Laurie Mylroie has directed us to Edward Jay Epstein’s latest Question of the Week, this one on the Baghdad connection to al Qaeda. Epstein writes:
Question: Three years have passed since the putative meeting in Prague between hijacker Mohammed Atta and Iraq Consul al-Ani. What has the CIA, FBI, Czech intelligence (BIS) and other intelligence services established about the activities of the alleged participants at this meeting?
Answer: 1) Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani served as consul at Iraq’s embassy in Prague between March 1999 and April 21, 2001 and he was activity involved in agent-handling during this period.
2) Mohammed Atta applied for a visa to visit the Czech Republic on May 26, 2000 in Bonn, Germany According to Czech visa records, Atta identified himself as being a “Hamburg student.” Since a visa was not necessary to catch a Czech plane to the US, Czech intelligence concluded he had business in the Czech Republic.
3) Just prior to leaving for the U.S., Atta made 2 trips to the Czech Republic in 2000. The first was on May 30, where he went without a visa to the transit lounge of Prague International Airport; the second was by bus to Prague on June 2 with visa BONN200005260024.
4) On April 4, 2001, Atta checked out of the Diplomat Inn in Virginia Beach and cashed a check for $8,000 from a SunTrust account, according to the FBI. Atta was not seen again in America by any witness before April 11, 2001.
5) Al-Ani scheduled a meeting on April 8,2001 with a “Hamburg student” according to an appointment calendar subsequently turned up by Czech intelligence in a surreptitious search of the Iraq Embassy (presumably after the defeat of Iraq in April 2003.)
6) Al-Ani was observed meeting a young Arab-speaking man on the outskirts of Prague on April 8th by a watcher for Czech counterintelligence.
7) After seeing Atta