- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 8, 2003


U.S. forces have arrested the Iraqi diplomat whom some Czech officials accuse of meeting with the lead September 11 hijacker five months before the attacks.

U.S. government officials said Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani was arrested July 2. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mr. al-Ani had been interrogated but had provided little information.

The arrest was first reported yesterday by CBS News. U.S. investigators have dismissed Czech accounts of an April 2001 meeting in Prague between suicide hijacker Mohamed Atta and Mr. al-Ani.

Some Czech officials stand by their claims, the only accused operational link between Saddam Hussein’s government and the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“Atta and al-Ani met,” Hynek Kmonicek, the Czech Republic’s ambassador to the United Nations, said last year.

Czech officials said Atta had contacted Mr. al-Ani, who was expelled later from the Czech Republic, to discuss an attack on the Prague building that served as the headquarters for U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Other Czech officials retracted the account after U.S. investigators said that Atta was in the United States during the time he was supposed to have been meeting with Mr. al-Ani.

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