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Israel Says Iraq Not Involved In US Attacks - But Iran Could Be

g and compass

The Jerusalem Post

7 Tishri 5762
Sunday September 23, 2001

Israel Says Iraq Not Involved In US Attacks - But Iran Could Be

By Arieh O'Sullivan
The Jerusalem Post

TEL AVIV - The IDF believes Iraq was probably not involved in the recent attacks on the United States, but senior security sources indicated Iran could have had a hand in planning them.

"We don't have any information to support the possibility that Iraq is part of the plot," said a senior IDF officer. "But we can't say the same for the Iranians. They are very deeply involved in everything that carries the label of Islamic radical terrorism. Iran should prove that they are not in it," he added.

"We don't know for sure who was behind this attack. It was obviously radical Islam, but who was the precise mastermind? We can't tell yet. We don't have all the information the Americans have."

"But Iran comes from the same school as [Osama] bin Laden. Hizbullah and Hamas are all from the same school of thought. Iran is the only country in the world that actually adopts this ideology and is working on its capabilities to get hold of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Together with this ideology and these sort of threats, you can understand the kind of threat the free world and Israel is facing," said the senior officer.

He said the previous carrot and stick policy of trying to get countries like Russia, North Korea, and China to stop supplying Teheran with this technology was ineffective and another approach is needed.

"We have to convince these people to change their policy. The policy of carrot and stick was wrong. It was patronizing and that fueled radical Islam. It has to be changed from within," he suggested.

The senior IDF officers briefed reporters in Tel Aviv on Friday, saying they are concerned with the emerging profile of the hijackers of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

They did not fit the mold of the suicide bombers here, who have usually been simple, single, impoverished, religious zealots. The men who reportedly hijacked the planes drank liquor, a taboo in Islam, and were educated, but were still ideologically faithful to radical Islam.

"The threat still exists in the United States," said one of the senior security officials.

Asked about Iraq's capability of repeating its 1991 Scud missile attacks on Israel in the event the United States attacks, the Israeli official said: "I don't see any new threat from the Iraqis, but I don't want to provoke it either. We don't have any information that Iraq was involved in this act and we don't see a reason for this to happen. Iraq is from a different camp. They don't come from the camp of radical Islam," he added.

A senior officer said the assessment in the IDF is that Saddam Hussein has been able to retain a minor Scud missile offensive capability. The Iraqis are believed to have about half a dozen Scud missile launchers and a few dozen missiles. Some are also believed to be armed with chemical, and possibly biological, warheads.

The officer said the report in the London-based Jane's Foreign Report that linked key radical Islamic terrorists with Iraq was not necessarily accurate.

The report quoted IDF Intelligence as saying that for the past two years Iraqi intelligence officers were shuttling between Baghdad and Afghanistan meeting with the Lebanese Imad Mughniyeh, head of the special overseas operations for Hizbullah, and the Egyptian Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, senior member of al-Qaida and possible successor to bin Laden.

"We have no information about their meeting. It was attributed to Israeli Military Intelligence, but what can you do. Maybe someone wanted to lend the report more credibility and we are flattered, but we had nothing to do with it," said the senior IDF official.

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