Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Thursday, February 06, 2003

How did the US tie Mussab al-Zarqawi to Iraq? This rpeort says it was only a break in the last few weeks that provided the proof.

Critical information about this network emerged from interrogations of captured cell members conducted under unspecified circumstances of psychological pressure, the coalition official said. But a lucky break also figured prominently -- a satellite phone conversation gave away the location of Zarqawi's deputy, driving out of Iraq.

Until three weeks ago, Powell was said to be reluctant to go before the Security Council with a case connecting al Qaeda with the Iraqi leadership.

"Colin did not want to be accused of fabricating or stretching the truth," a coalition official said. "But that all changed" when the interrogation of Zarqawi's deputy began to yield the first detailed account of the network's operations in Iraq, the Mideast and Europe, the official said.

The network was planning terrorist attacks in a half dozen European countries, Powell said, adding that recent police raids in France and Britain, where one officer was killed, stem from the disruption of the Iraq-based network. Some 116 operatives have been connected to it, he said.

Powell withheld some critical details on Wednesday, such as the discovery by the intelligence agencies that a member of the royal family in Qatar, a key ally providing air bases and a command headquarters for the American military, had operated a safe house for Zarqawi when he transitted the country going in and out of Afghanistan.

The Qatari royal family member was Abdul Karim Al-Thani, the coalition official said. The official added that Al-Thani had provided Qatari passports and more than $1 million in a special bank account to finance the network.

The unraveling of the al Qaeda story in Iraq, still under way, took on some of the drama of an espionage thriller when, following the murder of Foley, Zarqawi's deputy suffered a lapse of communications discipline. As he drove across northern Iraq to the Turkish and Syrian frontiers, he could not resist using his satellite phone to call Foley's murderers to congratulate them and tell them he was on his way to meet with them.

"The captured assassin says his cell received money and weapons from Zarqawi for that murder," Powell said. In December, Jordan announced that it had two men in custody who had confessed to killing Foley on the instructions of Zarqawi.

Western intelligence is withholding the name of the captured Zarqawi deputy.

However, they swiftly detected the satellite phone signal and tracked the operative to Syria and then into Turkey, where he was arrested and transported to one of the interrogation centers that the CIA is operating in the region.

The decision to identify Zarqawi as the leader of an al Qaeda cell will put his life in immediate jeopardy because Hussein has insisted that Baghdad has no links with Osama bin Laden's network.

"A half hour after Powell mentioned his name, I'll wager he disappears or is killed," said a coalition official, recalling the death in Baghdad in 2001 of Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal after intelligence reports suggested than he might be activating his own terrorist network.

< email | 2/06/2003 11:24:00 AM | link

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