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Baker Knew Iraq Abetted Terrorist Mastermind, Documents Show

Los Angeles Times


Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and other senior officials knew that Iraq was sheltering Abul Abbas, the mastermind of the Achille Lauro hijacking, when the Bush administration began formulating its pro-Iraqi policy in 1989, according to declassified documents made public Monday.

Baker, now President Bush's chief of staff, was informed in March 1989 that Iraq still provided a base of operations for Abbas' organization and another Palestinian terrorist group linked to the killings of Americans, according to State Department documents. An American was slain during the Achille Lauro hijacking.

The papers, prepared by Iraq and Middle East experts in the State Department, also show that Iraq's oil reserves were a consideration as the two-month-old administration fashioned its policy toward Iraq. Iraq began providing "favorable deals to U.S. oil companies" and increasing exports to the United States in 1988 to influence U.S. policy, according to a 1989 memo.

It has been reported previously in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere that the U.S. government removed Iraq from the list of countries supporting terrorism in 1982 over the objections of officials who maintained Iraq continued to support terrorists. The removal allowed Iraq to begin receiving various forms of U.S. aid.

The new documents, which were released by Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, D-Texas, contain the first specific references to how Iraq was aiding major terrorists and show for the first time that warnings were transmitted to officials as high as Baker. Yet the Bush administration did not restore Iraq to the terrorist list until after the Iraqis invaded Kuwait in August 1990.

A State Department official said that oil policy was not a big consideration in formulating policy toward Iraq and that Iraq was credited for making progress in dealing with terrorists.

"We believe that Iraq did reduce its support for terrorism," the official said Monday. "Abu Nidal was expelled and other terrorist groups were reined in. Iraq's record was not entirely clean, but there was improvement."

The documents -- a declassified briefing memo and accompanying "talking points" -- were sent to Baker on March 23, 1989, the day he met with high-ranking Iraqi officials. The memo said that the meeting was to express the new administration's interest in broadening ties with Baghdad.

The documents described some U.S. concerns impeding those ties, such as Iraq's use of chemical weapons and its failure to fulfill its promise to pay damage claims related to its shooting of the USS Stark in 1987, which killed 37 U.S. sailors.

Iraq also was credited with expelling terrorist leader Abu Nidal, but the documents raised concerns over Baghdad's continuing ties to Abbas and to another Palestinian terrorist known by the ^nom de guerre Col. Hawari.

Gorbachev's Car Stolen

The Baltimore Sun


Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who once rode only in heavily guarded limousines as the leader of the Soviet Union, has truly rejoined the ranks of the common man.

His car was stolen.

Car theft is becoming all too common. Every day 40 cars are stolen in this former police state where crime was as once as rare as profit.

Most residents of American cities would consider this figure negligible. But such crime has traumatized a people who may wait years just for the privilege of being able to buy a car. Gavriil Popov, the former mayor of Moscow, proposed last year that anyone found even touching someone else's car receive a 7-year jail term.

Popov has since resigned and cars keep disappearing.

Gorbachev lost his from a guarded office parking lot Sunday night while he was on another of his triumphant tours of Germany.

He can expect little sympathy from his fellow victims, though. While he lost one new Volga sedan, the official Itar-Tass news agency said, he still has two more left.

Gorbachev received the three Volgas to replace his Zil limousine, which Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin repossessed last year when he thought Gorbachev was criticizing his new government too much.

But perhaps someone was doing Gorbachev a favor after all. Last Friday, Yeltsin doubled oil prices. Soon, Muscovites say, no one will be able to afford to drive anyway.


Fallish Weather Ahead

By Michael Morgan
staff meteorologist

Our mild weather today will come to an abrupt end in less than 24 hours. By that time a cold front will have crossed the area and significantly colder air will have arrived. Cold air will filter into New England over the next several days as a large high pressure cell slowly builds eastward from the north-central U.S. Sunny, cool days and clear, crisp nights will prevail for much of the remainder of the week.

Today: Partly sunny and mild. Becoming muggier. Winds south 20-25 mph (32-40 kph). High 79F (26C).

Tonight: Cloudy, breezy, and mild. Showers and thunderstorms late. Low 65F<\p>(18C).

Tomorrow: Clearing and cooler. High 70F (21C). Winds northwest 15 mph (24 kph). Low 45F (7C).

Thursday: Mostly sunny and cool. High around 60F<\p>(16C). Low 43-46F (7C).