Saturday, November 15, 2003

Shorter Feith Memo

Joel Swadesh takes a closer look:

I have generated the following simplified treatment of the Standard article.  A few things in it can be debunked instantly.  Others are questionable.  The only named source denies that contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq lasted into 2000. 

Others allegations, I don't know.  I do think that Senator Carl Levin and other members of the intelligence committee have seen them and don't regard them as strong evidence of anything.  My feeling is this is a try to baffle 'em with BS on the part of Feith, but I don't have any inside knowledge. 

I'll try to track down further info.  I think this is an important story, maybe titled "The Neocon Empire Strikes Back"

Regards, Joel

_____________________Synopsis of Weekly Standard on Feith Allegations____

1.  Defector alleges that Sudanese strongman Hassan Al Turabi arranged a swap: Iraq would provide training and instructors if Al Qaeda would provide proscribed weapons.  This was confirmed by a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, who said that  Faruq Hijazi of Iraq Intelligence met Ayman al Zawahiri.  Al Qaida traveled to Baghdad.  Al Turabi is said to be "a leader of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated National Islamic front." 

2.  In 1993, Osama bin laden agreed not to carry forward any anti-Saddam activities.  This is contained in U.S. court documents from the trial related to the bombing of the African embassies. 

3.  According to the FBI, in early 1995, Mahmdouh Mahmud Salim (a.k.a. Abu Hajer al-Iraqi) visited Iraq and had discussions with Iraqi intelligence.  According to the CIA, he was bin Laden's best friend.  He is now in a New York prison. 

4.  A source provided the dates on which bin Laden traveled to various cities and the names of who he met with.  Multiple sources state that Hassan al-Turabi and Ayman al-Zawahiri were at the center of bin Laden's circle in the early 1990s.

5.  A source stated that Osama bin Laden received explosives training from Iraqi expert Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed in Sept/Oct 1995 (at bin Laden's farm in Khartoum) and July 1996 with the Director of Iraq Intelligence Mani-abd-al-Rashi al-Tikriti.    Osama bin Laden asked assistance of Intelligence Director al-Tikriti in making false passports, letterbombs and barometric pressire bombs.  Al-Tikriti ordered explosives expert Salim Al-Ahmed to stay with bin Laden in Sudan.  The same source said Osama bin Laden visited Doha, Qatar, staying with a member of the ruling family on Jan 17-19, 1996.  He discussed bombing targets inside Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia's National Guard went on kingdom-wide alert on "learning" of this [from whom?]  He returned to meet with Iraqi Intelligence officer Hijazi and Sudanese strongman al-Turabi.  The bombing of the Khobar towers was on the anniversary of an attack on Iraqi Intelligence Headquarters. 

6.  A former senior Iraqi intelligence official said that in the late 1990s, Pakistan was contact point for Al Qaeda and Baghdad.  But bin Laden visited Baghdad in January, 1998 and met Tariq Aziz.  Another source said Ayman al-Zawahiri met with the Iraqi vice president on February 3rd, 1998 to arrange for camps headed by Abdul Aziz in Nasariya and in Iraqi Kurdistan.

7.  "According to documents unearthed in April 2003 in the Iraqi Intelligence headquarters by journalists Mitch Potter and Inigo Gilmore"  Iraqi intelligence wrote a memo detailing a coming meeting with a bin Laden representative in Baghdad.  The references to bin Laden were whited out with Liquid Paper.

8.  In 1998, bin Laden issued a fatwa on the plight of Iraq, stating that America has been occupying Islam's holiest places.  [JS: This allegation appears to be false.  But the US was not occupying Iraq.  It was "occupying"  Saudi Arabia.] 

9.  Immediately after America bombed Iraq in Operation Desert Fox (Dec 16-19, 1998), Iraqi intelligence officer Hijazi offered bin Laden safe haven in Iraq.  [JS:  This is a very peculiar statement.]  CIA reporting stated that an Iraqi delegation met with bin laden in Afghanistan in late 1998, that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri met wit two Iraqi intelligence officers in December 1998 and that an Iraqi intelligence officer went to Afghanistan in late 1998 to meet with Al Qaeda and Taliban head Mullah Omar.  Iraq intelligence officer Hijazi met with bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1999.  The contacts were so extensive and well-known that Newsweek ran an article titled "Saddam + Bin laden?"

10.  One Iraqi intelligence officer, Khalil Ibrahim Abdallah, "said that the last contact between the IIS and al Qaeda was in July 1999"  Unnamed sources contradict that.

11.  An Iraqi living in Malaysia, Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, "facilitated the arrival" of one of the 9/11 hijackers for an "operational meeting" in Kuala Lumpur in January 2000. Shakir worked at the airport.  One of the men at the meeting was  "Tawfiz al Atash, a top bin Laden lieutenant later identified as the mastermind of the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole."  The CIA says that "fragmentary evidence" links Iraq to the Cole bombing.   [American Spectator separately states that "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....{Shakir} 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 attack 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. "  And yet, despite all these allegations, he was detained by the Qataris and released and held by the Jordanians where he was interrogated by the CIA for three months-- and released]

12.  During a "custodial interview" [what does this mean?], a senior al Qaeda operative Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi said that he traveled to Iraq in 1998 to obtain poisons and gas training.  In December 2000, two al-Qaeda operatives traveled to Iraq to obtain training in chemical and biological weapons.  The CIA says this statement is consistent with reports that bin Laden requested such training from Saddam in 1998.

13.  [In a long-ago debunked charge], Mohammed Atta met with intelligence official Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani in Prague. Al Ani ordered Iraqi Intelligence to give Atta money.  The CIA claims that two meetings occurred, but two are in question.  "Five high-ranking members of the Czech government have publicly confirmed meetings between Atta and al Ani." [but Vaclav Havel himself has said it didn't happen, as did the FBI.] 

14.  An October 2002 "report" [by whom?]  said that Iraq and Al Qaeda reached an agreement whereby Iraq would provide safe haven.  They obtained Syrian and Iraqi passports [which we are supposed to infer were fraudulent.] 

15.  As stated by Colin Powell, al Qaeda "associate"  Abu Musab al Zarqawi had contacts with Iraqi Intelligence to obtain weapons and explosives, including surface-to-air missiles as well as a base in Iraq. A contact says that an Iraqi intelligence officer said that Iraqi Intelligence supplied weapons to Ansar al-Islam [which is Iranian-directed and then located in Kurdistan in an area outside Iraqi control]. "Pre-war intelligence" claims Iraqi intelligence gave Ansar al Islam $100,000.