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A former Washington-area man accused in court papers of being the “American contact” for an Osama bin Laden “front organization” is now believed to be working for the new Iraqi government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, two U.S. law-enforcement officials and a longtime associate of the man tell.
Tariq A. Hamdi, who allegedly delivered a satellite-telephone battery to bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998, has left the United States and has told associates he is currently employed in the Iraqi Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, said the government officials, who asked not to be identified because of pending legal charges against Hamdi.
Hamdi's precise status with the Iraqi foreign ministry could not be immediately determined. But one of the U.S. law-enforcement officials said that federal prosecutors were concerned enough about Hamdi’s current status that they undertook a legal review with the State Department to determine if it would prevent them from charging him with federal crimes because of diplomatic immunity. But the prosecutors determined that his diplomatic status was “irrelevant” because the crimes they were considering charging him with took place before the current Iraqi government even existed, the official said.
The affidavit states that, after receiving the battery delivered by Hamdi, bin Laden used the satellite phone during the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that year. In particular, it states, he made a phone call to a number in Baku, Azerbaijan; federal agents later traced bin Laden’s claims of responsibility for the two bombings to the same number, the affidavit states.