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Zeman: Atta Met Iraqi Agent Twice

November 10, 2001

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Suspected terrorist Mohammed Atta contacted an Iraqi agent with plans to blow up the Radio Free Europe building in Prague just before the terrorist attacks in the United States, Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman told CNN.

Zeman said Friday that Atta had met twice with the Iraqi agent, a diplomat, in the days before the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The diplomat, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir Ani, was expelled from the country two weeks after the meeting.

``At first, Atta contacted some Iraq agent not to prepare the terroristic attack on″ the trade center, ``but to prepare terroristic attack on just the building of Radio Free Europe,″ Zeman told CNN.

Czech intelligence officials have made previous accusations that Iraqi spies were plotting possible terrorist attacks on the headquarters of the U.S.-financed Radio Free Europe, but Zeman comments were the first time Atta has been connected to the plot.

U.S. investigators believe Atta was at the controls of one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. They also believe he led the terrorist cell for Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born fugitive who is the FBI’s top suspect.

President Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government has long complained about Radio Free Europe’s broadcasts to his country. When the broadcasts began in 1998, the Baghdad government called the programming an ``act of aggression″ and pledged to halt all trade with the Czech Republic.

Iraq has denied having taken part in any bomb plot or having connections with bin Laden’s group.

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