Facebook Twitter

Israelis say Iraq linked to attacks

Jane’s journal says ‘masterminds’ had ties to bin Laden

SHARE Israelis say Iraq linked to attacks

LONDON — The military journal Jane's reported that Israel's military intelligence believes Iraq was a sponsor of the suicide attacks on the United States last week.

Foreign Report, published by Jane's Information Group, said on its Web site Thursday that officers in Israeli military intelligence unit believed two of the "world's foremost terrorist masterminds" led the attacks.

The journal named them as Imad Moughniyeh of Lebanon, head of special overseas operations for Hizbollah, and Egyptian Ayman Al Zawahri, a senior member of prime suspect Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida group.

"The Iraqis, who for several years paid smaller groups to do their dirty work, were quick to discover the advantages of al-Qaida," Foreign Report said.

"We believe that the operational brains behind the New York attack were Moughniyeh and Zawahri, who were probably financed and got some logistical support from the Iraqi Intelligence Service (SSO)," an Israeli intelligence source told Foreign Report.

Iraq denied on Wednesday that an Iraqi intelligence official had met with a suspected hijacker of one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington last week, killing thousands.

"The U.S. administration and its allies know very well that we have no relation whatsoever with groups that are being accused now by the U.S. of committing what happened in the United States," Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said.

Foreign Report said the Israeli sources said that Iraqi intelligence officers had been shuttling between Baghdad and Afghanistan, meeting with Zawahri, for the past two years.

According to the sources, the Pakistanis captured one of the Iraqi intelligence officers last October near the border with Afghanistan, the report said.

"The Iraqis are also reported to have established strong ties with Imad Moughniyeh," the report said.

Foreign Report said unconfirmed reports in Beirut say "Moughniyeh has undergone plastic surgery and is unrecognizable while Zawahri, thought to be based in Egypt, could be bin Laden's chief representative outside Afghanistan."

The report quoted one Israeli intelligence source as saying Israeli military intelligence warned Israeli allies six weeks ago that an "unprecedented massive terror attack was expected."

Moughniyeh, a member of Lebanon's Shiite Muslim Hizbollah, was behind a wave of anti-American attacks in Lebanon in the 1980s, including the suicide truck bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 that killed 241 U.S. troops.

He led a network of kidnappers who held dozens of American and other western hostages in Lebanon for some seven years.

Moughniyeh's last known address was Tehran.

Zawahri was indicted in New York in 1999 in connection with the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya on Aug. 7, 1998.