- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2003


The government is trying to determine whether Syria is engaged in espionage against the United States in light of an investigation of security breaches at a prison camp in Cuba, a top White House aide said yesterday.

“We’re looking into it, and we’ll see what’s there,” said Condoleezza Rice, President Bush’s national security adviser.

Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi, a Syrian-born supply clerk, is charged with espionage. Authorities say he e-mailed classified information about the camp at Guantanamo Bay to an unspecified enemy and planned to give other secrets about the prison to a person traveling to Syria.

He also is accused of not reporting unauthorized contacts with the Syrian Embassy, but his military attorney has said those contacts were to arrange for a trip to Syria to get married.

Syrian government spokesmen have denied links to the airman.

Also in custody is Army Capt. Yousef Yee, a Muslim chaplain. He has not been charged but is being held in a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., on suspicion of breaching Guantanamo Bay security. Capt. Yee learned Arabic and studied Islam in Syria for four years in the early 1990s.

Asked about Washington’s relationship with Syria, Miss Rice said, “We are not working as constructively with the Syrians as we need to. The Syrians were given a very strong message by Secretary [of State Colin L.] Powell several months ago.

“They did respond in cutting off access for Iraqi leadership officials who were trying to leave the country. But there is much more that Syria needs to do, and that message is being communicated to them,” Miss Rice told “Fox News Sunday.”

A top State Department official recently told Congress that Syria is allowing militants to cross its border into Iraq to kill U.S. soldiers and is aggressively seeking to acquire and develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

In addition, the official, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, said Syria continues to support terrorist organizations.

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