It is easy to understand how Saddam’s military defeat in 1991 could lead to the attempted assassination on Ex-President Bush in 1993. This is in spite of the fact that the motivational trigger (the defeat) and the attempted assassination in 1993 were over a year and a half apart. Of course one of the chief reasons the connection to Saddam was so obvious was because Saddam used his own Iraqi Internal Security to make the attempt. But we should not ignore the motivational aspects of that event. Saddam’s reaction to his 1991 defeat was both very biblical and personal - an eye for an eye. And although this characteristic is not unique to Saddam, it provides us with a valuable blueprint to work with when making future estimates on his behavior - in other words, personal insight leads to expectations of future behavior. I cannot emphasize this next point enough. In this case, we learned that Saddam was completely unrestrained about his selection of high valued targets, and was willing to accept a fantastic amount of risk in order to satisfy his personal revenge. But in this particular case, the target was not destroyed. And a successful Dictator would not be quick to repeat errors associated with such a level of risk.
Although I believe that an unsuccessful attempt on an Ex-President’s life is, by itself, an act of war by the Iraqi government and reason enough for the United States to invade Iraq, I can understand how the geopolitical situation could lead to the decision to respond with something less than war and an invasion. I can also understand how the US President’s decision to mute his response could both lead to a continuation of assaults by Iraq on the United States, and prompt Saddam to gradually distance himself and his government from those future assaults by the use of more deniable intermediaries.
Subsequent to those events, we now know that both the operational head of the Iraqi Internal Security and his subordinate General Zawahiri, who specialized in training others on forging documents and making car bombs, visited Osama bin-Laden in the Sudan in 1994, 1995, and 1996.
In late 1997, Saddam started restricting the UN inspector’s access to parts of Iraq. After they withdrew in protest, they asked to be let back in. Saddam refused and this lead to a confrontation with the US. President Clinton asked Congress for its permission to invade Iraq, and received it. President Clinton then asked the UN Security Council for permission to invade Iraq. The Security Council gave their permission, provided that the US gave Kofi Annan four months to convince Saddam to let the inspectors return. President Clinton used that time to move naval forces into the area and build up an invasion force. At the end of the four months, Saddam relented and let the inspectors back in. President Clinton responded by withdrawing the invasion force. After the invasion force had been withdrawn, Saddam threw the inspectors out of Iraq. President Clinton could not possibly have interpreted Saddam’s actions as anything other than a calculated lie designed to embarrass Clinton politically in the eyes of the world. Personal embarrassment and mounting frustration; this is the stuff that motivational triggers are made of.
On February 18, 1998, President Clinton “vented his spleen” and ordered 451 cruise missiles fired at Iraq in retaliation for expelling the UN inspectors. One need not strain too hard in order to speculate why the President did not order the invasion force back to the boarder of Iraqi. Saddam would just let the inspectors back in, and kick them out again as soon as the invasion force was withdrawn. (Indeed, years later when President Bush ordered the invasion force back to the Iraqi boarder, Saddam promptly let the inspectors back in.) Well, 451 explosions raining down on Iraq – many within sight of hundreds of his impotent statues – must have been a challenging reminder of his military defeat in 1991. Yes, this is what motivational triggers are made of. The above timeline plots some of the known sequence of actions related to that violent incentive.
When the confrontation over the inspectors was coming to a head, an al-Qaeda leader (Zawahiri) arrived in Iraq and asked Saddam for permission to establish a training camp within Iraq. Saddam gave that al-Qaeda leader his permission and $300,000 on February 19, 1998, one day after Baghdad was bombed. Within six months, Saddam ordered his Internal Security Service to bomb the US radio station in Czechoslovakia; al-Qaeda bombed the US embassies in Africa; and high level Iraqi representatives were meeting with al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Years ago Saddam had made a decision about providing technical support to al-Qaeda shortly after his failed attempt on President Bush’s life. It is clear through Saddam’s actions that the bombing of Baghdad motivated him to significantly expand that relationship. But blowing up embassies does not fit Saddam’s character blueprint. Remember, he is completely unrestrained about his selection of high valued targets.
At this point one should take special note on the important evolution in Saddam’s “methods of engagements” at that time. In late August of 1998, President Clinton bombed both the Sudan and Afghanistan in retaliation for an al-Qaeda attack on the US embassies in Africa. Saddam must have been pleasantly surprised, and slightly puzzled, to have been omitted from the US response - especially after President Clinton justified the bombing of the Sudanese aspirin factory by accusing Iraq of helping al-Qaeda develop weapons of mass destruction. So Saddam must have realized that assisting al-Qaeda, even with direct assistance in the development of weapons of mass destruction, would precipitate no violent reaction by the US towards Iraq. What a critical observation that must have been in 1998! This confirmation of the limited nature of the US retaliatory policy explains why Saddam eventually stopped ordering his Internal Security case officers to personally bomb any more targets. By becoming al-Qaeda’s quiet facilitator, Iraq could strike back at the US with impunity.
This conclusion is supported by a number of facts:
- Lt. Colonel Ahmed Hikmat Shakir of Saddam’s Fedayeen acted as a coordinator at the 911 planning summit in Malaysia. His function was to identify certain individuals at the airport, transport them to the al-Qaeda 911 Summit, and act as Saddam’s representative at the Summit. Although he technically worked for the Malaysian airlines as a “greeter,” both his job and his work schedule was arranged by the Iraqi embassy. He was told to work on January 5, 2000 and pick up Khalid al Midhar (Flight 77, whose eventual target on 9/11 was the Pentagon). The 911 Summit lasted three days. The Iraqi Lt. Colonel, finished with his assignment, abandoned his “job” at the airlines, and left Malaysia on January 13, 2000.
There are those who challenge the identity of Shakir. No hard or even associated circumstantial evidence is offered in this challenge, other than the name Ahmed Hikmat Shakir is relatively common. No challenge is offered to the fact that the Iraqi embassy, not the airlines, ordered him to work that day; no challenge is made to the observation that the Iraqi agent got into the car with Khalid al Midhar instead of staying at his job; and no challenge is made that the Iraqi agent left Malaysia just four days after the end of the 911 Summit. The challenge to his identity is easily dismissed because the Iraqi embassy would need an agent with trusted al-Qaeda connections and history. The man would have to be very loyal to Saddam, yet trusted by al Qaeda. The name Ahmed Hikmat Shakir may in fact be common, but the qualifications that would be necessary to the job would not. In fact, the secretive nature of the task requires uniqueness.
The Qatar government identified and detained (for five weeks) Lt. Colonel Ahmed Hikmat Shakir of Saddam’s Fedayeen on September 17, 2001. A search of his pockets and apartment uncovered such things as contact information for two very senior al-Qaeda terrorists: Zahid Sheikh Mohammed, brother of September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; and Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, otherwise known as Abu Hajer al Iraqi, described by one top al Qaeda detainee as Osama bin Laden's "best friend."
But aside from mere contact information that directly linked al-Qaeda to Saddam, this Lt. Colonel also had in his possession operational details pertaining to a 1995 al Qaeda plot called Operation Bojinka (a plan to blow up a dozen commercial airliners over the Pacific). Even more intriguing, he had on his possession the phone number of the man who successfully escaped to Iraq after helping to mix the chemicals in the 1993 World Trade Center attack. But the real eye opener, was the fact that phone records clearly showed that Lt. Colonel Ahmed Hikmat Shakir’s safe house in Qatar had received a telephone call from the safe house that was known to have been used where the 1993 World Trade Center attack had been plotted. That’s two different and independent connections to the 1993 al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center; one operational connection to a 1995 al-Qaeda plot in the Pacific, and two direct links to senior al-Qaeda leaders connected with the 2001 al-Qaeda World Trade Center attack – all wrapped up in one Lt. Colonel in Saddam’s elite Fedayeen. This Lt. Colonel had precisely the type of connections that would prompt the Iraqi embassy to use him for a high level al-Qaeda Operational Summit. The claim that any “John-Doe-Ahmed” would have been allowed access to that Summit, much less act as Saddam’s representative via the Iraqi embassy, strains credulity.
- Five months after the 911 Summit was held (May 26/2000), the operational leader of the 911 attack, Mohammed Atta, applied for a VISA (BONN200005260024) to visit Prague, Czechoslovakia. Atta referred to himself on the VISA application as a “student.” Desperate to meet someone on May 30th 2000, Atta flew to Prague in spite of the fact that he had not yet received his VISA and knew he would not be allowed out of the control area of the Prague airport. He spent almost all of the next six hours at the airport outside of the view of any of the airport cameras. He then flew back to Germany, picked up his VISA, and then hopped on a bus and immediately returned to Prague. That same day, he returned to Germany.
There are those who challenge the significance of Atta’s very short but desperate visits to Prague. But thanks to Atta’s blunder of using his real name and the Czech counterintelligence service, we can now understand why al-Qaeda was so willing to allow an Iraqi Lt. Colonel to attend the 911 Summit. The Czechs discovered that Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani (the 2nd Secretary of the Iraq Embassy, holding full diplomatic immunity) ordered the Iraqi Intelligence Service finance officer to provide IIS funds to Mohammed Atta from IIS financial holdings from the Prague office. 15 days after Atta arrived in Florida, his bank account received an anonymous deposit of $100,000 through a money changer in the Emirate of Shirzah. This visit confirms that Saddam was both underwriting and coordinating the 911 attack using al-Qaeda operatives.
- Subsequent to the attack by al-Qaeda on the Spanish trains, the Spanish intelligence service discovered that Algerians Khaled Madani and Moussa Laouar provided false passports to Mohamed Atta and his associate Ramzi bin al-Shibh.
- On April 4, 2001, Atta checked out of his hotel and withdrew $8,000 in cash.
- On April 8, 2001, Atta was observed meeting the 2nd Secretary of the Iraq Embassy, al-Ani, on the outskirts of Prague.
Because of its five month proximity to the 911 attack and the high level Iraqi representative involved, many people have challenged the existence of this meeting. But since the relationship between al-Ani and Atta has already been established via the Czech VISA in Atta’s name and the corresponding order by al-Ani to give him $100,000 about eight months earlier, the significance of the April 8th meeting, with respect to its Iraqi-911 relationship, is reduced to merely confirming the relationship by repetition. Still, the erroneous challenges are worth looking at, if for no other reason than to explore why they exist.
A. The New York Times, Newsweek, and USA Today all related an FBI comment that they had documents that showed Atta had rented a car during the period he was supposedly in Prague. This comment has been refuted by both the FBI and later by the CIA director Tenet under oath in his Senate testimony on Feb 24, 2004. Also, Atta had no Florida drivers license and his international license was at his father’s home in Cairo, Egypt. It would have been impossible for Atta to have rented a car without a license. Try it sometime.
B. More recently, Newsweek claimed that Ahmad Chalabi "hyped a story" about a secret meeting in Prague between Muhammad Atta and a high-level Iraqi intelligence officer, al Ani. Newsweek then claimed that the CIA and FBI determined that the meeting had never taken place. This story has been refuted by Czech Counter-Intelligence Service, and later by the CIA director Tenet while under oath at Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 2002, and again at the Senate hearings on Feb 24, 2004. I think that it is worth noting that both the FBI and the CIA have stated publicly that there are no records in existence that could preclude Atta’s visit to Prague. In addition to that, there exists a background story that explains why the Czech Counter Intelligence Service has such a high degree of confidence in its identification of Atta on April 8th.
In December 1998, Jabir Salim, a 43-year-old Iraqi intelligence officer, serving as Iraq's consul in Prague, was compromised in a homosexual scandal. He defected, along with his family, to Britain. In his subsequent debriefings by MI6, he revealed that Baghdad had provided him with $150,000 to organize a car bomb attack on the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Liberty, the American facility in Prague that broadcast in Iraqi. When the British informed the Czech government of this bomb plot, it caused a furor over the Czech Counter-Intelligence Service paying too little attention to a dangerous Iraqi intelligence operation in Prague. Consequently, the head of the Czech Counter-Intelligence Service was fired. The new head of the Czech Counter-Intelligence Service was concerned about a resumption of the planned bomb attack on the American facility. There-after it became resolved to pay particular attention to any attempt to set-up a clandestine liaison in Prague with a foreign visitor outside of the Embassy compound, which would give the new Iraqi case officer a better chance to evade routine surveillance of Embassy visitors. In other words, the Czech Counter-Intelligence Service was more concerned with the sinister nature of meetings outside the embassy than inside. If this wasn’t reason enough to have attention focused on al-Ani’s activities outside the embassy, just prior to the April 8th meeting, al-Ani was spotted taking pictures of Radio Free Liberty. From the Czech Counter-Intelligence Service’s point of view, al-Ani couldn’t have personally done more to attract their attention to him if he stripped down naked and burned his clothes in front of the place. When the Czech Counter-Intelligence Service informed the Czech government about the April 8th meeting with al-Ani and Mohammed Atta, officials assumed (wrongly, as it turned out) that the suspicious liaison might concern another bombing attempt on Radio Free Liberty. The Czech government greatly increased police protection of the facility in Prague, and to emphasize how upset they were, ordered al-Ani expelled from Czechoslovakia. From 2001 through 2004, every time the New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post, or USA Today reported that the Czech government, the Czech Counter-Intelligence Service, the FBI, the CIA, or anyone else who has either stated or implied that the identification of Atta by the Czechs was in question, the Czech Counter-Intelligence Service would call a news conference and both refuted the story and re-confirm Atta’s identification. To further their point, they have stated they have “collected detailed evidence of the al-Ani/Atta meeting.” The identification of Atta could only have been made after 911 because he was using the false passport that was earlier made available to him. But the men who later provided that identification are professional Czech agents who, at a time, were highly alerted to a pending terrorist attack - and the man they later identified as Atta was their chief suspect.
C. It should be noted that the Czech Counter-Intelligence Service has provided all their information to the FBI, while the FBI has reciprocated with nothing. Not the names on the false passports, the phone records, itineraries – nothing. This, in combination with the erroneous stories that refuted Atta’s attendance at the April 8th meeting was originally leaked by someone in the FBI, should give us all pause.
- One last fact, that I am personally intrigued with, is that Shakir al-Khafaji and his wife Yasmin al-Khafaji each contributed $1,000 to anti-war Democratic Congressman Bonior on March 12, 2001 (a Monday). You might wonder why I take special note that this was a Monday. Because if this guy could have given his $2,000 on a Sunday, he would have managed to make his political contribution exactly six months to the day prior to 911. On the face of it, I first thought that this was just a coincidence. After all, this guy was an American citizen, not an agent working for Saddam – oops, it turns out that he was.
On April 19, 2004, the Wall Street Journal reported that Detroit businessman Shakir al-Khafaji admitted to the Financial Times that he received Oil for Food allocations from Saddam (and they are worth hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars). Mr. al-Khafaji also happened to be the person who hired former weapons inspector Scott Ritter to produce a pro-Saddam documentary.
Of course, one could argue that it could still be just a coincidence. Shakir made political contributions randomly throughout the last eleven years – oops, it turns out his contributions were anything but random.
Shakir made regular political contributions during both the Presidential and the congressional election seasons. Shakir only deviated twice from his regular pattern. Once, on November 8, 2000, the day after the vote when the Democrats needed all the extra help they could get in order to challenge the Florida vote tally. Shakir contributed an extra $5,000. The second time was on March 12, 2001, in probably the quietist period of the election off-season. It was only two and a half months after President Bush took Office. The race was over and it would be two years before the next election. But why would an agent working for Saddam give money now?
Could it be that the man who was facilitating and coordinating the biggest attack on the US since Pearl Harbor wanted to add a personal touch? The, “Kiss of death,” so-to-speak? Would a man who littered his country with hundreds of huge statues of himself in grandiose postures feel the need to make a “gesture?” If I were in charge of Homeland security, I would love to get my hands on Shakir’s home computer. The first thing I would look for is some indication he was instructed to make a political contribution on that specific day. But taken with everything else I’ve gone over here, I don’t need to see it. I’m convinced and I wouldn’t have written this article if I weren’t. But the reason the March 12th payment is so intriguing, is that it adds one more layer of confirmation to the Iraqi al-Qaeda relationship. It speaks of a knowledge about the day of the attack prior to the April 8th meeting between Atta and al-Ani. Which means Atta wasn’t going to Prague to inform Iraq about the date of the attack, Iraq was summoning Atta to tell him when they wanted him to do it.
Saddam expanded his direct assistance to al-Qaeda by an order of magnitude the day after President Clinton Bombed Baghdad. That change in policy is noted on the timeline (Page 1 above). Saddam’s direct actions are shown in red, al-Qaeda’s direct actions are shown in blue. Directly after Baghdad is bombed (Ir Bombed) Saddam gives $300,000 to al-Qaeda (Ir-AQ). That leads to a very supportive fatwa by bin Laden just three days later, and the bombing of the US embassies in Africa (AQ-Afr Bomb) about five months after that. If the bombings were meant as a demonstration to show Saddam what kind of results al-Qaeda could do with $300,000, the point must have been driven home. Within three months after the embassy bombings Saddam sent a series of high level people to attend meetings with bin Laden in both Afghanistan and Pakistan (Ir-Afg,Pak). Prior to these meetings Saddam had plans in the works to have his people carry out bombing attacks on US facilities (Ir-Cz Bomb and Ir-Defect). All such orders were subsequently rescinded. Al-Qaeda was much more capable of carrying out strikes against the US and their retaliatory policy prevented them from striking back anyone but al-Qaeda, even if weapons of mass destruction were involved.
About a year later, Saddam facilitated the 911 Summit in Malaysia (Ir-AQ 911 Summit). Within five months, Mohammed Atta is in Prague, and within two days the Iraqi embassy in Prague authorizes Mohammed Atta money. 15 days later, Mohammed Atta is in Florida with $100,000 anonymously deposited in his bank account (Ma,Visa, Ir$100K-Ma).
Nine months after the 911 Summit, the high ranking al-Qaeda officer who was at the summit blows up the USS Cole (AQ-Cole bomb).
In March 2001, Saddam orders Shakir al-Khafaji to make a contribution “gesture” on March 12, 2001 (Ir $2K-Dem).
Within three weeks, Mohammed Atta is ordered to visit his case officer in Prague to receive his final instructions. The case officer is immediately kicked out of Czechoslovakia by the Czech government (Ma-Ir, Ir Kicked out).
Exactly six months after the “gesture” and about five months after Mohammed Atta’s last trip to Prague, the Twin Towers were destroyed, the Pentagon was damaged, and an attempt was made on the President’s life (911).
Five days later, the Qatar security service informed us of about the Iraqi Lt. Colonel in their custody and his connections to al-Qaeda, Operation Bojinka, the first World Trade Center attack, and the second World Trade Center bombing.
The most critical moment in US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War was when President Clinton, through his actions, told the world that states who sponsor terrorists, even in the development of weapons of mass destruction, are exempt from retaliatory action. That’s when Al-Qaeda became “Saddam Incorporated”.
A January 21, 2003 article in USA In Review included the following about comments made by Hans Blix on January 16, 2003:
“Chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix recently said that Iraqi cooperation is lacking and thus far they have failed to meet their obligations under resolution 1441 to provide a full and accurate declaration of their weapons of mass destruction. This is a direct violation of resolution 1441 which states "false statements in the declaration" submitted by Iraq, "shall constitute a further breech of Iraq's obligations."
On January 16, in direct contradiction of Blix's statements made moments earlier, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister met with the Iraqi government UN representative and praised "the positive spirit of cooperation from Iraq" on the weapons inspections.
On January 17, the Russian oil company Lukoil "miraculously" announced that it had persuaded Baghdad to reverse the decision made on December 8th to cancel the contract with Lukoil to develop the West Qurna oil field.
Later that day, it was announced that Iraq and Russia had signed three new oil accords to explore and develop oil fields in southern and western Iraq.”
We now know that between the Oil for Food program that illegally distributed over $26 billion to select members of UN officials, their family members, government officials, reporters, religious organizations, political parties and businessmen throughout the world; and the contracts worth hundreds of billions of dollars worth of oil that Saddam was handing out to select governments, we now know that the UN Security Council had become totally corrupted and incapable of ordering an attack on Iraq.
At the same time, the 911 event made the US less tolerant of the risks associated with Saddam’s fixation on obtaining weapons of mass destruction, and his close relationship with the terrorists responsible for 911.
President Bush placed an army on Iraq’s border in order to get UNSCOM back in Iraq. He warned Saddam that if he didn’t comply with UN Resolution 1441he would invade. After four months of inspections, Hans Blix said they were not in full compliance. We went to war because of Saddam’s relationship with al-Qaeda and his abject refusal to give up both his obsession to obtain WMDs, and the long range missiles to deliver them.
The post war WMD inspector David Kay said that although no stockpiles of WMDs had been found, Saddam had violated the UN resolutions to the point where Iraq was actually MORE of a danger to the world than even the US thought it was. Four years earlier, when UNSCOM was expelled from Iraq, Iraq had hidden WMD programs but no established delivery system. Four years later, Saddam had chemical and advanced biologic WMD facilities that had the existing capability of producing tones of Anthrax in two weeks, Mustard gas in two months, and VX gas in six months. He also had several long range delivery system programs that were near completion.
But because Saddam had everything BUT “stockpiles” of WMD, the Iraq war has been successfully labeled by the US media as an unjustified mistake.
Many people argue that the war in Afghanistan was justified because it was al-Qaeda that attacked us, and the country of Afghanistan both protected and supported them. Many of those same people feel that our war in Iraq was not justified because Iraq had no Weapons of Mass Destruction and had no ties with the 911 attack by al-Qaeda.
Clear documentation connects Saddam to the 1993 attempted assassination of President Bush (Sr.), and the plot to kill several people associated with the Voice of Freedom in Prague – both US targets and both worthy of a declaration of war. Clear documentation also connects Saddam to the corruption of the UN leadership, world media, and a variety of world governments. Saddam neutralized opposition from the world community and was personally involved in murder on an international scale. The circumstantial evidence that I have presented to you can never be tested in a court of law. But I submit that the above evidence is entirely consistent with Saddam’s personality and mission, to attack the US at any cost.
Hopefully I have convinced the reader that Iraq was in violation of UN resolution 1441 (the justification for invasion); and that Saddam not only supported al-Qaeda, but also assisted their 911operations.