Jan Kavan, who was the Foreign Minister-- and Coordinator
For Intelligence-- of the Czech Republic told me that
the allegation that hijacker Mohamed Atta,met
with the Iraqi consul al-Ani in April 2001, if it turned
out to be true, could potentially embarrass American
intelligence. How could the FBI or CIA be embarrassed
by such a Prague connection?
Yes, it could
embarrass the FBI if, as Kavan has also said, "American
intelligence had failed before 9/11 to adequately appreciate
the significance of the April meeting."
The putative meeting between the Iraq consul, al-Ani,
and the 9-11 hijacker, Atta, took place on April 8,
2001, 5 months prior to the attack on the World Trade
Center. The consul was expelled on Kavan's order two
weeks later. That April the CIA, which maintained a
liaison with the Czech counterintelligence service,
was briefed on the expulsion. Because of the circumstances
surrounding it-- in particular, a possible Iraq-sponsored
bombing plot against an American target, the Radio Free
Europe building-- the case presumably would have been
of interest to the FBI.
The FBI also had a liaison officer in Vienna in neighboring
Austria-- a city of some interest in this case. The
Czech deputy foreign minister, Hynek Kmonicek, personally
arranged for the Austrian embassy to issue al-Ani an
emergency transit visa when he was expelled so he could
wait in Vienna for a flight back to Baghdad. Vienna
was also the city where Czech intelligence suspected
that the person who had met al-Ani had gone. So al-Ani
was a candidate for surveillance in the Vienna airport.
The issue is what, if any, actions, were taken, and
what traces were left in the paper trail.
My article Prague Revisited in Slate <http://slate.msn.com/id/2091354/>
describes the background of this briefing.