Al Qaeda Irag meeting documents resurface

The Totonto Star has found the documents in the Iraq intelligence office that discuss a March 1998 meeting in Baghdad of a al Qaeda representative who stayed for 16 days.

This meeting was followed with a December 1998 trip by an Iraqi representative to Afghanistan to meet with Osama bin Laden.

"...The letter describes bin Laden as an 'opponent' of the regime in Saudi Arabia and said the message to convey to him through the envoy would relate to 'the future of our relationship with him (bin Laden) and to achieve a direct meeting with him.'"

"...A second signature on the page, also in code, recommends bringing the unnamed agent to Iraq because 'we may find in this envoy a way to maintain contact with bin Laden.'

"The remaining pages confirm bin Laden's agent arrived in Baghdad on March 5 and stayed a full 16 days as a guest of the Iraqi government at the Mansur Melia Hotel, one of the capital's premier accommodations.

"The contact came less than five months before bin Laden became America's most-wanted fugitive in the wake of deadly bomb attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

"...The discovery coincides with the Friday capture of Farouk Hijazi, an Iraqi spymaster the United States claims was the link man between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Hijazi, according to U.S. allegations, met bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks during Hijazi's term as Iraq's ambassador to Turkey."

"...According to U.S. officials, Hijazi travelled to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December, 1998, for an alleged meeting with bin Laden near his expanding network of terrorist training camps.

"Details of that meeting are not known, but U.S. officials cite the allegation as the clearest link to date between Iraq and Al Qaeda."

The time line on these contacts suggest that Iraq may have hired al Qaeda as an independant contractor on the embassy bombings, the Cole bombing and 9-11. It is interesting that Democrats keep saying there is no connection between al Qaeda and Iraq, yet there is certainly some evidence to suggest a connection for those who are interested in "connecting the dots."

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