The Insider: Daily Terrorism Report

— Following the discovery earlier this month of a letter in Iraq authored by wanted terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi inciting Muslims to sectarian violence, a debate has arisen between those those who think the letter proves a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and those who think the connection is weak. The Weekly Standard looks into this debate in its March issue, through the eyes of a member of Saddam's former secret police — someone who says he worked for Saddam's envoy to al Qaeda.

And former UK cabinet minister Clare Short claimed that the British government spied on U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in the runup to the war in Iraq, the Guardian reported today. In an interview with BBC radio, Ms. Short was asked whether she believed that British spies had been instructed to carry out operations within the U.N. on personnel such as Mr Annan. "Yes, absolutely," she replied, and that she had seen transcripts of Annan's conversations. British Prime Minister Tony Blair today called his former cabinet minister Clare Short "totally irresponsible" for publicly claiming that British agents had spied on Kofi Annan. He went on to say that intelligence officers have always acted within the boundaries of national and international law.

THE WAR IN IRAQ

Saddam's Ambassador to Al Qaeda

A recently intercepted message from Iraq-based terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi asking the al Qaeda leadership for reinforcements reignited the debate over al Qaeda ties with Saddam Hussein's fallen Baath regime. William Safire of the New York Times called the message a "smoking gun," while the University of Michigan's Juan Cole says that Safire "offers not even one document to prove" the Saddam-al Qaeda nexus. What you are about to read bears directly on that debate. It is based on a recent interview with Abdul Rahman al-Shamari, who served in Saddam's secret police, the Mukhabarat, from 1997 to 2002, and is currently sitting in a Kurdish prison. Al Shamari says that he worked for a man who was Saddam's envoy to al Qaeda. (The Weekly Standard)

Short: U.K. Spied On Kofi Annan

British agents spied on the U.N. secretary general, Kofi Annan, in the run-up to the war in Iraq, Clare Short, the former international development secretary, claimed today. (The Guardian)

Cleric Wants Iraq Elections by Year's End

Prominent Shiite Muslim Cleric calls for elections by end of year as violence continues in Iraq. (AP)

Kurds Demand Vote On Independence

Kurdish activists have collected 1.7 million signatures on a petition demanding a referendum on the future of northern Iraq's Kurdish region. (BBC)

Anti-U.S. Kurdish Militants Rebounding, Officials Say

Ali Hamaamin said he had been whipped with electrical cords, hung by his arms and kicked in the face. Because he was accused of not being religious, he was repeatedly tortured by men from the militant Islamic group Ansar al-Islam. (NY Times)

'Huge Risk' of Iraq Funds' Misuse

The World Bank has expressed fears for the future of Iraq's economy, saying there is a "huge danger" donor funds will be mis-spent. (BBC)

Father of Alleged Zarqawi Aide Denies Son Was Involved With Any Group

The father of the Jordanian Nidhal Arabiyat Agha Hamza, who was killed by coalition forces last week and has been described as an assistant of Abu Mus'ab Al Zarqawi, told Asharq Al Awsat his son was not affiliated with any political groups. (Asharq Al Awsat)

THE WAR ON TERROR

INVESTIGATIONS

Afghanistan

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