03/16/03 THE OBSERVER
An alleged terrorist accused of helping the 11 September conspirators was invited to a party by the Iraqi ambassador to Spain under his al-Qaeda nom de guerre, according to documents seized by Spanish investigators.
Yusuf Galan, who was photographed being trained at a camp run by Osama bin Laden, is now in jail, awaiting trial in Madrid. The indictment against him, drawn up by investigating judge Baltasar Garzon, claims he was ‘directly involved with the preparation and carrying out of the attacks … by the suicide pilots on 11 September’.
Evidence of Galan’s links with Iraqi government officials came to light only recently, as investigators pored through more than 40,000 pages of documents seized in raids at the homes of Galan and seven alleged co-conspirators. The Spanish authorities have supplied copies to lawyers in America, and this week the documents will form part of a dossier to be filed in a federal court in Washington, claiming damages of approximately $100 billion on behalf of more than 2,500 11 September victims.
The lawsuit lists Saddam’s government in Iraq as one of its principal defendants, claiming it provided ‘material support’ to the al-Qaeda terrorists. Under US law, the victims’ families do not have to prove active direction or involvement in the details of the 9/11 conspiracy by Iraq, only that Saddam’s regime gave al-Qaeda more general assistance in the knowledge that it was planning to attack American targets.
Although some Western intelligence officials have expressed scepticism about an al-Qaeda-Iraq link, in recent months George Tenet, the Director of the CIA, has made increasingly strong statements alleging such a connection. In Congressional testimony last month, he said that Iraq had co-operated with al-Qaeda for 10 years, and that it had trained al-Qaeda members in bombmaking and the use of chemical and biological weapons. In an apparent attempt to refute the sceptics, he said this information ‘comes from reliable sources’.
The evidence in support of the 9/11 damages claim cites several examples of this alleged co-operation. They include the terrorist training camp at Salman Pak near Baghdad, where former Iraqi intelligence brigadier Jamal al-Qurairy has said that non-Iraqi Islamic radicals were trained to hijack aircraft using knives.
It also includes a new affirmation by the Czech government that Mohamed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 plotters, met an Iraqi intelligence officer, Ibrahim al-Ani, in Prague in April 2001. Some US officials have suggested this meeting did not happen. But in a signed statement dated 24 February, 2003, Hynek Kmonicek, the Czech ambassador to the UN, says his government ‘can confirm that during the stay of Mohamed Atta … there was contact with Mr al-Ani, who was on 22 April, 2001 expelled from the Czech Republic on the basis of activities not compatible with his diplomatic status [the usual euphemism for spying]’. Garzon’s indictment says Galan was part of a cell which organized bank robberies on behalf of al-Qaeda, and which had supported the group around Atta financially and logistically