ISIS: STATE OF TERROR
LINKSBlogs of War
Making Sense of Jihad
Views from the Occident
American Al Qaeda Members
News, documents and analysis on violent extremism
Friday, May 14, 2004
The Tangled Web of Nicholas Berg, Abu Al-Zarqawi, Zacarias Moussaoui & Chemical Weapons
The tangled webs of terrorist activity often yield unexpected connections, but it was still surprising to see how many links have emerged among Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Zacarias Moussaoui and terrorism's most recent high-profile victim, Nicholas Berg.
external link). The date of the meeting is unclear.
What few have yet commented on is the fact that Moussaoui and Zarqawi may be directly linked by common associates and an interest in chemical weapons. Even more disturbing is the possibility that Moussaoui could have belonged to one of Zarqawi's terror cells in London.
Berg was questioned by the FBI after it was discovered that Moussaoui had used his password to access University of Oklahoma computers. Berg attended college at the University; Moussaoui went to flight school in Norman, OK. According to some media reports, the two met on a bus.
The FBI determined that the meeting was innocent, reports said. Berg's family told the press that Berg was a trusting person who had simply loaned the password to Moussaoui.
Although initial reports have not suggested anything more complex than a coincidence, it's worth examining the situation more closely since multiple ongoing investigations suggest Moussaoui may be directly connected to Berg's killer.
Before Moussaoui came to the U.S., where he is suspected of having plotted terrorist attacks on behalf of al Qaeda, he lived in London. While there, he attended the Finsbury Park Mosque, which officials have connected to radical Islamic activities. Richard Reid, the al Qaeda "shoe bomber," attended the same mosque, whose spiritual leader was Sheik Abu Hamza al-Mazri.
According to Newsweek (external link), Hamza headed a London cell of Zarqawi's terror network. Hamza has not been charged, but Scotland Yard is continuing to investigate his activities.
But that's not the only connection. When he was arrested, Moussaoui (a French-born citizen of Moroccan descent) had an address book which listed a phone number for fellow Moroccan Amer el Azizi, according to the Wall Street Journal (external link).
Investigators told the WSJ that Azizi trained at a Zarqawi-run camp in Afghanistan prior to September 11, where he studied chemical weapons reputedly Zarqawi's specialty.
The chemical links brings the story back full circle to London and Finsbury Park. In January 2003, British police discovered a stockpile of the chemical agent ricin in a London apartment. According to NBC News, the ricin is believed to be connected to the same terrorist camp Azizi attended.
Several days later, scores of policemen descended on Finsbury Park in a raid that found stun guns, tear gas and hundreds of documents. Seven people were arrested.
Moussaoui is also connected to the specter of a chemical attack. According to his indictment, he was in possession of a computer disk "containing information related to the aerial application of pesticides." Other reports indicated that Moussaoui's laptop computer contained information about crop dusters.
According to the indictment, investigators are uncertain what Moussaui was doing on the University of Oklahoma computers, which he apparently accessed using Berg's password.
Moussaoui is currently on trial for plotting attacks against the U.S. Federal officials originally charged that he was intended to be the "20th hijacker," but they have backed off of that claim in recent months.
All these oddities have fueled a torrent of speculation about how Berg, a young Jewish man fron Pennsylvania, would have struck up a friendship with an Islamic terrorist in the U.S. and what he was actually doing in Iraq.
Berg was apparently self-employed and frequently traveled in Iraq without security, according to media reports. Berg told a reporter friend in Baghdad that he had an Israeli stamp on his passport, according to Reuters. AP reported he had been to Israel a few times.
Adding to the mystery around his time in Iraq, Berg told family members he had been detained by U.S. authorities in Iraq shortly before his kidnapping. U.S. authorities have strenuously denied the claim, saying that he was actually held by the Iraqi CPA.
The U.S. has confirmed, however, that FBI agents met with Berg in the CPA prison on more than one occasion. The reason for his detention is unclear.
According to Reuters, Berg discussed the detention with his reporter friend in Baghdad.
"I guess they figured I was a spy," the reporter quoted Berg as saying.
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
Tweets referencing this post:
"...smart, granular analysis..."ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post
More on ISIS: The State of Terror
"...a timely warning..."Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times
More on Jihad Joe
Questionable Risk-Reward Analysis For Rumsfeld's I...
Violent Video Invokes Abu Ghraib Photos, But Don't...
2WATCH List: Contractors, KSM, Hambali, Afghan Ele...
al Qaeda Linked to Recruitment of Cebu Christians ...
Rumsfeld: More 'Inhuman' Iraq Prison Photos And Vi...
Company Named In Iraq Prison Torture Report Also S...
Iraq Prison Abuse Photos Unleash Tough New Problem...
Photos Depicting Abuse of Iraqi POWs by American S...
Report: Secret Post-9/11 Mission Debunked Ramzi Yo...
New Section Added on OKC Bombing
New York Pipe Bomb Suspect Linked to Revolution Muslim
The Utility of Lone Wolves
Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser
A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds
How Terrorists Use The Internet: Just Like You
PATCON: The FBI's Secret War on the Militia Movement
Interview About Jihad With Controversial Cleric Bilal Philips
Forgeries on the Jihadist Forums
U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki
State Department Secretly Met With Followers of Blind Sheikh
State Department Put 'Political Pressure' On FBI To Deport Brother-in-Law Of Osama Bin Laden In 1995
FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting Arabs
Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War
U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001
Behind the Handshake: The Rumsfeld-Saddam Meeting