U.S. ruling out Iraq as attack sponsor (despite Israel's contrary opinion)

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Israel believes Iraq is behind the recent terrorist attack on the U.S. But now Bush disagrees. Why?

Hyperlink: http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/breaking_3.html

U.S. ruling out Iraq as attack sponsor in bid for coalition

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM, Thursday, September 13, 2001

Copyright, World Tribune, Fair Use for Education and Research Purposes Only

U.S. intelligence sources in the Middle East say the White House has ruled out focusing blame on Iraq as the sponsor of the kamikaze attacks in New York and Washington and has instead given priority to assembling an international coalition against terrorism.

The United States has launched a painstaking search in the Middle East for the sponsors of the attacks in which thousands of Americans died, Middle East Newsline reported.

A key aim in the U.S. intelligence-gathering effort is to form links between various Islamic factions. The sources said the Pentagon and the CIA are convinced that the hijackers killed in their suicide crashes were either linked to an Islamic terrorist network or sent by a government that was concealed behind an organization front.

Israeli intelligence officials briefed the Cabinet of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on late Tuesday, hours after the catastrophe in New York and Washington and were quoted as telling the Cabinet that a Middle East government was probably the sponsor of the attack. The most likely sponsor for such an attack, they said, is Iraq.

"We're talking about an operation that was extremely well-planned and compartmentalized," a U.S. defense source in the region said. "Such a case could take years to complete and we simply don't have that amount of time."

U.S. officials said the White House has already reached several conclusions regarding the sponsor of the attacks. They said the administration has for now determined that neither Iraq nor any other country was behind the hijackings. Instead, the administration has fingered Bin Laden for the attacks, in which President George Bush was a target.

U.S. intelligence officers around the Middle East were ordered to contact all of their sources for any leads that might shed light on a regional link to the suicide jet crashes. They were also ordered to review open-source material in the Arabic, Farsi and Urdu media that could provide a hint as to the plans to hijack U.S. airliners and crash them into major population centers.

"The way we see it, there's something out there in the open-source that we've missed," a U.S. intelligence source said. "We're trying to go back and put the pieces together."

The sources said the U.S. effort depends on the cooperation of governments in the region. They said they expect the effort to proceed slowly.

U.S. officials said Egypt and Jordan are being recruited for an international coalition against terrorism. They said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called his counterparts in Amman and Cairo to discuss such an alliance.

FBI agents have already identified at least 50 Arab infiltrators who were allegedly involved in the hijackings and crashes. The FBI has also identified two Arab students in a Florida flight school, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al Shehhi, as allegedly being involved in the suicide crashes. The two entered the U.S. from Germany claiming to be Afghan students.

-- Robert A Riggs (rxr.999@worldnet.att.net), September 14, 2001

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