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U.S. TAKING 2ND LOOK AT IRAQ’S OFFER OF DATA

SHARE U.S. TAKING 2ND LOOK AT IRAQ’S OFFER OF DATA

In the wake of recent terrorist bombings in Buenos Aires and London, the United States is taking another look at an offer it had dismissed earlier from Iraq to share information on the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

Behind the renewed interest in the Iraqi offer is the suspected presence in Baghdad of Abdul Rah-man Yasin, a fugitive in the World Trade Center bombing, who is believed to be cooperating with Iraqi officials.Iraq told the State Department in April that it had information on the Trade Center bombing but said that to receive it, the department would have to send an American intelligence official to Baghdad to get the material.

That condition led the United States to reject it after two secret meetings with Iraqi officials here in mid-May. The Americans figured the Iraqis were trying to trick them into signaling some diplomatic recognition of Baghdad.

However, John Russell, a Justice Department spokesman, said Monday there is new interest in the Iraqi offer because of the July 18 bombing in Buenos Aires, which killed at least 96 people, most of them employees of a Jewish philanthropic organization, and bombings last week in London at the Israeli Embassy and at a Jewish fund-raising organization, which injured 19 people.

Russell, added: "This is all very sensitive stuff. We don't want to discuss it." He said Iraq's demand that the United States send an emissary to Baghdad "is still being negotiated."

But he stressed that there continues to be "some reluctance" to do that because of fears that the Iraqi offer is only a trick to help Iraqi President Saddam Hussein gain respect for his outlaw regime.

Argentine investigators were reportedly told by a Iranian defector, who claimed to be an aide at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires, that Iran uses its diplomatic missions abroad to finance anti-Israeli terrorism. The terrorist attacks are believed to be carried out by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, or Party of God, a radical Shiite Islamic group in Lebanon.

If Iraq possesses information that links Iran to the two bombings, Baghdad should come forward with it, said a State Department official who asked not to be identified.

According to Nizar Hamdoon, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, the information that Iraq says it has about the World Trade Center bombing may come from Yasin, who has been identified in press reports as an accomplice to Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the ringleader of the bombing.

Yousef's whereabouts are unknown. Yasin, an Iraqi who was born in Bloomington, Ind., has been spotted recently in Baghdad.