A possible Saddam-Al-Qaeda Link?
Edward Jay Epstein looks at the confessions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Consider the Feb. 26, 1993, attack on the north tower of the World Trade Center. A 1,500-pound truck bomb was exploded by Islamist terrorists, intending to topple the building. Over 1,000 people were injured, and eventually five of the perpetrators, including the bomb-builder, Ramzi Yousef, were caught and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Yousef is a relative of KSM, and was involved with him in a subsequent plot to blow up U.S. airliners. Nevertheless, the 9/11 Commission concluded that KSM had played at most a "cameo role" in the 1993 attack, limited to providing Yousef with $600 and having a few phone conversations with him. And it based this conclusion largely on the CIA briefings of what KSM had said during his interrogation.
According to the CIA, for example, KSM had maintained that "Yousef never divulged to him the target of the attack." The 1993 WTC bombing, therefore, appeared unrelated to the 9/11 attack--and so the 9/11 Commission had no need to investigate it, or the conspirators involved in it.
In his confession, however, KSM says that he was responsible for the WTC bombing. If so, both it and 9/11 are the work of the same mastermind--and the planning, financing and support network that KSM used in the 1993 attack may be relevant to the 9/11 attack. Of especial interest are the escape routes used by Abdul Rahman Yasin and Ramzi Yousef, both of whom helped prepare the bomb and then fled America.
Yasin (who is not even mentioned in the 9/11 report) came to the U.S. from Iraq in 1992, at about the same time as Yousef, and then returned to Iraq via Jordan. Despite being indicted for the World Trade Center bombing, and put on the FBI's list of the most-wanted terrorist fugitives with a $5 million price on his head (increased to $25 million after 9/11), Iraqi authorities allowed Yasin to remain in Baghdad for 10 years. (In 2003, after the U.S. invasion, he disappeared.)
His co-conspirator Yousef, who entered the U.S. under an alias on an Iraqi passport (switching passports to his Pakistani identity), escaped after the 1993 WTC bombing to Pakistan, where, after being involved in another bombing plot with KSM, he was arrested and is currently in a U.S. prison. But if indeed KSM had been behind the 1993 bombing--and the 9/11 Commission had not been told the opposite by the CIA--the question of what support KSM had in recruiting the conspirators and organizing the escape routes of the bomb makers would have become a far more pressing investigative issue for the commission.