the most direct connection yet
uncovered between the attacks and the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, and
they set off a debate in Washington that continues today over whether a
possible war with Iraq should be considered an extension of the global
campaign against Al Qaeda and terrorism.

For months, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials have cast doubt
on the reports of the Prague meeting, which were based on the statements of
a single informant, and just last week the director of central intelligence,
George Tenet, told Congress that his agency could find no evidence to
confirm that the meeting had occurred.

The White House has generally been cautious about using the reports of the
possible Prague meeting to help make the case for war with Iraq. But the
possibility of a Prague meeting has remained a live issue with other
proponents of military action against Iraq, both in and out of the

The disclosure of Havel's decision to inform the Bush administration that it
should ignore the reports of a meeting comes after a year of confused and
often contradictory statements from other Czech officials about the

Interior Minister Stanislav Gross first gave public credence to the reports
when he conducted a news conference in October 2001 to announce that Atta
had come to Prague in April to meet with Ani, an intelligence officer who
was working under diplomatic cover in the Iraqi Embassy. More significantly,
Czech officials said that Milos Zeman, then the Czech Republic's prime
minister, privately informed Secretary of State Colin Powell about the
intelligence reports as well, while Zeman was in Washington in November,
thus placing the credibility of the Czech government even more squarely
behind the reports.

Zeman's statements, along with an assertion that Atta and Ani had met to
plot an attack on the offices of Radio Free Europe in Prague, made it
difficult for officials there and in Washington to easily brush aside the
reports of the meeting. American counterterrorism investigators at the FBI
and the CIA subsequently came under intense pressure to thoroughly
investigate the matter.

But Czech officials who have investigated the case now say that Zeman and
Gross spoke without adequately confirming the information or waiting for the
Czech internal security service to substantiate the initial reports.

Officials said they also spoke without adequately consulting Havel, who was
effectively left out of the loop as the officials went to the news media and
the Bush administration. In the Czech political system, the president is
head of state, but the prime minister manages most day-to-day government
affairs and is not necessarily from the same party as the president.

Havel moved carefully behind the scenes in the months after the reports of
the Prague meeting to try to determine what really happened, officials said.
He asked trusted advisers to investigate, and they apparently went through
back channels to talk with Czech intelligence officers to get to the bottom
of the story. The intelligence officers told them that there was no evidence
of a meeting.

The report from the Czech domestic intelligence agency on a possible meeting
between Atta and Ani had come from a single informant in the local Arab
community, and the information was treated skeptically by Czech intelligence
professionals because it had been provided only after the Sept. 11 attacks,
after Atta's picture had been broadcast on television and published in
newspapers around the world, and even after the Czech news media had
reported that records showed that Atta had traveled to Prague.

Officials of the Czech intelligence service were said to be furious that
Zeman had taken the information straight to the top of the American
government, before they had a chance to investigate further.

Zeman declined to comment about his role in the case. Gross could not be
reached, but in May he told a Czech newspaper that he was standing by his
initial statements about the meeting.


Associated Press, 21st October

KIEV, Ukraine: The U.S.-British team of experts sent to investigate whether
Ukraine sold a sophisticated radar system to Iraq has left and will not
disclose the results of their work for at least a week, a top U.S. official
said Monday.

U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual said the team of 13 nonproliferation experts
left Sunday after a one-week visit to investigate whether this former Soviet
republic sent any Kolchuha radar systems to Baghdad in violation of U.N.
sanctions. He said the team hopes to complete its analysis in seven to 10
days, but the process could take longer.

"The expert team is presently in London and is in the process of analyzing a
very large volume of data,'' Pascual said. "They need to assess it and
determine if there are any gaps and if additional information is necessary."

The State Department said last month that it had verified the authenticity
of a July 2000 recording in which President Leonid Kuchma is allegedly heard
approving the sale of such a radar system to Iraq for $100 million.

Kuchma denies his government had anything to hide.

The investigation is expected to help the U.S. determine whether to take
further punitive measures against Ukraine. Washington last month suspended
$54 million in aid to the government last month as part of a policy review.

Toronto Star, 23rd October

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) ‹ Revelations that a state-run Yugoslav arms
dealer may have sold military equipment to Iraq in violation of a UN embargo
underscore the legacy of Slobodan Milosevic's regime, a high-ranking Serbian
official said today.

Although the Yugoslav government has not fully admitted that its arms
dealer, Yugoimport, sold the equipment to Iraq, it fired two top army
officials late Tuesday and launched an investigation into the company's

"The state needs to react quickly and forcefully now," said Nebojsa Covic, a
deputy prime minister in Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic. "These
deals were remnants of the past regime, spurred on by pro-fascist and
criminal elements."

Also Wednesday, Serbia's Justice Minister Vladan Batic demanded the federal
premier, Dragisa Pesic, and the country's defence minister, Velimir
Radojevic, both resign over arms exports to Iraq.

The affair prompted Serbian pro-western Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic to
blast his archrival, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, whom he accused
of failing to control the army, where many officers remain loyal to

"The president is not doing his job," Djindjic said. "At a time when major
nations are rallying to battle terrorism, it is very dangerous to be on the
other side."

Covic said leftists loyal to the former Yugoslav president and their
ultranationalist associates were known to nurture ties in Iraq. He said a
"well-meaning" western source had alerted Belgrade authorities to the
alleged arms deals last week.

Tuesday's dismissals followed media reports about a link between Yugoimport
and Saddam Hussein's regime. The reports also claimed that Serb experts were
helping the Iraqis build up defences against U.S. air attacks.

The affair came to light after a NATO inspection last week of an arms
company in the Serb controlled part of neighbouring Bosnia.

A Yugoslav military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The
Associated Press the raid uncovered documents linking the Bosnian arms
company, Orao, and Yugoimport, which acted as an intermediary by exporting
defence equipment to Iraq.

"The very suspicion of such an embargo-busting trade endangers our top state
interests," Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic said Wednesday.

Late Tuesday, the Yugoslav government ordered an investigation into
Yugoimport's trade deals and fired its director, Gen. Jovan Cekovic, saying
he was "ultimately responsible for the company's affairs."

The government demanded the company promptly close its Baghdad office and
also fired an adviser at the Defence Ministry, Lt.-Gen. Ivan Djokic. He was
identified as the person "in charge of weapons and arms equipment trading"
within the Yugoslav military.

The dramatic government move appeared to be an indirect admission that the
arms embargo against Iraq had been breached.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher said Tuesday
that there was "clear evidence" that the two companies have been
"refurbishing military aircraft for Iraq."

Boucher said the United States expects Bosnian and Yugoslav authorities to
do whatever is necessary to immediately halt any ongoing co-operation with
Iraq, to conduct an investigation and to hold accountable those responsible.

Yugoimport officials Tuesday denied involvement in arms sales to Iraq.
Officials at Orao declined comment.

A leading Bosnian army official, Stjepan Pocrnja, told Sarajevo state
television Tuesday that his government received documents from the U.S.
Embassy in Bosnia, proving the Serb arms manufacturer and its Yugoslav
partner had illegally sold arms to Iraq.

The UN Security Council has maintained a strict embargo on trading with Iraq
since Saddam's army invaded neighbouring Kuwait in 1990. Countries violating
the embargo could face punitive UN sanctions.


RIJEKA, Croatia (Reuters) - A ship seized at sea by Croatia this week was
bound for Iraq from Yugoslavia carrying what appeared to be material used in
the ignition of Scud missiles, according to sources in Croatia.

"There is evidence that the military equipment on the seized ship was headed
for Iraq," a police source told Reuters on Thursday after 14 containers were
unloaded from the freighter Boka Star in the port of Rijeka on Croatia's
Adriatic coast.

Another source close to the investigation said there were "four containers
opened so far containing a powdered substance we believe is used for the
ignition of Scud missiles".

The source said the substance had been examined by experts, but did not
state its chemical name or composition.

The Boka Star was netted with the help of the United States and NATO allies
who on Tuesday exposed clandestine arms supplies to Iraq from the Bosnian
Serb Republic, with the aid of Yugoslav officials in Belgrade.

Official statements did not disclose the nature of the military equipment
being smuggled.

Unofficial sources agreed it was most probably engines or engine parts for
Iraq's ageing fleet of Soviet-era MiG-21 fighters, made at Bosnia's Orao
plant -- a supposition never formally denied.

A Western military source familiar with the case on Thursday questioned
whether the material found in the search of the ship would indeed turn out
to be linked to Iraq's Scuds, but reserved judgement on the report.

Iraq fired 39 of the liquid-fuelled, medium-range missiles at Israel and
allied Gulf states during the 1991 Gulf War, sowing fears that they might
carry chemical or biological warheads.

Iraq in fact used only conventional explosives and damage was limited. But
U.S. aircraft and anti-missile systems totally failed to stop the
Soviet-designed Scuds.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is thought to have only a dozen or two of the
mobile rockets left in his arsenal.

But their potential threat is enough for Washington to have promised Israel
this week that it would deploy special forces in Western Iraq at the outset
of any war to destroy the missiles, according to a Washington Post report.

The Tonga-registered Boka Star had started its voyage on Monday from the
port of Bar in the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, which borders Bosnia,
and was intercepted with the help of NATO intelligence.

"The Boka Star sailed out of the port of Bar a few days ago," Branko
Koprivica, captain of the port, told Reuters in the Montenegrin capital,
Podgorica, on Thursday. He said it had a Montenegrin crew but a foreign

Western sources had hinted at a link between Bar and the Orao company
implicated in the arms smuggling scandal.

Both Yugoslav and Bosnian Serb authorities this week acknowledged arms
embargo violations and fired senior officials but without disclosing details
of what was being smuggled.

Tuesday's orchestrated, and embarrassing, exposes by the NATO allies appear
to have been provoked after U.S. charges levelled at Orao a month ago were
ignored, and plans for covert shipments were continuing.

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