Created: Thursday, 28 November 2002 Written by CorrespondentDaniel Ellsberg predicts:
If Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network launches a "spectacular" terrorist attack on the United States, it will trigger a U.S. invasion of Iraq even if Baghdad is not involved.
If there is no major terrorist attack soon, the United States will provoke Iraq into shooting down one of its aircraft in the "no-fly" zones in southern and northern Iraq. "If Saddam doesn't manage to shoot down one of our planes, our planes will fly lower and lower," Ellsberg said. "We're going to be at war with Iraq well before Christmas."
Saddam would then use poison gas against U.S. troops, triggering a retaliatory U.S. attack on his bunkers with earth-penetrating nuclear weapons that would inadvertently cause mass civilian deaths and "create hundreds of thousands of new recruits for suicide training," he said.
As a result, rather than diminish, acts of terrorism will escalate sharply.
Under attack, Saddam would make his weapons of mass destruction available to al Qaeda, allowing them to stage attacks that will wipe out Israel and many of its neighbours and prompt armies sympathetic to Islamist causes to take over Pakistan and Indonesia and set off a grab for Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
Former Marine and ex-Pentagon official, Ellsberg was part of a defence think tank that wrote a secret study of U.S. policy in Vietnam. The 7,000-page study, which became known as the Pentagon Papers, revealed that four presidents had steadily lied to the public and Congress about the U.S. war in Southeast Asia.
Disillusioned, in 1971 Ellsberg leaked it to newspapers, setting off a furor that paved the way for the U.S. retreat from Vietnam.
Daniel Ellsberg was imprisoned on espionage charges that were dismissed in 1973.