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[] WT 25.03.03: Covert Mission Aims To Find Intelligence Agency's Files,

Washington Times
March 25, 2003
Pg. 1

Covert Mission Aims To Find Intelligence Agency's Files

By Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times

The United States has begun a covert mission to acquire Iraq's intelligence 
archives and has contacted members of Baghdad's notorious Iraqi 
Intelligence Service, called the Mukhabarat, U.S. officials say.

The sources said the task is being carried out by military 
special-operations units whose goal is to find and safeguard reams of 
intelligence documents that would tell a fuller story of Saddam Hussein's 
brutal 24-year regime.

"One of the targets of special [operations] in this war is to get the raw 
Iraqi intelligence files the archives," one official told The Washington Times.

It is public knowledge that the U.S. government had contacted Iraqi 
military commanders, including some in the Republican Guard, about their 
surrender or orchestrating a coup against Saddam. But what had not been 
disclosed are the ongoing contacts with selected intelligence officials.

"We've been in contact with those people," the official added. "We know the 
value of the Iraqi files."

The belief is that the papers would document the full spectrum of Iraqi war 
crimes, as well as Baghdad's ties to international terrorist groups, such 
as al Qaeda, and where it may be hiding weapons of mass destruction.

Officials also hope the files disclose Iraq's arms-buying network around 
the world.

The United States suspects French and Russian firms of violating U.N. 
sanctions by shipping arms to Iraq through third parties. France built 
Iraq's layered air-defense system and assisted with Saddam's nuclear-bomb 

Russia sold Saddam most of his ground and air arsenal, including T-72 
tanks, armored personnel carriers, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons and 
jet fighters.

The allies have dropped bombs and missiles on various Mukhabarat 
directorates in the capital, Baghdad. But U.S. officials said the strikes 
do not mean that the service's archives have been destroyed.

The officials say they expect that the documents would detail any direct 
ties Saddam's regime has to members of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group and 
various other terror networks that operate out of Syria, Lebanon and the 
Palestinian territories.

If the papers told of such linkages, they would bolster President Bush's 
argument that ordering a military strike to oust Saddam is part of a global 
war on terrorism, begun after the September 11 attacks.

The Bush administration also hopes to find evidence that Iraq has been 
violating U.N. sanctions for 12 years by bribing foreign officials to ship 
prohibited weapons.

"Iraq operates a buying network, and people are paying off foreign 
businesses for the stuff it needs," another official said.

The United Nations imposed a series of sanctions after the 1991 Persian 
Gulf war and ordered Iraq to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.

The Iraqis are considered meticulous record keepers. For example, U.N. 
weapons inspectors found a plethora of documents throughout the 1990s on 
the conduct of the Iran-Iraq war. The U.S. administration has an indication 
that there are similar narratives inside the Mukhabarat on a wide array of 
Saddam's policies and contacts with foreign governments.

Asked yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether the United States would 
find the Iraqi documents once the war is over, Defense Secretary Donald H. 
Rumsfeld said, "You never know if you will find the files. We have 
information that they have been dispersing their documentation files, 
putting them in private homes, burying things, and trying to avoid being 
caught in that. But I suspect we will."

Military analysts say the Mukhabarat is the most important arm of Saddam's 
state security system. It is a spy agency as well as an internal security 
police force.

It is overseen by Saddam's heir apparent, his son Qusai, who also 
supervises the defense of Baghdad, and Iraq's paramilitary forces, that may 
put up a last stand against approaching allied troops.

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