Saddam collected information on dozens of potential targets in Israel
Documents released by U.S. show ex-Iraqi dictator told Arafat in 1990 he would use chemical weapons on Israel.
Saddam Hussein's intelligence service collected information on dozens of sites in Israel, including airports, other transportation centers, as well as scientific and religious centers that were thought to be potential targets for attacks.
Among the sources providing intelligence to Saddam's regime was Force 17, the security force of Yasser Arafat, which planned and carried out from its Ramallah headquarters attacks against Israeli targets.
This information emerged following the release of documents captured during the American invasion in 2003 and made available as part of a West Point program to evaluate the lessons of the war in Iraq.
In addition to the detailed collection of intelligence on potential Israeli targets, the documents also show that Saddam's intelligence was following closely the links between Iran and Hezbollah and the potential that such ties could provide Iran to operate in the territories and in North Africa.
The captured documents also detail a 2001 plan to release Iraqis jailed for three- to 20-year sentences if they agreed to volunteer to carry out attacks on Israeli targets.
The Americans captured more than 600,000 intelligence items, including thousands of hours of video and sound recordings, all of which have been scanned and summarized, but only 15 percent was fully translated into English.
A document from 2002, from the chief of staff of the Al-Quds Army, sent to the Karbala Division, orders each brigade to build a model of an Israeli town and practice taking it by force.
Hamas representatives, including Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who was assassinated by the Israel Defense Forces in 2004, contacted Iraqi intelligence and asked to coordinate attacks against American and Israeli targets to delay the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The documents also show that Iraqi agents also followed the activities of Israel in Jordan, Qatar and the Philippines.
A video recording of a meeting between Saddam and Yasser Arafat on April 19, 1990, showed Saddam threatening to assassinate then president George Bush. "We may not be able to reach Washington, but we could send someone with an explosives belt to Washington," Saddam told Arafat, three months before the invasion of Kuwait.
"We can send people to Washington. A man with an explosives belt could throw himself on Bush's car."
Saddam also told his Palestinian guest that he intended to launch surface-to-surface ballistic missiles against Tel Aviv and that he possessed chemical weapons that "have been successfully employed" against Iran - and he would not hesitate to also use them against Israel.
The file listing potential targets in Israel covers 223 pages and was classified as Top Secret by Iraqi intelligence. It was found on April 13, 2003, in the headquarters of the Iraqi intelligence service in Baghdad by a unit of U.S. Marines.
The file was sent two weeks later to U.S. army intelligence and then to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon for translation and analysis.
The decision to make the report available is part of a program to evaluate the lessons of the war in Iraq at West Point military academy.
Five volumes of captured documents were disseminated a year ago throughout the American defense establishment, and are now being made available after censorship.
The file lists in its "main targets" the bridges over the Jordan River, the central bus stations in Be'er Sheva, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Dimona, Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat, Rehovot, Lod and Rishon Letzion and train stations in Tel Aviv and Haifa. Also in the file were road maps of Kiryat Shmona, Tel Aviv and Haifa, as well as maps of parking lots and taxi stations at the Tel Aviv train station.
In the table of contents it is noted that pages 42-76 contain a catalog of "main targets," listing 35 targets in Israel, including bus stations, pharmaceutical plants, medical centers and synagogues.
Following pages note, on a map of Israel, main sports venues and are then followed by 20 more pages that include 35 other potential targets: mosques, synagogues, swimming pools, government offices and sports centers. Also included is the Weizmann Institute, "56 airports and 18 runways," air force bases, including squadrons, aircraft types and missiles, the names of companies working in civilian airports and the crossing points on the border between Israel and Jordan.