The Washington Postґs Thursday edition claims that the government of the USA has received credible information that Al Qaeda acquired chemical weapons from Iraq at the end of October or beginning of November.
The sources quoted by the daily newspaper are described as “well informed” staff at the White House who are unauthorised to make public press statements, who claim that the US government suspects that the VX nerve agent was smuggled from Iraq to Al Qaeda through Turkey.
In a TV interview, the US Defence Secretary claimed that he had seen other evidence at the time which suggests that the event took place, although he stated he had not read the article in the Washington Post.
How very convenient. And how very predictable. One day after the United States authorities seize the Iraqi report on its weapons programmes and after weeks of allegations by Washington that Iraq is hiding its Weapons of Mass Destruction, although nothing has been found by the UNMOVIC or IAEA teams, there is a substantial and serious allegation that Iraq had sold nerve gas to Al Qaeda.
Months of detailed investigations by the creme de la creme of the world’s intelligence agencies failed to find any link whatsoever between Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath regime and Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, much as they tried. At a time when Saddam Hussein knows his regime’s every breath is scrutinised in detail, it would seem unlikely that he would start now to forge links with an organisation he has always shied away from, one which anyway has traditionally been hostile to Iraq.
Once again, Washington has to produce the evidence, not conjecture and the American newspapers would do well to remember that unsubstantiated reports from dubious sources do little to enhance their reputation as credible sources of news.
It should be remembered that the recent anthrax attacks in the USA came from within. Were Al Qaeda looking for chemical or biological weapons, they would probably find it easier to obtain them in the United States of America than in Iraq.
Such stories are no more than hype for internal consumption, the misguided leading the gullible. In a land where all men are blind, he who sees is King.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
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