- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2005


U.S. officials say a terror suspect imprisoned at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is a former Iraqi soldier and al Qaeda member who plotted with an Iraqi intelligence agent in August 1998 to attack the American and other foreign embassies in Pakistan with chemical weapons, according to a document obtained by the Associated Press.

There is no public record of such an attempt, although the embassy staff in Islamabad was reduced that month amid heightened security concerns after the Aug. 7 truck bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The Iraqi, whose identity is being concealed by the Pentagon on privacy grounds, is further described as a “trusted agent” of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and a member of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. He was arrested in July 2002 in Pakistan.

There is no indication the Iraqi’s purported terror-related activities were on behalf of Saddam Hussein’s government, other than the brief mention of him traveling to Pakistan with a member of the Iraqi intelligence.

These accusations are contained in a two-page “summary of evidence” presented to the Iraqi for his appearance before a combatant status review board at Guantanamo Bay late last year. The evidence was meant to convince the three-member board that the government properly classified him as an “enemy combatant.”

The summary was released to the AP in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daryl Borgquist, a spokesman for the review board, said Tuesday that he could not elaborate on the case.

Navy Secretary Gordon R. England, who is Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s designated overseer of the review process, was asked at a Pentagon press conference Tuesday about the reliability of the government’s evidence against detainees generally, but not specifically about the Iraqi’s case.

“They’re the facts as certainly as we know them,” he said. “They’re fact.”

The assertion that the Iraqi was involved in a plot against embassies in Pakistan is not substantiated in the document. It states only that he traveled to Pakistan in August 1998 with a member of the Iraqi intelligence “for the purpose of” striking at embassies with chemical mortars.

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