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Sunday, 23 September, 2001, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Israel denies Iraqi terror attack link
Israeli gas mark distribution office
Fearful Israelis have been rushing to collect gas masks
Israel's chief of military intelligence has said in an interview that Iraq was not involved with the 11 September terror attacks in the United States.

"I don't see a direct link between Iraq and the hijackings and terror attacks in the United States," Major-General Amos Malka said in Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Sunday.

Some analysts have suggested that the scale of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon meant that a state must have been involved, with Iraq a likely suspect.

"I know many people are wondering whether this kind of attack could be carried out without the help of a country and they immediately point at Iraq or Iran," Mr Malka said.

There is no Iraqi angle or infrastructure that we can point to at this stage

Major-General Amos Malka
"But as far as intelligence is concerned, I cannot point at the moment to a connection. There is no Iraqi angle or infrastructure that we can point to at this stage," he added.

US intelligence officials say they have found little evidence linking Iraq to the attacks.

Iraqi support

US President George W Bush has named Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in the attacks and has insisted that the US wants him "dead or alive."

On Thursday Jane's Security, a London-based publication specialising in defence and military information, reported that Israeli intelligence suspected Iraq of financing the attacks.

Osama Bin Laden
Bin Laden remains the prime suspect

It identified Imad Mughniyeh, believed to be the head of overseas operations for the Lebanese group Hezbollah, and Egyptian Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, a suspected member of Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network as the organisers of the attacks.

And it alleged that they were financed and supported by Iraqi intelligence services.

Retaliation fears

Since the attacks Israelis have been bracing themselves for a US retaliation against Iraq.

There has been speculation that if Baghdad came under fire Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would respond by firing Scud missiles on Israel, as happened during the 1991 Gulf War.

Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein has tried to conceal Iraq's missiles

The Israeli army has reported an increase in demand for gas masks at distribution centres throughout the country.

But in the interview Mr Malka said there was no reason for Israelis to panic.

He predicted that Iraq would only target Israel as a last resort.

"If Saddam Hussein does not feel personally threatened, he won't use the secret weapons he has been struggling to conceal," Mr Malka said.

See also:

16 Sep 01 | Americas
US prepares for war
19 Sep 01 | Middle East
Iraq denies role in US attacks
12 Sep 01 | Middle East
Iraq hails attack on US
19 Sep 01 | Middle East
Explaining Arab anger
20 Sep 01 | Americas
The trail to Bin Laden
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