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.


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)




Report: New U.S. Strategy to Capture Al Qaeda Leaders

U.S. forces are scattered in groups of 40 soldiers in the villages and towns close to the Pakistani borders, sources in East Afghanistan told Al Hayat, adding that this was part of a new plan to capture al Qaeda leaders and members. The sources, who arrived in Pakistan yesterday, said the soldiers were living with the people of the area in their homes and mingling with them in an attempt to better understand the situation. The paper is also reporting according to Pakistani security officials that the 25 who were arrested include a Saudi, an Egyptian and a Yemeni, while the rest are from Chechnya and Uzbekistan. In Egypt, Ayman al Zawahri's uncle Mahfouz Azzam denied that Khaled Al Zawahri, who was reportedly arrested in Pakistan and has been described in some reports as al Zawahri's son, has any relation to the family. (Al Hayat)


Zawahri's Son Not Held: Operation Against Al Qaeda Continues

The Foreign Office has said that the operation to flush out al Qaeda militants from Pakistan's territory has not yet ended, although the crackdown in the western border town is over for the time being. (Hi Pakistan)

United States

U.S. Pressing Hunt for Osama Bin Laden

The U.S. military said Wednesday that a "renewed sense of urgency" is firing the search for Osama bin Laden, even as it dismissed reports that the fugitive al Qaeda leader had been located near the Afghan-Pakistan border. (AP)

Al Qaeda's Changing Threat to U.S.

Intelligence officials see cells acting on own — and targeting U.S. (CS Monitor)

9/11 Panel Seeks Rice, Bush Testimony

The federal commission reviewing the Sept. 11 attacks expressed disappointment Wednesday with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice for refusing to testify in public. (AP)

Bush to Limit Testimony Before 9/11 Panel

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have placed strict limits on the private interviews they will grant to the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that they will meet only with the panel's top two officials and that Mr. Bush will submit to only a single hour of questioning, commission members said Wednesday. (NY Times)


Terror Suspects Arrested In Italy

Italian police have arrested three North Africans suspected of plotting to bomb Milan's metro and a cathedral in the north of the country. (BBC)


United Kingdom

British Gov't Wants Debate On Anti-Terror

Prime Minister Tony Blair's government stepped up its fight against terrorism, announcing plans to recruit hundreds of new spies and to review its anti-terror laws. (AP)

Q&A: Anti-Terror Measures

Home Secretary David Blunkett has outlined measures being considered to stop a terror attack on the UK. BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford looks at the proposals. (BBC)


Prison Term for Terror Convicts Shortened

A Lebanese military court shortened to a year and a half the prison sentence for a Saudi and three Lebanese convicted of belonging to al Qaeda and trying to form cells inside the country to carry out terrorist attacks. (Asharq Al Awsat)


Guantanamo Prisoner Released to Denmark

The United States has transferred a Danish national imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Denmark's custody after receiving assurances the Danes would ensure the man does not pose a further threat, the Pentagon said. (LA Times)


Issue 11 of Sot Al Jihad: Writer Defends "Don't Go To Iraq" Article

In the 11th issue of the bi-weekly online magazine Sot Al Jihad, Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Salem, who had previously written an article entitled "Don't go to Iraq" urging the mujaheddin to stay for jihad in Saudi Arabia defended himself against the many criticisms he said he got. In a new article he praises Iraq and says it is "in our prayers." "We are fighting the same enemy" he says about the mujaheddin in Iraq and in Saudi Arabia. He stresses that nothing should divide between the mujahddin in the two places, but is careful in maintaining the distant tone that hints that those fighting in Saudi Arabia should continue to do so. (ABCNEWS Investigative Unit)


Beyond Bin Laden And Future of U.S. War On Terror

The hype surrounding western media reports that the capture of Osama bin Laden may not be far away has prompted intense speculation over the future of the American-led "war on terror". (Gulf News)

The Al Zarqawi Letter By any measure, the capture and publication of the letter should be big news. Writing in mid-February, however, Washington Times columnist Diana West lamented the media's preferences for stories about the President's National Guard record. (Accuracy in Media)

Reinstated Overturning the action of its senior disciplinary officer, the FBI has reinstated a high-profile Muslim agent who had been fired last year amid a swirl of controversy over allegations of conflicting loyalties in the war on terrorism, Newsweek has learned. (Newsweek)

Casualties of Terror

The victims of terrorism are not confined to those whom the bombers kill, maim and traumatize. Terror's lasting victims also include the principles and habits that make human society cherishable. (The Guardian)

Clarify Detainees' Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision last week to review the case of a U.S. citizen, arrested in Chicago but held indefinitely in a military brig as an "enemy combatant," is welcome news because it, along with two other cases, should help set legal parameters in the war on terror. (Denver Post)

Iraq Standoff May Give U.N. the Lead Role The U.S. wants out, the Iraqis want a vote, and the interim may require international supervision. (Time)

Dirty Tricks

A revealing new light was cast yesterday on the maneuverings in Washington and London before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. President Bush, clearly against his better judgment, followed the advice of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and sought the approval of the U.N. Security Council for an attack on Iraq...the Americans also spied on them by tapping the officials' telephones and monitoring their conversations. (Arab News)

Book Review: Reuters Book Tells Untold Tales From Iraq

In recent months, we've seen many articles and books about journalists' experiences covering the Iraq war, the vast majority of them emerging from the "embed" experience. Now Reuters has provided a more wide-ranging collection of stories, in a new book, "Under Fire: Untold Stories from the Front Line of the Iraq War." (Editor & Publisher)

The Insider Daily Terrorism Report (DTR) is a summary of major news articles and broadcasts relating to international terrorism and the war in Iraq. The DTR is edited from foreign and U.S. sources by Chris Isham, Hoda Osman, and Brinda Adhikari of the ABCNEWS Investigative Unit. The outside views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ABCNEWS.