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What`s the connection between the new PLO Head of Prisoners' Commission and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing?

Itamar Marcus and Maurice Hirsch  |

The new Head of the PLO Commission of Prisoners, Qadri Abu Bakr, is in all likelihood the uncle of Mohammed Salameh, one of the terrorists convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Abu Bakr spent 18 years in an Israeli prison for an attempted terror attack before being released in 1986 and expelled to Iraq, where he was a senior PLO representative.

During the year prior to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Qadri Abu Bakr spoke on the phone with Mohammed Salameh over 40 times. The first to publicize the connection between Salameh and Abu Bakr was the Washington Post in a report published two years after the first WTC bombing documenting a possible Iraqi connection to the bombing:

"Another bit of intriguing evidence leading back to Baghdad are the more than 40 calls Salameh made to the Iraqi capital in June and July 1992 -- most of them to his uncle, Qadri Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr, who had spent 18 years in an Israeli prison, has been identified as a top official of a now largely inactive Iraqi-sponsored Palestinian group."

Professor Laurie Mylroie, in her book Study of Revenge: The First World Trade Center Attack and Saddam Hussein's War against America, documented the Iraqi connection to the World Trade Center bombing, and Abu Bakr's position. Abu Bakr, she explained, was arrested by Israel after he infiltrated from Jordan to carry out a terror attack and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. After serving eighteen years of his sentence he was released and made his way to Iraq. While in Iraq, Mylroie asserts that Abu Bakr was "number two in the PLO's "'Western Sector'... a terrorist unit within the PLO... under Iraq's strong influence."

Mylroie adds:
"Through Salameh's phone calls, Baghdad almost certainly learned of the New York extremists' plans [to bomb the WTC]. As a matter of routine, Iraqi intelligence would have had Abu Bakr's phone bugged, and Abu Bakr would have known that. The Iraqi regime would have expected Abu Bakr to tell it about something so important as a bombing conspiracy in New York. Indeed, had Abu Bakr not reported the news to the Iraqi authorities, he might have raised suspicions about himself. That, in turn, would have made him liable to arrest, interrogation and torture by Iraqi security forces. Thus even if Abu Bakr had not been spontaneously inclined to report the activities of his nephew in New York to Iraqi intelligence, a prudent man might well have felt obliged to do so. Perhaps, even, Abu Bakr approved of his nephew's plans."
Louis Fairmont in his book, The Link: The Secret Relationship Between Saddam and Al Qaida, adds that Saddam Hussein, who had a “close relationship with the PLO... must have found out about Salameh’s bomb plot and decided to lend Iraq’s support.”

Dr. Thomas E. Copeland, in his book Fool Me Twice: Intelligence Failure and Mass Casualty Terrorism, added that Abu Bakr was "a leading figure in the Palestine Liberation Organization responsible for coordinating funding from Iraq."

There are additional connections between Iraq and the first World Trade Center bombing.
  • The bomb maker Ramzi Yousef, (formerly Abdul Basit Mahmoud Abdul Karim) entered the US on an Iraqi passport and had connections to a terrorist group supported by and operating out of Iraq;
  • One of the other WTC bombing conspirators, Abdel Rahmn Yasin, fled to Baghdad after the bombing and worked for the Iraqi government;
  • The bombing was carried out on February 26th, the second anniversary of the Iraqi defeat in the First Gulf War, led by the United States.
Additional information that the PLO's Qadri Abu Bakr stationed in Iraq in 1993 and uncle of the World Trade Center terrorist, is the same Qadri Abu Bakr, Head of the PLO Commission of Prisoners, is found on a UK Arab news website. When reporting on Abu Bakr's recent appointment his bio included the same history as the convicted terrorist's uncle:
"Abu Bakr was born in 1953. He is a released prisoner who was arrested in 1970 while participating in a military patrol (i.e., an infiltration of Israel from a bordering country), and after his release at the end of 1986, he was expelled to Iraq."
[Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, UK Arab news website, Aug. 3, 2018]
Abu Bakr's Facebook page carries a picture of himself with other prisoners.
Picture of Abu Bakr in prison, posted on his personal Facebook page
After the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords, many PLO members who had been living abroad were allowed to enter and reside in the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Many of these figures were then appointed to positions in the newly created PA security mechanisms. Abu Bakr holds the rank of Major General having served for years in the PA security mechanisms.
Abu Bakr's place of residence (Baghdad), his relationship to the bomber (uncle-nephew), their frequent calls (over 40), his senior PLO position and his function as the coordinator of funding from Iraq, would indeed have placed him in a unique position.

The appointment of Abu Bakr, is not the first connection between Iraq/Saddam Hussein and the payment of financial incentives as a reward for terrorism.

During the 2000 - 2004 PA terror campaign, Rakad Salam, Saddam Hussein's representative in the Palestinian territories distributed over $25 million dollars to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. Salam was
convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison and given a heavy fine, but was later released early in a gesture of "good will" to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

While the full nature of the relationship between convicted WTC conspirator Salameh and Abu Bakr is unconfirmed, Professor Laurie Mylroie, Louis Fairmont and Dr. Thomas E. Copeland cited above all believe that Abu Bakr was connected in one way or another to the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

Abu Bakr’s new positionas the Head of the Prisoners’ Commission, including his responsibility for paying salaries to terrorist prisoners, now puts him second only to Mahmoud Abbas as PA's head “incentivizer” of terrorism against Israel. If the theories of Mylroie, Fairmont and Copeland are proven, and Abu Bakr was also involved, directly or indirectly, in one of the first major terrorist attacks on US soil, his appointment by Abbas, should be seen as a major slap in the face to the US.