Monday, July 26, 2004

9/11 report outlines Iraq's contact with al Qaeda

9/11 report outlines Iraq's contact with al Qaeda - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - July 26, 2004: "9/11 report outlines Iraq's contact with al Qaeda

By Guy Taylor

The September 11 commission's final report features the most thorough account to date of a subject hotly debated since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003: the relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime.
Pulling from more than 2 million classified files and from interrogations of several detained terrorists, the report portrays a relationship spanning several years with contacts initiated at some points by Iraq and at others by al Qaeda.

But the commission ultimately concluded it had seen "no evidence" that the contacts "ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship." Nor was there evidence that "Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."
The key word in the final report's phrasing is "operational," which was omitted from an earlier report by the September 11 commission's staff that said the contacts had not developed into a "collaborative relationship."
Part of the Bush administration's argument for invading Iraq — particularly statements by Vice President Dick Cheney — centered on claims about strong ties between Saddam and al Qaeda.
Such claims are bolstered in some cases and weakened in others by the September 11 commission's 567-page final report, Chapter 2 of which offers the following conclusions:
c There is "evidence" that in 1997, bin Laden "sent out a number of feelers to the Iraqi regime, offering some cooperation. None are reported to have received a significant response. According to one report, Saddam Hussein's efforts at this time to rebuild relations with the Saudis and other Middle Eastern regimes led him to stay clear of bin Laden."
c In mid-1998, the situation reversed, with Iraq reportedly taking the initiative. "In March 1998, after bin Laden's public fatwa against the United States, two al Qaeda members reportedly went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi intelligence. In July, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with bin Laden. Sources reported that one, or perhaps both, of these meetings was apparently arranged through bin Laden's Egyptian deputy, [Ayman al] Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis."
c Similar meetings "may have occurred in 1999. ... According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered bin Laden a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Laden declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicated some common themes in both sides' hatred of the United States."
In addition to the "collaboration" matter, significant debate has swirled around the issue of whether Mohamed Atta, who piloted one of the hijacked jets that slammed into the World Trade Center on September 11, had met with an Iraqi official in Prague in April 2001.
In its report, the September 11 commission said Atta "is known to have been in Prague on two occasions" — once for a single night in December 1994, and once for a single night in June 2000. But, the commission cited FBI evidence placing Atta in Florida when the 2001 meeting is said to have occurred.
Meanwhile, the report appears to suggest that in the days after September 11, some in the Bush administration were eager to find ways to politicize the attacks into a basis for invading Iraq. According to the report, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told the commission that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz had argued at the time "that Iraq was ultimately the source of the terrorist problem and should therefore be attacked."
The report offers a direct quote of what Mr. Powell told the commission: "Paul was always of the view that Iraq was a problem that had to be dealt with. ... And he saw this as one way of using this event as a way to deal with the Iraq problem."
President Bush did not give Mr. Wolfowitz's argument "much weight," Mr. Powell told the commission, adding that although the president continued to "worry about Iraq" in the following week, he ultimately "saw Afghanistan as the priority." "

Aljazeera.Net - Iran warns Israel of retaliation if attacked

Aljazeera.Net - Iran warns Israel of retaliation if attacked: "Iran warns Israel of retaliation if attacked

Monday 26 July 2004, 23:12 Makka Time, 20:12 GMT

Iran has reacted to Israeli threats by vowing resistance. Iran responds to regional and Israeli threats of attack by vowing to wipe Israel "off the face of the earth" if it attacks the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities.

"The United States is showing off by threatening to use its wild dog, Israel," the public relations head of the Revolutionary Guards, Commander Seyed Masood Jazayeri, was quoted as saying by the Iranian student news agency ISNA.

"They will not hesitate to strike Iran if they are capable of it. However, their threats to attack Iran's nuclear facilities cannot be realised. They are aware Tehran's reaction will be so harsh that Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth and US interests will be easily damaged," he warned.

The commander asserted that Iran would not initiate a conflict, but in retaliation to any attack has proved itself to be "harsh, assertive, hard-hitting and destructive."

Iran's bid to generate nuclear power is seen by Israel and the US as a cover for nuclear weapons development, allegations that Iran denies."

People's Participation Counteracts Assault Against Islamic Revolution: EC Chairman Rafsanjani

Description of Selected News: "People's Participation Counteracts Assault Against Islamic Revolution: EC Chairman

TEHRAN (IRNA) -- Chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani here Monday said that people's participation in the current affairs will counteract assault against the Islamic Revolution.

According to a report released by EC Public Relations Department, speaking at a gathering of Tehran Friday prayers headquarters on the anniversary of the Friday prayers sermon in Tehran, he referred to the threats of the world arrogant powers against Iran's government and nation as baseless.

"Since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, such threats have been underway. However, the reliance of the ruling system and the people on the God Almighty poses a serious obstacle on the way of enemies and prevents them from achieving their goals.

"The world public opinion's despise of the U.S. aggressive anti-Islamic policies, particularly public opinion in the world of Islam, indicates the fallacy of the thinking trend prevailing in the US administration," he added.

The EC chief noted that the U.S. attempt to impress the Muslims' morale and beliefs have always been doomed to fail. He further said that the Americans face great obstacles for implementation of their colonial and expansionist plots in the Islamic countries.

Turning to Friday prayers congregation as a gathering for exchange of information and establishing ties between the government officials and the people, he said that in Shi'ite jurisprudence special focus has been placed on the political and social aspects of the prayer sermon.

Rafsanjani underlined that given the pivotal role of the Friday prayers under the current conditions, the world of Islam should give special focus to the issue.

In the meeting, head of the Friday Prayers Headquarters, Javad Maqs’di, presented a report on the process of holding the prayer sermons in the post-revolution era and briefed EC chairman on the measures taken to the effect."