August 30, 2003
THE BA’ATH / AL QAEDA CONNECTION is looking pretty strong:
NAJAF, Iraq – Iraqi police have arrested four men in connection with the bombing of Iraq (news – web sites)’s holiest Shiite Muslim shrine, and all have links to al-Qaida, a senior police official told The Associated Press on Saturday. . . .
The police official said the men arrested after the attack claimed the recent bombings were designed to keep Iraq in a state of chaos so that police and American forces would be unable to focus attention on the country’s porous borders, across which suspected foreign fighters are said to be infiltrating.
The four men arrived in Najaf three days before the bombing and were staying with a friend who did not know their intentions, the official said.
American officials believe militants from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran are infiltrating Iraq to attack Western interests.
Meanwhile, it appears that it’s not just the Blogosphere that is suspicious of Al Jazeera activities in Iraq:
A defence official in Washington, who asked not to be named, said two people who had identified themselves as journalists working for Al Jazeera had been detained.
He said an investigation was underway as to why they were in the area and whether they were really journalists.
“They had videotape of the attack, and tape of a possible earlier attack,” the official said.
“An investigation will determine whether they were journalists and were legitimately covering the news.”
Given Al Jazeera’s friendly relations with — and outright spying for — Saddam, it wouldn’t be surprising to find terrorists or agents of hostile Arab governments operating under Al Jazeera cover.
UPDATE: Tacitus has a number of observations on the mosque bombing.