January 29, 2003
Air Force General Ed Eberhart, head of Colorado Springs-based Northern Command and NORAD, said on January 18th that war with Iraq could spark an attack on the United States -- from the Iraqi agents, terrorists sympathetic to Saddam Hussein or a copycat attacker.
The FBI had also launched a concerted search for 3,000 or more illegal Iraqi immigrants who have gone missing while visiting the United States and are among those being sought for voluntary interviews in advance of a possible war with Iraq. According to the Washington Post, these investigations have apparently not altered the FBI's view that Hussein loyalists inside the United States are limited primarily to diplomatic circles, and that most are already under US surveillance.
However, the FBI may also be ignoring the possibility that Hussein agents may have been taken into the United States after the 1991 Gulf War. There was ample opportunity for Hussein's agents to infiltrate into the Rafha refugee camp. At one point, Rob Frazier (the second secretary at the American Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and a former military intelligence officer) saw a pile of cash on a table - an indicator that something underhanded was being funded. Over 12,000 "refugees" (including at least 6,000 Iraqi soldiers) were later resettled in America, despite protests from some veterans groups and members of Congress.
Establishing a concrete link between Iraq and Al Qaeda has been a tough task. According to coalition intelligence sources, senior al Qaeda leader Abu Mussab al Zarqawi may provide a link between that terrorist group and Iraq. Zarqawi is a Jordanian recently accused by Jordanian officials of masterminding the assassination of US diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman in late October 2002.
However, a series of small victories against Al Qaeda on January 23-24 by international Law Enforcement Agencies also revealed a threat to Allied rear area bases. Near Venice, Italy, five Moroccan men (with links to Al Qaeda suspects) in Britain were seized during a raid They had C-4, as well as a map of a NATO base at Verona highlighted with the letters BXB and the historic cathedral in Padua with a B. Islamic militants arrested in Britain earlier in January may have been plotting to lace the food supply on at least one British military base with the poison ricin.
Spanish police also rounded up 19 suspected Al Qaeda members in predawn raids against suspected terrorist cells in Barcelona and the surrounding region. That same day, Spain announced that it would allow the US to use it's bases for war on Iraq. Spain had been a transit point for terrorists. Prior to this incident, Spain had arrested more than 20 suspects since 2001 believed to have ties to Al Qaeda, including eight men suspected of having played a role in the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. - Adam Geibel