It Happened in Baghdad


So maybe the Iraqis didn’t buy uranium in Niger. But we can still blame them for everything else—from 9-11 and the Oklahoma City bombing to Eric Rudolph’s alleged attacks on abortion clinics. Consider the testimony of the American Enterprise Institute’s Laurie Mylroie, who was considered credible enough to be an expert witness before the 9-11 Commission last week.

The commission, which has been complaining that Bush won’t turn over vital documents, is looking into the circumstances behind the World Trade Center attack. “To defeat and destroy our enemy, we must understand more than the crimes it already committed,” the commission chairman, former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean, said last week. “We must understand what drives and motivates it, the source of its power, the resources at its command, its internal strengths and weaknesses.”

At last Wednesday’s public hearing, Mylroie, who at one time was a consultant to the Department of Defense, said she thinks the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, a botched plot hatched in the Philippines to blow up a dozen American airliners, and 9-11 all were the work of Iraqi intelligence. Under this theory, the Iraqis faked intelligence files in Kuwait to create false identities for their key agents, including master terrorist Ramzi Yousef, who then were dispatched to the U.S. As for Al Qaeda, Mylroie contended that Saddam and bin Laden were in it together but that the Iraqi intelligence apparatus was the key. Bin Laden on his own never could have put together the attacks within the U.S., said Mylroie. Only operatives from an actual nation would have the knowledge and resources to do so. Her evidence is tenuous and circumstantial, but she claimed authenticity on grounds it was embraced by Israeli spooks and the former head of the New York FBI office.

Mylroie also wondered whether the anthrax attacks were the work of Iraqi intelligence, and she has speculated that the Oklahoma City blast was suspicious because it occurred after Terry Nichols, convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh’s cohort, visited Mindanao, a hotbed of Muslim extremism in the Philippines, and supposedly attended a meeting with Ramzi Yousef and other terrorists.

“The connection of Terry Nichols, the Philippines, and Ramzi Yousef is a very important point that neither the FBI nor the press pursued,” Mylroie has told Insight on the News magazine. “I doubt that Nichols has ever been asked about his connections to Yousef because the government didn’t want to know. It wanted to say, ‘Here are the perpetrators. We arrested them and we brought them to justice. Case closed.’ ” (Federal investigations and court testimony suggested that Nichols went to the Philippines to visit his mail-order bride. There’s no evidence he met with terrorists. McVeigh’s attorney, Stephen Jones, checked out the foreign-terrorist angle but couldn’t get his findings admitted at trial. Mylroie served as consultant to Jones.)

Others have taken Mylroie’s ideas further, arguing that the abortion bomber Eric Rudolph might have Iraqi ties. How did he stay alive and well for five years? Maybe Iraqi intelligence was at work in the North Carolina mountains. And, as one might imagine, all of this ends up with Bill Clinton’s manipulations—both his failure to take action and his desire to look like a really smart guy after the Oklahoma City bombing by blaming McVeigh and Nichols for what was really an Iraqi plot.

Mylroie’s work on Iraq and its connections to the two World Trade Center attacks have been endorsed by Rumsfeldians Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and former CIA director James Woolsey. While the theories may appear to be far-fetched, they are to be taken seriously because those neocon hawks perched in Rumsfeld’s Defense Department reportedly have replaced the CIA as the major center for American intelligence. If the commission seriously entertains Mylroie’s ideas, its investigations could take an alarming turn of direction—away from Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein and Iraq—and in this way go down the drain for good.

Additional reporting: Phoebe St John and Joanna Khenkine