On Sunday, the New York Times breathlessly reported on its front
page (above the fold, no less) that, "The Bush administration has begun to
monitor Iraqis in the United States in an effort to identify potential
domestic terrorist threats posed by sympathizers of the Baghdad regime."
According to the Times, "a large number of government agencies are part of
the new operation, including the Pentagon, the F.B.I., the Central
Intelligence Agency, the immigration service, the State Department and the
National Security Agency...."
For those of us who have long been worried about the threat posed in
this country by Iraqi intelligence operatives and their allies, it is
heartening to hear an unnamed "senior government official" cited as saying
that, "This is the largest and most aggressive program like this we've ever
had. We think we know who most of the bad guys are, but we are going to be
very proactive here and not take any chances."
Unfortunately, it appears that at least some of the agencies charged
with addressing the threat posed by Saddam's operatives and their
sympathizers fail utterly to comprehend the challenge the targeted groups
and individuals constitute. For example, the Times reports that "according
to the CIA," there is no evidence that Iraq has engaged in terrorist
activity against the United States" since 1993, when Iraqi agents tried to
assassinate former President George H.W. Bush in Kuwait.
This statement is deeply disturbing. It not only suggests a lack of
appreciation of the present danger. It also evinces an obliviousness to the
historical record that raises a question as to whether the existing
intelligence and law enforcement agencies are up to the task at hand.
That record includes the impressive investigative research conducted
by Jayna Davis, a former reporter with Oklahoma City's KFOR television
station. Since the Murrah Building was destroyed in April 1995, Ms. Davis
has been tirelessly collecting, sifting and analyzing evidence ( including
some 80 pages of affidavits from more than twenty eyewitnesses and 2000
supporting documents) of precisely the sort that the CIA says does not
exist. Among Ms. Davis' more telling discoveries are the following:
o While Timothy McVeigh, the man executed for his role in the bombing,
was widely portrayed as no more than a disgruntled Army veteran, he
expressed to friends and at least once publicly (on "60 Minutes") his
sympathy for Middle Eastern peoples he felt were victimized by American
foreign policy. Shortly after McVeigh's arrest, one of his acquaintances
from the military told ABC's "Prime Time Live" that "Tim always wanted to
become a mercenary" preferably for a Mideast country because they "paid the
[o On March 3, 1995, the House of Representatives' Terrorism Task Force
issued a warning that Mideast terrorists were planning attacks on the "heart
of the U.S.," identifying twelve cities as potential targets, including
Oklahoma City. It reported that the terrorists had recruited two "lily
whites" -- individuals with no criminal history or obvious connections to
the perpetrating organization -- to carry out the bombing of an American
o Six months prior to the bombing, an Oklahoma City-based Palestinian
immigrant who had previously served time for a felony fraud conviction,
hired a handful of former Iraqi soldiers to do maintenance work on some of
the $4 million in rental property he owned. American co-workers reported
their horror as these soldiers "expressed prideful excitement" at initial
reports that Islamic extremists had taken credit for the Murrah bombing and
"exuberently pledged their allegiance to Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein."
Witnesses have put McVeigh and his convicted co-conspirator, Terry Nichols,
in the company of these soldiers on one or more occasions.
o Importantly, Ms. Davis has determined that one of these soldiers,
Hussain Alhussaini, closely matches the composite picture of "John Doe 2"
drawn on the basis of numerous eye-witnesses who claim to have seen such a
heavy-set, dark-complexioned Middle Eastern man: in the Ryder truck used to
destroy the Murrah Building minutes before the attack; putting diesel fuel
-- which, together with fertilizer, powered the explosion -- into the
vehicle that morning, (even though the truck's own engine used unleaded
fuel); at the scene of the crime getting out of the truck seconds before it
blew up; and/or fleeing the site in a brown Chevy pickup. Other witnesses
had previously seen such a truck parked at the Palestinian's real estate
offices before the attack.
o Ms. Davis cites a former Chief of Human Intelligence for the Defense
Intelligence Agency as saying that Alhussaini wears a military tattoo that
suggests he had served in Saddam's trusted Republican Guard and worked in
Unit 999, "an elite group based in Salman Pak southeast of Baghdad
and...tasked with clandestine operations at home and abroad."
Interestingly, after his time in Oklahoma City, Alhussaini found employment
at Logan Airport in Boston -- the take-off point of three of the four
aircraft hijacked on 9/11.
o Nichols had ties to Philippine locales known to be frequented by
Middle Eastern terrorists. According to one of the founders of the Filipino
Abu Sayyaf terror organization, Edwin Angeles, Nichols even met in the early
1990s with Ramzi Youssef -- the mastermind of the World Trade Center in 1993
and brains behind a scheme to blow-up twelve U.S. airliners over the
Pacific. (Iraq expert Dr. Laurie Mylroie has long contended that Youssef
was an agent of Iraqi intelligence, implicating Saddam in the first attempt
to take down the twin towers.)
This sampling does not begin to do justice to the work done by the
intrepid Jayna Davis. Suffice it to say that there is evidence of Iraqi
involvement in at least one and perhaps all three of most deadly terrorist
attacks in the United States to date. It may or may not prove dispositive,
but it can no longer safely be ignored. (To his credit, Senator Arlen
Specter, stunned by the difficulty Ms. Davis has had getting government
agencies to address her findings, has recently promised an investigation
into the matter. Such an effort should be a case study as well for those
who believe a new U.S. domestic intelligence agency, perhaps modeled after
Britain's famed MI-5, is required.) If the new Iraqi surveillance effort is
indeed going to be "aggressive," it would do well to start with the Davis
files -- especially since she believes some of the Iraqi soldiers she has
identified are still at large in Oklahoma City.