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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5457389/site/newsweek

The final report of the 9-11 Commission reveals troubling new evidence that Tehran was closer to Al Qaeda than Iraq was. The 9/11 report says Iranian government officials may have facilitated terror attacks by helping Al Qaeda members to travel with 'clean' passports

By Michael Isikoff and Michael Hirsh

Newsweek

July 26 issue - The Iranian frontier with Afghanistan is a wild and desolate area of goat farmers and mud-brick huts, the perfect place for illicit opium—and terrorists—to cross the border. But the region is hardly a no man's land. U.S. intelligence believes that in faraway Tehran, the hard-line Islamist clerics who now exercise near total control over Iran directed their border guards to help jihadists coming from Afghanistan. And sometime between October 2000 and February 2001, according to the forthcoming final report of the 9-11 Commission, eight to 10 of the "muscle" hijackers of the September 11 plot were among those who benefited from this Iranian good-fellowship.

That conclusion—the strongest evidence yet of a relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda—is one of the most surprising findings to emerge in the commission's report, which is due out this week. According to a December 2001 memo buried in the files of the National Security Agency, obtained by the commission, Iranian officials instructed their border inspectors not to place Iranian or Afghan stamps in the passports of Saudi terrorists traveling from Osama bin Laden's training camps through Iran. Such "clean" passports undoubtedly helped the 9/11 terrorists pass into the United States without raising alarms among U.S. Customs and visa officials, sources familiar with the report told NEWSWEEK.

The 9-11 Commission report emphasizes there is no evidence suggesting that Iranian officials had advance knowledge of the September 11 plot. Still, the report raises new, sharper questions about whether the Bush administration was focused on the right enemy when it decided to remove Saddam Hussein. The NSA memo adds to a large accumulation of intelligence indicating that Iran has had more suspicious ties to Al Qaeda than Iraq did. Among those who once had a base in Iran: Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, allegedly the No. 1 terrorist in Iraq today. Meanwhile the commission found there was no "collaborative, operational" relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

The 9-11 report will likely encourage some administration hawks who have long sought a harder U.S. line against Iran, the "Axis of Evil" member that has gotten the least attention. But Bush administration officials insist that the Iranian link to Al Qaeda was never clear. They also point to a change of attitude by Tehran since 9/11. Iranian officials claim they have "expelled or repatriated" large numbers of bin Laden followers, and last Saturday the country's intelligence chief, Ali Yunesi, announced new arrests. Yet other Qaeda suspects—like bin Laden's son Saad and Saif Al-Adel, once Al Qaeda's security chief, along with eight others—are believed to still be in Iran, possibly under some kind of protective custody to be used as leverage in future U.S.-Iran talks. According to separate intelligence reports, Qaeda suspects also continue to hide across the border from Afghanistan. "We just don't have good intelligence about what is going on in Iran," said one senior U.S. intelligence official. That's especially true since the Iraqi National Congress allegedly told Iranian officials after the Iraq invasion that U.S. intelligence was listening to their conversations. U.S. officials say that resulted in a devastating loss of monitoring capability.

All these unanswered questions make the 500-plus-page 9-11 Commission report—which was intended as a history of the September 11 plot—more relevant than ever to the future war on terror. Exhaustively researched, the report is described as "a thumping good read" and a blistering critique of the performance of the CIA, the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration and a host of other agencies. To correct such failures, the report recommends the creation of a national-intelligence director who would serve as an "intelligence czar" with budgetary authority over the entire U.S. intelligence community. But some administration and intel officials are already deriding the plan as bureaucratic box-drawing.

The 9-11 report is destined to be picked apart by partisans seeking political ammunition against either the Clinton or Bush administrations. The report criticizes both for failing to respond to the bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen in October 2000, especially in light of multiple intelligence briefings strongly pointing to Qaeda complicity. Among the other new disclosures: Bill Clinton also got a strong warning that bin Laden wanted to hijack planes. On Dec. 4, 1998, Clinton was presented with a President's Daily Brief (PDB) with the eye-catching title "Bin Laden Preparing to Hijack U.S. Aircraft and other attacks," NEWSWEEK has learned. The PDB, which has just been declassified, was prompted by a British intelligence report that the son of the Egyptian "blind sheik" Omar Abdel-Rahman—who had been convicted of a plot to blow up New York City landmarks—proposed to hijack airplanes and ransom the passengers in exchange for his father's release. Clinton officials say they acted aggressively, placing New York City airports on maximum alert, but no evidence ever turned up establishing that the plot was real.

Curiously, the same information turned up 20 months later, in the Aug. 6, 2001, PDB presented to President George W. Bush, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." One White House official suggested that the existence of the earlier PDB was evidence that President Bush was never properly informed by the outgoing Clintonites about the full depth of the Qaeda threat. "This was never briefed to us," said the official about the 1998 PDB. Clinton officials dismiss this, saying the timing of the declassification is likely an effort to blunt criticism that Bush bears primary responsibility for failing to avert 9/11.

Grimly, what the new 9-11 report makes clear is that nearly three years into the war on terror, America is still not close to understanding the enemy[I am inclined to agree with this :( ]. And Washington seems less able to force Tehran to change its ways, especially since Bush has removed one of the chief threats to the mullah regime, Saddam Hussein, and is now bogged down in Iraq[had to get that "quagmire" plug in there somewhere! :lol:]. As one intel official said before the Iraq war: "The Iranians are tickled by our focus on Iraq."[Might I suggest that those "Iranian officials" who are "tickled" take a look at a map of the globe and locate Afghanistan, Iraq & Turkey. \/ ;) :lol: ]

All these issues have gained new urgency as Bush officials warn of further attacks. Despite recent portrayals of bin Laden as a man hunted and on the run, U.S. counter-terrorism officials now say the threat today from Al Qaeda may be just as serious as in the summer of 2001. The warnings are based on unusually high-quality intelligence emanating from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border near Waziristan, where top Qaeda leaders are said to be hiding. "This is absolutely real," said one senior U.S. counterterrorism official. "We feel very confident that they are trying hard to attack us inside the United States before the election and that some of the operatives are already here." But just as with the 9/11 attacks, officials are at a loss to say what the actual plot is, who the plotters are, how they got here—and who helped them get here.

With Mark Hosenball and Steve Tuttle

© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.



"Tickled" :lol:

They're gonna be "tickled", all right! :eek:

I know, I'm crazy as a loon! :cuckoo:

Come on out, Canarsie, we've got ya surrounded!
:haha:
 

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The Shia mullahs now support the wahabis :tape:

rooiight. North Korea, get ready, soon we'll be reading 'intelligence' about how Kim Jong-Il supported Al-Qaeda ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
U.S. Fears Israeli Strike Against Iran
By Ori Nir
July 30, 2004
WASHINGTON — With Iran warning that it will "overthrow the entire Zionist entity" if Israel strikes its nuclear facilities, American officials are seeking assurances that Jerusalem has no plans to launch a unilateral strike, the Forward has learned.

Recently a Bush administration official who deals with security affairs told the Forward that the administration is trying to obtain information regarding Israel's intentions. Israeli sources said that the administration is seeking assurances that Jerusalem will not act unilaterally against Iran. It is not clear if such assurances have in fact been given to the administration.

In a statement quoted by the government-backed Teheran Times, General Mas'ud Jazayeri, the director of Iran's Armed Forces Public Relations and Publications Office, said Monday that the Islamic Republic will deliver a strong, decisive and effective response if Israel tried to attack it. Jazayeri claimed that alleged Israeli threats to attack Iran's nuclear facilities originated from the White House, the newspaper reported.

Officials and pundits in Washington have been buzzing recently over the possibility of a strike — by either Israel or the United States. Charles Krauthammer, a popular columnist among Bush administration hawks and an early supporter for toppling Saddam Hussein, wrote an article this week calling for an American strike.

Israel, meanwhile, has not indicated publicly any intent to attack Iran. The Israeli army chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon, said Tuesday that all diplomatic efforts should be exhausted before any further steps to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear arms are considered. Israeli Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz officially stated last month that Israel had no intention to launch an attack.

But recent reports in American and British publications, quoting unnamed sources, contended that Israel is conducting military exercises for a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear power facilities. In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear power plant, eliciting worldwide criticism.

According to media reports, Iran has recently resumed tests aimed at completing the uranium enrichment process — a key step in the development of nuclear weapons — and is months away of completing that process. Iran has denied accusations that it is using a civilian atomic program to hide efforts to develop nuclear arms. It argues that its atomic ambitions are limited to generating electricity and that developing the bomb would violate Islamic law.

Britain, France and Germany are pursuing talks aimed at convincing Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

Ya'alon said Israel was concerned about Israeli intelligence assessments that Iran could build an atomic bomb by 2007.

A report issued earlier this month by the Council on Foreign Relations asserted that America should not let Israel act unilaterally against Iran. The report, authored by former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and former Central Intelligence Agency chief Robert Gates, said: "Given the potential threat that Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons could pose, the full range of alternatives — including military options — for confronting Tehran must be examined. Yet the use of military force would be extremely problematic, given the dispersal of Iran's program at sites throughout the country and their proximity to urban centers.

"Since Washington would be blamed for any unilateral Israeli military strike, the United States should, in any case, make it quite clear to Israel that U.S. interests would be adversely affected by such a move."

Britain's Sunday Times quoted Israeli sources this week as saying that Israel is worried that a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities could provoke "a ferocious response," which could involve terrorist attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets abroad, as well as Lebanese-based rocket attacks on northern Israel.

Israel's chief of military intelligence, Major General Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash, told the Cabinet on Sunday that Iran has supplied hundreds of Iranian-made missiles to Hezbollah, which can hit all of northern Israel and territory as far south as Tel Aviv, in addition to several dozen missiles that can reach the southern city of Beersheva.



With reporting in Israel from Ha'aretz
 

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Discussion Starter #4
This just in:

Cat And Mouse Game Over Iran

DigitalGlobe file photo of Iran's Parchin suspected nuclear site.by Richard Sale, UPI Intelligence Correspondent
New York (UPI) Jan 26, 2005
The U.S. Air Force is playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Iran's ayatollahs, flying American combat aircraft into Iranian airspace in an attempt to lure Tehran into turning on air defense radars, thus allowing U.S. pilots to grid the system for use in future targeting data, administration officials said.


"We have to know which targets to attack and how to attack them," said one, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The flights, which have been going on for weeks, are being launched from sites in Afghanistan and Iraq, and are part of Bush administration attempts to collect badly needed intelligence on Iran's possible nuclear weapons development sites, these sources said, speaking on condition of strict anonymity.

"These Iranian air defense positions are not just being observed, they're being 'templated,'" an ad ministration official said, explaining that the flights are part of a U.S. effort to develop "an electronic order of battle for Iran" in case of actual conflict.

However, a Pentagon spokesman told UPI he was unaware of any such actions.

"We are not aware of any incursions into Iranian air space," said Cdr. Nick Balice, chief of media at the U.S. Central Command.

In the event of an actual clash, Iran's air defense radars would be targeted for destruction by air-fired U.S. anti-radiation or ARM missiles, he said.

A serving U.S. intelligence official added: "You need to know what proportion of your initial air strikes are going to have to be devoted to air defense suppression."

A CentCom official told United Press International that in the event of a real military strikes, U.S. military forces would be using jamming, deception, and physical attack of Iran's sensors and its Command, Control and Intelligence (C3 systems).

He also made clear that that this entails "advance, detailed knowledge of the enemy's electronic order of battle and careful preplanning."

Ellen Laipson, president and CEO of the Henry L. Stimson Center and former CIA Middle East expert, said of the flights, "They are not necessarily an act of war in themselves, unless they are perceived as being so by the country that is being overflown."

Laipson explained: "It's not unusual for countries to test each other's air defenses from time to time, to do a little probing -- but it can be dangerous if the target country believes that such flights could mean an imminent attack."

She said her concern was that Iran "will not only turn on its air defense radars but use them to fire missiles at U.S. aircraft," an act which would "greatly increase tensions" between the two countries.

The air reconnaissance is t aking place in conjunction with other intelligence collection efforts, U.S. government officials said.

To collect badly needed intelligence on the ground about Iran's alleged nuclear program, the United States is depending heavily on Israeli-trained teams of Kurds in northern Iraq and on U.S.-trained teams of former Iranian exiles in the south to gather the intelligence needed for possible strikes against Iran's 13 or more suspected nuclear sites, according to serving and retired U.S. intelligence officials.

Both groups are doing cross border incursions into Iran, some in conjunction with U.S. Special Forces, these sources said.

They claimed the Kurds operating from Kurdistan, in areas they control. The second group, working from the south, is the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, listed by the State Department as a terrorist group, operating from southern Iraq, these sources said.

The use of the MEK for U.S.-intelligence-gathering missions strikes some former U.S. intelligence officials as bizarre. The State Department's annual publication, "Patterns of Global Terrorism," lists them as a terrorist organization.

According to the State Department report, the MEK were allies with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in fighting Iran and, in addition, "assisted Saddam in "suppressing opposition within Iraq, and performed internal security for the Iraqi regime."

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, U.S. forces seized and destroyed MEK munitions and weapons, and about 4,000 MEK operatives were "consolidated, detained, disarmed, and screened for any past terrorist acts, the report said.

Shortly afterwards, the Bush administration began to use them in its covert operations against Iran, former senior U.S. intelligence officials said.

"They've been active in the south for some time," said former CIA counterterrorism chi ef, Vince Cannistraro.

The MEK are said to be currently launching raids from Camp Habib in Basra, but recently Pakistan President Pervez Musharaff granted permission for the MEK to operate from Pakistan's Baluchi area, U.S. officials said.

Asked about the Musharaff decision, Laipson said: "Not a smart move. The last thing he (Musharaff) needs is another batch of hotheads on Pakistani soil."

A former senior Iranian diplomat told United Press International that the Kurds in the Baluchi areas of Pakistan can operate in freedom because the Baluchis "have no love for the mullahs of Iran."

In fact, in the early 1980s, there were massacres of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the area by Baluchi militants who wish to be independent, he said.

Both covert groups are tasked by the Bush administration with planting sensors or "sniffers" close to suspected Iran nuclear weapons development sites that will enable the Bush administration to monitor the progress on the program and develop targeting data, these sources said.

"There is an urgent need to obtain this information, at least in the minds of administration hawks," an administration official said.

"This looks to be turning into a pretty large-scale covert operation," a former long-time CIA operator in the region told UPI. In addition to the air strikes on allegedly Iranian nuclear weapons sites, the second aim of the operation is to secure the support in Iran of those "who view U.S. policy of hostility towards Iran's clerics with favor," he said.

The United States is also attempting to erect a covert infrastructure in Iran able to support U.S. efforts, this source said. It consists of Israelis and other U.S. assets, using third country passports, who have created a network of front companies that they own and staff. "It's a covert infrastructure for material support," a U.S. administration official said.

The network would be able to move money, weapons and personnel around inside Iran, he said. The covert infrastructure could also provide safe houses and the like, he said.

Cannistraro, who knew of the program, said: "I doubt the quality of these kinds or programs," explaining the United States had set up a similar network just before the hostage-rescue attempt in 1980. "People forget that the Iranians quickly rolled up that entire network after the rescue attempt failed," Cannistraro said.

The administration's fear is that by possessing a nuclear weapon, Iran will gain a new stature and status in the region strengthening its determination to remove the U.S presence from the region and making its hostility seem more credible, U.S. officials said.

There is also the administration's fear that Iran, with Syria's help, will accelerate Palestinian terrorism as Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip, these sources said.

So the United States, backed by Israel, is deadly earnest about neutralizing Iran's nuclear weapons site. "The administration has determined that there is no diplomatic solution," said John Pike, president of the online think-tank globalsecurity.org.

"Like the Israelis, the Bush administration has decided that forces of sweetness and light won't be running Iran any time soon, and that having atomic ayatollahs is simply not acceptable." Said Cannistraro of the administration's policy: "Its very, very, very dangerous."

:eek:

I'm tres shocked! :eek:
 
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