- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2003

BAGHDAD Germany's intelligence services attempted to build closer links to Saddam Hussein's secret service during the buildup to war last year, documents from the bombed Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad reveal.
The documents, obtained by the Sunday Telegraph, show that an agent named Johannes William Hoffner, described as a "new German representative in Iraq" who had entered the country under diplomatic cover, attended a meeting with Lt. Gen. Taher Jalil Haboosh, the director of Iraq's intelligence service.
During the meeting Jan. 29, 2002, Gen. Haboosh said the Iraqis were keen to have a relationship with Germany's intelligence agency "under diplomatic cover," adding that he hoped to develop that relationship through Mr. Hoffner.
The German replied, "My organization wants to develop its relationship with your organization."
In return, the Iraqis offered to give lucrative contracts to German companies if the Berlin government helped prevent an American invasion of the country.
The revelations came a week after the Sunday Telegraph and some other newspapers reported that Russia was believed to have spied for the Iraqis, passing them intelligence about a meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian government has begun an investigation into the disclosures.
The meeting between the Iraqi and German agents took place some six months before German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrat-led government began its policy of direct opposition to a U.S.-led war against Iraq. The policy was adopted in the heat of last year's German general election campaign at a time when the Social Democrats were widely predicted to lose the contest. Mr. Schroeder was re-elected in September largely because of the popularity of his government's outspoken opposition to a war against Iraq.
The apparently verbatim account of the meeting between Gen. Haboosh and Mr. Hoffner was among documents recovered in the rubble of the heavily bombed Iraqi intelligence headquarters.
During the meeting, Gen. Haboosh told the German agent that Iraq had "big problems" with Britain and the United States. "We have problems with Britain because it occupied Iraq" for decades, "and with America because of its aggression for 11 years," he said.
He added, however, that Iraq had no problems with Germany and suggested that Germany would be rewarded with lucrative contracts if it offered international support to Iraq. "When the American conspiracy is finished, we will make a calculation for each state that helps Iraq in its crisis," he said.
He also urged Mr. Hoffner to lobby the German government to raise its diplomatic mission in Baghdad to full ambassadorial level.
A spokesman for the German government said Saturday it was "well known" that it had been offered lucrative contracts by Baghdad providing it maintained an antiwar stance. "Iraq made these kinds of promises before the war and praised Germany for its position," he said.

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