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Skyjacker met iraqi { August 2 2002 }

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Friday, August 02, 2002, 12:00 a.m. Pacific

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White House says Sept. 11 skyjacker had met Iraqi agent

By Bob Drogin, Paul Richter and Doyle McManus
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON Despite deep doubts by the CIA and FBI, the White House is now backing claims that suspected Sept. 11 skyjacker Mohammed Atta secretly met five months earlier with an Iraqi agent in Prague, Czech Republic, a possible indication that Saddam Hussein's regime was involved in the terror attacks.

In an interview, a senior Bush administration official said that available evidence of the long-disputed meeting "holds up." The official added, "We're going to talk more about this case."

Convincing proof that Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks would give strong ammunition to the administration in its efforts to build domestic and international support for a military campaign to topple the Iraqi leader.

But the CIA and FBI concluded months ago that they had no hard evidence to confirm claims that the Prague meeting took place.

A federal law-enforcement official said yesterday, however, that the FBI has been reviewing Atta's possible ties to Iraq, including travel and phone records, with "renewed vigor" in recent weeks. Until now, the administration has largely argued that military action against Iraq is justified because of the danger the regime is secretly building nuclear, chemical or biological weapons that could be used against the United States or its allies. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a news conference that Iraq had "a relationship" with al-Qaida, but declined to be more specific.

In related developments:

The Iraqi government yesterday invited the chief U.N. weapons inspector to Baghdad for discussion, hinting that inspections could be renewed nearly four years after inspectors left ahead of allied airstrikes meant to punish Iraq for blocking inspections to certify that Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons have been destroyed.

Bush yesterday extended sanctions on Iraq for another year, notifying Congress that Saddam's government had continued to engage in activities "hostile to U.S. interests."

Copyright 2002 The Seattle Times Company

Able danger identified atta 13 times before attack
Atta face to face
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Atta maybe not even in boston on 911 morning
Atta met iraqis
Atta never met in prague
Atta pakistan money
Atta papers destroyed on orders
Atta was at wrong airport on 911 morning [pdf]
Cheney still links iraq 911 { September 29 2003 }
Cia director disputes meeting with iraq intelligence { July 9 2004 }
Famous atta airport footage from wrong airport
Investigating atta and 911 terror attacks { October 20 2001 }
Meeting in prague never happened { May 1 2002 }
Second officer says atta was tagged before attacks { August 23 2005 }
Skyjacker met iraqi { August 2 2002 }

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