The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] DoD: New Saddam/al-Qaida Report "Inaccurate"


Reports yesterday in the Weekly Standard (UK) and on Fox News (US) about
substantive links between Al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein have been called
"inaccurate" in a statement from the US Defense Department.

Following are:
a) the Defense Department statement,
b) the FoxNews summary, and
c) the original Weekly Standard report.  The author is staff writer Stephen
Hayes, who earlier wrote of 'The Inconsistencies of Scott Ritter".

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

Raw Data: DOD Statement on Intel Leak

Sunday, November 16, 2003

The following is a statement released by the Defense Department on reports of a
connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein:

News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with
respect to contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq in a letter to the Senate
Intelligence Committee are inaccurate.

A letter was sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee on October 27, 2003 from
Douglas J. Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, in response to
follow-up questions from his July 10 testimony. One of the questions posed by
the committee asked the Department to provide the reports from the Intelligence
Community to which he referred in his testimony before the Committee. These
reports dealt with the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

The letter to the committee included a classified annex containing a list and
description of the requested reports, so that the Committee could obtain the
reports from the relevant members of the Intelligence Community.

The items listed in the classified annex were either raw reports or products of
the CIA, the NSA, or, in one case, the DIA. The provision of the classified
annex to the Intelligence Committee was cleared by other agencies and done with
the permission of the Intelligence Community. The selection of the documents was
made by DOD to respond to the Committee's question. The classified annex was not
an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and Al
Qaeda, and it drew no conclusions.

Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious
harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal.

Intelligence Report Links Saddam, Usama

Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (search) gave terror lord Usama bin Laden's thugs
financial and logistical support, offering Al Qaeda (search) money, training and
haven for more than a decade, it was reported yesterday.

Their deadly collaboration — which may have included the bombing of the USS Cole
(search) and the 9/11 attacks — is revealed in a 16-page memo to the Senate
Intelligence Committee (search) that cites reports from a variety of domestic
and foreign spy agencies compiled by multiple sources, The Weekly Standard
(search) reports.

Saddam's willingness to help bin Laden plot against Americans began in 1990,
shortly before the first Gulf War, and continued through last March, the eve of
the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, says the Oct. 27 memo sent by Undersecretary of
Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

Two men were involved with the collaboration almost from its start.

Mamdouh Mahmud Salim — who's described as the terror lord's "best friend" — was
involved in planning the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in

Another terrorist, Hassan al-Turabi, was said by an Iraqi defector to be
"instrumental" in the relationship.

Iraq "sought Al Qaeda influence through its connections with Afghanistan, to
facilitate the transshipment of proscribed weapons and equipment to Iraq. In
return, Iraq provided Al Qaeda with training and instructors," a top-level Iraqi
defector has told U.S. intelligence.

The bombshell report says bin Laden visited Baghdad in January 1998 and met with
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

"The goal of the visit was to arrange for coordination between Iraq and bin
Laden and establish camps in Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan," the memo says.

Though the bombing of the USS Cole on Oct. 12, 2000 was an Al Qaeda job, the
secret memo says the CIA believes "fragmentary evidence points to possible Iraqi

The relationship between Saddam and bin Laden continued to grow in the aftermath
of the Cole attack when two Al Qaeda terrorists were deployed to Iraq to be
trained in weapons of mass destruction and to obtain information on "poisons and

CIA reporting shows the Saudi National Guard went on a "kingdom-wide state of
alert in late December 2000 after learning Saddam agreed to assist Al Qaeda in
attacking U.S./U.K. interests in Saudi Arabia," the memo says.

And the report contains new information about alleged meetings between 9/11
mastermind Mohamed Atta and former Iraqi intelligence chief Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim
Samir al Ani in the Czech Republic.

Even some Bush administration officials have been skeptical about a purported
meeting in April 2001.

But the secret memo says Atta met two other times in Prague with al Ani, in
December 1994 and June 2000. It was during one of these meetings that al Ani
"ordered the [Iraqi Intelligence Service] finance officer to issue Atta funds
from IIS financial holdings in the Prague office," the memo says.

The memo says the relationship between Saddam and bin Laden went forward even
after 9/11.

Both sides allegedly reached a "secret deal" last year in which Iraq would
provide "money and weapons" and obtain 90 Iraqi and Syrian passports for Al
Qaeda members.

Al Qaeda associate Abu Maseb al Zarqwari also helped set up "sleeper cells" in
Baghdad starting in October 2002.

The memo was sent to Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) of
the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Weekly Standard: Intel Report Links Saddam, Usama

Saturday, November 15, 2003
by Stephen F. Hayes

Usama bin Laden (search) and Saddam Hussein (search) had an operational
relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives
and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, Al
Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for Al
Qaeda - perhaps even for Mohamed Atta - according to a top secret U.S.
government memorandum obtained by The Weekly Standard.

The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for
Policy Douglas J. Feith (search) to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller,
the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was
written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation
into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. Intelligence
reporting included in the 16-page memo comes from a variety of domestic and
foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the
Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. Much of the
evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources. Some of
it is new information obtained in custodial interviews with high-level Al Qaeda
terrorists and Iraqi officials, and some of it is more than a decade old. The
picture that emerges is one of a history of collaboration between two of
America's most determined and dangerous enemies.

According to the memo, which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points,
Iraq-Al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days
before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight,
fact-based intelligence reporting, which in some cases includes an evaluation of
the credibility of the source. This reporting is often followed by commentary
and analysis.

The relationship began shortly before the first Gulf War. According to reporting
in the memo, bin Laden sent "emissaries to Jordan in 1990 to meet with Iraqi
government officials." At some unspecified point in 1991, according to a CIA
analysis, "Iraq sought Sudan's assistance to establish links to Al Qaeda." The
outreach went in both directions. According to 1993 CIA reporting cited in the
memo, "bin Laden wanted to expand his organization's capabilities through ties
with Iraq."

The primary go-between throughout these early stages was Sudanese strongman
Hassan al-Turabi, a leader of the Al Qaeda-affiliated National Islamic Front
(search). Numerous sources have confirmed this. One defector reported that
"al-Turabi was instrumental in arranging the Iraqi-Al Qaeda relationship. The
defector said Iraq sought Al Qaeda influence through its connections with
Afghanistan, to facilitate the transshipment of proscribed weapons and equipment
to Iraq. In return, Iraq provided Al Qaeda with training and instructors."

One such confirmation came in a postwar interview with one of Saddam Hussein's
henchmen. As the memo details:

4. According to a May 2003 debriefing of a senior Iraqi intelligence officer,
Iraqi intelligence established a highly secretive relationship with Egyptian
Islamic Jihad , and later with Al Qaeda. The first meeting in 1992 between the
Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) and Al Qaeda was brokered by al-Turabi. Former
IIS deputy director Faruq Hijazi and senior Al Qaeda leader [Ayman al] Zawahiri
were at the meeting - the first of several between 1992 and 1995 in Sudan.
Additional meetings between Iraqi intelligence and Al Qaeda were held in
Pakistan. Members of Al Qaeda would sometimes visit Baghdad where they would
meet the Iraqi intelligence chief in a safe house. The report claimed that
Saddam insisted the relationship with Al Qaeda be kept secret. After 9/11, the
source said Saddam made a personnel change in the IIS for fear the relationship
would come under scrutiny from foreign probes.

A decisive moment in the budding relationship came in 1993, when bin Laden faced
internal resistance to his cooperation with Saddam.

5. A CIA report from a contact with good access, some of whose reporting has
been corroborated, said that certain elements in the "Islamic Army" of bin Laden
were against the secular regime of Saddam. Overriding the internal factional
strife that was developing, bin Laden came to an "understanding" with Saddam
that the Islamic Army would no longer support anti-Saddam activities. According
to sensitive reporting released in U.S. court documents during the African
Embassy trial, in 1993 bin Laden reached an "understanding" with Saddam under
which he (bin Laden) forbade Al Qaeda operations to be mounted against the Iraqi

Another facilitator of the relationship during the mid-1990s was Mahmdouh Mahmud
Salim (a.k.a. Abu Hajer al-Iraqi). Abu Hajer, now in a New York prison, was
described in court proceedings related to the August 1998 bombings of U.S.
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as bin Laden¹s "best friend." According to CIA
reporting dating back to the Clinton administration, bin Laden trusted him to
serve as a liaison with Saddam's regime and tasked him with procurement of
weapons of mass destruction for Al Qaeda. FBI reporting in the memo reveals that
Abu Hajer "visited Iraq in early 1995" and "had a good relationship with Iraqi
intelligence. Sometime before mid-1995 he went on an Al Qaeda mission to discuss
unspecified cooperation with the Iraqi government."

Some of the reporting about the relationship throughout the mid-1990s comes from
a source who had intimate knowledge of bin Laden and his dealings. This source,
according to CIA analysis, offered "the most credible information" on
cooperation between bin Laden and Iraq.

This source's reports read almost like a diary. Specific dates of when bin Laden
flew to various cities are included, as well as names of individuals he met. The
source did not offer information on the substantive talks during the meetings. .
. . There are not a great many reports in general on the relationship between
bin Laden and Iraq because of the secrecy surrounding it. But when this source
with close access provided a "window" into bin Laden's activities, bin Laden is
seen as heavily involved with Iraq (and Iran).

Reporting from the early 1990s remains somewhat sketchy, though multiple sources
place Hassan al-Turabi and Ayman al Zawahiri (search), bin Laden's current No.
2, at the center of the relationship. The reporting gets much more specific in
the mid-1990s:

8. Reporting from a well placed source disclosed that bin Laden was receiving
training on bomb making from the IIS's [Iraqi Intelligence Service] principal
technical expert on making sophisticated explosives, Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed.
Brigadier Salim was observed at bin Laden's farm in Khartoum in Sept.-Oct. 1995
and again in July 1996, in the company of the Director of Iraqi Intelligence,
Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti.

9 . . . Bin Laden visited Doha, Qatar (17-19 Jan. 1996), staying at the
residence of a member of the Qatari ruling family. He discussed the successful
movement of explosives into Saudi Arabia, and operations targeted against U.S.
and U.K. interests in Dammam, Dharan, and Khobar, using clandestine Al Qaeda
cells in Saudi Arabia. Upon his return, bin Laden met with Hijazi and Turabi,
among others.

And later more reporting, from the same "well placed" source:

10. The Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti, met
privately with bin Laden at his farm in Sudan in July 1996. Tikriti used an
Iraqi delegation traveling to Khartoum to discuss bilateral cooperation as his
"cover" for his own entry into Sudan to meet with bin Laden and Hassan
al-Turabi. The Iraqi intelligence chief and two other IIS officers met at bin
Laden¹s farm and discussed bin Laden¹s request for IIS technical assistance in:
a) making letter and parcel bombs; b) making bombs which could be placed on
aircraft and detonated by changes in barometric pressure; and c) making false
passport [sic]. Bin Laden specifically requested that [Brigadier Salim
al-Ahmed], Iraqi intelligence's premier explosives maker‹especially skilled in
making car bombs‹remain with him in Sudan. The Iraqi intelligence chief
instructed Salim to remain in Sudan with bin Laden as long as required.

The analysis of those events follows:

The time of the visit from the IIS director was a few weeks after the Khobar
Towers bombing. The bombing came on the third anniversary of a U.S. [Tomahawk
missile] strike on IIS HQ (retaliation for the attempted assassination of former
President Bush in Kuwait) for which Iraqi officials explicitly threatened

In addition to the contacts clustered in the mid-1990s, intelligence reports
detail a flurry of activities in early 1998 and again in December 1998. A
"former senior Iraqi intelligence officer" reported that "the Iraqi intelligence
service station in Pakistan was Baghdad's point of contact with Al Qaeda. He
also said bin Laden visited Baghdad in Jan. 1998 and met with Tariq Aziz."

11. According to sensitive reporting, Saddam personally sent Faruq Hijazi, IIS
deputy director and later Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, to meet with bin Laden at
least twice, first in Sudan and later in Afghanistan in 1999. . . .

14. According to a sensitive reporting [from] a "regular and reliable source,"
[Ayman al] Zawahiri, a senior Al Qaeda operative, visited Baghdad and met with
the Iraqi Vice President on 3 February 1998. The goal of the visit was to
arrange for coordination between Iraq and bin Laden and establish camps in
an-Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan under the leadership of Abdul Aziz.

That visit came as the Iraqis intensified their defiance of the U.N. inspection
regime, known as UNSCOM, created by the cease-fire agreement following the Gulf
War. UNSCOM (search) demanded access to Saddam's presidential palaces that he
refused to provide. As the tensions mounted, President Bill Clinton went to the
Pentagon on February 18, 1998, and prepared the nation for war. He warned of "an
unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers, and organized international
criminals" and said "there is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam

The day after this speech, according to documents unearthed in April 2003 in the
Iraqi Intelligence headquarters by journalists Mitch Potter and Inigo Gilmore,
Saddam's intelligence service wrote a memo detailing coming meetings with a bin
Laden representative traveling to Baghdad. Each reference to bin Laden had been
covered by liquid paper that, when revealed, exposed a plan to increase
cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda. According to that memo, the IIS agreed to
pay for "all the travel and hotel costs inside Iraq to gain the knowledge of the
message from bin Laden and to convey to his envoy an oral message from us to bin
Laden." The document set as the goal for the meeting a discussion of "the future
of our relationship with him, bin Laden, and to achieve a direct meeting with
him." The Al Qaeda representative, the document went on to suggest, might
provide "a way to maintain contacts with bin Laden."

Four days later, on February 23, 1998, bin Laden issued his now-famous fatwa on
the plight of Iraq, published in the Arabic-language daily, al Quds al-Arabi:
"For over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in
the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating
to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning
its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the
neighboring Muslim peoples." Bin Laden urged his followers to act: "The ruling
to kill all Americans and their allies‹civilians and military‹is an individual
duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do

Although war was temporarily averted by a last-minute deal brokered by U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan, tensions soon rose again. The standoff with Iraq
came to a head in December 1998, when President Clinton launched Operation
Desert Fox (search), a 70-hour bombing campaign that began on December 16 and
ended three days later, on December 19, 1998.

According to press reports at the time, Faruq Hijazi, deputy director of Iraqi
Intelligence, met with bin Laden in Afghanistan on December 21, 1998, to offer
bin Laden safe haven in Iraq. CIA reporting in the memo to the Senate
Intelligence Committee seems to confirm this meeting and relates two others.

15. A foreign government service reported that an Iraqi delegation, including at
least two Iraqi intelligence officers formerly assigned to the Iraqi Embassy in
Pakistan, met in late 1998 with bin Laden in Afghanistan.

16. According to CIA reporting, bin Laden and Zawahiri met with two Iraqi
intelligence officers in Afghanistan in Dec. 1998.

17. . . . Iraq sent an intelligence officer to Afghanistan to seek closer ties
to bin Laden and the Taliban in late 1998. The source reported that the Iraqi
regime was trying to broaden its cooperation with Al Qaeda. Iraq was looking to
recruit Muslim "elements" to sabotage U.S. and U.K. interests. After a senior
Iraqi intelligence officer met with Taliban leader [Mullah] Omar, arrangements
were made for a series of meetings between the Iraqi intelligence officer and
bin Laden in Pakistan. The source noted Faruq Hijazi was in Afghanistan in late

18. . . . Faruq Hijazi went to Afghanistan in 1999 along with several other
Iraqi officials to meet with bin Laden. The source claimed that Hijazi would
have met bin Laden only at Saddam¹s explicit direction.

An analysis that follows No. 18 provides additional context and an explanation
of these reports:

Reporting entries #4, #11, #15, #16, #17, and #18, from different sources,
corroborate each other and provide confirmation of meetings between Al Qaeda
operatives and Iraqi intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. None of the
reports have information on operational details or the purpose of such meetings.
The covert nature of the relationship would indicate strict compartmentation
[sic] of operations.

Information about connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq was so widespread by
early 1999 that it made its way into the mainstream press. A January 11, 1999,
Newsweek story ran under this headline: "Saddam + Bin Laden?" The story cited an
"Arab intelligence source" with knowledge of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
"According to this source, Saddam expected last month's American and British
bombing campaign to go on much longer than it did. The dictator believed that as
the attacks continued, indignation would grow in the Muslim world, making his
terrorism offensive both harder to trace and more effective. With acts of terror
contributing to chaos in the region, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait
might feel less inclined to support Washington. Saddam's long-term strategy,
according to several sources, is to bully or cajole Muslim countries into
breaking the embargo against Iraq, without waiting for the United Nations to
lift if formally."

Intelligence reports about the nature of the relationship between Iraq and Al
Qaeda from mid-1999 through 2003 are conflicting. One senior Iraqi intelligence
officer in U.S. custody, Khalil Ibrahim Abdallah, "said that the last contact
between the IIS and Al Qaeda was in July 1999. Bin Laden wanted to meet with
Saddam, he said. The guidance sent back from Saddam¹s office reportedly ordered
Iraqi intelligence to refrain from any further contact with bin Laden and Al
Qaeda. The source opined that Saddam wanted to distance himself from Al Qaeda."

The bulk of reporting on the relationship contradicts this claim. One report
states that "in late 1999" Al Qaeda set up a training camp in northern Iraq that
"was operational as of 1999." Other reports suggest that the Iraqi regime
contemplated several offers of safe haven to bin Laden throughout 1999.

23. . . . Iraqi officials were carefully considering offering safe haven to bin
Laden and his closest collaborators in Nov. 1999. The source indicated the idea
was put forward by the presumed head of Iraqi intelligence in Islamabad (Khalid
Janaby) who in turn was in frequent contact and had good relations with bin

Some of the most intriguing intelligence concerns an Iraqi named Ahmed Hikmat

24. According to sensitive reporting, a Malaysia-based Iraqi national (Shakir)
facilitated the arrival of one of the Sept 11 hijackers for an operational
meeting in Kuala Lumpur (Jan 2000). Sensitive reporting indicates Shakir¹s
travel and contacts link him to a worldwide network of terrorists, including Al
Qaeda. Shakir worked at the Kuala Lumpur airport‹a job he claimed to have
obtained through an Iraqi embassy employee.

One of the men at that Al Qaeda operational meeting in the Kuala Lumpur Hotel
was Tawfiz al Atash, a top bin Laden lieutenant later identified as the
mastermind of the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole.

25. Investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 by Al Qaeda
revealed no specific Iraqi connections but according to the CIA, "fragmentary
evidence points to possible Iraqi involvement."

26. During a custodial interview, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi [a senior Al Qaeda
operative] said he was told by an Al Qaeda associate that he was tasked to
travel to Iraq (1998) to establish a relationship with Iraqi intelligence to
obtain poisons and gases training. After the USS Cole bombing in 2000, two Al
Qaeda operatives were sent to Iraq for CBW-related [Chemical and Biological
Weapons] training beginning in Dec 2000. Iraqi intelligence was "encouraged"
after the embassy and USS Cole bombings to provide this training.

The analysis of this report follows.

CIA maintains that Ibn al-Shaykh's timeline is consistent with other sensitive
reporting indicating that bin Laden asked Iraq in 1998 for advanced weapons,
including CBW and "poisons."

Additional reporting also calls into question the claim that relations between
Iraq and Al Qaeda cooled after mid-1999:

27. According to sensitive CIA reporting, . . . the Saudi National Guard went on
a kingdom-wide state of alert in late Dec 2000 after learning Saddam agreed to
assist Al Qaeda in attacking U.S./U.K. interests in Saudi Arabia.

And then there is the alleged contact between lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta
and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague. The reporting on those links
suggests not one meeting, but as many as four. What¹s more, the memo reveals
potential financing of Atta's activities by Iraqi intelligence.

The Czech counterintelligence service reported that the Sept. 11 hijacker
[Mohamed] Atta met with the former Iraqi intelligence chief in Prague, [Ahmed
Khalil Ibrahim Samir] al Ani, on several occasions. During one of these
meetings, al Ani ordered the IIS finance officer to issue Atta funds from IIS
financial holdings in the Prague office.

And the commentary:

CIA can confirm two Atta visits to Prague‹in Dec. 1994 and in June 2000; data
surrounding the other two, on 26 Oct 1999 and 9 April 2001, is complicated and
sometimes contradictory and CIA and FBI cannot confirm Atta met with the IIS.
Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross continues to stand by his information.

It's not just Gross who stands by the information. Five high-ranking members of
the Czech government have publicly confirmed meetings between Atta and al Ani.
The meeting that has gotten the most press attention ,April 9, 2001, is also the
most widely disputed. Even some of the most hawkish Bush administration
officials are privately skeptical that Atta met al Ani on that occasion. They
believe that reports of the alleged meeting, said to have taken place in public,
outside the headquarters of the U.S.-financed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,
suggest a level of sloppiness that doesn¹t fit the pattern of previous
high-level Iraq-Al Qaeda contacts.

Whether or not that specific meeting occurred, the report by Czech
counterintelligence that al Ani ordered the Iraqi Intelligence Service officer
to provide IIS funds to Atta might help explain the lead hijacker's
determination to reach Prague, despite significant obstacles, in the spring of
2000. (Note that the report stops short of confirming that the funds were
transferred. It claims only that the IIS officer requested the transfer.) Recall
that Atta flew to Prague from Germany on May 30, 2000, but was denied entry
because he did not have a valid visa. Rather than simply return to Germany and
fly directly to the United States, his ultimate destination, Atta took pains to
get to Prague. After he was refused entry the first time, he traveled back to
Germany, obtained the proper paperwork, and caught a bus back to Prague. He left
for the United States the day after arriving in Prague for the second time.

Several reports indicate that the relationship between Saddam and bin Laden
continued, even after the September 11 attacks:

31. An Oct. 2002 . . . report said Al Qaeda and Iraq reached a secret agreement
whereby Iraq would provide safe haven to Al Qaeda members and provide them with
money and weapons. The agreement reportedly prompted a large number of Al Qaeda
members to head to Iraq. The report also said that Al Qaeda members involved in
a fraudulent passport network for Al Qaeda had been directed to procure 90 Iraqi
and Syrian passports for Al Qaeda personnel.

The analysis that accompanies that report indicates that the report fits the
pattern of Iraq-Al Qaeda collaboration:

References to procurement of false passports from Iraq and offers of safe haven
previously have surfaced in CIA source reporting considered reliable.
Intelligence reports to date have maintained that Iraqi support for Al Qaeda
usually involved providing training, obtaining passports, and offers of refuge.
This report adds to that list by including weapons and money. This assistance
would make sense in the aftermath of 9-11.

Colin Powell, in his February 5, 2003, presentation to the U.N. Security
Council, revealed the activities of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Reporting in the memo
expands on Powell's case and might help explain some of the resistance the U.S.
military is currently facing in Iraq.

37. Sensitive reporting indicates senior terrorist planner and close Al Qaeda
associate al Zarqawi has had an operational alliance with Iraqi officials. As of
Oct. 2002, al Zarqawi maintained contacts with the IIS to procure weapons and
explosives, including surface-to-air missiles from an IIS officer in Baghdad.
According to sensitive reporting, al Zarqawi was setting up sleeper cells in
Baghdad to be activated in case of a U.S. occupation of the city, suggesting his
operational cooperation with the Iraqis may have deepened in recent months. Such
cooperation could include IIS provision of a secure operating bases [sic] and
steady access to arms and explosives in preparation for a possible U.S.
invasion. Al Zarqawi¹s procurements from the Iraqis also could support Al Qaeda
operations against the U.S. or its allies elsewhere.

38. According to sensitive reporting, a contact with good access who does not
have an established reporting record: An Iraqi intelligence service officer said
that as of mid-March the IIS was providing weapons to Al Qaeda members located
in northern Iraq, including rocket propelled grenade (RPG)-18 launchers.
According to IIS information, northern Iraq-based Al Qaeda members believed that
the U.S. intended to strike Al Qaeda targets during an anticipated assault
against Ansar al-Islam positions.

The memo further reported pre-war intelligence which "claimed that an Iraqi
intelligence official, praising Ansar al-Islam, provided it with $100,000 and
agreed to continue to give assistance."

Critics of the Bush administration have complained that Iraq-Al Qaeda
connections are a fantasy, trumped up by the warmongers at the White House to
fit their preconceived notions about international terror; that links between
Saddam Hussein and Usama bin Laden have been routinely "exaggerated" for
political purposes; that hawks "cherry-picked" bits of intelligence and
tendentiously presented these to the American public.

Carl Levin, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made those
points as recently as November 9, in an appearance on Fox News Sunday.
Republicans on the committee, he complained, refuse to look at the
administration¹s "exaggeration of intelligence."

Said Levin: "The question is whether or not they exaggerated intelligence in
order to carry out their purpose, which was to make the case for going to war.
Did we know, for instance, with certainty that there was any relationship
between the Iraqis and the terrorists that were in Afghanistan, bin Laden? The
administration said that there's a connection between those terrorist groups in
Afghanistan and Iraq. Was there a basis for that?"

There was, as shown in the memo to the committee on which Levin serves. And much
of the reporting comes from Clinton-era intelligence. Not that you would know
this from Al Gore¹s recent public statements. Indeed, the former vice president
claims to be privy to new "evidence" that the administration lied. In an August
speech at New York University, Gore claimed: "The evidence now shows clearly
that Saddam did not want to work with Usama bin Laden at all, much less give him
weapons of mass destruction." Really?

One of the most interesting things to note about the 16-page memo is that it
covers only a fraction of the evidence that will eventually be available to
document the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda. For one thing, both Saddam
and bin Laden were desperate to keep their cooperation secret. (Remember, Iraqi
intelligence used liquid paper on an internal intelligence document to conceal
bin Laden's name.) For another, few people in the U.S. government are expressly
looking for such links. There is no Iraq-Al Qaeda equivalent of the CIA's
1,400-person Iraq Survey Group currently searching Iraq for weapons of mass

Instead, CIA and FBI officials are methodically reviewing Iraqi intelligence
files that survived the three-week war last spring. These documents would cover
several miles if laid end-to-end. And they are in Arabic. They include not only
connections between bin Laden and Saddam, but also revolting details of the
regime's long history of brutality. It will be a slow process.

So Feith's memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee is best viewed as sort of a
"Cliff¹s Notes" version of the relationship. It contains the highlights, but it
is far from exhaustive.

One example. The memo contains only one paragraph on Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, the
Iraqi facilitator who escorted two September 11 hijackers through customs in
Kuala Lumpur. U.S. intelligence agencies have extensive reporting on his
activities before and after the September 11 hijacking. That they would include
only this brief overview suggests the 16-page memo, extensive as it is, just
skims the surface of the reporting on Iraq-Al Qaeda connections.

Other intelligence reports indicate that Shakir whisked not one but two
September 11 hijackers - Khalid al Midhar and Nawaq al Hamzi - through the
passport and customs process upon their arrival in Kuala Lumpur on January 5,
2000. Shakir then traveled with the hijackers to the Kuala Lumpur Hotel where
they met with Ramzi bin al Shibh, one of the masterminds of the September 11
plot. The meeting lasted three days. Shakir returned to work on January 9 and
January 10, and never again.

Shakir got his airport job through a contact at the Iraqi Embassy. (Iraq
routinely used its embassies as staging grounds for its intelligence operations;
in some cases, more than half of the alleged "diplomats" were intelligence
operatives.) The Iraqi embassy, not his employer, controlled Shakir¹s schedule.
He was detained in Qatar on September 17, 2001. Authorities found in his
possession contact information for terrorists involved in the 1993 World Trade
Center bombing, the 1998 embassy bombings, the 2000 `ck on the USS Cole, and the
September 11 hijackings. The CIA had previous reporting that Shakir had received
a phone call from the safe house where the 1993 World Trade Center attacks had
been plotted.

The Qataris released Shakir shortly after his arrest. On October 21, 2001, he
flew to Amman, Jordan, where he was to change planes to a flight to Baghdad. He
didn¹t make that flight. Shakir was detained in Jordan for three months, where
the CIA interrogated him. His interrogators concluded that Shakir had received
extensive training in counter-interrogation techniques. Not long after he was
detained, according to an official familiar with the intelligence, the Iraqi
regime began to "pressure" Jordanian intelligence to release him. At the same
time, Amnesty International complained that Shakir was being held without
charge. The Jordanians released him on January 28, 2002, at which point he is
believed to have fled back to Iraq.

Was Shakir an Iraqi agent? Does he provide a connection between Saddam Hussein
and September 11? We don¹t know. We may someday find out.

But there can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein's
Iraq worked with Usama bin Laden and Al Qaeda to plot against Americans.

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]