News

Iraq and Terrorism

Iraq News, NOVEMBER 24, 1999

By Laurie Mylroie

The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .



I. THE JERUSALEM REPORT, IRAQ AND TERRORISM, DEC 6

   The Jerusalem Post editors, today, chided Ehud Barak for his recent 
endorsement of Hillary Clinton's Senate bid, as well as for neglecting 
the US Congress.  Also, today, Moshe Zak, a veteran Israeli journalist 
and JPost columnist, wrote similarly.  
   Indeed, Americans are widely said to be tired of the slime and sleaze 
of the Clinton administration and are taking it out on Al Gore.  Hence, 
Gore is running away from Clinton, as the Wash Post, Nov 22, reported. 
   Most importantly, too enthusiastic and warm an embrace of the Clinton 
administration can have/probably does have nat'l security implications. 
It can/probably does inhibit the Israeli Gov't from recognizing the 
mendacity and irresponsibility with which the Clinton administration 
deals with nat'l security affairs, including matters that very much 
affect Israel's security. 

    The Jerusalem Report, Dec 6, interviewed "Iraq News" on terrorism.  
That is certainly one area where the Clinton administration's mendacity 
and irresponsibility has had serious effect.  As I told the Jerusalem 
Report, "New York law enforcement believed that Iraq was behind the 
[World Trade Center (WTC)] bombing. . . .  Clinton struck Iraqi 
Intelligence HQ on June 27, 1993.  He said publicly that the cruise 
missile attack was retaliation for Saddam's attempt to kill George Bush 
when he visited Kuwait in April.  But Clinton meant it for the WTC 
bombing as well.  The White House believed that the strike would take 
care of the problem."
   That was Clinton spin, way back then.  By hitting Iraq, and by not 
really telling the American public why, it avoided having to do more, as 
the public might well have demanded, if it had understood that NY law 
enforcement suspected Saddam Hussein had tried to topple NYC's tallest 
tower on to its twin. 
    Moreover, and predictably enough, more terrorism followed.   But 
then "the administration was even more inhibited about acknowledging 
those suspicions, as Americans had died because of the sly way it had 
dealt with the first bomb."

I. THE JERUSALEM REPORT, IRAQ AND TERRORISM 
The Jerusalem Report
December 6, 1999
By Isabel Kershner
Brief Encounter: Laurie Mylroie, expert on Iraq
Is Baghdad behind a series of unexplained disasters?
   EgyptAir flight 990 was the third plane in four years to crash on 
departing JFK airport.  Some put this down to bad luck and the precise 
reasons for the EgyptAir crash remained unclear at press time.  But 
Iraqi affairs expert Laurie Mylroie, publisher of the electronic 
newsletter Iraq News and a strong critic of U.S. policy on Iraq, 
believes Iraq may have had a role in several such recent incidents.
   The Washington-based Mylroie, author of "Study of Revenge," which 
investigates Iraq's involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, 
suggests that the U.S. is deliberately downplaying compelling evidence 
that Iraqi intelligence is working in concert with Muslim 
fundamentalists, helping them carry out far more devastating acts of 
terror than they would be capable of themselves.

Q: The Jerusalem Report: Where do you see Baghdad's fingerprints?
A: The most compelling cases involve Ramzi Yousef, a twice-convicted 
terrorist serving a life sentence in a "supermax" prison in Florence, 
Colorado for his role in the bombing of New York's World Trade Center 
and the bombing of a Philippines Airlines plane two years later-a test 
run for a plot to blow up 11 U.S. planes.
   In fact, New York law enforcement officials believed Iraq was behind 
the WTC bombing.  It occurred two years after the Gulf War, pretty much 
on the anniversary of the cease-fire.  There is an indicted fugitive, 
Abdul Rahman Yasin, an Iraqi who came from Baghdad and returned to 
Baghdad; there are two other Iraqis on the fringe of the conspiracy, one 
of whom the FBI wanted to arrest; and the bomb was very large.
   Yousef entered the U.S. on an Iraqi passport in his own name, but he 
fled the night of the bombing on a Pakistani passport in the name of 
Abdul Basit Karim.  There really was an Abdul Basit Karim.  The son of a 
Pakistani laborer, he was born and raised in Kuwait, and seems to have 
died during the Iraqi occupation.  The Kuwaiti Interior Ministry 
maintained a file on Karim that was tampered with in order to create an 
alternative identity for Yousef.  The fingerprint card of the real Karim 
was removed, and a new card was inserted bearing Yousef's fingerprints.

Q: This plot to blow up 11 planes-how far did it get?
A: Yousef did a test run of his liquid bombs on the Philippines Airlines 
plane.  He got a bomb onto the plane and it exploded, killing one and 
damaging the aircraft.  The pilot managed to make an emergency landing. 
The plot was discovered when a fire broke out in Yousef's Manila 
apartment while he was mixing the explosives.  He fled the apartment, 
leaving behind a computer.  The FBI found an address book and through a 
contact in it, U.S. authorities captured Yousef in Islamabad.
 
Q: Yousef hails from Baluchistan on the Iran-Pakistan border.  What 
would his motive be?
A: I think Yousef has no real ideology.  His ambition was to be the 
biggest terrorist around.  After his arrest, he boasted to U.S. 
authorities that he'd hoped to kill 250,000 in the World Trade Center 
bombing.  

Q: If there is an official Iraqi connection, why would the U.S. be 
keeping it quiet?
A: Clinton struck Iraqi Intelligence HQ on June 27, 1993.  He said 
publicly that the cruise missile attack was retaliation for Saddam's 
attempt to kill George Bush when he visited Kuwait in April.  But 
Clinton meant it for the WTC bombing as well.  The White House believed 
that the strike would take care of the problem.  
   Indeed it did not; even as we [a White House official and I] spoke, 
Yousef's second plot was underway.
   My guess as to why the administration did not subsequently 
acknowledge the suspicions about Iraq was that it knew what it had done 
was wrong.  It had an obligation to tell the U.S. public of the 
suspicions.  And when other bombs later went off, the administration was 
even more inhibited about acknowledging those suspicions, as Americans 
had died because of the sly way it had dealt with the first bomb.
   For example, regarding the November 13, 1995 bombing of the U.S. 
training mission in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi ambassador to Washington 
told me in early 1996: "Of course that was Iraq.  That was a 
professional bomb.  It was not built by a bunch of Saudis sitting in a 
tent in the middle of the desert."

Q: What other, as yet unexplained, incidents do you suspect might bear 
Iraqi fingerprints?
A: Among other things, Iraq is working with Muslim fundamentalists to 
erode the Gulf War coalition.  TWA 800 is suspicious.  It went down on 
Iraq's National Day, July 17.  The day before al-Hayat [the London based 
Arabic daily owned by Saudi Prince Khalid] received a faxed threat 
saying action would be taken shortly against the U.S.  The next morning, 
Saddam gave his most violent and angry speech since the Gulf War ended. 
That night, TWA flight 800 exploded in a fireball.  One has to wonder.  
U.S. authorities have determined that the central fuel tank exploded, 
but they haven't explained the source of the ignition.
   EgyptAir is also suspicious.  Egypt is a country with enemies that 
might target it, including Iraq.  However, it is early in the 
investigation.