Intelligence archive February 2003 to 30 April 2003

30 APRIL: MI5 Bugged Downing Street’s Talk with Sinn Fein

Transcripts of conversations leaked to journalists between Prime Minister Blair and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, (former IRA Chief of Staff), show that was much intimacy between London and Sinn Fein. The conversations were recorded covertly by MI5, Britain’s Secret Security Service. MI5 used thecodeword ‘NARCOTIC’ when referring to Mr McGuinness.
• More Eye Spy 17

30 APRIL: Gerry Adams - “IRA Will Not Undermine Peace”

The IRA will not in any way undermine the peace process or the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams insists. In a statement which was being billed as the definitive position from republicans on the IRA’s future, Mr Adams said: “The IRA leadership makes it clear in its statement that it is determined that its activities will be consistent with its resolve to see the complete and final closure of the conflict.”

Mr Adams said there was now a need for the British and Irish governments to publish their joint declaration on the future implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. It was his belief that all three questions posed to republicans last week by Prime Minister Tony Blair had been answered fully in his speech last weekend. “However, the Taoiseach (Bertie Ahern), the British Prime Minister and others have queried my answer about alleged IRA activities,” he said. “The IRA leadership is determined that there will be no activities which will undermine in any way the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement. The IRA’s statement is a statement of completely peaceful intent. Both governments have already acknowledged this. The joint declaration and all other statements should now be published. The commitment contained in all statements should be implemented.”

Mr Adam’s statement was made as Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble travelled to Downing Street for a meeting with the Prime Minister.

Republicans hoped it would persuade London and Dublin to release their joint declaration covering issues such as policing, justice and the scaling down of army installations. They also hoped it would guarantee that the Assembly elections would take place as planned on May 29.

25 APRIL 2003: TARIQ AZIZ ARRESTED

Iraq deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz has been arrested by US forces. It is not clear whether he gave himself up.

Tariq Aziz and Kofi Annan

16 APRIL 2003: TERROR SUSPECT ARRESTE

US soldiers in Baghdad have arrested one of the most wanted terrorists in the world. Palestinian Abu Abbas has been on the run for 17 years for his ordering of the murder of a US citizen, on board the cruise ship, Achille Lauro. More Eye Spy 17.

5-16 APRIL 2003:

SEE IRAQI FREEDOM SECTION

 

5 APRIL 2003: BUSH AND BLAIR TO MEET IN N. IRELAND

George W Bush is to visit Northern Ireland on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the situation in Iraq with Tony Blair. Mr Bush will meet the Prime Minister at an undisclosed location to assess the progress of the military campaign, plans for the future of a post-Saddam Iraq and the Middle East peace process.

He will also hold talks with Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the leaders of the three main pro-Good Friday Agreement parties in a bid to move forward the Northern Ireland peace process. The meeting is the third summit between Mr Bush and Mr Blair in recent weeks, following an eve-of-war gathering in the Azores and last week's talks at Camp David.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "They found the meetings in the Azores and Camp David very helpful in the development of our strategy on the military, diplomatic and humanitarian fronts."
The President, Mr Blair and Mr Ahern will talk to leaders of the Ulster Unionist Party, Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

It's hoped the meeting will give added impetus to efforts to get the Northern Ireland peace process back on track.

Mr Blair and Mr Ahern are due to launch make-or-break proposals for the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement within the next few days, and it is widely expected that they will hinge on an IRA announcement next week of an end to all paramilitary activity.

The Downing Street spokesman said: "It is an important week in the Northern Ireland peace process.

"It will be useful to get the US President's support for our efforts to encourage the leaders to the acts of completion the Prime Minister has outlined."

1 APRIL 2003: PAKISTAN THROWS OUT FBI

In a move seen as diplomatic - Pakistan has asked a team of FBI officers to leave the country as anti US and UK feeling grows because of the Iraqi conflict.

29 MARCH 2003: ITALY ON HIGH AL-QAIDA TERROR ALERT

Italian Government officials have warned of a possible biological or chemical attack after intelligence sources said members of the an Ansaasar al-Islam terror group based in Northern Iraq and loyal to Osama bin-Laden, are in Italy. The group’s headquarters was recently destroyed by Kurds fighting with US forces in Northern Iraq.

29 MARCH 2003: THREE IRAQIS ARRESTED FOR SPYING FOR USA

Baghdad says three Iraqi nationals have been arrested for spying for USA and UK. All face almost certain death.

27 MARCH 2003: UN FUTURE IN DOUBT

Eye Spy has learned that secret discussions have already taken place about the status and future of the United Nations - full story Eye Spy. USA, UK and other nations question viability of UN.

21 MARCH 2003: US AND MEXICAN SECURITY SEARCH FOR “IRAQI TERROR CELL”

Intelligence officials in the United States have acknowledged they are searching for six Iraqis who could be in possession of biological weapons in preparation for a terrorist attack in the USA. The gang are thought to be in Southern states or Mexico.

18 MARCH 2003: RICIN FOUND IN PARIS RAILWAY STATION

French officials have disclosed that a quantity of ricin has been discovered in a locker at the Paris railway station. It is understood the poison was discovered a number of days ago. Intelligence analysts believe it could be related to the recent discovery of a ricin factory in London.

18 MARCH 2003: NEW YORK ON HIGH ALERT

Mayor Bloomberg has heightened security in the city of New York as the USA and UK prepare for war with Iraq. According to Eye Spy sources, a number of terrorist suspects are “under observance” in the city. The new security operation is costing about $5m.

Mayor Bloomberg © LEPL

9 MARCH 2003: USAF B-52s “READY TO STRIKE IRAQ FROM UK BASES”

Over a dozen huge B-52 USAF bombers have landed at RAF Fairford in southern England. The warplanes will be used to attack key Iraq targets if war is declared.

B-52s at RAF Fairford met by protesters © Donald Napier

 

9 MARCH 2003: CIA AND US SPECIAL FORCES ENCIRCLE OSAMA BIN-LADEN

Hundreds of US Special Forces troops together with Pakistan troops are searching the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan for Osama bin-Laden. It is believed vital information was gleaned from al-Qaida’s military commander, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was captured recently. The troops are being supported by officers from the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI).

• There is still no confirmation on the rumour that two of Osama bin-Ladens sons were captured in a fierce firefight.

4 MARCH 2003: US - UK “READY TO GO TO WAR BY 20 MARCH”

Eye Spy understands that several US transport ships that had been waiting to unload hardware in Turkey, have now turned around and are heading south towards the Suez Canal. The journey will take 10 days and then a further seven to unload in Kuwait. Analysts say that war will break out before 20 March.

4 MARCH 2003: NORTH KOREAN FIGHTERS INTERCEPT USAF AIRCRAFT

A US surveillance aircraft was shadowed by four North Korean fighter aircraft in international airspace. At one point, a fighter approached to within 50ft of the USAF aircraft.

4 MARCH 2003: AL-QAIDA 9/11 MASTERMIND QUIZZED

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is being questioned by Pakistan ISI agents and CIA officers. It is understood he is cooperating.

1 MARCH 2003: 9/11 MASTERMIND ARRESTED TODAY IN ISLAMABAD

Pakistan officials have announced that they have captured one of the most senior men in al-Qaida - Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - one of the main masterminds behind the terror attacks on 11 September 2001 in America. It is understood he is already on his way to America under tight security.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

 

1 MARCH 2003: BLOW TO WASHINGTON PLANS AS TURKEY SAYS NO TO US TROOPS

The Turkish Government has dealt a huge blow to US military planners wanting to use Turkey to launch a strike on Baghdad from the north. Washington wanted to base 62,000 troops on Turkish soil. Eye Spy understands that hundreds of troops have already started to depart to Kuwait. Intelligence analysts say the move could put back a planned attack by one month.

1 MARCH 2003: MI6 AND CIA WARN OF IRAQ CHEMICAL AIR STRIKE

Both the CIA and MI6 intelligence organisations have discussed the possibility that Iraq could launch a devastating chemical or biological attack against tens of thousands of US and UK troops now massing on the Iraq-Kuwait border. This follows three major Iraq air force incursions over the southern no fly zone, and on one occasion, into Saudi Arabia. Intelligence footage shown to UN Security Council members in the last few weeks, has depicted Iraq MiG fighters dropping what appears to be a gaseous vapour over rugged terrain.

• A preemptive Iraq attack could result thousands of US and UK casualties.

26 FEBRUARY 2003: TURKEY GREEN LIGHT SECOND US - IRAQI FRONT

75,000 US military personnel to be deployed in Turkey along with over 250 USAF aircraft - confirmed.

Eye Spy sources say Turkey pulled its diplomats our of Baghdad days ago.

• MAJOR EYE SPY SECTION ON WAR WITH IRAQ FOLLOWS

23 FEBRUARY 2003: SAUDI-BASED BRITON KILLED BY AL-QAIDA AGENT

Intelligence sources in Saudi Arabia say that Briton, Robert Dent, 37, one of 30,000 UK people living in the Saudi Kingdom who was shot dead last Thursday, was “assassinated” by Saud bin Ali bin Nasser, a man suspected of being an al-Qaida agent. Mr Dent, a BAE (British Aerospace) worker was shot at point-blank range as he sat in his car at traffic lights in the capital Riyadh. He died instantly. Mr Dent was married and had two young children. Bin-Nasser originally came from the Yemen, a known centre for the recruiting of al-Qaida agents.

23 FEBRUARY 2003: IRAQ END GAME CLOSE

200,000 US and UK troops are now located on Iraq’s borders. Clearly an invasion will begin well before the end of March. Intelligence analysts say between 3-5,000 missile launches against all of Iraq’s major defence, communications, power and command centres will take place in a 12-hour period. US military sources believe Baghdad will fall in less than seven days.

23 FEBRUARY 2003: IRAQ WILL SET FIRE TO OIL WELLS

US and British military commanders in the Gulf have been advised by CIA analysts that Iraq will set fire to its oil wells after the invasion begins. In the last Gulf War, 600 wells were set ablaze. It is understood the SAS will try and prevent this happening prior to an invasion.

21 FEBRUARY 2003: 20 TONNES OF “NERVE AGENT” ARRIVES IN NORTH KOREA

CIA sources have revealed that a vessel intercepted by Spannish and US intelligence officials enroute to the Yemen from North Korea, has returned to its point of departure carrying 20 tonnes of a nerve agent. The agent is believed to have originated in Germany.

20 FEBRUARY 2003: RADIO-ACTIVE MATERIAL CONFIRMED MISSING

Georgian military chiefs have confirmed that three canisters containing radio-active material are missing. It is believed they were stolen (possibly sold) sometime during the last seven days. European security services are on alert and a full-scale search is on going.

19 FEBRUARY 2003: FRENCH INTELLIGENCE CRITICAL OF UK AND USA

“There is no organic links” between the Iraqi regime led by President Saddam Hussein and the terrorist group al-Qaida, director of France’s anti-espionage agency DST Pierre Bousquet de Florian said on Monday. He made the remark when interviewed during the programme “100 minutes to understand” on French television’s France 2.

19 FEBRUARY 2003: AL-QAIDA HEATHROW GANG STILL ON RUN IN UK

The Algerian al-Qaida gang that tried to destroy a civilian airliner over London last week, has gone to ground in the UK. MI5 and Scotland Yard have launched a huge nationwide hunt for the men, who are believed to have entered the UK via a port.

Heathrow Airport, London © FLIGHT IMAGES

 

19 FEBRUARY 2003: NEW DEVICE INTERESTS NSA AND GCHQ

A high-tech security device, which records keystrokes before they enter a PC, has attracted interest from clients ranging from the CIA to home computer users.

Christchurch technology company KeyGhost Ltd has won a Trade New Zealand Export Award for achieving annual overseas sales of $500,000 just two years after bring its high- tech snooping products to the market. The company designs, manufactures, and markets devices which record every keystroke made on a computer keyboard, allowing the installer to read everything that a user has done on a computer.

19 FEBRUARY 2003: FORMER PERU SPYMASTER GOES ON TRIAL

Vladimiro Montesinos, the former spymaster who ran Peru alongside disgraced president Alberto Fujimori, has gone on trial today. Montesinos fixed elections, dictating the results of trials, and bought off most of the media with cash and bribes. His end came when a video he had secretly made of himself bribing an opposition MP was stolen and shown on television.

Vladimiro Montesinos

Fujimori fled to Tokyo in November 2000 and sent his resignation by fax. He left behind hundreds of videos clandestinely filmed by Mr Montesinos which proved the intelligence chief’s meetings with many of Peru’s elite to conspire in corruption.

International investigations have so far discovered about $207m (£130m) in overseas bank accounts linked to the corruption web.

19 FEBRUARY 2003: ANDREW’S “JOINS MI5” FOR MAJOR PROJECT

Cambridge professor Christopher Andrew, president of Corpus Christi college and Cambridge’s professor of modern history, has been commissioned to write an ‘official’ history of MI5. His operational activity for the security service, MI5, will be limited to devilling in the archives and conducting interviews with retired staff, but nonetheless heavy folds of state secrecy will fall round the shoulders of a scholar normally dedicated to shining a light on dark places. The book[s] will take several years to research and write and are being produced to celebrate 100 years of the Security Service.

Christopher Andrew

19 FEBRUARY 2003: UN AND MOSCOW - TALK OF RUSSIAN SPYPLANE OVER IRAQ

Moscow and the United Nations have reached a preliminary agreement on the deployment of a Russian spy plane over Iraq, reported ITAR-TASS citing deputy foreign minister Yury Fedotov.

Fedotov said UN officials may travel to Moscow next week to finalise an agreement on the use of an Antonov-30B reconnaissance plane.

However, he said they have not yet agreed what missions the spy plane would conduct, and where it would be based.

“We must decide how the plane will be used and begin preparations for its mission to the Middle East,” ITAR-TASS quoted Fedotov as saying.

 

19 FEBRUARY 2003: MOSCOW DEVELOPS SECRET DEVICE FOR READING COVERT IMAGES

A device for reading hidden images on videos has been developed in Russia. The instrument which can read covertly inserted images on videos (so-called 25th shots) has been devised in Russia and is now ready for use.

12 FEBRUARY 2003: BIN-LADEN URGES ARAB WORLD TO PROTECT IRAQ


The Arab satellite television station, Al-Jazaeera, has played an audio tape purporting to be the voice of Osama bin-Laden. Interestingly, Colin Powell, US Secretary of State was advised of the tape hours prior to its broadcast. Mr Powell advised the Senate: “We believe it to be bin Laden. He will be sending a message of solidarity to the people of Iraq.”

You'll be seeing this as the day unfolds, where once again he speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq,” Powell said. (The bin Laden message began airing internationally after Powell's Senate appearance.)

Al Jazeera first denied there was such a tape, according to published media reports. The network later admitted to having a message in which bin-Laden calls on Muslims to “unite in defending the Iraqi people.” Powell said the message is stronger proof of a nexus between international terrorist networks and Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

The Bush administration has alluded to such a connection since shortly after the 11 September 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, but evidence has been in short supply.

During his 5 February address to the U.N. Security Council, Powell provided compelling evidence about Iraq harbouring a known al-Qaida poison expert.

As I tried to demonstrate before the United Nations last week, there are linkages (between terrorist networks and Iraq),” Powell said today. The links may not be as conclusive as some people would like, but they're firm enough indication that terrorists such as al-Qaida will have weapons of mass destruction if Hussein has the chance to develop them, he said.

Powell said it was this "linkage" that persuaded him that containment was no longer the right course in dealing with Iraq. Answering a senator’s question why, Powell admitted he was a longtime supporter of “smart sanctions,” but now realizes they are not enough.

“We found that even with all of these containment efforts of the past 12 years, they have not served to stop Saddam Hussein and his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, or to encourage him to get rid of the weapons of mass destruction that we know he has,” the secretary said.

“Notwithstanding all our efforts at containment, we see evidence that he continues to try to break out of the box.”

Osama bin-Laden called for suicide bombers to strike against America and its allies.

 

12 FEBRUARY 2003: CIA “WILL PROVIDE SMOKING GUN”

Eye Spy understands that DCI George Tenet has obtained intelligence that will be presented to underline the threat of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

• Tenet also warned Americans that al-Qaida could detonate a dirty bomb this week.

Director of CIA George Tenet

 

12 FEBRUARY 2003: ANTI-US FEELING “GROWING IN EUROPE”

European and American television has broadcast several major programmes that reveal opposition to America’s stance on Iraq has increased. Analysts believe this is because of the failure of the US and UK intelligence services to provide “convincing evidence” on WMD, and a failure by the UN to green light support.

 

12 FEBRUARY 2003: BRITISH PRESS SLAM FRENCH AND GERMAN STANCE

Many newspapers in the United Kingdom blasted France over its lack of support for America. Most vociferous was the Daily Mail. It pointed out that 136,000 US soldiers died in France helping free its people from Hitler.

 

12 FEBRUARY 2003: MI5 UNEARTH PLOT TO SHOOT DOWN AIRLINER IN LONDON

Anti-terrorist police have unearthed a plot to shoot down a plane at Heathrow, according to MI5 sources.

400 British Army soldiers were drafted in to the world’s busiest airport supported by 1,000 police. Specific intelligence had been received that suggested an al-Qaida terrorist cell was planning to shoot down an airliner at low altitude. Police searched land under the flight path on the western approach to the airport and combed areas of Windsor Great Park.

Although Scotland Yard will not comment in detail, police officers have been stopping motorists and searching cars in and around Wraysbury, west of Heathrow.


The soldiers, in armoured personnel carriers, are standing guard at the airport and security has also been stepped up around Windsor Castle.

Downing Street said the deployment at Heathrow was “an ongoing operation in relation to a specific threat,” and was personally authorised by the Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Chris Yates, a expert with the specialist journal Jane’s Airport Review, said sending troops to tighten security at Heathrow is a very unusual move. “The last time I can remember anything like this was in 1994, just after the IRA tried to mortar bomb the runways at Heathrow,” he said.

“The key here is perimeter security.

“We can put all sorts of technology and security in airports but it doesn’t take an Einstein to work out you can park around the perimeter and launch something like a missile.” But Mr Yates added he thought today’s actions were simply a precautionary measure.

In November, Home Secretary David Blunkett authorised a statement that warned of “ever more dramatic and devastating” terror attacks. “If al-Qaida could mount an attack upon key economic targets, or upon our transport infrastructure, they would,” he said.

Eye Spy can reveal that other major airports throughout the UK have increased perimeter security.

• An al-Qaida terrorist suspect believed to be linked to an operational cell in London, has been arrested by Scotland Yard.

 

Donald Napier for Eye Spy

 

8 FEBRUARY 2003: US SECURITY ALERT - CODE ORANGE - HIGH

Washington has raised the terror threat colour-code to ‘orange’ - high. Intelligence sources say primary target could be New York Underground.

 

7 FEBRUARY 2003: CIA HAS BIO-CHEMICAL TRUCKS “UNDER OBSERVANCE”

Eye Spy intelligence sources have revealed that the CIA using satellite technology has the 16 or so alleged mobile Iraqi biological weapons laboratories “under observance.” The trucks (some believed to be converted railway trucks), were first identified by MI6 (see Eye Spy 10 2002). Analysts say the CIA have refused to give Hans Blix or the United Nations weapons inspectors details of the trucks’ whereabouts, because they will be destroyed prior to any land-based invasion of Iraq.

• Iraq has dismissed the allegations.

Images courtesy US State Department

7 FEBRUARY 2003: MI5 INTELLIGENCE LEADS TO MORE TERROR ARRESTS

Seven people have been arrested in anti-terrorist raids across the UK today.

5 FEBRUARY 2003: US INTELLIGENCE IRAQ CLAIMS - “A POWERFUL DOSSIER”

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has accused Iraq of "systematic evasion" of weapons inspectors in a powerful presentation to the UN Security Council. Mr Powell used tapes of what he said were intercepted conversations and satellite photographs to back up his claims that Iraq was making no effort to disarm as required to by UN resolution 1441. Behind Colin Powell sat George Tenet, CIA Director.

"I cannot tell you everything I know but what I can share with you is deeply troubling," said Mr Powell at the start of his presentation.

He began by playing two recent tape recordings which, he said, were conversations between Iraqi military officials discussing how to block the work of UN weapons inspectors.

One man is heard telling a colleague to clear out "forbidden material," and destroy the message after it was received. "This was part and parcel of a policy of evasion," said Mr Powell. Another photograph showed lorries which, he said, were moving missiles at almost 30 sites.

"We don't know precisely what Iraq was moving," he said.

He noted that Iraq had banned US spy plane flights over its territory. This, he said, was in direct violation of resolution 1441.

He said the Iraqis had failed to account for any of the biological and chemical warfare materials. The Secretary of State claimed Saddam had between 100 and 150 tonnes of chemical agents. The Iraqis deny such claims and said the voice recordings were “third rate fakes.”

Meanwhile, Downing Street has announced that Tony Blair will meet chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei on Thursday.

The meeting will take place at Number 10 following the morning Cabinet, as Dr Blix and Dr El Baradei stop off in London on their way from New York to Baghdad, where they will hold talks with Iraqi officials.

 

5 FEBRUARY 2003: “IRAQ’S QUEST FOR A NUCLEAR WARHEAD”

Following the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the U.S. military gathered huge piles of information and came up with a long list of "lessons learned." The United States wasn't the only place with experts mulling over the war. One Indian general came up with his succinct own lessons learned from the conflict: "Never fight the Americans without nuclear weapons."

A huge post-war surprise for the victorious Gulf War coalition was how close Iraq had been to having nuclear warheads. Iraq was within months of producing an enriched-uranium nuclear weapon when the Persian Gulf War started in January 1991. Had Iraq waited until it had a nuke and had mounted it on a Scud missile begs the question of what the worldwide response would have been to its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990?

Would the United States have been as quick to offer aid to Kuwait? Would any of the Gulf nations have allowed a U.S. or coalition presence if Saddam Hussein had threatened nuclear retaliation? By extension, would or could the United States have been able to mass a coalition?

"The purpose of a terror weapon is to terrorise," Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said during testimony before Congress on Sept. 18, 2002. "And it need not even be used to still be very effective, because it alters behaviour. And in the hands of the likes of Saddam Hussein, that is a
significant shift in capability and power." Iraq, with its ties to worldwide terrorism, is a rogue state. Hussein has already used weapons of mass destruction on his neighbours and his own people. An Iraqi nuclear weapon would clearly be destabilizing.

"His regime has an active program to acquire and develop nuclear weapons," Rumsfeld said. "And let there be no doubt about it, his regime has dozens of ballistic missiles and is working to extend their range in violation of U.N. restriction."

Donald H. Rumsfeld

During the Gulf War Iraq's nuclear facilities were badly damaged. Yet it managed to hang on to its scientific and technical expertise. Saddam has kept his core of nuclear experts together. Experts believe Saddam’s scientists, have developed the plans for a nuclear weapon. The International Institute for Strategic Studies said Iraqi scientists could fashion a warhead within months if only Hussein could get foreign fissile material.

President Bush addressed the threat of Iraqi nuclear weapons in his State of the Union speech 28 January. He noted that the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in its inspections following the Gulf War that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program
and a bomb design. Saddam Hussein's scientists were also working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb, Bush said.

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," Bush said. "Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminium tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.

"Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities," Bush continued. "He clearly has much to hide."

 

Donald Napier for Eye Spy

 

5 FEBRUARY 2003: IRAQ’S “WEB OF LIES”

Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the Security Council Wednesday with a lengthy list of evidence he said proves Iraq is weaving a "web of lies" about weapons of mass destruction.

According to various intelligence sources Powell quoted, Iraq probably has a large supply of deadly chemical weapons; a fleet of mobile bio weapons labs, and plans to develop nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. He also claimed a "lethal" link between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaida terror network. Iraq's U.N. ambassador dismissed those claims as "utterly unrelated to the truth."
"The clear goal behind holding this meeting ... is to sell the idea of war and aggression against

Iraq’s ambassador, Mohammed Al-Douri, said, noting that to date, weapons inspectors have found no direct evidence Iraq is hoarding banned weapons.

The secretary's remarks were considered vital to the Bush administration's hopes to secure international backing for a possible war. But they did not seem to sway the three other permanent members of the Council that, along with the United States and Britain, hold veto powers. Representatives of China, Russia and France all said the work of the weapons inspectors should continue.

Powell made no specific request for an authorization of force or a firm deadline for Iraqi compliance. But he did make clear that the United States did not want to wait much longer.

"Clearly, Saddam Hussein and his regime will stop at nothing until something stops him," he said. "Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option — not in the post-Sept. 11 world." The secretary's presentation relied on satellite photos, reports from secret sources and telephone conversations picked up by American eavesdropping. In one conversation, two officials discuss an upcoming inspection. One refers to an earlier message telling the facility's staff to "search" particular areas, and tells the man at the facility to make sure he destroys that message. Another recording has an Iraqi colonel telling a subordinate officer to remove the expression "nerve agents" from "the wireless instructions."

Powell presented photos showing large truck convoys arriving at facilities just days ahead of inspections, and then disappearing. In some cases, the photos confirmed human intelligence, he said. He later cited "numerous sources" as saying that Iraq was moving weapons of mass destruction.

"We must ask ourselves, 'Why would Iraq suddenly move equipment of this nature before inspections,'" he said.

Powell also accused the Iraqi regime of "trying to hide people" — threatening scientists not to divulge information, issuing a false death certificate for one scientist, and ordering intelligence agents to pose as weapons workers. Powell listed several claims he said were "based on solid intelligence": That scientists were told to hide prohibited items in their homes; that other items were stashed in cars driven around the countryside to avoid detection; and that Saddam's son, Qusay, had ordered the removal of all prohibited weapons from palaces.

In perhaps his most disturbing assertion, Powell said the United States estimates Iraq has 100 to 500 tons of chemical weapons — enough to fill 16,000 rockets and cause mass casualties over an area of 100 square miles. Quoting human sources, Powell said Saddam has ordered his field commander to use chemical weapons if the country is attacked.

Powell also claimed that the U.S. had evidence of up to 18 mobile biological weapons laboratories in Iraq, and said Saddam "has the wherewithal to develop smallpox." He raised doubts that Iraq had stopped trying to develop nuclear weapons, long-range missiles or unmanned aerial vehicles "well-suited for dispensing chemical and biological weapons."

In the final portion of his nearly 90-minute speech, Powell cited what he deemed evidence of a link between Iraq and al-Qaida, quoting defectors and detained terrorist operatives.

"Ambition and hatred are enough to bring Iraq and al-Qaida together," he said. "The combination is lethal." He said Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, an al-Qaida operative, operates a terrorist training camp in northeastern Iraq. That area is not under Saddam's control, but is controlled by Ansar al-Islam. Powell claimed the Iraqi regime had high-level links to Ansar al-Islam. He also claimed al-Zarqawi had received medical treatment in Baghdad after being wounded in Afghanistan.

Osama Bin-Laden

Powell said Iraq and al-Qaida has forged a non-aggression pact in the early 1990s and held at least eight high-level meetings since them. He accused the Iraqis of providing al-Qaida operatives with training in the use of chemical and biological weapons.

Al-Douri rebutted the U.S. charges later in the meeting, contending they contained "incorrect allegations, unnamed sources, unknown sources" as well as assumptions and presumptions."

Quoting extensively from reports in the New York Times casting doubt on U.S. intelligence, Al-Douri said the audio recordings Powell presented could have been fabricated. He argued analyses conducted by the inspectors "indicated the absence of any indication of proscribed biological, chemical, or radiological – or indeed any other proscribed activity – anywhere in Iraq."

Weapons programs, Al-Douri said, "require huge production facilities. Such things cannot be concealed. Inspectors have crisscrossed all of Iraq and have found none of that."

He also said Iraq "encourages its scientists to submit to interviews" and denied the existence of mobile weapons labs. Echoing Saddam's statement from earlier in the week, he said that if Iraq had a relationship with al-Qaida, it would admit it.

Powell's presentation came at a critical point in the Bush administration's diplomatic effort to rally international backing for a possible war. As other members reacted to Powell's statement, it was clear the U.S. still faces resistance.

Tang Jiaxuan, China's foreign minister, said that, "As long as there is still the slightest hope for political settlement, we should exert our utmost effort to achieve that."

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov agreed, saying more study and analysis was needed of the evidence presented by Powell.

Dominique de Villepin, the French foreign minister, also said inspections should continue — but under "an enhanced regime of inspections monitoring" and that Iraq must do more to cooperate. "The use of force can only be a final recourse," de Villepin said.

Coming to Powell's defence, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the secretary made a "most powerful" case.

On the domestic front, at least one leading Democrat praised Powell's talk. Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware told reporters, "If I had this evidence before a jury that was an unbiased jury, I could get a conviction."

Colin Powell

Donald Napier for Eye Spy

 

 

 

SHORT STORY

Mystery of Eygpt Air Flight 990...

On 31 October 1999, at around 1.55am, EgyptAir Flight 990 vanished off radar scopes southeast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, on the eastern seaboard of the USA.

On route to Cairo from Los Angeles, the aircraft was into its second part of the journey after taking on fuel and additional passengers at JFK airport in New York

After a delay of more than two hours, Flight 990 took off, carrying 199 passengers and 18 crew. 129 were North Americans (most destined for a cruise on the River Nile), 62 Egyptians (of whom more than 30 were military personnel), three Syrians, two Sudanese and one person from Chile. Forty minutes out of JFK and travelling at an altitude of 33,000ft disaster struck. Radar controllers monitoring the Boeing 767-300ER (extended range), watched anxiously as the aircraft lost altitude at a very fast rate - nearly 1,000 mph. Flight 990 had been cruising at 530mph and twelve-second radar sweeps provided an accurate picture of its descent. The aircraft would probably have disintegrated according to airline crash expert Dr Bob Arnott: “It’s enough to tear any normal commercial airliner apart.”

What is clear is that something disastrous occurred in seconds, thus not permitting the crew time to issue any kind of distress call. Cruising is regarded as the safest part of any flight, and this should have given the captain time to react to a malfunction or incident, and alert air traffic control. Speculation is rife of course as to the actual cause of the crash, but many people in the aviation industry seem to believe that an explosion (be it terrorism or a major fault) is the likely cause of the disaster.

The electric current which supplied the transponder and feeds into the flight data (black boxes) and voice recorders, functioned for a full 33 seconds following the aircraft’s sudden descent. Until investigators locate the recorders - lying beneath 250ft of water in the Atlantic Ocean, the actual cause of the crash will not be known. Wreckage and bodies have been discovered over a 60-mile square area, giving some indication of the problems facing the crash investigators. Relatives have already been advised that it will not be possible to identify any of the victims from facial features alone.

FEAR

It took exactly two minutes for Flight 990 to fall 33,000ft and while many of the passengers will have still been alive, most would have been in a semiconscious state. A British Airways pilot commented: “Even in a case of rapid decompression at high altitudes, there can be around 20-25 seconds of useful consciousness and then it gets easier to breath as the plane descends. I fear a lot of people of Flight 990 knew what was going on when they hit the water.” Oxygen masks would have dropped from above passengers seats, but most (if not all) would have had no chance to put them on due to the steep descent.

Within hours of news of the crash, New York City anti-terrorist organisations and the FBI began investigating the incident. Fuel samples taken from the aircraft at JFK Airport were analysed and found normal. Baggage handlers and any airport personnel from JFK and Los Angeles that had contact with the flight were questioned. Meanwhile in Egypt, worried relatives watched the television monitors display Flight 990 as ‘15.30. MSR990 New York’. There was no information whatsoever in the remarks column. Speculation increased that something terrible had happened, and any official in an EgyptAir uniform was accosted for information. Then suddenly the mood of the waiting relatives changed, for a rumour spread throughout Cairo Airport that Flight 990 had been diverted to Canada and everything was fine. Yet as time dragged on the realisation that something tragic had occurred was all too apparent. Mohammed Fahim Rayan, President of EgyptAir then appeared on national television and announced brief details of the airline’s worst-ever disaster.

He said that whilst there was no evidence to suggest a terrorist bomb, investigators would wait until all the available evidence has been gathered before making an announcement, but stragely added that sabotage on the ground had already been ruled out.

HALLOWE’EN TERRORIST BOMB PLOT

On 31 October the FBI revealed that in August 1999, they received a chilling letter allegedly signed by a known terrorist that an aircraft leaving New York or Los Angeles would be destroyed before Halloween. Italian hijacker Luciano Porcari purportedly stated that an aircraft would be blown from the sky using explosive devices smuggled into the USA between 1992 and 1993. The letter read: ‘The devices cannot be detected on a metal detector because of their plastic composition’.

What makes this document even more credible, is that the FBI state that ‘Porcari said the chosen plane would be targeted by 30 October’.

Porcari, 57, hijacked a Spanish Boeing 727 in March 1977, en route from Barcelona to Majorca. Security guards arrested him and he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment - but later escaped. In 1981 he boasted that unless he was paid £150,000 he would hijack another aircraft. Again he was arrested and jailed, but for only six months.

In 1985 he staged a demonstration in Genoa, chaining himself to the Italian Justice Ministry building. He was protesting because four US jet fighters had been allowed to force an EgyptAir jet to land in Sicily - on board were four Arab terrorists. The US security services had been tracking the four men - wanted for killing a wheelchair bound American citizen on board the cruise liner, the Achille Lauro. When Porcari was cut free from the fence, he was carrying a placard that read ‘President Reagan hijacked an Egyptian airliner’. The CIA and other international intelligence organisations do not know the whereabouts of Porcari, although a covert manhunt is now underway to find him.

Mohammed Fahim Rayan has stated that EgyptAir received no warning of a terrorist attack on his airline, though an EgyptAir aircraft was hijacked on its way to Cairo from Instanbul in October. The hijacker was arrested in Hamburg, after his demands that the jet be diverted to London were denied - the crew said there was not enough fuel on board, hence the landing in Germany.

Porcari is but one possible player in the terrorist theory, and FBI agents are now looking at every piece of information which might present a clue. Special agents also visited a Los Angeles hotel room after being notified that a Flight 990 crew member had reported his briefcase had been tampered with.

A bag of sugar and some wiring were removed for analysis, but the agency said it did not believe, “there was any evidence that the room had contained explosive materials.”

THE LOCATION

TWA Flight 800 has become one of the great mysteries of aviation history. Shortly after take-off from JFK Airport on 17 July 1996, the Boeing 747 simply exploded in mid-air with the loss of 230 passengers and crew. Crash investigators have still to pinpoint just exactly what destroyed the aircraft, although much media attention has been given to the theory that an accidental missile launch from a US Navy vessel brought the aircraft down.
An act of terrorism has never been ruled out, and it is possible a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile shattered the aircraft. The FBI found no evidence of a criminal act. Some aviation experts believe that the aircraft’s central fuel tank exploded, or that the air conditioning units combined with high temperatures on board the plane, resulted in an internal explosion.

More unusual theories also exist, including one that although improbable, is possible - that a meteor struck the aircraft, or that the aircraft hit, or was brought down by a UFO! Experts have still to explain a second unidentified blip on radar tapes and, unlike EgyptAir Flight 990, the power supply to the black boxes was cut off after only one second following an explosion, giving crash investigators virtually no chance of determining the cause of the disaster.

In September 1998, Swissair Flight 111 crashed off nearby Nova Scotia killing all 229 people on board. The pilot in this case did have time to report smoke in the cockpit. An electrical fault is believed to have ignited the aircraft.

And in July 1999, a small Piper Saratoga aeroplane carrying none other than JFK’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr, and his wife, Carolyn and her sister Lauren crashed into the sea near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts killing everyone on board. Aviation experts believe Kennedy - an inexperienced pilot - could have been confused by a ‘merging of sea and sky’, a phenomena known in the industry as ‘Black Hole Vertigo’


FLIGHT RECORDER FOUND - MYSTERY DEEPENS

Prior to its discovery, air investigators were keeping an open mind as to whether the flight recorder might reveal that one of Flight 990’s thrust reverse engines could have been deployed accidentally by the crew, or been activated by the aircraft’s computers - especially since EgyptAir officials admitted that one of two thrust reversers on the aircraft was deactivated shortly before the crash because of an hydraulic leak. But Isam Ahmed, head of Egypt’s Civil Aviation Institute, said that even if reverse thrust was activated, the pilots should still have had time to make a radio distress call.

However, on 10 November, after analysing tapes from the recovered Flight Recorder, National Transportation Safety Board officials said no reverse thrust had been deployed and that Flight 990 had made a “controlled descent” before the disaster. They couldn’t tell as yet whether it was caused by mechanical failure, human error or a criminal act. To all intents and purposes, up until the disaster, Flight 990 had enjoyed an uneventful flight with no signs of trouble. Jim Hall, Chairman of the NTSB, said: “The first event we note, is the auto pilot disconnecting. About eight seconds later, the airplane begins what appears to be a controlled descent.”
That descent took the plane from 33,000 feet to an altitude of 19,000 feet with the pilots failing to inform air traffic control or issue any kind of Mayday alert. Radar information then shows the plane climbing rapidly to 24,000 feet before plunging rapidly, losing electrical power before crashing.

James Kallstrom, a former FBI investigator said: “Something happened in the cockpit, something unusual, very dramatic happened; the cockpit recorder is now very important and yes, I’d be very interested to know what when on in the cockpit.”

STRANGE TWISTS OF FATE

Whilst grief and a sense of disbelief swept over distraught relatives at Cairo Airport in Egypt and in America, there were stories of good fortune. Ed McLoughlin left the jet in New York following its arrival from Los Angeles. By a strange coincidence, he works as a counsellor for the Family Enterprises Institute, whose job it is to notify and comfort families of air crash victims. He is now assisting EgyptAir.

And a further three people who had seats reserved on the plane changed their minds: Egyptian businessman Abba el-Sayed, 55, decided to cancel his flight two days before; Mohamed Abdul Maksood, an Egyptian religious leader was due to leave on the aircraft, but decided to give a lecture in New Jersey instead - which was itself cancelled; and finally, Agna el-Sasty, an 80-year-old tourist had left two days earlier.

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