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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
US 'refused Iraq's terror suspect offer'
The Iraqi Foreign Minister,Tariq Aziz
Tariq Aziz says the US refused its offers
The United States refused Iraqi offers to hand over a suspect in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Iraq's foreign minister says.


I am very sorry for what happened. I don't know what to do to make it up

Abdul Rahman Yasin

Tariq Aziz told the American news programme 60 Minutes that Iraq had twice offered to hand over Abdul Rahman Yasin, who is in prison in Iraq and is on the FBI's list of most-wanted terrorists.

And Mr Yasin himself told 60 Minutes that the FBI let him go after interrogating him in the days following the 1993 bombing - even driving him home.

The CBS television show, broadcast on Sunday, said neither the White House nor the State Department would comment on Mr Aziz's statements.

But the show quoted a US intelligence source as saying that Iraq had attached "extreme conditions" to the handing over of the suspect.

Abdul Rahman Yasin
The FBI has offered $25m for Yasin's arrest
The programme included an interview conducted in May in a prison near Baghdad with the US-born Mr Yasin, who apologized for his role in the 1993 bombing.

"I am very sorry for what happened. I don't know what to do to make it up. My father died because of pain and sadness. It caused many troubles. I don't know how to apologise for it," Mr Yasin said.

Mr Yasin, who grew up in Iraq, said he was arrested and questioned just days after the bombing by FBI agents in Jersey City, New Jersey.

But he said he co-operated with the FBI, and they released him. He then fled the US for Iraq.

He also said that the plotters behind the 1993 bombing had originally planned to set off explosives in Jewish neighbourhoods in New York, before deciding on the World Trade Center as a target.

An FBI agent told 60 Minutes that the agency did not believe it had enough evidence to hold Mr Yasin at that time, but acknowledged that his release was a "mistake".

Iraqi officials told 60 Minutes that Mr Yasin had been in prison there since 1994, but he has not been charged with any crime.

'Without conditions'

The US has offered a $25m reward for Mr Yasin's capture. He is the only suspect in the World Trade Center bombing to escape prosecution.

Mr Aziz said the offers to hand him over - first in 1994 and again in 2001 after the 11 September attacks - were made without conditions.

He said Iraq wanted to prove it was not involved in the 1993 bombing, or in the 11 September attacks that finally brought down the World Trade Center's twin towers.

But the unnamed US intelligence official quoted by 60 Minutes said the Iraqis wanted the US to sign a document laying out where Mr Yasin had been since 1993, and that the US did not agree with their version of the facts.


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31 May 02 | Middle East
24 May 02 | Americas
15 May 02 | Middle East
10 Oct 01 | Americas
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