The United States received, and continues to receive, "critical information on the genesis of the plot to attack New York and Washington" from the debriefing by Syrian intelligence of a suspected al Qaeda organizer, according to a report in the Washington Post (June 18, 2002). The subject of these debriefings is Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a German citizen, who had been seized in Morocco, secretly flown to Syria and questioned by interrogators of Syria's General Security Directorate (GSD). Is it prudent to regard this version of September 11th as information or disinformation?


It is prudent to assume that the reports passed on from Syria's General Security Directorate (GSD) about September 11th are disinformation. Disinformation is not necessarily a pure lie: it is often a carefully constructed mosaic of both true information and misleading information.

Although the US may consider this information about the origins of the September 11th conspiracy "critical", it gets it, according to Time Magazine, in the following way:

"U.S. officials in Damascus submit written questions to the Syrians, who relay Zammar's answers back." Time further reports, "State Department officials like the arrangement because it insulates the U.S. government from any torture the Syrians may be applying to Zammar."

This arrangement provides Syria with a direct channel to the US investigation. For example, to determine if there was any state- sponsorship involved in the September 11th attack, the US would submit a series of questions about who had recruited, trained and managed Atta and other hijackers. Syrian interrogators would then extract the answers from Mohammed Haydar Zammar, and supply them their Syrian superiors, who after analyzing and vetting the answers, would provide them to US officials

Not only does such a process allow Syrian officials to mirror-read what data the US was seeking from the submitted questions , it allows them to supply what answers suit their interest. They can either provide factual answers, if they fit Syria's interest, or distort them, if they do not. The issue becomes then: what is Syria's interest in reporting a version of the September 11th conspiracy?

According to US Office of the Coordinator for Counter terrorism in April 2001: "Syria continued to provide safe haven and support to several terrorist groups, some of which maintained training camps or other facilities on Syrian territory." If so, Syria presumably would have an interest in deflecting interest away from any connection between these groups and the September 11th plot.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has also a relationship with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, even though Saddam had been an enemy of his father. Syria now illegally smuggles 150,000 to 200,000 barrels of Iraqi oil per day, according to US intelligence. Syria and Iraq split up to a billion dollars in the clandestine revenue from these sales. Also, according to Ambassador Dennis Ross, Syria is covertly assisting Iraq to procure spare parts for its military-industrial complex from Eastern Europe.

In any case, Assad strongly opposes any US attack on Iraq. He said in an interview with the Italian daily Coriera de la Sierra, on February 17, 2002: "As a neighbor to sisterly Iraq, it would be natural and intuitive to sympathize with it and stand against any strike or military action against it."

If so, it would presumably in Assad's interest to avoid giving the US any justification for such an attack. So he would provide information from Zammar that would deflect away, not towards, any possible Iraqi involvement in the recruitment of Atta and other hijackers.