While the US Administration, at the urging of Secretary of State Colin Powell, continues to ignore Saddam Hussein, evidence builds that he is not only an architect of the Attack on America, but also the source of the anthrax spores that are being spread through the country.
General Powell argued forcefully in 1991 that the United States should leave Hussein in power in Iraq.
Now former U.N. weapons inspectors say the anthrax spores found in the letter sent to Senate Tom Daschle are nearly identical to those discovered in Iraq in 1994. At least two labs say that the anthrax was coated with additives linked to the Iraqi biological weapons program. This contradicts recent reports that the anthrax attacks have all used uncoated strains that originated in a laboratory in Ames, Iowa. Five well-placed and separate sources say that initial tests have detected traces of bentonite and silica, substances that keep tiny anthrax particles floating in the air by preventing them from sticking together, so they can be more easily inhaled.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer continues to deny that bentonite was found on the letter. ?Based on the results of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, it is fair to conclude that that test shows that there is no bentonite,? he said at a news conference. ?Additional tests will be done and we?ll try to keep you updated.? As far as we know, only Iraq has used bentonite to produce biological weapons, but officials caution that the presence of the chemical alone does not constitute firm evidence of Iraqi involvement. While it?s possible countries other than Iraq may be using the additive, it is a trademark of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein?s biological weapons program. ?It means to me that Iraq becomes the prime suspect as the source of the anthrax used in these letters,? says former U.N. weapons inspector Timothy Trevan. In the process of destroying much of Iraq?s biological arsenal, U.N. teams discovered Iraq was using bentonite, which is found in soil around the world, including the United States and Iraq. ?That discovery was proof positive of how they were using bentonite to make small particles,? says former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Spertzel. ?What you have to keep in mind is the difference between knowledge about what type of information you have to have to produce it, and who could have sent it,? Fleischer says. ?They are totally separate topics that could involve totally separate people. It could be the same person or people. It could be totally different people. The information does not apply to who sent it.?
To read the ABC News story, click here.
An editorial by Robert L. Bartley in the October 29, 2001 Wall Street Journal says, ?Despite the earlier official denials, the anthrax in the mail turns out to be weapons-grade, finely ground and with electrostatic charges eliminated to facilitate aerial spread?This should be a scales-from-the-eyes moment, but our government is back at the old stand, stressing that any Ph.D. microbiologist can whomp up weapons-grade anthrax and leaking that the FBI and CIA suspect domestic cranks. Perhaps this time it?s true, but I for one am not reassured.?
The article reminds us that after weeks of official denials, the Czech interior minister confirmed that Mohamed Atta met with a ranking Iraqi spy on his route to the United States. It was reported in a New York Times that in a Prague press conference, Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross said that the September 11 terrorist leader ?did have a contact with an officer of the Iraqi intelligence, Mr. Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani.? The Iraqi was expelled shortly afterwards. The authors of that story say, ?it seemed possible that American officials, concerned about the political implications of Iraqi involvement in terror attacks, had put pressure on the Czechs to keep quiet.? In the Wall Street Journal, Bartley says that while we?re searching desperately for the source of the anthrax, we know Saddam has plenty of it. After the Gulf War, U.N. inspectors found he?d deployed missiles and artillery shells loaded with anthrax, botulism toxin and nerve gas. We know he?s capable of milling anthrax to military grade and eliminating its electrostatic charge. U.N. inspector Richard Butler recently said, ?I concluded that biological weapons are closest to President Hussein?s heart because it was in this area that his resistance to our work reached its height. He seemed to think killing with germs has a lot to recommend it.? The Journal tells us that Iraqi defector Sabah Khalifa Khodada Alami says he was a member of unit training airline hijackers at Salman Pak south of Baghdad, where Iraqi biological facilities are also located. The potential hijackers, he says, trained on a Boeing 707 parked at the facility.
Laurie Mylroie, author of Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America has evidence that Saddam was behind the original bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. James Fox, the initial FBI investigator of the 1993 bombing, suspected an Iraqi connection. Mylroie says that the bombing mastermind was the man who entered the country on an Iraqi passport for Ramzi Yousef, and fled the night of the bombing on a Pakistani passport bearing the name Abdul Basit Karim. He was later implicated in another bomb plot in the Philippines and was arrested in Pakistan. He was extradited and convicted of the bombing and is now in federal prison. Kuwaiti police files do show an Abdul Basit Karim whose fingerprints match Yousef?s. Yousef is six feet tall, while Abdul Basit was only 5'8? and other discrepancies abound. The real Abdul Basit and his family vanished with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, when Iraqi occupiers also had control of the police files and could have created a fake identity for one of their agents. If so, the 1993 bombing mastermind was obviously an Iraqi agent. Mylroie says the government has refused to take people who knew Abdul Basit to see Yousef in prison in order to confirm his identity. Writes Bartley, ?Saddam?s involvement would have several implications. First, the attacks are not likely to stop easily. Second, he has the capability of escalating, for example releasing biological weapons or nerve gas as aerosols rather than in letters. And third, our troops may be bogged down in the snows of Afghanistan while the main enemy goes untouched.?
In another article, the Wall Street Journal reports that Senator Joe Lieberman, the ex-vice-Presidential candidate, says, ?We should focus on Iraq after we have dealt with bin Laden. We must, because Saddam has a special hatred for America and the capacity to do something terrible about it.
?Did Saddam have a direct hand in the attacks on America that began on September 11? The evidence at our disposal is circumstantial but suggestive. We do know that he has not just the motive and malevolence, but the means. And we also know that Iraqi intelligence officials have met at critical times with members of the al Qaeda network.? The Italian Daily newspaper, published in Milan, says, ?Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein clearly have different strategic goals. However, let?s not forget [that]?Stalin and Hitler had diametrically opposed strategic aims, but this did not keep them from forging an alliance in 1939, because at that time some of their objectives converged. Today, both bin Laden and Saddam are at war with the U.S. and they both share the same short-term objective, namely expelling the Americans from the Gulf. On this issue, Saddam has paraphrased bin Laden word for word.?
The paper contains an interview by Claudio Gatti of Swedish Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, who knows Saddam Hussein better than almost anyone else in the West because he was Chairman of the U.N. Special Commission for 6 years, until 1997. The commission was created after the Gulf War to verify that the Iraqis were not building any weapons of mass destruction.
Gatti: ?The Iraqis said they have nothing to do with the anthrax letters.?
Ekeus: ?Surely, it is possible that anthrax might come from a lab in the U.S. or in the former Soviet Union. But for more than four years, Baghdad has denied?formally and in writing?the existence of a biological weapons program. Only after searches, researches and analyses that led us to find scientific evidence of the program, have they acknowledged its existence.?
Gatti: ?Was it a sophisticated program??
Ekeus: ?First of all, it was very broad. The main research center?in al Hakam?was hidden in the desert, shielded by walls and barbed-wire. There were several buildings, with labs and highly-sophisticated equipment. We leveled the place in 1996.?
Gatti: ?Does his mean that Iraq?s capability to conduct bacteriological warfare has been nullified??
Ekeus: ?Not at all. As far as the equipment is concerned, in al Hakam we found a milling machine capable of refining anthrax for military purposes. We destroyed it, but there was still the suspicion that there might be another milling machine that we never found.Furthermore, even with the embargo, Saddam has no problems with money, quite the contrary, he is swimming in it. And when you have money, it is not too hard to find a seller. . . The worst thing, however, is that Iraq has the know-how. Iraq?s scientists and technicians know how to produce anthrax for military purposes. They know how to do it and they have done it before. Since December 1998?when the inspections weresuspended?there is nobody who can verify what is going on there. And the same applies to the status of the researches on viruses.?
Gatti: ?Tell us more about that.?
Ekeus: ?We found out that they had discovered ways to isolate a virus. For example, they had conducted tests with camel pox (an illness affecting camels similar to smallpox). Another project that they were very interested in was the poisoning of lakes and aqueducts.?
Gatti: ?But why did Saddam refuse to let the inspectors carry out their mission so that the Security Council could lift the economic sanctions? Wouldn?t it have been more convenient for him to get back to normal as soon as possible??
Ekeus: ?Non-conventional weapons are an absolute necessity for Saddam. He can?t do without them because even today he is determined to obtain what he wanted before the war, namely control of the Persian Gulf. Saddam considers himself the great protector of the Arabs, a stalwart against the Persian Shiites. However, the Iranians are morenumerous and the war against Iran in the 1980s showed that they could be tamed only with non-conventional weapons. In fact, it was the use of gasses that stopped the Iranian offensive. Saddam knows it and this is why he is willing to pay any price to maintain anon-conventional military capability. Only this way, can he proclaim himself the protector of all the other countries of the Gulf against the Shiite/Persian threat.?
Gatti: ?Do you believe Saddam will ever be influential again??
Ekeus: ?That?s his goal. And I don?t see it as being an irrational one. Saddam keeps saying that he is the one who is winning. Overall, it seems to me that things are going quite well for him. With every passing day, he becomes more popular among people in the streets of the Arab countries. He no longer has international inspectors breathing down his neck, and while the world is busy thinking about bin Laden, Saddam is busy thinking about how to control the world.?
Ekeus: ?The stake here is control of the Gulf. He who controls the Gulf also controls the oil and he who controls the oil becomes a world power, because he would have de facto control of the world?s economy. I don?t think there are higher stakes than this. Saddam is ready for anything in order to win.?
Unknowncountry.com Opinion: It is beginning to appear that the administration is attempting to suppress information about the real origins of the anthrax in order to protect the reputations of George Bush, Sr., and Colin Powell, who participated in the decision not to remove Saddam Hussein from power during the Gulf War. In the absence of effective US action against Saddam Hussein, we will continue to suffer terrorist attack indefinitely.
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