2,129. 7/1/2001

In reference to the letter fabricated by CIA to appear to suggest an al-Qaeda/Iraq link, British journalist Con Coughlin wrote in his December 14, 2003, article in The Sunday Telegraph: “Written in the neat, precise hand of Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, the former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) and one of the few named in the US government’s pack of cards of most-wanted Iraqis not to have been apprehended, the personal memo to Saddam is signed by Habbush in distinctive green ink. Headed simply ‘Intelligence Items,’ and dated July 1, 2001…The first paragraph states that ‘[9/11 lead hijacker] Mohammed Atta, an Egyptian national, came with Abu Ammer (an Arabic nom-de-guerre–his real identity is unknown) and we hosted him in [Palestinian terrorist] Abu Nidal’s house at al-Dora [Baghdad] under our direct supervision. We arranged a work programme for him for three days with a team dedicated to working with him…He displayed extraordinary effort and showed a firm commitment to lead the team which will be responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy.’ There is nothing in the document that provides any clue to the identity of the ‘targets,’ although Iraqi officials say it is a coded reference to the September 11 attacks. The second item contains a report of how Iraqi intelligence, helped by ‘a small team from the al-Qaeda organisation’, arranged for an (unspecified) shipment from Niger to reach Baghdad by way of Libya and Syria. Iraqi officials believe this is a reference to the controversial shipments of uranium ore Iraq acquired from Niger to aid Saddam in his efforts to develop an atomic bomb, although there is no explicit reference in the document to this. Habbush writes that the successful completion of the shipment was ‘the fruit of your excellent secret meeting with Bashir al-Asad (the Syrian president) on the Iraqi-Syrian border’, and concludes: ‘May God protect you and save you to all Arab nations.’ While it is almost impossible to ascertain whether or not the document is legitimate or a clever fake, Iraqi officials working for the interim government are convinced of its authenticity, even though they decline to reveal where and how they obtained it. ‘It is not important how we found it,’ said a senior Iraqi security official. ‘The important thing is that we did find it and the information it contains.’ A leading member of Iraq’s governing council, who asked not to be named, said he was convinced of the document’s authenticity. ‘There are people who are working with us who used to work with Habbush who are convinced that it is his handwriting and signature. We are covering evidence all the time of Saddam’s dealings with al-Qaeda, and this document shows the extent of the old regime’s involvement with the international terrorist network.’ ”

 – Ron Suskind, The Way of the World, Page 375

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