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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in remarks aired on Saturday the creation of a federation based on ethnic divisions in neighboring Iraq would be dangerous, in an apparent reference to a Kurdish autonomy.
Assad, a stern opponent to the U.S-led war and occupation of Iraq, also said that the United States and its allies had failed to achieve any of the goals of their campaign.
"There is no doubt that they (U.S.-led forces) have failed," said Assad in an interview with the Qatar-based Arab television station al-Jazeera.
Assad, whose country is home to about two million Syrian Kurds, said: "A federation which is based on race or ethnic groups is a dangerous thing."
At least one of the al-Qaida plotters arrested in Jordan earlier this month as part of a weapons of mass destruction plot that Jordanian officials say could have killed 80,000 people revealed on Monday that he was trained in Iraq before the U.S. invaded in March 2003.
In a confession broadcast on Jordanian television, the unnamed WMD conspirator revealed: "In Iraq, I started training in explosives and poisons. I gave my complete obedience to [Abu Musab al] Zarqawi," the al-Qaida WMD specialist whose base of operations was in Iraq.
Excerpts from the WMD conspirator's confession broadcast by ABC's "Nightline" late Monday show that the WMD plot was planned and trained for in Iraq more than a year before the U.S. invasion, with the terror suspect admitting, "After the fall of Afghanistan, I met Zarqawi again in Iraq."
U.S. forces vanquished the Taliban government in Kabul in December 2001 - 15 months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
"Some of the details appear to be fairly significant in terms of the planning," reported "Nightline's" Chris Bury: "$170,000, a lot of meetings, getting instructions from people in Iraq, people inside Syria."
Last week, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton said Adbul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, had "several other" customers who may want the bomb. Western diplomats in Vienna said Bolton was clearly referring to Syria.
One atomic energy expert, who follows nuclear intelligence closely, said Bolton leads a faction in President Bush's administration that believes they have strong evidence Syria is operating uranium-enrichment centrifuges.
But a U.S. official, who asked not to be named, warned the intelligence on Syria had not dispelled all doubts.
"Those who are pushing the idea that Syria has centrifuges have been held back by other members of the inter-agency community who question the veracity of the claim," he said.
Several Western diplomats who follow the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), have been saying for months that Syria was a customer of Khan's.
"Syria certainly had contact with Khan," said a non-U.S. Western diplomat, adding that suspicions of Syrian research in atomic weapons have existed for decades
John Loftus: There's a lot of reason to think (the source of the chemicals) might be Iraq. We captured Iraqi members of al-Qaeda, who've been trained in Iraq, planned for the mission in Iraq, and now they're in Jordan with nerve gas. That's not the kind of thing you buy in a grocery store. You have to have obtained it from someplace.
Larry Elder: They couldn't have obtained it from Syria?
Loftus: Syria does have the ability to produce certain kinds of nerve gasses, but in small quantities. The large stockpiles were known to be in Iraq. The best U.S. and allied intelligence say that in the 10 weeks before the Iraq war, Saddam's Russian adviser told him to get rid of all the nerve gas. It would be useless against U.S. troops; the rubber suits were immune to it. So they shipped it across the border to Syria and Lebanon and buried it. Now, in the last few weeks, there's a controversy that Syria has been trying to get rid of this stuff.
They're selling it to al-Qaeda is one supposition. We know the Sudanese government demanded that the Syrian government empty its warehouse in Khartoum where they've been hiding illegal missiles along with components of Weapons of Mass Destruction. But there's no doubt these guys confessed on Jordanian television that they received the training for this mission in Iraq. . . And from the description it appears this is the form of nerve gas known as VX. It's very rare, and very tough to manufacture . . . one of the most destructive chemical mass-production weapons that you can use
Elder: You said that the Russians told Saddam, "There is going to be an invasion. Get rid of your chemical and biological weapons."
Loftus: Sure. It would only bring the United Nations down on their heads if they were shown to really have Weapons of Mass Destruction. It's not generally known, but the CIA has found 41 different material breaches where Saddam did have a weapons of mass destruction program of various types. It was completely illegal. But no one could find the stockpiles. And the liberal press seems to be focusing on that.
Western intelligence analysts believe that a large explosion at a Hezbollah base in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley resulted from the use of weapons, including long-range missiles, smuggled from Iraq, Ha'aretz reports.
Following the explosion Monday, heard 20 miles away, Lebanese sources said Hezbollah closed off the area around Jinta and barred media crews from entering. Ambulances rushed to the scene, but no information about casualties was forthcoming.
Western intelligence experts believe the explosion was connected to an Iraqi arms shipment that reached Hezbollah a few days before the blast.
Instead of a politically driven agenda designed to deny the existence and whereabouts of Iraqi WMD, people should be striving to turn over the ends of the earth to find out once and for all where they are before they find us.
On October 7, 2002, Bush said, "Iraq has trained al Qaida in bomb making, poisons, and deadly gas."
June 1, 2001: "Yes, we found a biological laboratory in Iraq, which the U.N. prohibited."
(even though the CIA had long since debunked it as not solid)
January 28, 2003: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought uranium from Africa."
The IAEA never made such a report.
On Sept. 7, 2002 meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Camp David, Bush told reporters: "I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied, finally denied access, a report came out of the Atomic -- the IAEA -- that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need."