Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ever War: The al Qaeda, Iraq Connection

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” - Umberto Ecco

Page 21 of the 9/11 Commission Report, Executive Summary contains this oddly dismissive sentence: “Much of the public commentary about the 9/11 attacks has focused on “lost opportunities.” Though characterized as problems of “watch-listing,” information sharing,” or “connecting the dots,” each of these is too narrow. They describe the symptoms not the disease.” It reaches out of nowhere like a sucker punch to smack the general public for having the nerve to try and piece together what went wrong.

While the Commission wants us hash over the chicken or egg argument, isn't being vigilant and trying to connect the dots just what the public needs to be doing? With the dangers involved, should one not attempt to think outside the box and reach logical conclusions even when the trail is murky? Why should the public bother with examining the disease when the elites define us/America as the plague not the victim?

Ever War Series

Winston Churchill once famously stated that only the victors write history. He was wrong. The vanquished do too only their history gets erased. Ever War is a history of the vanquished. It will soon disappear along with the remnants of our once proud, free society. Other Ever War Posts Include:

Brothers in Terror
...and Nobody Gives a Damn, Part I
President Lancer and the Honeytrap
Stalin, Hollywood and the Editing of History

11/24/2003
Stephen Hayes

Writes seminal article detailing  links between Saddam Husssein and Bin Laden entitled, "Case Closed: The U.S. government's secret memo detailing cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.."

Former Vice President Cheney has recommended the article as 'best source of information' detailing a relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda.

The secret memo was written by Douglas Feith in October 2003 in response to a request from Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.


This article is latter expanded into a short book on the subject, "The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America."

The article and book generate a media firestorm as it goes against the narrative they have been trying to establish that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.






10/2003
Douglas Feith
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Feith Memo

In October 2003, Douglas Feith, in response to a request from Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, writes a memo outlining contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda from the 1993 Twin Towers bombing to the 911 attacks. It was the basis of the book and article by Stephen Hayes mentioned above.

 In response the DOD IG released a 2/9/2007 DOD IG Report which criticized Mr Feith by saying that his office:  "developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers."

In a press release on the matter, Senator Bond of Missouri stated: “The DoD IG appears to be saying that policy makers are allowed to question the intelligence they are given, as long as they don’t share that criticism in writing outside their agency. That’s just ridiculous.”

5/2003
Manhattan U.S. District Judge Harold Baer
Clinton Appointee
Burden Met Proving Iraq 9/11 Connection

Read for yourself: 
"The opinion testimony of the plaintiffs’ experts is sufficient to meet plaintiffs’ burden that Iraq collaborated in or supported bin Laden/al Qaeda’s terrorist acts of September 11."








4/2003
Inigo Gilmore
UK Telegraph


Iraq files 'show al-Qaeda link'

In 2003 Inigo Gilmore and his translator uncovered files in the bombed headquarters of Iraq's intelligence agency, Mukhabarat: "I noticed on some of the documents there were some marks erased out... we scraped away with a razor and underneath we found the name Bin Laden three times and obviously realised this was highly significant.
  
"These documents explain that an envoy from Bin Laden came to Iraq in March 1998 to discuss contact between al-Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence.
"It also talks about sending an oral message back to Bin Laden and it furthermore discuss the idea of setting up a direct meeting with Bin Laden himself."







4/2003
Mitch Potter
Toronto Star

"Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization and Saddam Hussein's regime shared direct contact as early as 1998, according to
top-secret Iraqi intelligence documents obtained by the Star.

The documents, discovered yesterday in the bombed-out
headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's most feared intelligence
service, amount to the first hard evidence of a link long suspected
by the United States but dismissed as fiction by many Western
leaders.

The handwritten file, three pages in all, relates to the arrival of a
secret envoy sent by bin Laden to Iraq in March, 1998, apparently to
establish a clandestine relationship with the Iraqi regime."
10/2002
George John Tenet
Clinton Appointed CIA Director
Solid Reports of Iraqi - al Qaeda Links Going Back a Decade 
Read for yourself:

Regarding Senator Bayh's question of Iraqi links to al- Qa'ida, Senators could draw from the following points for unclassified discussions:
Our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and al- Qa'ida is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, including some of high rank.
  
We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al-Qa'ida going back a decade.

  • Credible information indicates that Iraq and al-Qa'ida have discussed safe haven and reciprocal non-aggression. 

  • Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qa'ida members, including some that have been in Baghdad.

  • We have credible reporting that al-Qa'ida leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al-Qa'ida members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.

  • Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians, coupled with growing indications of a relationship with al- Qa'ida, suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent US military action. 
1/2000
Ahmad Hikmat Shakir
Malaysian Terror Summit

From the Feith Memo:

"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 Shakir's 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."


2001 - 1994
Atta Visits Prague
Receives fund from Iraqi Intelligence

From the Feith Memo:

"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.

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."

In 11/22/2005 WSJ article Atta in Prague, Edward Epstein reviews his findings after meeting in Prague with Jiri Ruzek, chief at the time of the Czech counterintelligence service (BIS) who oversaw surveillance of the Iraqi Agent accused of meeting with Atta:

"On Sept. 11, Mohammed Atta's picture was shown on Czech television, and the next day, the BIS's source in the Iraq embassy dropped a bombshell. He told his BIS case officer that he recognized Atta as the Arab who got in the car with al-Ani on April 9. Mr. Ruzek immediately relayed the secret information to Washington through the CIA liaison. The FBI sent an interrogation team to Prague, which, after questioning and testing the source, concluded that there was a 70% likelihood that he was not intentionally lying and sincerely believed that he saw Atta with al-Ani. The issue remained whether he had mistaken someone who resembled Atta for the 9/11 hijacker. Meanwhile, records were found showing that Atta had applied for a Czech visa in Germany in 2000, and made at least one previous trip to Prague (from Bonn, by bus, on June 2, 2000, flying to Newark, N.J. the next day)."

While several trips to Prague by Atta have been confirmed, the April 4, 2001 trip where he met with the Iraqi agent has never been satisfactorily verified. Below is Epstein's summary of this issue:

"The FBI had by this time established that Atta checked out of the Diplomat Inn in Virginia Beach and cashed a check for $8,000 from a SunTrust account on April 4, 2001, and was seen again in Florida on April 11, 2001. But it could not account for his movements during this period (or how he used that money), though there was no record of Atta using his passport to travel outside the U.S. The CIA also drew a blank, and Director George Tenet, testified on June 18, 2002 before a Joint Committee of Congress: "Atta allegedly traveled outside the U.S. in early April 2001 to meet with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague, we are still working to confirm or deny this allegation. It is possible that Atta traveled under an unknown alias since we have been unable to establish that Atta left the U.S. or entered Europe in April 2001 under his true name or any known aliases."

Ultimately, Epstein notes that high level leaks to the Associated Press by US officials ruined chances to further investigate the matter. As with most cases that become politicized, cooperation with between entities halted and leads dried up.

It is nice to see that Epstein has an update site on this subject: What is the status of the meeting in Prague between September 11th hijacker Mohamed Atta and Iraqi embassy intelligence officer, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir Al-Ani

To give balance to this subject, there is some dispute as to whether Atta ever met with al-Ani. The United States government seems to have back away from initial confidence that meetings had occurred. Further, the Czech government felt burned by the whole matter as it became politicized by the US and they did not get the cooperation from the US needed to do a thorough investigation. It should be noted that no one can conclusively prove either way as indicated in the 911 Commission Report.

Whether or not Atta did meet with al-Ani is besides the point. The Iraqi's during this period were known to be actively recruiting bombers for a plot. Some of their recruitment efforts were centered on the Berlin mosque where Atta and other 911 members plotted.

Czech VOA (Voice of America) Building
Bomb Plot
Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani


While the 911 Commission may object to me trying to make any connections between Iraq and terrorism against the US, it hard not to when an Iraqi agent stands in front of the voice of America building, which they intended to bomb, filming it.  It is this very same agent who is thought to have met with Mohammed Atta to try and recruit him for the bombing attempt.




1998
Clinton Era Justice Department
Bin Laden Indictment Citing Links to al Qaeda
Read for yourself



1997-1998
The Curious Case of Sudan

Mansoor Ijaz negotiated as a private citizen the Sudan's offer to share intelligence data on al Qaeda, bin Laden, and other terrorist groups with the Clinton administration in April 1997. At the time he was a major supporter of and donor to the Clinton campaign.

"According to Ijaz, the Sudanese government offered the Clinton administration numerous opportunities to arrest bin Laden and those opportunities were met positively by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright but spurned when Susan Rice and counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke persuaded National Security Advisor Sandy Berger to  overrule Albright."

The Clinton failures to respond to the growing terror threat posed by Bin Laden and failure to respond to the Sudanese offers to turn over Bin Laden were covered in "Losing Bin Laden" by Richard Miniter.

The book was written after Miniter almost lost his brother in the 911 attacks:
RM: On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I almost lost my brother, Brendan. Brendan Miniter works at The Wall Street Journal on the tip of Manhattan, across the street from the World Trade Center towers. Every morning, he takes the 8:30 a.m. train into the city and gets off underneath the North Tower of the World Trade Center around 8:45 a.m. As you know, the first plane hit at 8:48 a.m. By the time the second plane hit, I was frantically calling New York City from Brussels, Belgium, where I was based, also working for The Wall Street Journal. Like thousands of other Americans, I was only getting busy signals—and the gnawing sense that I might have just lost my brother. Within hours my prayers were answered and I learned that my brother had been spared.
But the 9/11 attacks got me thinking. So I queried intelligence sources that I had developed over the years and was surprised to learn that the planning for the 9/11 attacks began in May 1998 (Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the 9/11 operational commander, now says the planning started in 1996). In other words, the planning for the 9/11 attacks began during the Clinton years. That led me to ask three questions: (1) What did Bill Clinton know about bin Laden? (2) When did he know it? (3) What did he do about it?

Losing bin Laden is the result of a two-year investigation to answer those three questions

The below timeline was compiled based on an article written by Mansoor Ijad entitled  "The Clinton Intel Record: Deeper failures revealed", which incorporates information discovered by Inigo Gilmore and Mitch Potter in 2003 in the ruins of the Iraqi Intelligence Service:

12/1998

2/06/1999 Guardian UK article, "Saddam link to Bin Laden", detailing meeting between Hijazi and Bin Laden:

"Saddam Hussein's regime has opened talks with Osama bin Laden, bringing closer the threat of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to US intelligence sources and Iraqi opposition officials.

The key meeting took place in the Afghan mountains near Kandahar in late December. The Iraqi delegation was led by Farouk Hijazi, Baghdad's ambassador in Turkey and one of Saddam's most powerful secret policemen, who is thought to have offered Bin Laden asylum in Iraq.

News of the negotiations emerged in a week when the US attorney general, Janet Reno, warned the Senate that a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction was a growing concern. "There's a threat, and it's real," Ms Reno said, adding that such weapons "are being considered for use.""

6/24/1998
On June 24, 1998, FBI Station Chief David Williams, under political pressure, replies to offers from the Sudanese Intelligance Chief , al-Mahdi, to share intelligence on known terrorists in Sudan that: "… I am not currently in a position to accept your kind invitation. I am hopeful that future circumstances might allow me to visit with you…." Tim Carney, US ambassador to Sudan until 1997, will say, “The US failed to reciprocate Sudan’s willingness to engage us on serious questions of terrorism." The offer is rejected due to strong opposition from the State Department's East Africa Department under Rice, and by Sandy Berger at the National Security Council

3/1998

A al Qaeda operative visits Baghdad for two weeks and arrangments are made for Farouk_Hijazi Director of External Operations for the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service, to visit Bin Laden in December 1998 in Afganistan.
2/19/1998

According to the documents discovered in the Mukhabarat Intelligence Headquarters ruins, it was recommended that "…the deputy director general to bring the [bin Laden] envoy (from Sudan) to Iraq because we may find in this envoy a way to maintain contacts with bin Laden."

2/5/1998.

Sudan's intelligence chief, al-Mahdi, makes a final attempt to share information about terrorists by writing to FBI Station Chief  David Williams: "…with reference to your meeting with Ambassador Mahdi Ibrahim on Sept. 12 and Dec. 5 1997, I would like to express my sincere desire to start contacts and cooperation between our service and the FBI…"

David Rose quotes al-Mahdi's exasperation with the US reponse to his offers in a 1/2002 Vanity Fair article:
 “If [the F.B.I.] had taken up my offer in February 1998, they could have prevented the bombings. They had very little information at that time: they were shooting in the dark. Had they engaged with the Sudan, they could have stopped a lot of things.”

9/12/1997

Sudan's US ambassador, Mahdi Ibrahim has a second meeting with David Williams, FBI Special Agent in charge the Middle East and North Africa to once more offer to cooperate directly on intelligence matters.

10/1/1997.

The incoming Assistant Secretary for East Africa, Rice and Sandy Berger of the National Security Council overrule the Secretary of State,  Madeline Albright's decision to return diplomats to Sudan despite the countries offers to cooperate undconditionally on matters of terrorism.

9/28/1997

After a comprehensive four month review, Madeline Albright the incoming Secreatry of State decides to return US diplomats to Sudan to pressure the Sudanese government on terrorism matter.

9/12/1997

Sudan's US ambassador, Mahdi Ibrahim meets with David Williams, FBI Special Agent in charge the Middle East and North Africa to offer to cooperate directly on intelligence matters facing opposition to Sudanese attempts at reconciliation from the National Security Council and State Department..

4/5/1997.

Sudan's president, Omar Hassan El Bashir, delivered to me a final, unconditional political offer, addressed to Rep. Lee Hamilton, to invite FBI and CIA officials to go to Khartoum and evaluate Sudanese intelligence data on terrorists that had lived in or passed through Sudan. The offer went without a reply even as Hamilton repeatedly queried Berger, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and others about what was wrong with the offer and why it was not being evaluated more seriously. Correspondence in my files fully documents these events.

Regime of Terror

History Commons - 911 Timeline




2 comments:

Mark E. said...

you might wanna check regimeofterror.com for more on saddam

John Quincy said...

Thank you for the suggestion. The link to Regime of Terror has been added above.