Talking about Clinton’s latest deal with Saddam Hussein of Iraq, one person on CNN’s “Talk Back Live” Program asked, “Why were we so quick to bomb Sudan and Afghanistan and so reluctant to bomb Iraq?” The easy answer is that, once again, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan intervened to save Iraq. But another explanation may lie in President Clinton’s perception that if the U.S. went ahead with an attack on Iraq, it might provoke retaliation from Saddam Hussein.
Is it possible? Stephen Jones, the lawyer who represented Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, makes a case in his new book, entitled “Others Unknown,” that the other convicted bomber, Terry Nichols, had connections to Muslim terrorists linked to Iraq. Without actually proving his case, Jones suggests Nichols was linked to Ramzi Yousef, a terrorist once based in the Philippines who was implicated in the World Trade Center bombing in New York City.
Jones may not be able to conclusively prove his case because the government had tried so hard to conceal information from him. Nevertheless, Jones says he had been advised by Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counter terrorism official, to check into Nichols’ associations in the Philippines, particularly Cebu City, a hotbed of Muslim activity. Nichols traveled there six times and made over 200 calls there. Cannistraro and Laurie Mylroie, a foreign policy analyst hired by Jones, believe that Yousef was a key figure in an Iraqi effort to wage terrorism inside the United States. In fact, Mylroie believes Yousef was an Iraqi agent.
At first Cannistraro didn’t want to talk about a possible Iraqi connection to Oklahoma City, but Jones cites a government document, an FBI report, showing that Cannistraro had called the FBI on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing saying that he had received a call from a Saudi Arabian counter terrorism official who had seen the federal building in Oklahoma City on a list of terrorist targets. Other targets included an Immigration and Naturalization Service office in Houston, Texas, and the FBI office in Los Angeles. This Saudi official said there was a “squad” of people in the U.S., possibly Iraqis, who were on a mission to carry out these attacks. Another FBI report referred to the Oklahoma City bombing being sponsored by the Iraqi intelligence service.
What’s more, the government finally admitted to Jones that the FBI’s Los Angeles Crisis Center received a call from an Islamic group claiming responsibility for the bombing and saying that the FBI and INS offices in Houston and Los Angeles had also been targeted. This matched the information from Cannistraro’s source.
Jones suggests that an Iraqi connection to the bombing makes more sense than the government’s claim that it was carried out by a couple of drifters by the names of Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh. Mylroie takes the issue one step further, offering her educated opinion that Iraq played a role in the Oklahoma City and World Trade Center bombings and some other major terrorist incidents. Her evidence points to an international Iraqi terrorist network with the U.S. as a major target. Clinton had to know that attacking Iraqi carried with it a great risk of retaliation.