Saddam Seen Using Proxy Groups to Attack the U.S. Reports Cite Hezbollah, Hamas as Likely Surrogates

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 25, 2003 | Go to article overview

Saddam Seen Using Proxy Groups to Attack the U.S. Reports Cite Hezbollah, Hamas as Likely Surrogates


Byline: Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A recent CIA analysis concluded Saddam Hussein is highly likely to use a "third party" terrorist group to conduct a proxy attack on the United States in advance of American military operations, according to U.S. officials.

Analysts within the CIA's intelligence directorate reached the conclusion based on a complicated process that applied statistical probabilities to unknown threat scenarios, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

According to one U.S. official, the CIA estimated there is better than an 85 percent chance that Saddam would use proxy terrorists to strike the United States and that the likelihood would increase after any U.S. military action were to begin.

The exercise was conducted several months ago and the analysts stated in a report that Saddam could order a terrorist attack against the United States before U.S. forces start operations to oust him.

"It didn't specify what groups" would be used to carry out the attacks, another U.S. official said.

The analysis stated that if Saddam felt the end of his regime is inevitable that he could "strike out against us using a third party," the second official said.

The first official cited the assessment as saying that the pre-emptive terrorist attack could involve the use of chemical, biological or radiological weapons.

The intelligence assessment coincided with President Bush's decision announced Feb. 7 to raise the terrorism-alert status from yellow, "heightened," to orange, or "high" danger of terrorist attack, primarily from al Qaeda.

U.S. officials said the heightened alert is expected to last through March, which would coincide with any U.S. military action against Iraq.

The CIA analysis also preceded the arrest last week of four persons in Tampa, Fla., who law-enforcement officials say were part of a clandestine cell of Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists who provided financing and other support for anti-Israel suicide attacks.

The formula used by the analysts to reach the conclusion involved what officials called a "Bayesian analysis" of Saddam's options. The analytical model is derived from the statistical-probability theory of 18th-century mathematician Thomas Bayes.

U.S. intelligence officials said there have been recent reports that Saddam would try to use Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist group and Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group, to conduct operations in the United States and against the United States abroad. …

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