Ed Morrissey has a fascinating article in the Weekly Standard on the arrest of two Iraqi intelligence agents in Germany in February 2001. The arrests were reported at the time, although, understandably, not a lot of attention was paid to them. The arrests did generate this commentary in the French Arabic newspaper al-Watan al-Arabi:
Al-Watan al-Arabi (Paris) reports that two Iraqis were arrested in Germany, charged with spying for Baghdad. The arrests came in the wake of reports that Iraq was reorganizing the external branches of its intelligence service and that it had drawn up a plan to strike at US interests around the world through a network of alliances with extremist fundamentalist parties. [Ed.: It’s now received dogma that Saddam could never have allied with extreme fundamentalists.]
The most serious report contained information that Iraq and Osama bin Ladin were working together. German authorities were surprised by the arrest of the two Iraqi agents and the discovery of Iraqi intelligence activities in several German cities. German authorities, acting on CIA recommendations, had been focused on monitoring the activities of Islamic groups linked to bin Ladin. They discovered the two Iraqi agents by chance and uncovered what they considered to be serious indications of cooperation between Iraq and bin Ladin. The matter was considered so important that a special team of CIA and FBI agents was sent to Germany to interrogate the two Iraqi spies.
Who else traveled to Germany during the weeks prior to the two Iraqis’ arrest? Nobody special. Just three of the four September 11 team leaders, including Mohammed Atta.
That could be coincidence, of course, and the report of Saddam/al Qaeda cooperation in the Arabic press could have been wrong. But if the September 11 commission made any effort to investigate any possible connection, it is not apparent from the commission’s report, which fails to mention the German arrests.