Scientists link Iraq to anthrax terror attacks
by SIMON REEVE, Mail on Sunday
Now plans are now being considered for retaliatory military strikes against Saddam Hussein, according to American government officials.
Although studies of the anthrax spores sent through the mail are continuing, American scientists have discovered 'hall-marks' that point to Iraqi involvement.
American investigators are increasingly convinced that the anthrax was smuggled into the US and mailed to a number of targets by unidentified 'sleeper' supporters of Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda organisation.
Sources admit the American government may never be able to conclusively prove Iraqi involvement, nor identify and capture the individuals who posted the anthrax that has killed two postal workers and a newspaper picture editor.
But they increasingly believe Iraq supplied anthrax to Bin Laden's terrorist group, and expect the war on terrorism to be widened to include attacks on Saddam Hussein's regime.
'The first giveaway pointing us towards Iraq is just how professional some of this [anthrax] is,' said one senior US intelligence source. 'Anthrax is not hard to produce, but it is difficult to turn it into a potent weapon.'
Scientists have discovered that the anthrax particles posted to
Senator Tom Daschle were much smaller and more potent than anthrax used in other attacks.
In recent days, American scientists have also discovered the presence of a thin brown coating around the spores identified as a clay that can help to keep anthrax particles airborne and prevents them sticking together.
The clay is easy to obtain, but difficult to mix with anthrax, and Iraqi scientists are the only biological warfare specialists known to have used the clay in their anthrax programme. 'It is increasingly likely this anthrax was produced outside America and then smuggled into the country by Al Qaeda operatives we have not yet identified,' said another US official.
Options for retaliation against Iraq include missile strikes on Baghdad and carpet-bombing major Iraqi military bases.
Hawks within the American establishment - remembering that the US threatened Iraq with nuclear retaliation if chemical or biological weapons were used against Allied forces during the Gulf War - are believed to have proposed the use of even deadlier weapons.
However, unless conclusive proof of Iraqi involvement emerges, the US administration will move slowly against Saddam, first demanding that he hands over suspects linked to previous terrorist attacks.
Simon Reeve is the author of The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama Bin Laden And The Future of Terrorism, published in paperback by Andre Deutsch at £7.99.
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