MOSCOW, Russia — Russian intelligence services warned Washington several times that Saddam Hussein’s regime planned terrorist attacks against the United States, President Vladimir Putin has said.
The warnings were provided after September 11, 2001 and before the start of the Iraqi war, Putin said Friday, according to the Interfax news agency.
The planned attacks were targeted both inside and outside the United States, said Putin, who made the remarks in Kazakhstan.
However, Putin said there was no evidence that Saddam’s regime was involved in any terrorist attacks.
“After September 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, the Russian special services … received information that officials from Saddam’s regime were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States and outside it against the U.S. military and other interests,” Interfax quoted Putin as saying.
“Despite that information about terrorist attacks being prepared by Saddam’s regime, Russia’s position on Iraq remains unchanged,” Putin said.
U.S. President George W. Bush personally thanked the head of one of the Russian intelligence services for the information, which he called “very valuable,” said CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty.
Russia opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, but Putin said the issue of going to war was separate from a potential Iraqi threat. He said there were international norms that weren’t observed in carrying out the war.
The United States never mentioned the Russian intelligence in its arguments for going to war.