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Saddam and Osama, Alliance for Vengeance

(January 29, 2002) The September 11 attacks in the United States was carried out by operatives of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaida organization, but the initial plans for the terrorist attack were made in Baghdad six years ago.

Iraqi intelligence trained at least two of bin Laden's suicide pilots on Boeing jetliners the Iraqis captured during the Gulf war. The Iraqis provided several of bin Laden's men with forged passports and vials of anthrax, which were delivered to one of the suicide pilots, Mohammad Atta, during secret meetings in Prague.

Although the religious extremist and the extreme nationalist are polar opposites politically, international terrorist Osama bin Laden and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein long ago set aside their differences to meet a common goal. The tragic events of September 11 mark only the first phase in their joint effort to enact revenge on their many common enemies in both the Western and the Islamic worlds.

Mohammad Atta and His Iraqi Handlers
Al-Qaida terrorist Mohammad Atta, who hijacked and piloted American Airlines flight 11 into the World Trade Center in September, met often with Iraqi intelligence officers. He met at least twice with Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, a known Iraqi intelligence officer who worked in the Iraqi Embassy in Prague under diplomatic cover. Atta went to Prague from Hamburg by bus on June 2, 2000, to meet with al-Ani. The next day Atta left for the United States, where he enrolled in a flight school in Florida. Atta then returned to Prague in April 2001 to once again meet with al-Ani. In April, 2001 Czech authorities forced al-Ani to leave the country for "activities incompatible with his diplomatic status," a euphemism for espionage. (1, 2, 3)

Atta's connection to the Iraqis predates those meetings by at least a year, when he and fellow hijacker Marwav Jussuf al-Shehhi roomed together in Hamburg, Germany. Czech authorities say that Atta is believed to have also met with Farouq Hijazi in the spring of 2001. Hijazi is Iraq's ambassador to Turkey and a former general in the intelligence service. Hijazi is Saddam Hussein's personal liaison with bin Laden and is reportedly the man who as early as 1995 came up with the plan to destroy the World Trade Center with hijacked airliners. (4, 5, 6)

Among the items given to Atta by the Iraqi officers was a packet of documents that included at least one forged passport. German investigators believe that Atta also received at least one vial of anthrax. Atta is believed to have taken that anthrax with him to the United States. He reportedly gave it to other members of the Al-Qaida network to use in the ongoing terrorist campaign to distribute the deadly substance through the U.S. mail system. (7)

Anthrax Marked With Iraqi Signature
Various samples of the anthrax that were found in Washington contain traces of silicia and bentonite, substances that were added to anthrax spores to help keep the tiny particles separated and floating in the air so that their intended victims can more easily inhale them. Former United Nations biological arms inspector Timothy Trevan says that Iraqi scientists routinely used bentonite to enhance the effectiveness of their anthrax weapons. The anthrax that has shown up in the United States is of the Ames-type strain, samples of which were provided to Iraq for use in developing antidotes to anthrax bacteria, which often affect cattle. (1)

A growing amount of evidence shows that Iraq intelligence may have played a key role in the bin Laden organization's September 11 terror attacks and in the spread of anthrax in the United States. Evidence connecting the two organizations has been published in the world press for at least six years. (1, 8)

Saddam and Osama: A Long History
Former Iraqi official Ahmed Allawi, now a leader of the Iraqi National Council, said in 1999, "There is a long history of contacts between the Mukhabarat (Iraqi secret service) and Osama bin Laden." Allawi said then that the alliance between Al-Qaida and Iraqi intelligence developed over the years. (8)

Saddam Hussein, by far a devout Muslim, actively and aggressively courted Osama bin Laden. This was not an easy task, as Saddam Hussein has murdered thousands of Iraqis who shared bin Laden's goal of establishing governments based on his version of the Islamic Shari'a legal codes. The Iraqi leader, however, was able to lure bin Laden by offering him access to specialized training and weaponry that Al-Qaida could not acquire themselves. That training includes using captured Kuwaiti Boeing 707 airliners to practice hijacking techniques, and the weaponry includes significant amounts of at least one biological warfare toxin: anthrax. (9, 10, 11)

August Terrorist Convention in Baghdad
On August 19 Saddam Hussein opened his fifth annual conference of resistance organizations in Baghdad. The guests of honor represented some of the most notorious and violent terrorist groups. Among with Iraq's top intelligence officers during the three days of speeches and meetings were representatives from Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Hamas, the radical Egyptian Gamaa al-Islamiya and Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaida organization. In the audience were more than 100 known terrorists from groups as distant and as diverse as Somalia, the Philippines and Bangladesh. (12)

Amidst chants of "Down with America" and "Down with Israel," Saddam told the gathering of urban guerrillas, assassins, hijackers and bomb-makers that their time of vengeance was close at hand. Three weeks later, 19 members of bin Laden's Al-Qaida hijacked four American airliners to launch the suicide attacks that took the lives of thousands of people in New York alone. Of that number, many were foreign nationals from 80 countries. Ten were French citizens. Many more died at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. (12, 20)

The Alliance of Vengeance
Baghdad is a second home to many of the world's leading terrorist groups. Carlos the Jackal, Abu Nidal and other infamous terrorists of the 1970s and 1980s found refuge and financial support in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. During the 1990-1991 Gulf war, Iraq recruited, supported, funded, armed and trained numerous radical Palestinian and Arab terrorist organizations. Saddam openly encouraged them to commit acts of violence against the nations of the allied coalition that opposed him. (12)

Many of the key leaders of those groups were former "Afghan Arabs," volunteers from the Muslim world who, like Osama bin Laden, had fought against the Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan. After the Gulf war, many of those terrorists who were based in Iraq sought sanctuary in the only country that remained allied to Saddam during that conflict: Sudan. Bin Laden also found refuge in Sudan, which remained his base and a magnet for his fellow "Afghan Arabs" until 1996. Iraqi intelligence officers frequently met with Afghan Arabs and Sudanese government leaders in Sudan in the early 1990s. It was there that Iraqi intelligence and what would become the Al-Qaida first learned of each other's capabilities. (12)

Ramzi Youssef, the First Link Between Bin Laden and Saddam
Ramzi Youssef, the terrorist leader who planned the 1993 truck bomb attack on the World Trade Center in New York, was trained in Iraq. After the 1993 bombing failed to bring down the twin towers, he fled to Manila, where he lived in secret with Mohamed Jamal Khalifia, the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden. Khalifia transferred money from Osama bin Laden to Ramzi Youssef, who in turn taught bomb making to the Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebel group, a group bin Laden still trys to support financially. (9, 13, 14)

Youssef planned two major operations while in Manila. One was to assassinate the pope during his visit to the Philippines in 1995. The second was to simultaneously blow up 12 American passenger jets at the turn of the millennium. A routine investigation of an accidental fire at his apartment led to the discovery of these plans by Philippine security forces. Youssef fled to Pakistan, where he was later arrested and extradited to stand trial in the United States. Khalifia simply disappeared and is believed to have found refuge with his brother-in-law in Afghanistan. (13, 14)

World Trade Center Attack Planned in Iraq in 1995
Made aware of bin Laden by Ramzi Youssef and impressed by bin Laden's attacks against local and particularly American targets in Saudi Arabia, in 1995 Saddam Hussein sent two of his top intelligence officers to make contact with the bin Laden organization. Farouq Hijazi, then a brigadier general in the General Intelligence Directorate, and Habib Ma'muri, chief of special operations for the directorate, met with representatives of bin Laden's organization at Salman Pak, home of Iraq's special weapons research division. Hijazi already knew bin Laden. They had met in 1994 during one of Hijazi's numerous visits to Sudan. (6, 8)

According to former officers who have since defected from Iraq and joined the anti-Saddam Iraqi National Congress, these two intelligence officers discussed plans with bin Laden's lieutenants on how to improve on and finish the plan of attack made by Ramzi Youssef to bring down the World Trade Center. An official at the Iraqi National Congress told reporters in late October that it was at this meeting that Hijazi and Ma'muri came up with the idea of hijacking jetliners and turning them into flying bombs. (6)

Saddam Invites Bin Laden to Baghdad
Iraqi intelligence worked hard to develop close ties with bin Laden and his operatives. Saddam Hussein's interest in meeting with him reportedly became a priority following the bombing of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998. In 1998 General Hijazi was appointed ambassador to Turkey. In his role as a diplomat, the former intelligence director was able to travel more freely abroad. One of his first trips was to Afghanistan, where he met with bin Laden. The general conveyed a personal message from Saddam Hussein inviting bin Laden to Baghdad. (6, 12)

Bin Laden was seen in Baghdad's al-Rashid Hotel in December 1998. International lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano, who was in Baghdad at the time to negotiate a contract to represent Iraqi Airlines in Italy and Yugoslavia, met and talked with bin Laden. Western and regional intelligence officers, as well as Iraqi exiles, confirm that bin Laden met with Saddam, who reportedly offered to grant bin Laden a base and asylum in Iraq. Bin Laden, however, already firmly established in Afghanistan, where his money and armed followers had made him an important figure in the regime, declined. Bin Laden did agree to send men to Iraq to receive "special" training. (9, 15)

Former General Hijazi became Saddam Hussein's official liaison with bin Laden shortly after his visit to Afghanistan in 1998. He facilitated the movement of about 60 of bin Laden's followers to Iraq for special training. That unit became the core cadre of the Jund al-Islam, or "Soldiers of Islam." It has been built up to about 500 men and is led by Amir Abdullah al-Shafi'i, an Egyptian (or Syrian) who was one of bin Laden's "Afghan Arabs." Most of Jund al-Islam's recruits are mercenaries. Many are members of renegade Kurdish groups Iraq has created as a counterpoint to the larger Kurdish guerrilla forces that oppose the Baghdad regime. (9)

Captured Boeings Used by Iraq to Train Bin Laden Hijackers
Bin Laden's men are among a selected group of terrorists who were trained by the Iraqis to hijack and dismantle the warning systems aboard jetliners. The Iraqi military captured several Boeing 707 jetliners from Kuwaiti Airlines in the Gulf war and took them back to Iraq. The planes are now located at the intelligence service training center at Salman Pak. Although the planes have been grounded ever since, they have provided the Iraqi intelligence service with an excellent classroom to give hijackers "hands-on" training with such planes and, more important, to help make pilots familiar with the operating systems in the cockpits of Boeing airliners. (11, 16)

Boeing manufactured both of the planes that were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center towers on September 11. Those 757 and 767 Boeings were newer and larger models than the 707s taken from Kuwait, airline industry officials say the basic layout is very much the same. (11, 16)

Iraqis Train Al-Qaida Suicide Squads to Handle Bio-weapons
Several of the terrorist training camps Iraq set up just prior to and during the Gulf war have been reopened. Others like al-Habaniya and al-Safar were never shut down. At least 6,000 recruits from both major and minor terrorist organizations are currently undergoing some form of martial instruction in Iraq. The recruits receive training in communications, explosives, small arms and a variety of sophisticated techniques, ranging from how to use eavesdropping and surveillance equipment to the handling of chemical and biological weapons. (12)

The Jund al-Islam trains at the camps, along with other groups belonging to the Al-Qaida organization. In January 2001, Arab-language newspapers in London reported that one of bin Laden's chief lieutenants, Abu Khabab al-Masri, had created a special cell to study the use of biological, chemical and radioactive materials. "Suicide elements" of this cell, the Arab-language newspaper reported, "trained in the use of mustard and sarin gas and the anthrax virus." That training, the newspaper reported, was carried out in Iraq. (9, 10)

"I Created Death" for Saddam
An Iraqi scientist who says "I created death for Saddam" recently escaped from Iraq and fled to Europe. In September 2001 he told a London newspaper, "Over the past six months 3,000 physicists and chemists have been working flat out on secret programs to develop both toxins and the means to deploy them to lethal effect." The defector, who used the pseudonym Doctor al-Sabri to protect his family from reprisals, says Iraq has rebuilt much of its former capability to create weapons of mass destruction. (17)

Al-Sabri says that Professor Shaher Mahmoud al-Jibouri heads up the testing division of the chemical and biological warfare department. The professor is also a member of the intelligence service. Al-Sabri claims that in earlier in 2001 at least 30 prisoners died in experiments the professor conducted to test the lethality of the latest batch of biological weapons being made in Iraq. (17) Considering that Saddam has already used chemical weapons against his own people, killing thousands of unarmed citizens in northern Iraq, Al-Sabri's information seems to confirm what we already know of Saddam.

Iraq Rebuilding Anthrax, Other Biological Weapons Stockpiles
Iraq began research on creating chemical and biological weapons in 1973. United Nations arms inspectors report that by the time of the outbreak of the Gulf war in 1990, Iraq had amassed more than 40,000 chemical weapons. Among them were at least 50 bombs and five to ten missile warheads filled with anthrax. Another 8,425 liters of liquid anthrax was in storage awaiting "weaponization" into a powdery form. (17, 18, 19)

Richard Spertzel is intimately acquainted with Iraqi chemical and biological weapons programs. He was one of the last members of the United Nations Special Commission to be expelled from Iraq in 1998. Spertzel told reporters on October 28, 2001 that during the U.N.'s last two years in Iraq the commission was unable to investigate the suspected rebirth of the Iraqi programs to research and create anthrax and other biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. (12)

Although all of the known stocks and laboratories at Muthana and al-Hakam were destroyed in the aftermath of the war, United Nations officials say they cannot be certain that they completely eliminated Iraq's anthrax stockpiles, let alone Iraq's ability to create new stocks of weapons-grade anthrax. (17, 18, 19)
Khadim Anwar

Sources: 1. ABCnews.com, 10/29/01
2. Daily Telegraph (London) 10/27/01 (Prague confirms hijack leader met Iraqi agent)
3. Boston Globe, 10/25/01 (The Iraqi Factor)
4. Die Welt (Berlin) 9/19/01 (Frankfurt Seen As Hub of Bin-Laden's German Network)
5. Observer (London) 10/14/01 (Iraq 'behind US anthrax outbreaks')
6. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 10/19/01 (INC Says Iraqi Ambassador Linked to WTC Attack Tactic)
7. AFP (Berlin) 10/25/01 (German Newspaper: Suspected Hijacker May Have Transported Anthrax)
8. Iraq News, 2/10/99 (Osama Bin Laden and Iraq)
9. Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, 9/19/01 (Iraq Kurdish Opposition Site on Bin-Laden's Plan to Target Iraqi Kurdistan)
10. Al-Hawadith (London) 1/26/01 (Report Views Bin-Laden's Operations, Counter-Terrorism Efforts)
11. Wall Street Journal (New York) 10/29/01 (Anthrax: The Elephant in the Room)
12. Daily Telegraph (London) 10/28/01 (Every day, the case mounts against Saddam)
13. Far Eastern Economic Review, 9/27/01 (The Coming War: Danger Within)
14. Far Eastern Economic Review, 9/27/01 (The Coming War: Thwarted Plots)
15. Independent (London) 10/14/01 (The suicide bomber and the Baghdad conspiracy)
16. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 10/01 ('Well-Trained' Pilots Left Little to Chance)
17. Sunday Telegraph (London) 9/30/01 (Defecting Physicist Claims Iraq Building Chemical, Biological Arsenal)
18. Guardian (London) 10/15/01 (Iraq stockpiled anthrax in run-up to Gulf war)
19. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 10/19/01 (Iraq's Anthrax Stockpile Highlighted)
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