Skip to comments.IRAQ: I sweet-talked my way into dreaded intelligence HQ ( finding link to bin Laden )
Posted on 04/27/2003 4:24:46 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
I sweet-talked my way into dreaded intelligence HQ
Inigo Gilmore describes how he gained access to documents in the complex that most Iraqis under Saddam were desperate to avoid.
The documents which provide the first proof of direct links between Osama bin Laden and the regime of Saddam Hussein were hidden deep inside a building which for decades was one of the most feared places in Iraq.
During Saddam's time, few civilians dared even glance at the imposing headquarters of the Mukbaharat - the feared intelligence service - as they drove past in case they were hauled in and questioned.
For me, however, the difficulty was sweet-talking the American soldiers from the 3rd Infantry division who now manage the bombed-out premises. Soldiers were slumbering on a tank turret as I attempted to play the innocent. "Just wanted to take a little look around," I told the burly lieutenant who challenged me at the gates.
My request was considered for a few moments - as were the bona fides of Amir, my interpreter, who had wearily trawled around various government buildings with me all week. As the soldiers idly fingered their trigger-guards, our hearts pounded in the sweltering heat: then the lieutenant waved us through.
"It's like a dream," said Amir. "I never imagined I would see inside this forbidden place in my life." Once inside the sprawling complex, with its hedges, sculptures and verdant gardens, we walked straight ahead towards a big bombed-out building, gutted by fire and looted a few days earlier.
Behind it, we found another six-storey concrete building that had been pulverised and was dangerously decrepit.
It was impossible to get through the main entrance but we were able to clamber through a hole at the side where a door had once been. The stairs were covered with rubble, the walls cracked and crumbling.
Crunching broken glass underfoot, we made our way gingerly up the stairs, fearing that the building might collapse at any moment. Moving quickly around the first floor we entered what we believed to be an accounting office for Iraqi intelligence. Rifling through the box folders we found one or two that appeared to be interesting.
The labels were often unclear, but Amir believed that one file related to money paid to guests of the intelligence service. (The contents of the documents were later verified by another interpreter in Baghdad, and in London by an Arabic speaking Whitehall official.) We stuffed some papers into a bag and headed out before we were discovered.
Back at the hotel as we searched through the papers something caught the eye: in three places on one page names had been covered with correcting fluid. We scraped it away with a razor blade. Beneath it appeared a name few had dared believe would ever be linked directly to the regime of Saddam: bin Laden, the world's most wanted man.
Amir grinned and said simply: "Thanks be to God."
The US has had inside intel on this connection for a long time, but due the the nature of it's source could not talk about it privately. People would have died.
This info has been shared with memebers of both parties at briefings. Compare and contrast the reactions. Pubbies openly concerned, Dems saying "Nothing new". IMHO, the Dems were banking on much of this never being made public. The connection now is out.
What comes next is "What did the Dems know and when did they know it?".
British tabloids are about as reliable as Pravda was. Note that all the signatures between the parties in this "Baghdad-Al Qaeda connection" are codenamed. Some proof! Very convenient.
One must separate wishful thinking from believeing every piece of British garbage that comes this way.
I see were wearing our tinfoil hat today. The British press is even more vile than the US press, Helping Blair is not their goal, however sorting out the truth is and should be.
Ummm... I don't think the Telegraph is exactly a 'tabloid'.
Any newspaper that comes out with such a sensational story -- clearly aimed at pocketing profits instead of letting professional intelligence officials determine the authentitcity -- is a tabloid in my book. And maybe, just maybe, that's why even MI6 has serious doubts about this find.
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