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Iraq Denies Involvement in Terror Attacks - 2001-09-19


Iraq Wednesday denied any involvement in last week's hijack attacks on Washington and New York.

Iraq's Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri told the al-Iqtisadi weekly newspaper that Baghdad played no role whatsoever in the assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He said that the United States, Britain and the rest of the world know full well that Iraq has no link, near or far, with the attacks against American interests.

A U.S. government official reported Tuesday that the Central Intelligence Agency was examining information that Mohamed Atta, a suspected hijacker of one of the airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center, had met Iraqi intelligence in Europe earlier this year. But the official said that the CIA had no proof that the meeting had anything to do with last week's attacks. Meanwhile, Iraq officially denied Wednesday that a senior Iraqi intelligence official had met with the suspected hijacker.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday said Washington had no evidence pointing to Baghdad's involvement in the assaults.

Meanwhile, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, extended condolences Tuesday to the American people, in a telegram to the U.S. anti-sanctions group, Voices in the Wilderness. But Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has condemned U.S. threats of war in retaliation for the attacks, saying Washington lacks enough credible evidence on those who carried out the assault. Iraq is one of several countries the United States accuses of sponsoring terrorism.

Britain's Guardian newspaper reported earlier this week that Iraq had offered Osama bin Laden, identified by U.S. officials as the prime suspect in the attacks, asylum in exchange for his help against Saudi and U.S. targets.

The paper said that Mr. bin Laden had met an Iraqi official near the southwestern Afghan town of Kandahar. Another Saudi dissident dismissed the report, however, saying that Mr. bin Laden is ideologically opposed to Baghdad's secular ruling Baath Party and has flatly refused President Saddam Hussein's advances.

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