Documents on Terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, 2003







Juan Cole










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 Documents on Terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, 2003



More on German Court Jailing Bin Ladin's Former Bodyguard for Four Years
Paris AFP (North European Service) in English 1708 GMT 26 Nov 03
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Journal Code: 2131 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: Daily Report; News
Word Count: 676

By Richard Heister: "Islamist Linked to Al-Qa'ida Jailed for Plotting Terror Attacks"


1. eup20031110000259 madrid tve internacional spanish 1400 gmt 10 nov 03 (FBIS Transcribed Text)

DUESSELDORF, Germany, Nov 26 (AFP) -- A man who says he was a bodyguard for Al-Qa'ida chief Usama Bin Ladin was jailed for four years Wednesday (26 November) by a German court for plotting terror attacks on Jewish targets.

The relatively mild sentence on Shadi Mohd Mustafa Abdallah, a 27-year-old Jordanian, reflects the deep insight he has given authorities probing Islamic extremism and operations in Germany and elsewhere.

Abdallah was convicted of belonging to the extremist group al-Tawhid, which German intelligence officials claim is linked to the al-Qa'ida network.

He was accused of plotting attacks on two Jewish restaurants in Duesseldorf in western Germany and a Jewish community centre in Berlin.

Abdellah admitted his role -- "I deserve my punishment," he told the court earlier -- and prosecutors asked for half the maximum 10-year term because of the "abundance of detail" he had supplied.

In his judgment, presiding judge Ottmar Breidling urged the reintroduction of a state witness law, abolished in 1999, under which suspects can expect to receive a lesser sentence if they help investigators.

Breidling hinted Abdallah's sentence would have been even lower if the rule had remained, saying he had "fulfilled all the criteria."

The judge said: "A state witness rule is indispensable in the fight against organised terrorism.

"It is short-sighted to presume that members of such organisations are all Islamists imprisoned by an unbending ideology who would not be open to making admissions with a view to leniency."

Abdallah has also given evidence for the prosecution in the separate trials in Hamburg, northern Germany, of two Moroccans accused of aiding the September 11, 2001 suicide hijackers.

Next year, he is due to appear as a prosecution witness again in the trial of four fellow members of Al-Tawhid, whose stated goals include the overthrow of the state of Jordan and death to Jews.

According to Germany's BKA federal crime office, its operational leader is Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, named by the United States as a key link between ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Husayn and Al-Qa'ida.

Abdallah, of Palestinian origin, said he went to an Al-Qa'ida training camp and was, for two weeks, one of Bin Ladin's bodyguards.

He got to know Ramzi Binalshibh, also known as Ramzi Bin Al-Shaiba, who is reputedly one of the key figures behind the September 11 attacks and is in US custody.

He also forged an "especially close relationship" with Zarqawi, who remains at large.

Abdallah told how he was trained to use weapons, poison and explosives and schooled in conspiracy and logistical planning for attacks.

Back in Germany, Al-Tawhid members were ordered by superiors to bomb Jewish sites here. Abdallah said the order came from Zarqawi a day after the attacks in New York and Washington which killed more than 3,000 people.

Prosecutors said his job in the operation was to "find appropriate targets and procure weapons."

German authorities, who had been observing Al-Tawhid since 1997, launched a formal probe in October 2001, a month after the US attacks.

Believing attacks were serious and imminent after tapping telephone calls, they arrested Abdallah and eight other people in April 2002. Breidling lauded police for intervening "at exactly the right time."

However, doubts were cast on the credibility of Abdallah's evidence.

In testimony, a psychiatrist described him as immature and unstable, saying he had "stumbled into Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism more by chance."

He said Abdallah, a frequent binge drinker, marijuana smoker and regular in gay bars who did nothing to hide his lifestyle, did not fit the profile of an Islamic extremist.

(Description of Source: Paris AFP in English -- North European Service of independent French press agency Agence France-Presse)

Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

City/Source: Paris AFP (North European Service)
FBIS Document Number: FBIS-WEU-2003-1126
 archives/2003 News archives/July /27 n/Links made between Al Qaeda, Tawhid.htm


Links made between Al Qaeda, Tawhid

Jordan Times, Sunday, July 27, 2003

DUESSELDORF (AFP) — A German intelligence agent said Friday during the trial of a Jordanian national up on terrorism charges that there were close links between a radical Palestinian group and Al Qaeda. The leader of the Palestinian extremist organisation Tawhid, Abu Mussab Zarqawi, also had a top role in Osama Ben Laden's network, said a terrorism expert from the BKA federal crime office whose name was not revealed before the court.

Tawhid's goals include overthrowing the state of Jordan and killing all Jews. The US government has described Zarqawi as a link between Al Qaeda and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The defendant in the case, Shadi Mohammad Mustafa Abdullah, a 26-year-old Jordanian of Palestinian origin, stands accused of belonging to Tawhid and plotting attacks here against Jewish and Israeli targets, all of which were foiled.

He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of membership of a terrorist organisation and passport forgery.

The BKA agent cited the fact that Zarqawi, who is at large, had operated a training camp in the Afghan city of Herat that was financed by Ben Laden as evidence of the ties between the two groups.

German authorities first began observing Tawhid in 1997 and opened a formal probe in October 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States as part of a sweeping crackdown on Islamic extremist groups.

Al Qaeda has been blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks.

The agent said that since then, Tawhid had increased efforts to forge passports for Islamist fighters in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan to help them flee US forces.

He said that the German Tawhid cell intended to not only attack Jewish interests in Germany but that “the United States and the Bundeswehr [or German armed forces] were in the group's crosshairs,” according to new findings.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell attempted to demonstrate a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda before the UN Security Council in February by saying that Zarqawi had both worked with Al Qaeda and sought shelter in Iraq.

Abdullah has said during his trial that Al Qaeda and Tawhid have cooperated on fund-raising but described their relationship as more of a rivalry than an alliance.

He testified Thursday that Tawhid operatives in Germany received an order from their superiors the day after the Sept. 11 attacks to bomb Jewish sites in Germany.




Distorted Intelligence?

By Michael Isikoff


June 25, 2003


Secret German records cast doubt on the Saddam-Al Qaeda connection. Plus, why Qatar is footing the legal bills for an ‘enemy combatant’ "Hundreds of pages of confidential German law-enforcement records raise new questions about the Bush administration's core evidence purporting to show solid links between Osama bin Laden's terror network and Saddam Hussein's regime.

The Voluminous German records, obtained by Newsweek, seem to undercut highly touted administration claims that Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a hardened Jordanian terrorist who once received medical treatment in Baghdad, was a key player in Al Qaeda.

In fact, the secret German records—compiled during interrogations with a captured Zarqawi associate—suggest that the shadowy Zarqawi headed his own terrorist group, called Al Tawhid, with its own goals and may even have been a jealous rival of Al Qaeda.

The captured associate, Shadi Abdallah, who is now on trial in Germany, told his interrogators last year that Zarqawi’s Al Tawid organization was one of several Islamist groups that acted “in opposition” to bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. At one point, Abdallah described how Zarqawi even vetoed the idea of splitting charity funds collected in Germany between Al Tawhid and Al Qaeda.

While the internal machinations between Al Tawhid and Al Qaeda may seem obscure, they cut to the heart of one of the most politically sensitive issues in Washington at the moment: whether the Bush White House exaggerated and distorted U.S. intelligence to justify the war on Iraq.

Much of the debate revolves around claims that Saddam had large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons—stockpiles that so far have not been found. But an equally fierce debate has been taking place behind the scenes about the handling of sketchy, and at times, contradictory evidence relating to Saddam’s supposed connections with Al Qaeda.

Zarqawi was at the center of those claims. In a Cincinnati speech delivered Oct. 7, on the eve of a congressional vote authorizing him to wage war on Iraq, President Bush asserted that “Iraq and Al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade.” His chief example was that “one very senior Al Qaeda leader” had “received medical treatment in Baghdad”—an obvious reference to Zarqawi, who had his leg amputated there in 2002.

Zarqawi received even more prominence in secretary of State Colin Powell’s Feb. 5 presentation to the United Nations Security Council. In that address, Powell described Zarqawi as “an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants.” During his stay in Baghdad, Powell claimed that “nearly two dozen…al Qaeda affiliates” converged on the Iraqi capital and “established a base of operations there.”

But the German interrogations of Shadi Abdallah present a more complex and somewhat different picture of Zarqawi’s role in international terrorism. According to Abdullah, Zarqawi’s Al Tawhid group focuses on installing an Islamic regime in Jordan and killing Jews. And although Al Tawhid maintained its own training camp near Herat, Afghanistan, Zarqawi competed with bin Laden for trainees and members, Abdallah claimed.

A Jordanian native who migrated to Europe in the mid l990s and became involved in militant Islamic activities in an effort to escape personal problems stemming from his acknowledged drug use and homosexuality. Shadi Abdallah is now on trial in Duesseldorf, Germany on charges of plotting with Zarqawi and other members of an alleged Al Tawhid cell in Germany to attack Jewish or Israeli targets inside Germany. Abdallah could get ten years if convicted on the charges, but is believed to have become a key German government informant and witness against other Al Tawhid operatives who will be tried later.

Transcripts of Abdallah’s interrogations over several months last year by investigators from Germany’s Federal Criminal Police are perhaps the most important hard evidence collected by any Western intelligence or law-enforcement agency about the terrorist activities and aims of Zarqawi and his associates.

The transcripts indicate that while there was certainly interaction between members of Zarqawi’s Jordanian-focused terror group and Al Qaeda, the organizations largely operated separately and had different aims. Shadi Abdallah told investigators how he himself initially was recruited to go to an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan by one of Osama bin Laden’s sons-in-law, whom he met while on a religious trip to Saudi Arabia. After sustaining a head injury in one of Al Qaeda’s Afghan training camps, Shadi Abdallah says, he found himself recuperating in a compound where bin Laden lived.

Later, he was briefly assigned to be one of bin Laden’s bodyguards. At the time, bin Laden’s top advisors believed he was threatened with assassination, and recruited Abdallah as a bodyguard because he was almost as tall as the Al Qaeda leader. While a member of bin Laden’s entourage, Abdallah says he had numerous conversations with Ramzi Binalshibh, a Yemeni resident in Hamburg who later played a key role in the September 11 hijacking conspiracy.

But after “only about two weeks” as a bin Laden bodyguard, Abdallah told German investigators, he became disenchanted with bin Laden’s hard-line ideology, which he found distasteful because of bin Laden’s insistence that the Koran allowed the killing of women children and old people.

Abdallah said he made his way from bin Laden’s hideout to Zarqawi’s Al Tawhid training camp near Herat. There, he was informed that Al Tawhid’s mission was explicitly to “fight the Jordanian regime and to overthrow the government of Jordan” as well as the “annihilation of Jews all over the world.”

After training in Zarqawi’s camp, Abdallah returned to Germany and hooked up with an alleged Al Tawhid cell there that was involved in raising funds and acquiring fake passports for the terror group. Abdallah says that after American forces drove him out of Afghanistan following the 9-11 attacks, Zarqawi for several months ran Al Tawhid out of Iran, using telephones and a network of couriers to pass messages and documents to the German cell and other operatives in Europe.

At the time of Abdallah’s arrest by German authorities last spring, Zarqawi apparently was still running the group out of Iran; and the only Iraqi connection with Al Qaeda was access to phony Iraqi documents, Abdallah told authorities.

Several U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports that were used to craft Powell’s Feb. 5 presentation to the Security Council told NEWSWEEK they were aware all along of the German information about Zarqawi. But the officials insist the CIA firmly stands behind what Powell said about Zarqawi’s purported links to Al Qaeda. Even the German evidence, they said, indicates that there were some associations and links between the two organizations.

Despite the inflammatory language of Powell’s U.N. presentation, Bush Administration officials also have acknowledged that their information about Zarqawi’s stay in Baghdad is sketchy at best. According to U.S. officials, Zarqawi entered Iraq around May of last year to have an amputation performed on his leg, which was injured while he was fleeing American forces in Afghanistan. According to some reports, one reason that he might have gone to Baghdad for the operation was that the Iranian government, in one of its sporadic crackdowns on Al Qaeda, had expelled him.

Senior U.S. officials acknowledged to NEWSWEEK within days of Powell’s speech that it was “unknown” whether Saddam’s government helped arrange Zarqawi’s hospital stay in Baghdad or whether Iraqi intelligence had any contacts with him while he was in Baghdad.

Since U.S. forces ousted Saddam two months ago, only one confirmed member of Zarqawi’s group has been captured by American troops in Iraq. Little if any other information has surfaced to illuminate Zarqawi’s Baghdad stay or the dealings between Saddam’s government and Zarqawi or other alleged Islamic terrorist operatives, including bin Laden. U.S. officials acknowledge that some top captured Al Qaeda leaders, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, have told U.S. interrogators bin Laden vetoed a long-term relationship with Saddam because he did not want to be in the Iraqi leader’s debt.

As for Zarqawi himself, his whereabouts remain unknown. By the time U.S. forces began massing on Iraqi borders in preparation for an attack, intelligence reports indicated that Zarqawi had already left Baghdad, possibly for Syria or Lebanon. When war broke out in March, U.S. intelligence believed that Zarqawi was probably hiding out in an Islamist enclave in Northern Iraq run by Ansar Al Islam, and extremist group which Powell also suggested had connections to both bin Laden and Saddam, even though it was in a part of Iraq not controlled by Saddam’s government.

U.S. intelligence now believes that Zarqawi may have escaped to Iran once again when U.S. and Kurdish forces routed Ansar Al Islam from its base during the war. Officials say they do not know whether he is free to continue to operate Al Tawhid from Iran, or whether he is in Iranian custody. Officials also say that while considerable evidence has turned up to support Powell’s claim that the Ansar Al Islam camp visited by Zarqawi was used as a refuge for Al Qaeda operatives fleeing Afghanistan, little evidence has surfaced to validate implications by Powell that before the Iraq war, an agent placed by Saddam inside the Islamist enclave had helped to arrange Al Qaeda’s safe haven there.

The German government evidence appears to demonstrate how the Zarqawi story told by Powell to the Security Council was partial at best and misleading at worst, in the sense that it took Zarqawi’s tenuous relationship to Al Qaeda and his mysterious visit to Baghdad and lifted them out of context to imply evidence of a closer collaboration between Iraq and bin Laden than the facts demonstrated.

Missing entirely from Powell’s speech was the qualifying and even contradictory information in the German files. Also missing was any reference to Zarqawi’s sojourn in Iran, which knowledgeable officials concede might be as significant, if not more important, than any visit he paid to Baghdad.

One intelligence source says that as the Bush Administration cranked up the government to prepare for war, intelligence agencies were ordered to produce two critical papers that could be published to justify an attack on Saddam. One paper related to Weapons of Mass destruction, the other to Saddam’s links to terrorism. Classified versions of both papers were written and the paper on WMD was eventually published by the Bush Administration as an official dossier. But an unclassified version of the paper on Saddam’s links to terrorism was never published because intelligence agencies could not reach final agreement on what exactly it should say . . .







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