In early July
2003, the U.S. military captured Iraqi intelligence
officer Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in Iraq.
This arrest had great potential importance because
al-Ani had been the Iraqi official in the Czech
Republic accused of meeting with the 9-11 terrorist,
Al-Ani had been
dispatched by Iraq to Prague in March 1999 as
the replacement for another Iraqi intelligence
officer named Jabir Salim. Salim, in a shock to
Saddam Hussein's covert networks in central Europe,
had defected to the British Secret Service in
December 1998. Even more damaging, he revealed
in his debriefings that he had been ordered by
his superiors in Baghdad to organize a car-bomb
attack on the headquarters of Radio Free Europe
in the heart of Prague. This disclosures resulted
in a shake-up of Czech counterintelligence that
included the public firing of its director, and
calls for tighter scrutiny of Iraqi diplomats.
So when al-Ani arrived in Prague in March 1999
as the Iraqi vice-counsel in Prague (the same
diplomatic cover used by Salim,) he was under
surveillance by the Czech counterintelligence
During the 23
months that al-Ani operated in Prague, Atta visited
Prague. According to the Czech counterintelligence
service, Atta made one trip to Prague in June
2000 and a the second trip in April 2001.
On April 22, 2001
al-Ani was expelled from the Czech Republic. Since
he was the first Iraq diplomat to be expelled
by the Czech Republic, it was no routine event.
But no details were provided until after the attack
on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
ThenForeign Minister Jan Kavan informed Secretary
of State Powell that Czech counterintelligence
had reported that al-Ani had met with Atta in
April 2001 in Prague.
was unable to resolve this matter. The last word
from the CIA was on June 18, 2002 when George
Tenet testified before the Joint Inquiry Into
Terrorists Attacks that "Atta allegedly traveled
outside the U.S. in early April 2001 to meet with
an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague; we are
still working to confirm or deny this allegation.
It is possible that Atta traveled under an unknown
alias since we have been unable to establish that
Atta left the U.S. or entered Europe in April
2001 under his true name or any known aliases."
Al-Ani is a person
who can now clarify, if not resolve, this CIA
investigation. He has, or can be given, compelling
incentives to cooperate in clarifying this matter.
The Iraq regime he loyally served no longer exists,
and the American government can offer him rewards
for truthfulness which include his freedom, safety,
positive incentives for his cooperation such as
freedom, safety, immunity from war crime prosecution,
resettlement abroad for himself and family and
money. In determining his veracity, his interrogators
can also take advantage of the prisoner's dilemma
he is in since he does not know what his former
associates or captured records and archives, both
in Baghdad and Prague, might have revealed. Since
intelligence officer are usually required to file
written reports and expense statements, he cannot
safely lie about what he reported because, for
all he knows, his interrogators already have copies
of the reports.
Interrogation: Ten Questions
1) Before you
were dispatched to Prague in March 1999, what
briefing did you receive on the Salim defection
in December 1998? Include specifically what the
Mukhabarat and foreign office told you about Salim's
assignments and his agent-managing responsibilities?
What were you told in this regard about his organizing
the bombing of Radio Free Europe?
2) Were you told to avoid agents and other operatives
who had been blown by Salim's defection? If so,
who were they and what were their assignments?
3) Which of his
tasks were you assigned to continue? Did these
include the bombing of Radio Free Europe? Were
you expected to recruit new agents for these and
4) In recruiting
agents were you instructed to approach individuals
who could not be traced back to Iraq? If so, did
these include Moslem extremists? What ground rules
did you operate under? Was it permitted to disguise
your own identity and use a false flag to facilitate
5) Were you aware
of the scrutiny of Czech counterintelligence?
Were you instructed to take precautions to counter
or evade it? If so, what were they?
6) Did you receive
any medals or commendations for your work during
this period? If so, explain why you were so rewarded?
7) What were your
activities on or about Friday, June 2, 2000? Who
did you meet with? How were these meetings arranged
in advance? Did you file reports about them? Did
you file expense statements?
8) What were your
activities in Prague between April 7 and April
14th 2001? Who did you meet with during this period?
Were these meetings arranged in advance? If so,
how? Had you met with any of them before? If not,
what measures did you take verify their identities?
Did you meet with Mohammed Atta or anyone using
his passport or identity? If so, what was the
purpose and outcome of the meeting?
9) Which of your
activities brought you to the attention of Czech
counterintelligence in April 2001?
10) Did you file
a report with either the Embassy or Mukhabarat
on these activities prior to your expulsion from
the Czech Republic? How was this report received
by your superiors both before and after your expulsion
on April 22, 2001? Were you further debriefed
on your mission and expulsion when you returned
to Baghdad? If so, how did you explain the activities
that led up to your expulsion? Did you have further
assignments abroad? If so, what was their purpose?
After it became known in October 2001 that Czech
intelligence had identified you as having been
in contact with Atta, were you further briefed
by your superiors in Baghdad? If so, what did
you tell them. Were you required to change any
of your report?