WASHINGTON -- An Iraqi has admitted to FBI agents that he led an attempt on behalf of Saddam Hussein to assassinate former President George Bush, it was reported Thursday, and the White House said it was seriously concerned about the matter.
White House spokesman Dee Dee Myers said the administration will await complete results of the FBI investigation before 'making any final determinations' about possible actions, such as retaliation against Iraq for the alleged assassination plot.
Myers declined to discuss details of a New York Times report that a suspect told FBI agents he led an attempt on behalf of the Iraqi dictator to use explosives to kill Bush during his visit last month to Kuwait.
The newspaper quoted unidentified American officials who said the jailed man admitted he worked with the Iraqi intelligence service and that he and 10 other Iraqi suspects received assistance from the Baghdad government for the attempt to kill the former president.
The suspect told the FBI that Bush was the target of an assassination plot, although other alleged plotters said they did not know the target's identity, the newspaper reported.
'We're waiting for complete results of that investigation,' Myers said.
'Obviously we're taking it very seriously but we will wait for complete results before making any final determinations.'
Iraq has denied allegations it was involved in a plot to assassinate Bush.
U.S. officials have indicated any decision to launch a retaliatory strike against Hussein would have to be based on firm knowledge of an actual assassination plot by Baghdad.
Kuwaiti authorities arrested the suspects and charged them with plotting to assassinate Bush with a car bomb during his visit to celebrate the allies victory in driving Iraqi forces out of the oil-rich kingdom in 1991.
The authorities said the suspects never got near Bush. They said they seized hundreds of pounds of explosives, including the car bomb.
U.S. officials have been skeptical of the reputed plot because the suspects' statements have been extracted by physical abuse. But the officials quoted by the Times said this skeptism has lessened.