This is an interview with former Mossad agent Gad Shimron, translated from the German. It was originally printed in the Berlin newspaper Die Welt on September 15.
DIE WELT: ?Assignment of blame is becoming more and more definite. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is now officially designating Osama Bin Laden as the prime suspect. Do you believe he is behind the attacks??
Gad Shimron: ?The name Bin Laden is like a mantra, he is the ?usual suspect,? like Carlos in the 1970s. As far as I know, he is sitting somewhere in Afghanistan, a country with no infrastructure. He has a cell phone which the Americans monitor. Maybe this act of terrorism was his idea, but I am sure that it was carried out by others. Perhaps by a coalition of organizations. Yet they must have received support from a sovereign state.?
DW: ?Which state do you suspect??
GS: ?My guess is Iraq. But I have no proof. It cannot be Afghanistan, because it is not a sovereign state.?
DW: ?If it were a coalition, does that mean a sort of network, that would be at least as threatening? Do you have any more specific information??
GS: ?The various groups are well versed in secret operations. All the cells work for themselves, without any unnecessary contacts. We have been familiar with that here in the Middle East for a long time. What is new is that the organization must have been in progress for at least 18 months. It is amazing that nothing got out. I am sure that the NSA [National Security Agency] heard something, the only problem is that this information did not get into the right hands at the right time, so no one was able to put the puzzle together.?
DW: ?Who are these organizations??
GS: ?They are groups like Islamic Jihad, Hamas, the two Hizbollah groupings in Lebanon and Kashmir – organizations whose ideology is to conduct a holy war against the western world. They are either supported or authorized by sovereign governments. For example, Damascus lets Islamic Jihad operate from its territory, and Teheran allows Hizbollah.?
DW: ?How do they maintain contact with each other??
GS: ?They know that the Americans hear almost everything. The FBI even has access to their e-mails. I believe the organizations have built up an alternative communications infrastructure, with personal messengers and coded conversations. In addition, they have the so-called ?safe havens?: they can meet in Damascus, Teheran, Sudan and of course in Baghdad: there are enough countries which close their eyes to people who have been clearly identified by other security services as terrorists.?
DW: ?How will it be possible to find the guilty parties soon??
GS: ?The whole world is waiting for the U.S. to end everything in 90 minutes, in the style of Hollywood films. But it will take a long time. And unfortunately there will be more and more targets as time goes by. It?s not like normal police investigations, they will not be able to close the net tighter and tighter; they will keep coming across more and more wire-pullers and perpetrators.?
This report is based on information received from Laurie Mylroie.
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