IRAQ NEWS, MONDAY, AUGUST 2, 1999 I. WILLIAM COHEN, THE CBW TERRORISM DANGER, WASH POST, JUL 26 II. RED CROSS, EMBARGO HURTS IRAQI POPULATION, REUTERS, JUL 27 This, of course, is the middle of the eighth month without an UNSCOM/IAEA presence in Iraq, as the Wash Post's Fred Hiatt, Jul 25, noted, and not the seventh month, as "Iraq News" mistakenly counted. And today is the nineth anniversary of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Commenting on the Jul 19 Mother Jones' story on the Iraqi Six-- opposition members whom the INS had sought to deport on the basis of secret evidence--a knowledgeable reader remarked, "The Iraqi Six is a clear-cut case of CIA internal warfare. In this case it's an extension of the INC vs. INA situation. Steve Richter at DO/NE is rabidly anti-INC and the files that remain classified are INA HUMINT reporting on the Iraqi Six, and others, which portray them as infiltrated by the Mukhabarat. Unfortunately, the INA reports were written by Mukhabarat agents who infiltrated the INA for just that purpose, to fill the CIA's heads with dreams of a quick coup and to discredit the INC." The INS recently lost its third secret evidence case since April, when an Immigration Judge dismissed the charge that a Palestinian, Hany Khairaldin, was a threat to U.S. national security and ordered that he be freed and allowed to remain in the US [see "Iraq News, Feb 22]. In late Jun, five of the Iraqi six were released. And, as the NYT, Jul 31, reported, an Immigration Judge ruled that Nasser Ahmed, an Egyptian who had served as Sheikh Omar's legal assistant, was not a threat to national security; should be released; and should be granted asylum. The last may give some readers of "Iraq News" heartburn, but thought should be given to the possibility that the INS is going after the wrong people and their use of secret evidence exacerbates the problem. It makes it too easy for people to do sloppy work and then hide their mistakes. Immigration judges are not independent of the executive branch, as are judges in the criminal court system. Therefore, they are not inclined to rule against the Gov't lightly. So, "Iraq News" would like, once again, to clarify aspects of a major mistake that the Clinton administration made in its handling of the two 1993 NYC bombing conspiracies. That led to a basic misunderstanding about the nature of the terrorist threat-individuals/loose networks vs. terrorist states/known terrorist organizations. Also, a mistake was made by the Rabin/Peres Gov't that encouraged American Jewish organizations to focus on the danger from Muslim extremists--who threatened the peace process--blinding them to the threat from other sources, even as under some circumstances, the mistakes made then, in both the US and Israel, could leave the populations of both countries vulnerable to terrible acts of terrorism, including BW terrorism. On Feb 26, 1993, Iraqi intelligence carried out a false flag operation, using Muslim fundamentalists, to bomb NYC's tallest tower. [See Laurie Mylroie, "The World Trade Center Bomb: Who is Ramzi Yousef? And why it Matters," posted at: ] Up until Jul 92, NY FBI had used an Egyptian informant, Emad Salem, for intelligence gathering on the local fundamentalists, including those around El Sayyid Nosair, an Egyptian who shot and killed Meir Kahane in Nov 90 and who was convicted on lesser charges in Dec 91 and sent to Attica. Those who had supported Nosair in his trial visited him in prison. Salem, working for the FBI, was among them. Nosair wanted revenge. He urged his friends to carry out a pipe-bombing campaign against his enemies. Salem offered to make the bombs. And that turned an intelligence investigation into a criminal investigation. If the FBI became involved in making bombs, it would be for the purpose of arresting, trying, and convicting those involved. But Salem wouldn't cooperate-he refused to wear a body wire or testify in a trial-and he was dropped. The head of NY FBI counterintelligence then was Carson Dunbar, now being considered to head New Jersey State police. Some are holding the decision to drop Salem against him, as the NYT, Jul 30, reported. Oliver Revell, a retired FBI official who works with Steve Emerson, told the NYT, "In hindsight, it was obviously the wrong move to shut the investigation down. If we had continued that investigation, it would have led us to the sheik's people and it's possible we could have prevented the bombing." If NY FBI had continued the investigation, it does seem it could have prevented the World Trade Center [WTC] bombing. But those who carried it out are not properly described as "the sheik's people." Iraqi intelligence learned of Nosair's plot, probably through the calls of a conspirator, Mohammed Salameh, to his uncle, Kadri Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr had served 18 years in an Israeli prison for terrorism, before being released and making his way to Baghdad. There, in the summer of 1992, he worked in the PLO office. Probably, Salameh's calls to his uncle were monitored by Iraqi intelliegence. In Sept, after the FBI had dropped Salem, Ramzi Yousef appeared on the scene. Yousef changed the nature of the plot, carried out the bombing, and left the fundamentalists behind to be arrested. Indeed, Gov Exhibit 55119-E in the trial of Shaykh Omar et. al. is a statement made to the FBI by an individual identified as "NY 28214-CW-C." who had a minor role in the second NYC bombing conspiracy. On Dec 27/28, 1993 he told the FBI of his discussions with Mahmoud Abu Halima, an Egyptian, tried and convicted for his role in the World Trade Center bombing. GX 55119-E states, "Mahmoud advised NY 28214-CW-C in connection with the World Trade Center that the planned act was not as big as what subsequently occurred. Mahmoud informed that Ramzi Yousef showed up on the scene and brought a number of individuals together and escalated the initial plot. Mahmoud stated that Ramzi Yousef used himself and others involved with the Trade Center blast as pawns and then immediately after the blast left the country." An FBI report taken on Aug 12 94, from the same person said, "Mohammed Abu Halima told CW that Mohammed Salameh had dealt with Iraqi intelligence. This information came out during conversations CW had with Mohammed regarding Salameh." How did it come to be understood that Shaykh Omar Abdul Rahman was behind the WTC bomb? Following the bombing, New York FBI reconciled with Salem and used him to carry out an undercover operation, directed against the fundamentalists. A Sudanese immigrant, Siddiq Ali, took up the bait to make jihad. His first target was a Manhattan armory, but he had contacts with two intelligence agents who worked at Sudan's UN mission. And they switched the targets. The armory was dropped and the UN and Federal building were added, along with two NYC tunnels. When the FBI had the evidence it needed, above all video of the conspirators mixing what they thought was explosive material, it arrested them on Jun 24, 93. Two days later, the US hit Iraqi intelligence headquarters, saying that the strike was for the attempt to kill George Bush. With that, the White House believed it had taken care of the NYC bombing conspiracies as well [see "Iraq News," Mar 4]. During the second bombing conspiracy, the FBI tried to implicate Shaykh Omar, but he was not that interested. The focus of his activity was Egypt, where he wanted to overthrow the Gov't. Thus, according to a US Gov't memorandum in the Shaykh Omar proceedings, on May 23, 93, Salam asked Shaykh Omar, whether it was permitted to blow up the UN. He replied, that "'it would not be forbidden, but it would muddy the waters for Muslims.' Salem then asked, 'do we do it? ' Rahman answered, 'No. Find a pl-find a plan to inflict damage-to inflict damage on the army. The American army. Because the United Nations would harm Muslims; harm them tremendously.' . . . "Salem then asked Rahman what he thought of the plan to bomb [the Federal Building]. Rahman responded, 'Well, uh, a little bit later. We'll talk about this.' When Salem indicated that the plan was currently in motion, Rahman responded, 'It doesn't matter. Slow down. Slow down a little bit. The one who killed Kennedy was trained for three years.'" What Shaykh Omar meant by his last remark is unclear. But it scarcely constituted an endorsement of the plot. So NY FBI wanted to deport him. In fact, he was picked up and ordered deported--on the charge of bigamy. But the NY politicians, who had little idea of what had happened, howled for the head of Shaykh Omar. And the US Atty's office in Manhattan came up with a law on which Shaykh Omar could be charged-- seditious conspiracy, which grew out of a post civil-war statue and which was used against supporters of the Confederacy. The law was amended in 1918 and used to prosecute socialists and deport immigrants during the "Red Scare." It states, "If two or more persons in any State or Territory or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined not more than $20,000 or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both." As the NYT, Aug 28, 93 explained, "Because the law does not require the Government to prove that the defendants committed any overt acts to further their conspiracy-or even that they knew of all the acts the others committed-some criminal defense experts say the law comes perilously close to punishing people for their beliefs or speech." And that is what Shaykh Omar was charged with-seditious conspiracy, essentially inspiring acts of terrorism. Thus, some people who listened to Shaykh Omar's fiery speeches participated in the WTC bombing and some others participated in the second bombing conspiracy. And if the key players in both plots were Iraqi and Sudanese intelligence agents? It doesn't matter for the purposes of the trial. Indeed, Jim Fox, then head of NY FBI, once told "Iraq News" of the meeting in which the decision to indict Shaykh Omar was made. He was there, representing NY FBI, as was Mary Jo White, representing the US Atty's office. Also present was a representative from FBI headquarters and DoJ in Wash DC. Janet Reno chaired the meeting. He argued strongly against indicting Shaykh Omar; FBI headquarters argued mildly against; White argued mildly in favor; and DoJ argued strongly in favor. Five minutes before the hour-long meeting ended, Reno wrapped her knuckles on the table and said, "Okay. We'll indict him." As Fox later told "Iraq News," "I wish I had spoken up." That is not because Fox is an apologist for Shaykh Omar, nor is "Iraq News." But he understood what had happened. Americans came to believe that Shaykh Omar was responsible for the NYC terrorism, rather than Iraq and Sudan. And that misunderstanding has given terrorist states, like Iraq, a way to carry out major acts of terrorism, kill Americans, and never be held responsible, particularly if a few perps are left behind to be arrested and tried. Indeed, Americans have died, because of the sly way the Clinton administration handled the NYC bombing conspiracies. It is something that is very hard for most people to understand, because it reflects an irresponsibility that one does not usually associate with the US Gov't. Readers will remember the two-part Aug 6 98 "Iraq News," detailing the angry Iraqi statements issued the day before, when Baghdad announced the suspension of UNSCOM inspections. The Wash Post, Aug 1, in a story about the US prosecution of Osama bin Ladin noted that 17 people had been indicted for the Aug 7 Kenya/ Tanzania bombings. But only eight of them are alleged to have been in Kenya/Tanzania around the time of the bombings. And of those eight, only two relatively low-ranking figures, are under arrest. The other six escaped and over the past year, have successfully eluded the FBI. In a Jul 29 Wash Post report on the US pursuit of bin Ladin, a former CIA official, Milt Bearden, cautioned that the US was turning him into a folk hero, "One should go to the refugee camps throughout Pakistan and find out how many boy children have been named Osama since last August." The Wash Post also stated "the most chilling threat posed presented by [bin Ladin 's organization] al Qaeda involves its possible acquisition of chemical weapons. . . . [Kenneth] Katzman, citing numerous press reports, said he believes 'we have to assume that he has some rudimentary chemical capability.' One US official stated that bin Ladin has 'actively sought to acquire chemical weapons, and it is possible that he could conduct some type of [small-scale] chemical attack.' . . . Once only the state sponsors of terrorism-a short list that includes Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, and North Korea-were thought capable of organizing chemical attacks." Why has that changed? The Wash Post didn't explain. And it didn't ask the question that the NYT, Apr 13, asked-how is one man capable of all that? Sec Def William Cohen wrote about the dangers of CBW terrorism in the Wash Post, Jul 26, "A biological agent would sink into the respiratory and nervous systems of the afflicted. . . . The march of the contagion could accelerate astoundingly with doctors offering little relief. Hospitals would become warehouses for the dead and the dying. A plague more monstrous than anything we have experienced could spread with all the irrevocability of ink on tissue paper." Where does that threat come from? It is necessary to have some idea, in order to deal as effectively as possible with the terrible danger. Cohen wrote, "At least 25 countries, including Iraq and North Korea, now have--or are in the process of acquiring and developing weapons of mass destruction. Of particular concern is the possible persistence in some foreign military arsenals of smallpox, the horrific infectious virus that decimated entire nations down the ages and against which the global population is currently defenseless. Also looming is the chance that these terror weapons will find their way into the hands of individuals and independent groups-fanatical terrorists and religious zealots beyond our borders, brooding loners and self-proclaimed apocalyptic prophets at home. . . . In 1995 the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo used sarin gas in its attack on the Tokyo subway and also planned to unleash anthrax against US forces in Japan. Those behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing were also gathering the ingredients for a chemical weapon that could have killed thousands." Indeed, NY law enforcement believed that the WTC conspirators meant to release a cloud of cyanide gas, but the gas was burnt up in the heat of the explosion. Still, what Cohen wrote was apples-and-oranges, a mish mosh. Does the threat come from states or individuals? He didn't say, but left the impression it was the latter. Yet Aum Shinrikyo was something rare and may not readily reoccur elsewhere. It was a very large and wealthy cult, that included a number of educated scientists, and which enjoyed an unusual degree of freedom, because Japan's post-war constitution provides for the strict protection of religious freedom. In addition, Japanese police verged on the incompetent. Prior to the attack on the Tokyo subway, there had been a sarin gas release, in which seven people were killed. But Japanese authorities never got to the bottom of it. Finally, terrible as the attack in the Tokyo subway was, not that many people died, while Aum Shinrikyo's attempt to carry out an anthrax attack didn't work. Nothing happened and authorities did not even know such an attempt had been made. What Aum Shinrikyo did, though bad enough, is not what is feared. What is feared is the kind of CBW attack that would constitute a major assault, with implications for nat'l security and domestic stability. And if a state, rather than a cult, were to carry out a CBW terrorist attack, wouldn't it be much more likely to succeed in causing devastating consequences? US Gov't officials routinely describe the existence of a terrible danger, about which almost nothing can be done. Indeed, at a Jul 27 DoD press briefing, a journalist asked about Cohen's article. He received little satisfaction and concluded, saying, "Normally, when you outline a serious problem like this it's accompanied with some sort of suggestion of what the solution is. What is the solution for defense against a biological attack? There doesn't seem to be one in this article." Thus, there is general agreement that the US has a serious terrorism problem. But one aspect of the matter that is scarcely discussed is the possibility of state sponsorship. Finally, the Red Cross, as Reuters, Jul 27, reported, issued a statement saying, "The civilian population of Iraq is continuing to suffer an alarming deterioration of its living conditions as the country enters its 10th year under UN embargo." Also, Iraq is suffering its worst drought since 1932. One can only underscore the bizarreness of Saddam's retaining his proscribed unconventional capabilities under such circumstances, and the near certainty that his purposes are not idle. I. WILLIAM COHEN, THE CBW TERRORISM DANGER II. RED CROSS, EMBARGO HURTS IRAQI POPULATION Tuesday July 27 10:57 AM ET Red Cross Says Iraq Trade Embargo Hurts Population GENEVA (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday the U.N. trade embargo against Iraq was worsening the living conditions of the population, but stopped short of calling for an end to the sanctions. ``I have seen surgical gloves being washed and dried for re-use and doctors' greens splattered with blood -- direct consequences of the embargo,'' Michel Minnig, who led an ICRC delegation to Iraq, told a news conference upon returning to Geneva headquarters. When pressed by journalists, Minnig declined to call for an end to the embargo, saying that was up to politicians and not the realm of his humanitarian organization. ``The civilian population of Iraq is continuing to suffer an alarming deterioration of its living conditions as the country enters its 10th year under U.N. embargo,'' the ICRC said in a statement. The organization said that in the health system buildings were not maintained and expensive imported equipment such as X-ray machines were not replaced. On top of that, Iraq is suffering from its worst drought since 1932, the ICRC said. Minnig said Iraq was having electricity failures of several hours per day. The population near areas that had been bombed by U.S and British aircraft, such as near the city of Mosul, were under terrible stress. ``In Iraq, people nearly have no hope left the conflict will end,'' he said. The ICRC said it did not want to condemn the sanctions. ''Our task is not to say what needs to be done with the sanctions, our task is to draw the attention of politicians to the consequences,'' Minnig said. He said there were still some 1,600 people missing from Iraq's two most recent wars, the Iran-Iraq border war and the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the Gulf War that followed. ``It is important for the families of these people that at least they get the impression that everything is being done to address this issue,'' Minnig said. The ICRC acts as a neutral intermediary between Iraq and Western allies in an effort to settle the humanitarian issues still unresolved after the Gulf War. The agency has decided step up its work in the country and is asking for an additional 7.7 million Swiss francs ($5.1 million) to bring its budget for Iraq in 1999 to 21.7 million francs. It said it aims to repair the buildings of 12 of the 18 main hospitals and 18 primary health centers, to supply one main hospital in each of the 18 regions with surgical and other equipment and to extend and improve river intake structures in water treatment plants. The first hospital to be rehabilitated will be the Basra Teaching Hospital.