Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Dubious Link Between Atta and Saddam
A document tying the Iraqi leader with the 9/11 terrorist is probably fake. PLUS, how terror financiers manage to stay in business
Updated: 11:31 a.m. ET Dec.19, 2003
Dec. 17 - A widely publicized Iraqi document that purports to show that September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta visited Baghdad in the summer of 2001 is probably a fabrication that is contradicted by U.S. law-enforcement records showing Atta was staying at cheap motels and apartments in the United States when the trip presumably would have taken place, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and FBI documents.
The new document, supposedly written by the chief of the Iraqi intelligence service, was trumpeted by the Sunday Telegraph of London earlier this week in a front-page story that broke hours before the dramatic capture of Saddam Hussein. TERRORIST BEHIND SEPTEMBER 11 STRIKE WAS TRAINED BY SADDAM, ran the headline on the story written by Con Coughlin, a Telegraph correspondent and the author of the book "Saddam: The Secret Life."
Coughlin's account was picked up by newspapers around the world and was cited the next day by New York Times columnist William Safire. But U.S. officials and a leading Iraqi document expert tell NEWSWEEK that the document is most likely a forgery—part of a thriving new trade in dubious Iraqi documents that has cropped up in the wake of the collapse of Saddam's regime.
"It's a lucrative business," says Hassan Mneimneh, codirector of an Iraqi exile research group reviewing millions of captured Iraqi government documents. "There's an active document trade taking place … You have fraudulent documents that are being fabricated and sold" for hundreds of dollars a piece.