Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lamenting the fate of the ghosts

In a column lamenting the "ghost prisoners" of the CIA's secret prison/rendition network (not yet transferred to GTMO) the WaPo's Craig Whitlock once again failed to mention a very intriguing detail about one of the suspected ghosts, Mustafa Setmariam Nasar--his past connections to Iraq.

Doubtful those connections were extensive, nevertheless, they are on the record. Here's what I dug up on Nasar after Whitlock's last column about the red-headed terrorist about 18 months ago (taken from the Jamestown Foundation's site for Global Terrorism Analysis):
Nasar joined the Syrian jihadist movement al-Tali'a al-Muqatila ("The Fighting Vanguard") and deepened his military expertise at the hands of refugee Syrian military officers in Jordan and Egyptian and Iraqi instructors in Baghdad and Cairo. Specializing in explosives engineering and urban guerrilla warfare, Nasar trained recruits in the military camps of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and Baghdad..
While this doesn't prove al Qaeda and Saddam were blood brothers it does support other circumstantial evidence that he was in the loop in some shadowy fashion.

Speaking of the loop, Mr. Whitlock also mentions the fate of the notorious IIS (Iraqi Intelligence Service) member Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, better known as the Iraqi envoy to the Czech Republic reported to have met with Mohamed Atta months before the 9/11 attack. This was never corroborated by the FBI although VP Cheney made frequent mention in speeches before the Iraq invasion, a major talking point within the Bush-lied division of the Democrat Party.

Now we learn al-Ani--an Iraqi spy--is suing the Czech government for framing him! He must have visions of Valerie dancing in his head. But why sue Prague and not Washington? Well..
By many accounts al-Ani was hardly a saint. During his time in the Czech Republic, he reportedly hounded Iraqi exiles living in Prague and provided logistical assistance to Islamic extremists. A top agent in Saddam's intelligence agency, he directed, according to Mlada fronta, all secret operations in Central and Eastern Europe.
So, even if he didn't meet directly with Atta, he was an agent of terrorism in the Balkans under direction from Saddam. Kind of explains why he's suing in Prague rather than New York, doesn't it?

Finally, Mr. Whitlock mentions Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, no household name in America but certainly so for those in the know. He was notorious as the AQ training coordinator captured in Afghanistan who told Egyptian Intelligence that Saddam had offered training in poisons to al Qaeda members before the invasion, only to recant thereafter (to become a sort of cause celebre for the anti-Bush set). Here's what Tenet said about al-Libi in his recent memoir, page 269:
(he) had provided the Egyptians with information that he later recanted, that al-Qa'ida had collaborated with Russian organized crime to import into New York "cannisters containing nuclear material."
Funny, al-Libi is not generally notorious for that morsel, only the one he recanted about Iraq. Speaking of that recantation, Tenet covered it on pages 353-54:
He (al-Libi) clearly lied. We just don't know when. Did he lie when he first said that al-Qa'ida members received training in Iraq or did he lie when he said they did not? In my mind, either case might still be true. Perhaps early on, he was under pressure, assumed his interrogators already knew the story, and sang away. After time passed and it became clear that he would not be harmed, he might have changed his story to cloud the minds of his captors. Al-Qa'ida operatives are trained to do just that.
Maybe. Too often both sides in this debate tend to implicitly believe one side or the other based on their personal ideologies. But one thing remains incontrovertible--Saddam was up to his neck in activity designed to keep himself in power, destabilize the Middle East and weaken the United States' overall influence. He no doubt viewed the Gulf War as a stab in the back by America and had not given up on pursuing revenge, which made him dangerous in a world full of stateless rogue operators.

As to the black site ghosts, one has to decide whether America is really in a war. If we are, reading captured terrorists Miranda with full habeas corpus rights borders on the insane and is surely something even Hillary would not pursue, despite what she might say on the campaign trail. After all, she was there when her husband started the rendition program.


No, not the proposed title of Bush's memoirs. I'm talking about Bond, James Bond. Stay with me here.

Upon relaxing in front of the boob tube I landed on the above-titled movie today. In an early scene Bond meets Sophie Marceau, who plays "Elektra", an heiress to an oil baron. Elektra is continuing her father's work of building an oil pipeline across Azerbaijan, which she explains is going that way to "bypass the terrorists in Iran, Iraq and Syria". Terrorists? In Iraq? Iran?

The movie was released in 1999 and there was no memorable outrage over that portrayal. One might argue that Elektra was the villain and lied about it, but no one called them on it. Not even Robert Redford. Such was conventional wisdom then.

Ironically, after the above scene a commercial for his upcoming movie "Lions for Lambs" aired, which showed Tom Cruise hectoring Meryl Streep with the line "do you want to win the war on terror", a dead giveaway of the likely plot. The movie is being pegged as a wake-up call for America--guess it's too bad Redford was too tied up with Bagger Vance back in 1999 and 2000 to notice all those fatwas.

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