- DAMASCUS - The Syrian foreign
minister said he doubted that Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network
acted alone in the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, saying Monday
"there should be assistance that had been offered to them from persons
and institutions" inside the country.
- Addressing a meeting of the ruling National Congress
Front coalition, led by President Bashar Assad's Baath party, Farouk al-Sharaa
accused Washington of a "hidden agenda" in its war against terrorism,
such as a desire to control vast oil reserves in the Caspian Sea.
- "The United States has not presented irrefutable
and clear proof about the September accident," al-Sharra said. "It
has presented evidence that can be called presumptuous evidence which has
some ambiguity ... based on travels and on money moved between Europe and
- "Is it possible that bin Laden and Taliban were
alone behind this complicated act? I say no. There should be an assistance
that had been offered to them from institutions and persons inside the
USA," al-Sharaa said. He did not elaborate.
- Although Syria is on Washington's list of nations considered
to be sponsors of international terrorism, the United States says it has
enlisted Damascus' help in combating terrorism. But the two countries differ
sharply over Syria's support for Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas and two
militant Palestinian groups also labeled terrorist by the U.S. State Department.
- "The United States, very angrily, was ready to strike
any target that comes through its mind or is presented to it by any American
study center or Congress," al-Sharaa said.
- He said Washington would be the main loser in the future
as it has lost a "golden opportunity" to build an international
coalition following the Sept. 19 attacks.
- "It should have built an international coalition
of solidarity. In that case it would have won the whole world," he
- He also criticized unidentified European governments
for siding with the United States, saying the support stemmed from fear
of a U.S. action against terrorist leaders hiding in European capitals.
- Turning to the Middle East, al-Sharaa said the fear of
an American strike against an Arab country for harboring terrorists left
some Arab governments afraid to sever or "even lower" relations
with Israel, despite Israel's attacks on Palestinians.
- He was apparently referring to Egypt and Jordan, the
only two Arab countries that have signed peace treaties with Israel.
- "The most important thing was that each Arab country
escapes alone. They (Arab countries) focused their own interests on preventing
the attack," he sa