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Tuesday, September 16, 2003 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Cheney Reasserts Already Debunked Atta–Iraq Connection
2003-09-16

Cheney Suggests Iraq Is Linked To ’93 WTC Bombing Through Wanted Iraqi-American

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Abdul Rahman Yasin is an Iraqi American that Cheney claims is proof of a link between Iraq and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. There is a $25 million price on his head. But when Saddam Hussein offered to hand him over, the Bush Administration said no. We speak with Yasin’s lawyer. [Includes transcript]

Click here to read to full transcript

Debunking Cheney: Part III of a Four-Part Special

In the case of Saudi Arabia Cheney said that it was irrelevant that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi. But in the case of Iraqis, Cheney used a different spin.

  • Tim Russert questioning Vice President Dick Cheney on "Meet the Press" September 14, 2003:

Vice President Dick Cheney: We know, for example, in connection with the original World Trade Center bombing in '93 that one of the bombers was Iraqi, returned to Iraq after the attack of ’93. And we've learned subsequent to that, since we went into Baghdad and got into the intelligence files, that this individual probably also received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven.

Now, is there a connection between the Iraqi government and the original World Trade Center bombing in ’93? We know, as I say, that one of the perpetrators of that act did, in fact, receive support from the Iraqi government after the fact.

Cheney is talking about Abdul Rahman Yasin. He is listed among the FBI’s top 25 most wanted. He is accused of participating in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and has a $25 million bounty on his head.

But there is a lot that Cheney did not say about Yasin. First, Yasin is an American citizen who was born in Bloomington, Indiana. Second, the FBI questioned Yasin shortly after the 1993 bombing, characterized him as cooperative and then allowed him to leave the country. But what is perhaps most interesting is that when Yasin left the US he went to Iraq where he lived for a year before being arrested by Iraqi intelligence agents in 1994. Last summer 60 Minutes interviewed him in Baghdad in an Iraqi intelligence facility. It was the first time he was seen since the 1993 attacks. Former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told 60 Minutes that twice Iraq attempted to hand him over to the US, once in 1994 when Clinton was President and again after the attacks on September 11.

Aziz said that in October of 2001, the Iraqi government sent word to the CIA through an Egyptian government emissary and an unnamed second government that Yasin was in custody in Iraq and that Baghdad wanted to hand him over. Aziz said the only condition was that the U.S. sign a receipt saying that Iraq had handed him over. The U.S. again rejected the offer with officials later saying the Iraqis were placing too many demands on Washington in return for Yasin. Despite the comments of Cheney, implying that Yasin shows a link between Iraq and attacks against the World Trade Center, he was not included in the Pentagon’s deck of the 55 most wanted, despite the fact that he is listed on the FBI’s top 25 most wanted list.

  • Stephen Somerstein, lawyer for Abdul Rahman Yasin.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman. The case of Saudi Arabia, vice president Cheney said it was irrelevant that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, but in the case of Iraqis Cheney used a different spin.

We know for example in connection with the original World Trade Center bombing in 1993 that one of the bombers was Iraqi, returned to Iraq after the attack of 1993.

We’ve learned subsequent to that since we got into Baghdad and got into intelligence files this individual probably received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven.

Is there a connection between the Iraqi government and the original world trade center bombing of 1993? we know as I say that one of the perpetrators of that act did in fact receive support from the Iraqi government after the fact. Vice President Cheney is talking about Abdul Rahman Yasin. He is listed among the F.B.I.’s top 25 most wanted.

He’s accused of participating in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, has $25 million bounty on his head.

But there is a lot Cheney did not say about Yasin, first an American citizen born in Bloomington, Indiana. Second, the F.B.I. questioned him shortly after the 1993 bombing and characterized him as cooperative and let him go.

But what is perhaps most interesting is that when Yasin left the United States he went to Iraq where he lived for a year before being arrested by Iraqi intelligence agents in 1994. Last summer 60 minutes interviewed him in Baghdad in Iraqi intelligence facility, it was first time he was seen since the 1993 attacks.

Former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told "60 Minutes" that twice Iraq attempt to hand Yasin over to the United States once in 1994 under Clinton and again after the attacks on September 11th. Aziz said in October of 2001 the Iraqi government sent word to the C.I.A. through an Egyptian government emissary that unnamed second government that Yasin was in custody in Iraq and that Baghdad wanted to hand him over. Aziz says the only condition was that the U.S. sign receipt saying that Iraq had handed him over. The U.S. again rejected the offer with officials later saying the Iraqis were placing too many demands on Washington in return for Yasin. Despite the comments of Cheney, implying that Yasin shows a link between Iraq and attacks against the World Trade Center, he was not included in the Pentagon’s deck of the 55 most wanted despite the fact that he is listed on the F.B.I.’s top 25 most wanted list.

Stephen Somerstein joins us, lawyer for Yasin. Can you tell us about your client Yasin, were you surprised to hear Cheney raise him as justification for the current attack on Iraq?

STEPHEN SOMERSTEIN: Well, surprised and not surprised. It seems that the government refers to Mr. Yasin any time it’s convenient for their own propaganda purposes.

AMY GOODMAN: You have Cheney saying that there is this man that Iraq has basically harbored all these years which is responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

And yet the information that he had been arrested, the U.S. authorities had released him, he went to Iraq, he was jailed in Iraq, Iraq tried to hand him over twice.

And U.S. under Bush and Cheney has refused to accept him now does not even include him in this deck of cards not to mention meaning, saying he’s not one of the most wanted even though he’s one of the F.B.I.’s 25 most wanted.

STEPHEN SOMERSTEIN: Well, our understanding is that he was indicted and was merely accused. There’s never been a trial, he’s never been convicted, the United States government has never produced or made public any real evidence against him.

It’s been my belief over the last ten or so years that they find Mr. Yasin more valuable to them on the loose when they can just talk about him for their own purposes rather than actually bring him to trial where he might be acquitted.

As far as we know there’s no real evidence linking him to the World Trade Center bombing.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Somerstein the attorney for Abdul Yasin.


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