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Fat Steve's Archives

| Friday, November 04, 2005

Iraq and Terrorism -- some articles

From the New York Post.

Beginning of archived material:



        February 7, 2003 -- FOR most of the millions of people who listened to Colin Powell Wednesday, the new news had to do with a Jordanian by the name of Abu Mossab Al Zarqawi, whom the secretary of state identified as a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime.

        Wounded in the fighting in Afghanistan, Zarqawi made his way to Baghdad for medical treatment, and spent at least two months in Saddam's capital.  Anyone who understands the tight security and paranoid surveillance that exists in Baghdad will immediately acknowledge that Zarqawi could not have been treated so well without high-level approval.

        But the Zarqawi story is even more important than that.  This case helps us understand how the terrorist universe functions, and hence the true dimensions of the war against terrorism.  And it is all the more significant because the bulk of the information comes from Germany, hardly an enthusiastic participant in that war.

        Last year, the German authorities rolled up a nasty group of Palestinian terrorists known as El Tawhid.  Through a combination of lucky breaks (one of the members of the group quickly broke down and provided abundant evidence against the others) and good police work (telephone intercepts, bugs and basic surveillance) the Germans learned a great deal about the group: They were planning a series of terrorist acts, ranging from assassinations to bombings, against a variety of targets (Jews, Americans, even German military installations).

        The evidence led directly to the group's supreme leader, the now celebrated Abu Mossab Al Zarqawi.  The German investigation showed much more than a link to Iraq, because there were numerous communications between the terrorists in Germany and Zarqawi . . . in Tehran, Iran.

        And just as it is impossible to believe that Zarqawi received medical treatment in Iraq without approval at the highest levels of Saddam's regime, it is impossible to believe that Zarqawi maintained operational links to his terrorist followers in Germany from Tehran without approval at the highest levels of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

        The Palestinian terrorist group was thus actively supported by two of the three charter members of the Axis of Evil, which should not surprise us.  We have been so obsessed with Iraq, and with al Qaeda, that there is a tendency to lose sight of the ongoing cooperation between the terror countries and the terrorist groups.

        We are at war with several countries (above all, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia) and many terrorist groups (from Hezbollah to Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Jama'a Islamiyah etc.), and the lines between them are often very fuzzy.  For a man like Zarqawi, it mattered little if he were in Baghdad or Tehran, because each regime offered him safe haven, good communications, and whatever support he required.  In like manner, terrorists originally recruited by Al Qaeda are often serviced by cells under the control of Islamic Jihad or Hizbollah.

        The best way to understand what we're fighting against is to think of the mafia as portrayed in "The Godfather." Under normal circumstances, the mafia families fight among one another for spoils, turf and control of territory.  But when the Feds come after them, the heads of the five families sit down and design a war strategy that imposes full cooperation and mutual support.

        So it is with the terrorists: They are in war mode, and they give each other all the help they can - and their godfathers in Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus and Riyadh provide what is required.

        We will learn a lot more about Zarqawi in the near future.  The German press will run with this story for many days.  We will do well to focus on the broader picture, so that we will wage the war against terrorism as effectively as possible.

        In that broader picture, the liberation of Iraq is only a single battle, not the war itself.  If we deprive the terrorists of Iraqi support, they will spend more time in the other havens, counting on the assistance of the remaining terror masters.

        We're certainly making progress when one of the most reluctant of our allies is the source of such devastating intelligence.  I think the Germans were profoundly upset to discover that the Palestinian terrorists - supported by an Iranian regime for which the Germans had long been one of the leading apologists - were targeting good Germans for death.

        Now we have to make them pay for targeting us.

Michael Ledeen, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "The War Against the Terror Masters."
Originally from here, but link dead; copied from here:

U.S. seeks al Qaeda link to Iraq

By Rowan Scarborough


        The Pentagon is collecting evidence of "linkage" between Osama bin Laden‘s al Qaeda organization and other international terror groups to bolster its case for attacking Iraq as part of the war on terrorism, Bush administration officials say.

        The Pentagon set up a secret unit shortly after September 11 to scan years of highly classified intelligence reports to find links between groups supported by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and bin Laden‘s al Qaeda network.

        The project officers are also examining whether Iraqi business fronts for the country‘s intelligence service have ties to bin Laden.  Sources say the CIA has electronically transferred intelligence data on various groups to the Pentagon.

        Opponents of striking Iraq say there is no evidence linking Saddam to the September 11 attacks on America.  Thus, the United States would be hard-pressed to justify an assault to oust Saddam in the same way it removed the Taliban in Afghanistan, say critics, including some European allies.

        But if the Pentagon project can find operational links between terror groups, proponents of attacking Iraq could cite the need to remove a regime such as Saddam‘s as part of the president‘s goal to destroy al Qaeda.  The bin Laden-led group is blamed for the September 11 hijacked-airliner attacks that killed more than 3,000 people.

        Officials said the Pentagon investigation of "linkage" already is turning up ties between radical groups in the Middle East who are supported by Saddam and al Qaeda operatives.

        But the study itself is stirring debate inside the administration because it goes against the intelligence community‘s long-held contention that most terror groups work independently of each other.

        Said one administration official, "There is a looming battle between the Pentagon and State and CIA over the issue of how elaborate the linkages are among terrorist organization and between terror organizations and states."

        The purpose of the Pentagon project is not just to compile a report, one administration official said, but also to "improve the intelligence we have and the analysis we have on these networks."

        Defense sources say CIA Director George J. Tenet and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell are opposed to immediate military action against Saddam.  Mr. Tenet is said to want a year or more to foment a coup in Baghdad or in some other way destabilize the hard-line regime.

        Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is widely reported to be the administration‘s leading hawk when it comes to ousting Saddam and ushering in a more moderate government.  He and other Pentagon officials are said to argue that the United States cannot totally win the war on terrorism if it leaves Saddam in power.

        Saddam is known to possess chemical and biological weapons, and has moved his nuclear-weapons development facilities deeper underground to escape U.S. bombings.  The Pentagon officials believe that these weapons eventually will be used against the United States, possibly through terrorist surrogates.

        Iraq is one of seven countries designated by the U.S. State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism.  But its annual report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism — 2000," does not list al Qaeda as one of the groups Baghdad supports.

        The report says Iraq "continued to provide safe haven and support to a variety of Palestinian rejectionist groups" — an apparent reference to such terror groups as Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad." The report also notes Saddam plotted to assassinate former President Bush during a 1993 trip to Kuwait.

        One administration source said the Pentagon study "is trying to show that Iraq interacts with al Qaeda.  The connections may be more run through business fronts than through the government.  Iraqi intelligence runs a lot of business fronts."

        The official added: "You just have to look at the way al Qaeda has developed over the years, even before the 11th.  It is well organized and has had state sponsors through Afghanistan and Pakistan through the ISI."

        The ISI is Pakistan‘s Inter-Service Intelligence agency.  It helped put the Taliban in power in 1996 and is believed to have aided al Qaeda.  In fact, the State Department‘s report on terrorism suggested that Pakistan could become the eighth country designated as a state sponsor.

        Since the report was issued and al Qaeda struck America, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, sharply reversed course under intense U.S. pressure.

        A growing number of lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, say the administration must dispose of Saddam before he develops nuclear weapons.

        President Bush has hinted that he will go to war with Baghdad if it persists in refusing to allow independent weapons inspectors back inside the country.

        "Next up: Baghdad," Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, told sailors on the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is launching warplanes in the Afghanistan campaign.

        Senior Bush administration officials have suggested recently that they want to clear out al Qaeda cells and allied terror groups in other countries before making a decision on attacking Iraq.

Originally from here, link dead, but on my hard drive:

October 16, 2002
Israeli expert cites Iraq, Al Qaida links

By DAVID RUDGE rudge@jpost.co.il

        There is a definite link between al-Qaida and the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, according to Prof. Amatzia Baram, of the University of Haifa's Department of Middle East History, an expert on Iraqi affairs.

        "I can prove that there is very close ideological affinity and political cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaida," he said.

        "I cannot prove that this has overflowed into operational cooperation, although my gut feeling says this is the case, and also that Saddam Hussein probably knew beforehand about the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington."

        Baram gave testimony to this effect to a congressional subcommittee on national security in Washington last month. He also said that Saddam could give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist organizations for use against the US or Israel, provided nothing could be traced to Iraq and that he trusted the groups concerned.

        "We can trace this link to al-Qaida back at least to 1998, when bin Laden was certainly alive, and he issued a religious edict warning against any attacks on Iraq, which seemed like it was written in Baghdad and not the hills of Afghanistan," Baram said.

        "In addition, there have been the recent al-Qaida communiques broadcast via al-Jazeera stating that the attacks against US marines in Kuwait and the French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen were warnings of the severe retaliation in the event of an assault on Saddam's regime. These alone are clear indications of political cooperation."

        Baram, who recently returned from visits to America and Britain, spoke to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, prior to a conference on the regional and global dangers of Saddam's regime, organized by the university's National Security Studies Center.

        He said a US-led assault on Iraq seems unavoidable, with or without the support of the UN and the international community, with only the timing remaining uncertain. Baram maintained that the upcoming month-long Muslim festival of Ramadan will not be a major consideration in the calculations of the US administration.

        The prospects of a non-conventional Iraqi attack on Israel in response to a US-led assault on Saddam's regime are much higher than in 1991, he said. There is also the possibility of chemical and biological terrorism by Palestinian or other groups linked to Iraq.

        "There is a very real possibility, because it has happened in the past, that Saddam Hussein will do his utmost to persuade Palestinian groups, or at least members of his own movement in the Palestinian camp, to carry out a mega-attack against Israel," he said.

        "In his mind, if it were successful and hundreds or even thousands of Israelis were killed and wounded, it would drive Israel mad and bring about a massive retaliation against the Palestinians.

        "This is what Saddam would want because he believes quite rightly in my opinion that such Israeli action would create an international outcry from the Europeans, the Russians, and the Arab world, which would force the US to stop its action against Iraq.

        "Saddam is certainly prepared to fight to the last drop of Palestinian blood. I include in this mega-attack scenario the possibility of terrorists using chemical or biological weapons. The one consolation is that so far the Israeli security forces have not uncovered any evidence that something like this is being prepared."

        There is also the possibility of Hizbullah launching attacks from Lebanon to try to disrupt US military action against Iraq, although Baram feels the organization and the Syrians, who control Lebanon, are acutely aware of the likely consequences.

Originally here, also available here.

Who is Osama bin Laden?

Osama bin Laden has been identified as the man behind the terror attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11.  But exactly who is this man?

        BIN LADEN was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1957.  His parents were from the Middle East nation of Yemen, and were very wealthy.  His dad was in construction in Saudi Arabia, and had close ties to the Saudi royal family.  Bin Laden studied civil engineering in college, and many thought he would join his family’s construction business.

        But in 1979, bin Laden left Saudi Arabia to fight in Afghanistan.  He fought on the side of the mujaheddin, which were right-wing Islamic troops who fought against the Soviet invasion and puppet government.

        The mujaheddin was backed by a number of countries, including the United States.  In fact, some experts believe that bin Laden received some training from the CIA.

        He quickly became a leader in the movement, and enlisted the help of Islamic soldiers from all over the Arab world to fight alongside the Afghans.  Near the end of the struggle, he formed a group called Al-Qa’eda, which means “The Base.”

        After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, bin Laden returned home to Saudi Arabia to work in his family business.  He considered Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein an ally until Hussein threatened to invade Saudi Arabia.  But, his associates claim, he was even more upset when U.S. troops were sent to Saudi soil to fight Hussein.  In 1991, the Saudi government kicked him out of the country.

        He moved to the central African nation of Sudan, where U.S. officials say he began his terror network.  During his time there, American officials believe he was involved in helping with a 1992 hotel bombing in Yemen, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, a 1995 assassination attempt on the president of Egypt, and the 1996 bombing of a U.S. barracks in Saudi Arabia.

        Throughout the 1990s, bin Laden has made many statements, called “fatwahs,” against the United States.  In 1998, he said Muslim people should kill Americans, be they military or civilians.

        Bin Laden was kicked out of Sudan later in 1996, and went back to Afghanistan, where the Taliban rebels had taken control.  From there, officials believe he had a hand in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole while it was docked in Yemen.  He is a prime suspect in the attacks on Washington and New York on Sept. 11, 2001 - the worst terror attacks ever on U.S. soil.

        In its Ten Most Wanted list, the FBI says that bin Laden is about 6-feet, 4-inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds - he’s a tall, skinny guy who walks with a cane.  They offer a $5 million reward for information that leads to his arrest.
A Winds of War Special Feature, by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis

        Over the last six months, claims of a tie between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime have centered around an infamous Jordanian national named Ahmed al-Khalayeh, who operates under the nom de guerre of Abu Musab Zarqawi.  Yet some European and even American intelligence sources question the designation of him as an al-Qaeda operative, instead citing Zarqawi as the leader of an independent terrorist organization called al-Tawhid.  The issue of Zarqawi's affiliation is a crucial one, as it goes to the heart of the recent debate over whether or not the Bush administration fabricated a link between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime in order to justify its case for war.

        This analysis will endeavor to show readers who Zarqawi is, what he's been up to, and his critical importance to the post-Afghanistan al-Qaeda network....

        To begin with, after 9/11 Zarqawi was not listed as one of al-Qaeda's top leaders unlike such notables as Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, or Mohammed Atef.  Indeed, after reading several books devoted to the organization, only one, Rohan Gunaratna's Inside Al-Qaeda contains even a mention of Zarqawi in a list of half a dozen other senior operations chiefs still at large.

        As a result of his relative anonymity, it would have been easy to overlook Zarqawi's terrorist activities prior to 9/11.  He first appeared on the intelligence radar as an al-Qaeda leader during the Millennium Plot, in which he has been named in absentia as a conspirator under his real name.  In the aftermath of the plot, he traveled to Afghanistan and assumed command of an al-Qaeda training camps near the Afghan city of Herat which oversaw the training and indoctrination of both Jordanian and Palestinian recruits for the organization.  While al-Qaeda maintained numerous training camps in Afghanistan, Zarqawi's presence at the camps near Herat is particularly concerning because this is exactly where the group was said to have established a nuclear laboratory focused on creating a radiological dispersal weapon during the late 1990s.

        During Operation Enduring Freedom, Zarqawi fled to Iran with other top al-Qaeda leaders, where he was harbored by members of the IRGC.  From Iran, he oversaw the operation of an al-Qaeda affiliate organization called al-Tawhid, an al-Qaeda affiliate that has a Eurasian reach extending into Germany, Karachaevo-Cherkessia (a Russian autonomous republic that borders Georgia), Jordan, Syria, and the Palestinian expatriate community.

        Zarqawi left Iran in May 2002 for Iraq and while the Newsweek article cited above statements that he was expelled, Michael Ledeen attributes a far more sinister motivation behind the actions of the Iranians, citing a ferrying of al-Qaeda operatives in Iranian to Hezbollah's Bekaa Valley or Ein al-Hilweh.  The ample evidence of al-Qaeda fighters arriving in Lebanon, in my opinion, would seem to support Ledeen's view in this regard.

        While in Iraq, Zarqawi evidently ordered the assassination of US diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman.  It is interesting to note that one of the two killers working for Zarqawi was a known Libyan extremists, as this could indicate a tie between Zarqawi and al-Jamaa al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi Libya, al-Qaeda's Libyan affiliate - yet another sign of just how high up he is within the organization.  US Secretary of State Collin Powell summarized Zarqawi's activities in Iraq during his February 2003 speech to the United Nations.  Zarqawi's deputy Moammar Ahmad Yussef, evidently oversaw the killing from Syria but was subsequently detained either in Syria or Turkey, thereby providing the US with critical information regarding al-Qaeda's ties with the Iraqi regime.

        In any event, Zarqawi evidently did a lot of traveling, going from Iran to Baghdad to northern Iraq to Lebanon to Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, where he appears to have laid the groundwork for al-Qaeda's thwarted chemical weapons plots in Europe between December 2002 and February 2003.  These attacks, which appear to have been primarily orchestrated by the organization's robust Algerian expatriate wing that I noted in a previous special analysis.  For the purposes of the plots in Europe, Zarqawi apparently worked closely with Abu Khabab, the head of al-Qaeda's WMD program, which was on the verge of chemical and biological arms production.  Other Zarqawi associates identified by US intelligence include Abu Taisir, Abu Ashraf, Abu Atiya, and Abu Hafs, all of whom are still at large.

        The attacks in Europe, had they succeeded, would have likely killed hundreds of European civilians and my own personal inclination is that they constituted an attempt by the organization to carry out mass casualty attacks in Europe in order to deter US military actions with Iraq, further radicalize Muslim expatriate populations in Europe, and possibly convince the European governments that interference in al-Qaeda's activities in the Middle East was not worth the lives of their citizens.  And according to the State Department's 2002 Report on Global Terrorism, Zarqawi also sought to attack US and Russian targets as well.

        At some point before Operation Iraqi Freedom began, Zarqawi fled to Iran, where he remains to this day.  Most recently, he ordered the attack on Jewish and Spanish targets in Morocco.

        The bottom line is that Zarqawi is clearly a rising star within the al-Qaeda hierarchy and has planned mass casualty terrorist attacks on three continents.  So long as he continues to operate freely he will continue to target Western, Jewish, and moderate Arab governments.  Claims that he only maintains a peripheral relationship with al-Qaeda, such as those made by an anonymous source in this Washington Post story simply do not square with the information available to the public, which demonstrate a robust relationship between Zarqawi and the global al-Qaeda network.
Originally here, link dead, on my hard drive

Attacks In Iraq Traced to Network
Resistance to U.S. Is Loosely Organized
By Daniel Williams
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, June 22, 2003; Page A01

        FALLUJAH, Iraq, June 21 -- Groups of armed fighters from the Baath Party and security agencies of ousted president Saddam Hussein have organized a loose network called the Return with the aim of driving U.S. forces out of the country, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.  The officials said the group is partially responsible for the string of fatal attacks on American soldiers in recent weeks.

        The intensified resistance has been reinforced by the participation of foreign fighters coming into Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, the civilian administrator of Iraq, told reporters at a conference in Jordan today.  "We do see signs of outside involvement in a number of ways," he said.  Bremer said that "we so far don't see signs of command and control in these attacks," adding that it appears largely to be small groups of five to 10 people.

        According to the officials, the Return, or Awdah in Arabic, has been assembled by Iraqis who possessed funds, weapons, transportation, listening devices and informants at the end of the war.  The Iraqis retained the equipment provided to them by Hussein's government.  Although the hierarchical structure of Hussein's security and political agencies has been broken, the relationships among secret police, intelligence officials and Baathists endure, the Iraqi and U.S. officials said.

        The mounting U.S. casualty toll and the sophistication of recent ambushes have deepened fears among U.S. officials that the military is facing a guerrilla war.  The center of the resistance is a crescent of central Iraq dominated by Sunni Muslims, a minority who were the key base of support for Hussein's government and his repressive security apparatus.

        In this Sunni town, a caldron of anti-American hostility, Awdah members are under the surveillance of U.S. forces and Iraqi informers, officials here said.  Intermediaries from Awdah and pro-Hussein families in the area have succeeded in making contact with other anti-American forces in the region, they added.

        "The Return is one of the facets of resistance.  It is mainly former security forces.  They come in and shoot an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] and race out of town before we can get a shot off," said Capt. John Ives, from the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division.  "It's harder for us to identify them.  People in Fallujah don't know who they are."

        "The Return is operating here," said Taha Bedaiwi Alwani, the U.S.-supported mayor of Fallujah.  "They are people who had power under the old regime.  They have the weapons to cause trouble.  They dream of coming back."

        Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of 4th Infantry Division, recently identified the Return as one of the groups organizing attacks against U.S. troops.  The others were the Snake Party and the New Return.  But he called the assaults on U.S. troops "militarily insignificant."

        Although the name Return implies the restoration of Hussein's rule, some Iraqis and U.S. officials speculate that organizers of the group are interested in bringing back the autocratic system without the former leader.  Some of the group's funding comes from wealthy families in the Sunni belt.  One former Iraqi general, who asked that his name not be used, said that sponsors were paying the equivalent of $1,000 for new recruits and $3,000 to members who bring in other candidates.  "They only want trained people," the former general said.  "They don't love Saddam.  The idea is to kick out the Americans and get back in charge."

        "We detect a trend in trying to make less attacks but do them more effectively to make a bigger impact," said a U.S. military intelligence specialist.  "It's very secretive.  They move from town to town.  Still, their skill is not so great.  But they try hard."

        As an example, the soldier pointed to an attack Thursday night on U.S. soldiers guarding a pair of electrical transformers in Fallujah.  The rocket-propelled grenade missed the Bradley Fighting Vehicle out front but destroyed one of the transformers.

        Routing "Baathist remnants," the name U.S. officials generically apply to the armed opposition, is a key goal of the ongoing Operation Desert Scorpion.  For a week, thousands of troops have raided Baghdad, Tikrit, Fallujah, Ramadi, Baqubah, Thuluya and other towns in central Iraq on the hunt for arms, intelligence and money.  Today, troops from the 1st Armored Division raided a community center in Baghdad and found documents labeled "top secret" and "personal."  The Associated Press reported that the soldiers found documents related to Iraq's nuclear program.  An officer on the scene was quoted as saying the find was "potentially significant."

        U.S. troops also raided the Baghdad offices of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution and hauled away three Iraqis, documents and computers.  The council is an Iran-based Shiite Muslim group that was part of a sextet of opposition organizations that had been endorsed by the Bush administration.  But U.S. officials and the group have fallen out over its persistent criticism of the U.S. occupation.

        Bremer has also warned Iran against fomenting "paramilitary" activities in the Shiite Muslim south.

        The raid preceded a small Shiite demonstration in Baghdad in which a few hundred protesters chanted, "We want to form a national government."

        U.S. officers and Iraqi officials say that Muslim organizations, arms smugglers and other common criminals, and Iraqis seeking revenge for the deaths of kin at the hands of Americans are also involved in attacks against U.S. forces.

        In Fallujah, Iraqi officials say that Wahhabbis, members of the same sect that produced Osama bin Laden, have been trying to organize operations against the U.S. forces.  Members of the underground Muslim Brotherhood, possibly backed by Islamic radicals in Jordan, have also appeared in Fallujah.

        U.S. officials pinpointed one mosque in Fallujah as a source of anti-American rhetoric and gunfire.  The Muadithi Mosque was the scene of a shootout in which U.S. soldiers said they were fired on, killing a bystander on the street who was fixing his car nearby.  Hamed Faleh Khalaf, an assistant to the mosque's imam, denied today that anyone had fired from the premises.  He did, however, unload invective on the Americans.  "The U.S. Army did not come to free Iraq, but to invade Iraq and take oil and everything valuable," he said.

Staff reporter Glenn Kessler in Jordan contributed to this report.

{But compare with this}

Saddam loyalists ally with Islamists

By Paul Martin

    BAGHDAD — A shadowy group of Saddam Hussein loyalists calling itself al Awda, meaning "the Return," is forming an alliance with Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda for a full-scale uprising against the U.S.-led occupation in mid-July.

        The information comes from leaflets circulating in Baghdad, as well as a series of extended interviews with a former official in Saddam's security services who held the rank of brigadier general.
        Al Awda is aiming for a spectacular attack and uprising on or about July 17 to mark the anniversary of the Ba'athist revolution in 1968, the former general said.

        The Islamists have indicated they are willing to join forces to battle the Americans, even though they dislike Saddam and his secular Ba'ath Party ideology.

        A leaflet by Jaish Mohammed, one of two Islamist groups operating in Iraq, said it was willing to work with the Ba'athists despite Saddam's repression of Islamic fundamentalism.

        The leaflet, obtained by The Washington Times, makes a direct appeal for former intelligence officers, security personnel, Fedayeen Saddam members, Republican Guard troops and Ba'ath Party members to join forces.

        "The first act will be spectacular, possibly smashing an oil refinery near Baghdad," said the former general, who has been urged by al Awda to join the leadership of the planned anticoalition front.

        The former officer said the effort goes well beyond the sporadic shootings in the past three weeks that have left at least 10 Americans dead.
        Al Awda is well-financed, he said.It uses money stashed away by Saddam and his supporters well before the coalition's invasion, and its funds are enhanced by bank robberies and the removal of huge quantities of cash from the central bank early in the conflict.

        The former officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he had agreed to join al Awda, though still may avoid full commitment, because "otherwise they'll come tomorrow and throw hand grenades into my house and at my wife and kids."
        Among al Awda's membership were a considerable number of former Iraqi commandos and well-trained soldiers, who now had no jobs or prospects of employment, the informant said.

        "The coalition pushed them into the Ba'athists' arms by disbanding the whole army and security services.

        "That left these men with despair and hatred and so easy pickings for Ba'athists with money and propaganda," he said.

        He claimed that his own growing contempt for the American occupation led him a week and a half ago to shoot a U.S. solider through the neck using a Russian-made sniper rifle.

        He said he was the third-best sniper in the armed forces in his younger days and that he believed the American solider died.

        Less-experienced fighters are being trained in guerrilla-warfare skills and assaults using abandoned buildings and remote locations, the informant said.

        "At first, they were offering between $500 and $600 to anyone killing an American.  Now it's up to 1 million dinars [more than $700]," he told The Times.

        Copies of a handwritten, signed letter purported to have been composed by Saddam urging an uprising were scattered in several Baghdad neighborhoods yesterday.

        The two main Sunni Muslim Islamist groups are Jaish Mohammed, or "Mohammed's Army," in the north, which began operating in Jordan even before the war, and Islamic Jihad in the west.

        Each has similar commitment to the hard-line Wahhabi philosophy, originating in Saudi Arabia, that places them within the al Qaeda sphere.
        One band from Jaish Mohammed was eliminated by U.S. troops through combined helicopter and land action, killing about 70 in an encampment on the Euphrates River last week.

        From the camp, soldiers captured handwritten pages from lined notebooks showing diagrams to make bombs and grenades.  The papers, seen by The Times, bear the slogan "Either victory or martyrdom."

        They state that C-4 should be "mixed with RDX, half put into a can of [gasoline], and close it carefully."  C-4 and RDX are plastic explosives.

        For grenades, the instructions say, "Place nails inside to have a bigger explosive effect, and strongly tighten the lid."

        Other scraps of paper urged fighters to change their names.

        "Get ready to take action. ... You have to seize the chance to gain intelligence," it advised, and elsewhere added the warning "Beware of traitors and hypocrites."

        That the Ba'athist al Awda has been wooing the Islamists in recent days is evident from some of the Islamic terminology it is using.

        It is referring in its underground leaflets to al Awda fighters as mujahideen, a term used for Muslim rebels in Afghanistan and in other conflict zones.

        The al Awda propaganda is venomously anti-Western.

        "Teach your children to hate all foreigners," and "all foreigners are enemies," said leaflets distributed in Fallujah and other Ba'athist strongholds.

        The Islamic groups have been spreading an even more vicious form of propaganda.

        In attempting to demonize the coalition, its adherents have been calling L. Paul Bremer, the chief administrator, "Bremer Hussein" and using the slogan "One dictator goes, another dictator comes."

        In a recent sermon in a Fallujah mosque that was packed with adherents and broadcast by loudspeakers to many more outside, a preacher demanded, "Fight the Americans.  Don't deal with them.  Don't shake hands with them.  They are dirty."

        The preacher added that Mr. Bremer was encouraging Jews to return and reclaim their houses, and any Arab businessman helping this process should be killed.

        In Baghdad yesterday, a 12-year-old schoolboy asked his father if all Americans — as he had been told — were carriers of AIDS.

        He said adults had told him this was evident from blood seemingly coming out of the ear of a female U.S. soldier who had visited the school.

        A Western reporter saw a recent gathering at which men in Western garb sat in rows of white plastic chairs alongside others in white robes — another apparent sign that Ba'athists and Islamists were holding joint meetings.

        The reporter was unable to hear what was said at the meeting, which took place in the yard of a home near Baghdad airport.

        Both parties are portraying the uprising as a chance to regain the wealth of the country, its oil fields, from the American invaders.

        They also are exploiting widespread resentment at U.S. forces' raids on private homes, where doors have been kicked in and women's rooms entered, and this week's stringent stop-and-search policy at roadblocks.

        Few weapons have been found in these operations, locals say.  So far, the uprising plans have been confined to Sunni Muslims and Ba'athist sympathizers.

        "If they can persuade the Shi'ite Muslims to join in, the Americans will not be able to survive two months," said the former general.

        The Shi'ites, who make up about 60 percent of the Iraqi population and have been treated the worst of all segments under the old regime, remain on the sidelines, he said.

        "They are also resentful, but their masters have told them to wait — so far," the former general said.
(Originally here, copied from here)

All Nuclear and Biological Roads Lead to Iraq's Hussein

by Khidhir Hamza
Los Angeles Times
December 9, 2001

        Long before Osama bin Laden got to be No.  1 on the FBI's most wanted list, Saddam Hussein was employing top scientists and developing not only his much-talked-about nuclear program but biological and chemical weapons as well.

        I know because I spent two decades as a senior official in Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission.

        Iraq tried every way possible to obtain nuclear weapons technology.  That it did not succeed at the onset of the Gulf War in possessing a single weapon or device speaks volumes about the availability of equipment and materials.  Despite the scare stories about Soviet nuclear bombs for sale on the black market, the fact remains that the Soviet Union had sophisticated security that is still intact and monitored.  All the reported incidents of theft or smuggling were of small or insignificant amounts of nuclear materials, mostly not weapons grade.

        Materials and literature about nuclear weapons found in Al Qaeda's Afghan hide-outs confirms our understanding of the problems faced by terrorists.  Regardless of his wealth and determination, Bin Laden's nuclear quest seems to be a rudimentary program carried out mostly by amateurs.

        But this does not mean that terrorists can't develop radiation or germ warfare weapons.  With a small core of scientists and engineers, the South Africans have made weapons relatively inexpensively that can produce explosions equivalent to the bomb used on Hiroshima.

Death and Damage

        A terrorist would have more modest objectives.  The radiation and contamination associated with the explosion of a weapon of less than one kiloton could cause tremendous death and damage and would be a nightmare to decontaminate and clean up.

        This brings many possibilities into play, including simpler but less-efficient designs and the possibility of assembling a weapon by smuggling in parts.

        Many stories are carried in the media about suitcase bombs, which actually are the more sophisticated version of this.  A terrorist might find it easier to bring in components and assemble a nuclear weapon inside the U.S. than to bring in a whole bomb in a suitcase.

        As we found through our purchasing networks in Iraq, almost any component for a nuclear weapon can be bought on the black market.  The most difficult item to obtain was the actual nuclear fissile material needed for the bomb core.  Bomb-grade uranium is easily transportable because it has little radioactivity.  If a terrorist could get just 100 pounds of the stuff, then putting together a simple gun-type bomb or device would be possible with minimal expertise and no need for the advanced explosives and triggering mechanisms.  I don't think bomb-grade uranium is available for purchase outside Russia, which means it is essential that the U.S. continue to support Russia's program for controlling nuclear materials.

        The radioactive materials available in spent reactor fuel rods are good candidates for radiation weapons.  But a large number would be required.  They leak, and they create a radiation hazard to those nearby.  Leakage also makes them easily detectable.  The U.S. has stopped processing spent fuel rods, but several U.S. storage areas are used as repositories.  If a terrorist could get some rods, then all he would need would be any available explosive, such as TNT, and he would have a radiation weapon.

        Then there is the scariest possibility of all: Iraq has the capability to produce biological agents, including anthrax, in large quantities--not just raw anthrax in liquid form, which almost anybody can prepare, but in a powder that is effective as a terrorist tool.  Whether Hussein was involved in providing the spores and powder that hit Congress, the Postal Service and other people and institutions is irrelevant; it's his capability to do it that should concern us.

        Iraq's germ warfare program was perfected during its war with Iran in the 1980s.  Little known outside scientific circles is the fact that Hussein even experimented on humans, starting around 1985 with anthrax.  Cholera was developed as a weapon as well and employed in experiments on villagers in the Kurdish north.  Iraq's germ warfare equipment and stocks were supposedly destroyed under the direction of U.N.  inspectors after Desert Storm.  But Hussein managed to hide quite a bit of it, as well as the biologists who worked on the weapons.

        German intelligence estimates that Iraq will produce three atomic weapons by 2005.  Reports of terrorists trying to get their hands on crop-dusters also point to Iraq.  Even before Desert Storm, Hussein's scientists had modified crop-dusters for spraying biowarfare agents.  They also had fitted a fighter plane with a spray tank.

Terrorist Camps

        After Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War in 1991, terrorist training camps proliferated all over the country.  One was right next to my ranch, 30 miles north of Baghdad on a branch of the Tigris River.  The rural setting was ideal for such a facility.  There were other camps, I learned later, which were even more remote, reachable only by helicopter.  The buildings were so rudimentary that from the air they looked like Bedouin encampments.

        I got to know one of the commandos who knew of my high rank in the government and had become friendly with my sons.  In a relaxed mood one day, he told me that the training included the use of gas masks and special protective clothing, an unmistakable hint that biowar was in the curriculum.

        Another reason to worry about Iraq: It has a huge underground network of spies and purchasing agents abroad.  Bin Laden's agents reportedly were in contact with the network, which could provide them with both the material and expertise to unleash biological attacks on the West.

        The bottom line is that, taking into account Hussein's vicious nature, his humiliation over the past 10 years and his declared intent to avenge his defeat in Desert Storm, he is perhaps the only national leader with both the means and the motive to help Bin Laden attack the United States.  The U.S. government should urgently consider ways to push Hussein out of power.  If we wait much longer, it may be too late.
Originally here, now dead but on my hard drive:

        Through an unusual set of circumstances, I have been given documentary evidence of the names and positions of the 600 closest people in Iraq to Saddam Hussein, as well as his ongoing relationship with Osama bin Laden.

        I am looking at the document as I write this story from my hotel room overlooking the Tigris River in Baghdad.

        One of the lawyers with whom I have been working for the past five weeks had come to me and asked me whether a list of the 600 people closest to Saddam Hussein would be of any value now to the Americans.

        I said, yes, of course.  He said that the list contained not only the names of the 55 "deck of cards" players who have already been revealed, but also 550 others.

        When I began questioning him about the list, how he obtained it and what else it showed, he asked would it be of interest to the Americans to know that Saddam had an ongoing relationship with Osama bin Laden.

        I said yes, the Americans have, so far as I am aware, have never been able to prove that relationship, but the president and others have said that they believe it exists.  He said, "Well, judge, there is no doubt it exists, and I will bring you the proof tomorrow."

        So today he brought me the proof, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is right.

        The document shows that an Iraqi intelligence officer, Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, assigned to the Iraq embassy in Pakistan, is "responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group."

        The document shows that it was written over the signature of Uday Saddam Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein.  The story of how the document came about is as follows.

        Saddam gave Uday authority to control all press and media outlets in Iraq.  Uday was the publisher of the Babylon Daily Political Newspaper.

        On the front page of the paper's four-page edition for Nov. 14, 2002, there was a picture of Osama bin Laden speaking, next to which was a picture of Saddam and his "Revolutionary Council," together with stories about Israeli tanks attacking a group of Palestinians.

        On the back page was a story headlined "List of Honor." In a box below the headline was "A list of men we publish for the public." The lead sentence refers to a list of "regime persons" with their names and positions.

        The list has 600 names and titles in three columns.  It contains, for example, the names of the important officials who are members of Saddam's family, such as Uday, and then other high officials, including the 55 American "deck of cards" Iraqi officials, some of whom have been apprehended.

        Halfway down the middle column is written: "Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, intelligence officer responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group at the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan." (For more about the list, see accompanying article on this page.)

        The lawyer who brought the newspaper to me, Samir, and another lawyer with whom I have been working, Zuhair, translated the Arabic words and described what had happened in Baghdad the day it was published.

        Samir bought his paper at a newsstand at around 8 a.m. Within two hours, the Iraqi intelligence officers were going by every newsstand in Baghdad and confiscating the papers.  They also went to the home of every person who they were told received a paper that day and confiscated it.

        The other lawyer, Zuhair, who was the counsel for the Arab League in Baghdad, did not receive delivery of his paper that day.  He called his vendor, who told him that there would be no paper that day, a singular occurrence he could not explain.

        For the next 10 days, the paper was not published at all.  Samir's newspaper was not confiscated and he retained it because it contained this interesting "Honor Roll of 600" of the people closest to the regime.

        The only explanation for this strange set of events, according to the Iraqi lawyers, is that Uday, an impulsive and somewhat unbalanced individual, decided to publish this honor roll at a time when the regime was under worldwide verbal attack in the press, especially by us.  It would, he thought, make them more loyal and supportive of the regime.

        His father was furious, knowing that it revealed information about his supporters that should remain secret.

        For example, at the same time this was published, Saddam was denying that he had any relationship with Osama.  Therefore Saddam had all the papers confiscated, and he ordered that publication of the paper be stopped for 10 days.

        That is the story of the "Honor Roll of 600," and why I believe that President Bush was right when he alleged that Saddam was in cahoots with Osama and was coordinating activities with him.

        It does not prove that they engaged together in any particular act of terror against the United States.

        But it seems to me to be strong proof that the two were in contact and conspiring to perform terrorist acts.

        Up until this time, I have been skeptical about these claims.  Now I have changed my mind.  There is, however, one big problem remaining: They are both still at large and the combined forces of the free world have been unable to find them.

        Until we find and capture them, they will remain a threat — Saddam with the remnants of his army and supporters in combination with the worldwide terrorist organization of Osama bin Laden.
End of archived material.

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        And always remember Steve's words of political wisdom:


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