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:: Article nr. 78864 sent on 22-jun-2011 15:29 ECT
The Forgotten Terrorist Attack
by Malcom Lagauche
June 21, 2011
With all the talk
of terrorist attacks, one ordered by Bill Clinton in June 1993 eludes the media each year. Soon, it will be the 18th anniversary
of the US terrorist attack that killed Layla al-Attar, Iraq's leading artist at the time.
Many countries have
one or two days a year that indicate a national tragedy. In the U.S., December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl
Harbor, is labeled a "day of infamy." Almost 60 years later, September 11, 2001 surpassed December 7 as a rallying
cry for U.S. solidarity.
Iraq, a country much smaller than the U.S., and never as large a player on the
international scene, can claim several days of infamy: January 17, 1991 (the beginning of Desert Storm); February 14, 1991
(the destruction of the Amiryah Bomb Shelter); March 20, 2003 (the start of the U.S. illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq);
and April 9, 2003, (U.S. forces enter Baghdad) among others. But, one date that gains little international attention is imbedded
in the hearts and minds of many Iraqis: June 26, 1993.
On that date, the U.S. military, under the command
of Bill Clinton, ordered 23 Tomahawk guided missiles to demolish the headquarters of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence
services, in central Baghdad. Twenty of the missiles hit the agency complex, while "only" three missed their targets.
jubilant Clinton took to the airwaves and proclaimed victory. He was happy that only three missed their mark. One could think
he was addressing the public about the score of a sporting event. Of the three that missed, one destroyed the home of Layla
al-Attar, killing her and her husband, and blinding her daughter.
Layla al-Attar was the director
of the Iraqi National Art Museum and a leading Arab artist who was revered in Iraq much the same as Norman Rockwell was in
the U.S. In addition, she was a spokesperson for international peace, for the inner peace of women, and for resistance against
U.S. hegemony. Layla al-Attar symbolized Iraq.
When news of al-Attar’s death broke, Iraq mourned.
A special person who transcended political ideology and represented all of humankind had been assassinated.
the Gulf War, her home was almost totally destroyed by U.S. missiles. Two years later, shortly after the completion of the
house’s reconstruction, an "errant" missile finished the job that its cousin had only partially performed
in earlier years.
Although never proven, it is quite easy to give credence to the theory that Layla al-Attar was the
target of a missile, not merely a casualty of "collateral damage" from a misguided projectile. Every Iraqi believes
she was marked, but shortly after her execution, the rest of the world forgot.
Outside the Arab world, Layla al-Attar
was on the verge of becoming a top international artist. European art galleries were beginning to highlight her work. In the
U.S., however, she was little known. Little international outrage was heard when she was killed.
The reason behind
the attack was as bogus as any given during the Bush I years. Clinton stated that information was in-hand that showed Iraqi
operatives were behind an aborted assassination attempt on former President George Bush in April 1993 at a ceremony praising
him in Kuwait. Clinton added that Saddam Hussein ordered the attempt on Bush’s life. At the last minute, those who were
to carry out the attack were apprehended and Clinton had to teach the Iraqis a lesson.
The big lie still
persisted. Those arrested were merely drug and alcohol smugglers. In the aftermath of the June 26 missile attack, one-by-one
the mythical would-be assassins were released from Kuwaiti jails, but, the U.S. media did not consider this information newsworthy.
It was not as exciting as assassination plots and missile attacks.
On November 1, 1993, the New Yorker published
an article by Seymour Hersh titled "A Case Not Closed." In it, Hersh went into detail about the entire event and
basically showed there was no validity to Clinton’s claim.
Why did Clinton order this attack? At the time, Republicans
and pro-war Democrats criticized him for being "weak" on Iraq and other invisible threats against the U.S. Clinton
had to earn respect. What better target than Iraq, a defenseless country that was isolated because of U.S. propaganda?
"Three of the million-dollar missiles missed their targets and landed on nearby homes, killing
eight civilians, including Layla al-Attar, one of Iraq’s most gifted artists. The death toll was considered acceptable
by the White House. Clinton administration officials acknowledged that they had been "lucky," as one national
security aide put it, in that only three of the computer-guided missiles went off course.
"Thus, on a
Saturday in June, the president and his advisors could not resist proving their toughness in the international arena. If they
had truly had full confidence in what they were telling the press and the public about Saddam Hussein’s involvement
in a plot to kill George bush, they would have almost certainly ordered a far fiercer response than they did. As it was, confronted
with evidence too weak to be conclusive but, in their view, perhaps not weak enough to be dismissed, they chose to fire missiles
at night at an intelligence center in the middle of a large populous city."
Over the years, many people have
uttered, "Saddam tried to kill Bush’s father," in defense of Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. In March
2008, the story took another turn as an unlikely organization admitted the plot was a hoax: the Pentagon. The March
23, 2008 issue of Newsweek ran an article called "Saddam’s Files," written by Michael Isikoff. It
"President Bush said lots of things about Saddam Hussein in the run-up to the Iraq War. But few of his charges grabbed more attention than an unscripted remark he made at a Texas political
fund-raiser on Sept. 26, 2002. "After all, this is a guy who tried to kill my dad at one time," Bush said. The comment
referred to a 1993 claim by the Kuwaiti government—accepted by the Clinton administration—that the Iraqi Intelligence
Service (IIS) had plotted to assassinate President George H.W. Bush during a trip to Kuwait that spring …
"But curiously little has been heard about the
allegedly foiled assassination plot in the five years since the U.S. military invaded Iraq. A just-released Pentagon study
on the Iraqi regime's ties to terrorism only adds to the mystery. The review, conducted for the Pentagon's Joint Forces Command, combed through 600,000 pages of Iraqi intelligence documents seized after the
fall of Baghdad, as well as thousands of hours of audio- and videotapes of Saddam's conversations with his ministers and
top aides …
" … But the Pentagon researchers found no documents that referred
to a plan to kill Bush. The absence was conspicuous because researchers, aware of its potential significance, were looking
for such evidence. "It was surprising," said one source familiar with the preparation of the report (who under Pentagon
ground rules was not permitted to speak on the record). Given how much the Iraqis did document, 'you would have thought
there would have been some veiled reference to something about [the plot].'"
Despite the Pentagon
coming clean after 15 years of the public believing a myth about the nonexistent assassination attempt, not too much has changed
in the perception and reporting of those times. In April 2008, weeks after the Pentagon announced the Kuwaiti hoax, the National
Defense University, a quasi-government organization, published a report called Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq
and Its Aftermath," written by Colonel Joseph J. Collins, a retired U.S. Army officer.
seemed to be writing about a fantasy scenario of Iraq. His assessments were not accurate and at times, differed greatly from
the facts. One of them stated: "Since the Republicans had last been in power, Saddam had tried to assassinate the elder
Bush." No one challenged Collins statement, despite the Pentagon’s earlier declaration. It appears that no matter
how many people debunk this lie, it has a life of its own and will go down in history as fact.
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