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Between the Lines

March 11, 2004

Our alleged Iraqi agent

Today’s posts are all conspiracies all the time. First up:

Susan Lindauer, who once worked for our crosstown rival, the Seattle Post-Intelligender, the Everett Herald and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon while he was a member of the U.S. House, was arrested at her home in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., today on charges of acting as an agent for Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Intelligence Service and plotting to aid Iraqi resistance groups after Saddam’s overthrow.

The Associated Press has a story here and the
Washington Post has the basics here (free site registration may be required).

It’s too early to be certain of Lindauer’s motivation, but her next-door neighbor in Takoma Park, Md., said, “She lives in a fantasy world.” A scan of the readily available information on Lindauer available on the Web indicates Lacey may be dead on.

In 1998 Lindauer filed a deposition with Scottish authorities contending that the Libyan government was not responsible for the bombing of Pan American Flight 103 over Lockerbie, which killed 259 people on the airplane, most of them Americans, and 11 on the ground – and for which Libyan leader Moammar Khadafi eventually accepted responsibility.

Lindauer said her deposition was based on information from Richard Fuisz (that’s pronounced “fuse”), a colorful and successful American biotech entrepreneur who is supposed to have once been a CIA agent in Damascus. Fuisz, according to the deposition, told Lindauer that he had personal knowledge of who the Pan Am saboteurs were – and that they were based in Syria.

The U.S. government forbade Fuisz from testifying in the Lockerbie case, which created a minor furor in the UK.

The reputed motive for the U.S. gagging Fuisz was that it didn’t want him to say anything that would damage relations with Syria, which had been helpful to the U.S. during the 1991 Gulf War. However, U.S. policy is to never let intelligence agents testify about anything except under the rarest circumstances.

The U.S. government’s case against Lindauer, according to the idictment, amounts to this:

-- Lindauer accepted payments from the Iraqis for her services and expenses amounting to a total of $10,000, including $5,000 she received during a trip to Baghdad in February and March 2002, where she met with Iraqi intelligence officers.

-- On Jan. 8, 2003, Lindauer tried to influence U.S. foreign policy by delivering to the home of an unidentified U.S. government official a letter in which she conveyed her access to and contacts with members of the Saddam Hussein regime.

-- She met on two occasions in Baltimore in June and July 2003 with an undercover FBI agent who posed as a Libyan intelligence representative who was seeking to support resistance groups in postwar Iraq. It said she discussed the need for plans and foreign resources to support these groups.

-- She continued to correspond with the undercover agent until last month and followed the agent's instructions to leave packages on two occasions in August 2003 in "dead drop" operations.

Lindauer faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years in prison on the most serious charge and five years in prison on the lesser charge if she is convicted, prosecutors said.

Update: We've now got a statement from Lindauer via WBAL-TV in Baltimore: "I'm an anti-war activist and I'm innocent," Lindauer told WBAL-TV as she was led to a car outside the Baltimore FBI office. "I did more to stop terrorism in this country than anybody else. I have done good things for this country. I worked to get weapons inspectors back to Iraq when everyone else said it was impossible. I'm very proud and I'll stand by my achievements."

Posted by tbrown at 01:03 PM


The Spain bombings: who did it?

Update: The evidence is accumulating that the blasts that killed more than 180 people in Madrid may have been an Al Qaida operation.

Earlier:

The Spanish government says it was ETA, the separatist movement that has been trying for decades to create a Basque homeland free of Spanish domination in the mountainous north.

The other major suspect is Al Qaida, which has been fingered for major terrorist bombings in Turkey and Iraq and has pledged to attack countries allied with the U.S. in the Iraq invasion. Spain has been one of the most prominent European allies of the U.S. on Iraq.

Here’s how the evidence stacks up so far:

It was the ETA:

-- ETA was attempting to disrupt Spanish elections set for next Sunday. The group, which is considered a terrorist organization, has killed an estimated 3,500 people in a 35-year campaign for independence.

-- Spanish authorities said the arrest of two suspected ETA members driving an 1,100-pound bomb to Madrid at the end of last month and a thwarted bomb attack on Chamartín station, another main rail terminal in the city, on Christmas Eve was evidence of ETA’s intentions.

-- The 10 bombs, which killed about 180 people in trains and stations in Madrid, employed a type of dynamite commonly used by ETA.

It was Al Qaida:

-- The ETA has never launched an attack on this scale. Its deadliest previous attack, on a Barcelona supermarket in 1987, killed 21 people and drew an apology from the group,

-- ETA usually gives warning of impending bombings. None was received before these catastrophic attacks.

-- A political ally of the ETA, Arnold Otegi of the banned Batasuna party, said, "The modus operandi, the high number of victims and the way it was carried out make me think, and I have a hypothesis in mind, that yes it may have been an operative cell from the Arab resistance."

-- If the dynamite in question was readily available to ETA, presumably it would have been available to Al Qaida operatives in Spain as well.

-- The ETA has been vigorously pursued by Spanish authorities and has had difficulty mounting serious operations recently.

And we can’t discount the political aspect here. It’s much more convenient for the Spanish government to blame its domestic terrorist group – especially just before an election – than admit that the attacks might have been Al Qaida retaliation for the government’s widely unpopular participation in the U.S. coalition against Iraq.

Presumably, all will become clearer in the days ahead.

Posted by tbrown at 12:59 PM


Remember those mercenaries seized in Zimbabwe?

They supposedly were going to participate in a coup attempt 2,000 miles away in Equatorial Guinea. Never heard of it? That wouldn’t be surprising. Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, is a little speck on the west coast of a great big continent. Only a little over 500,000 people live there, under a grim dictatorship.

However, in recent years international oil companies have found vast pools of petroleum and fields of gas in offshore areas belonging to Equatorial Guinea. By one estimate, the country’s tiny economy mushroomed 65 percent last year under the impact of newfound oil wealth. Controlling that wealth could, no doubt, provide the motivation for a coup.

Update: The supposed leader of the coup plot, one Nick du Toit, said the goal had been to kidnap President Teodoro Obiang Nguema and install an exile, Severo Moto Nsa, in his place.

Posted by tbrown at 12:56 PM


And then we have our mercenaries

They’re from Chile, and they’ve been hired to defend Iraq’s oil infrastructure against sabotage. This is supposed to free up some U.S. troops for other duties.

Blackwater USA, a Pentagon contractor, is paying the Chileans about $4,000 per month each.

"We scour the ends of the earth to find professionals - the Chilean commandos are very, very professional and they fit within the Blackwater system," says Blackwater president Gary Jackson.

Makes me warm all over. Our very own Hessians. Such a fitting accoutrement for the New Empire.

Posted by tbrown at 12:54 PM




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