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Lawsuit: Iraq Involved In 9/11 Conspiracy

Over a thousand victims and family members of those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks sued Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein Wednesday alleging there is evidence of a conspiracy with Osama bin Laden to attack the United States.

The lawsuit alleges that Iraqi officials were aware, before Sept. 11, of plans by bin Laden to attack New York and the Pentagon.

The suit, filed Wednesday on behalf of 1,400 victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and their families, also claims Iraq sponsored terrorists for a decade to avenge its defeat in the Gulf War.

"Since Iraq could not defeat the U.S. military, it resorted to terror attacks on U.S. citizens," said the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

The suit names bin Laden, al Qaeda and Iraq as defendants and seeks more than $1 trillion in damages. It was brought by Kreindler & Kreindler, a New York law firm specializing in aviation disaster litigation.

Although other lawsuits have been filed against some of the same defendants, Jim Kreindler, one of the lawyers bringing the litigation, said the suits were the first to include certain detailed information about Iraq's alleged involvement in the attacks.

"We have evidence Iraq knew and approved of the Sept. 11 targets," he said.

It relies in part on a newspaper article published July 21, 2001, in Al Nasiriyah, 185 miles southwest of Baghdad. The law firm provided The Associated Press with a copy of the article written in Arabic and an English translation.

According to the lawsuit, a columnist writing under the byline Naeem Abd Muhalhal described bin Laden thinking "seriously, with the seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert, about the way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House."

The columnist also allegedly wrote that bin Laden was "insisting very convincingly that he will strike America on the arm that is already hurting," a possible reference to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

The lawsuit says a former associate of Muhalhal contends the writer has been connected with Iraqi intelligence since the early 1980s. It also says Muhalhal was praised by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the Sept. 1, 2001, issue for his "documentation of important events and heroic deeds that proud Iraqis have accomplished."

Kreindler said Muhalhal had advance knowledge of al Qaeda's specific targets on Sept. 11 and that "Iraqi officials were aware of plans to attack American landmarks."

"Further, we have evidence that Iraq provided support for bin Laden and his al Qaeda terror organization for nearly a decade," he said.

The lawsuit said there have been numerous meetings between Iraqi intelligence agents and high-ranking al Qaeda members to plan terror attacks.

The suit said bin Laden's chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, whose whereabouts are unknown, met with Iraqi intelligence agents in Baghdad in 1992. An Iraqi serving with the Taliban who fled Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 and was captured in Kurdistan has corroborated the meeting and confirmed that Iraqi contacts with al Qaeda began in 1992, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit noted that Ramzi Yousef arrived in New York on Sept. 1, 1992, with an Iraqi passport to begin planning the 1993 trade center bombing that killed six people and injured more than 1,000 others. Yousef is serving a life prison term after being convicted in the bombing and a plot to blow up a dozen airliners over the Far East in 1995.

The lawsuit alleges that Yousef was an Iraqi intelligence agent who traveled to the United States using travel documents forged in Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation of that country in 1991.

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