Skip to comments.There was a link between Saddam and al-Qa'eda
Posted on 11/11/2005 3:02:59 PM PST by haole
To the anti-war lobby, it was cause for jubilation. 'No Qa'eda-Iraq tie', crowed The New York Times. 'White House misled the world over Saddam', exulted our own Independent. And presidential candidate Senator John Kerry claimed that the Bush administration had 'misled America over the need for war'.
The excitement was over a preliminary assessment of evidence about al-Qa'eda by the US commission investigating September 11. The only problem was that the press coverage was untrue. The report does not rule out links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'eda. On the contrary, as the commission's chairman, Thomas Kean, confirmed: 'There were contacts between Iraq and al-Qa'eda, a number of them, some of them a little shadowy. They were definitely there.'
As so often in the coverage of Iraq, those who make the (illogical) claim that there was no such contact and therefore no cause for war saw in this report only what they wanted to see.
They read the words: 'We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qa'eda co-operated', and claimed official confirmation that no links had existed. But the report actually says: 'We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qa'eda co-operated on attacks upon the United States' - not that they never dealt with each other. On the contrary, it says they did deal with each other, particularly in Sudan.
In any event, the report is hardly authoritative. For it also quotes two bin Laden associates denying any ties between al-Qa'eda and Iraq. It thus contradicts itself. It also dismisses the suspicion that the September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague, simply because his mobile phone was then being used Florida. But clearly, someone else might have been using it.
The main question, though, is why it devoted only one paragraph to the Saddam/al-Qa'eda link and ignored most the evidence amassed by Stephen Hayes in his recent book, The Connection. For while none of this is conclusive, it makes a powerful case.
Take, for example, the original indictment of bin Laden by the US Justice Department in spring 1998, which stated: '. . . al-Qa'eda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al-Qa'eda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al-Qa'eda would work co-operatively with the Government of Iraq.'
Pretty authoritative, you might think? Yet it is not even mentioned. Or take this evidence from the former CIA director George Tenet: 'We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qa'eda going back a decade. Credible information indicates that Iraq and Al Qa'eda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal non-aggression. We have credible reporting that Al Qa'eda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities. Iraq has provided training to Al Qa'eda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.'
Clearly, the credibility of intelligence reports is a minefield. Given the cloud over the CIA, there are obviously suspicions that Iraqi sources may have told it what it wanted to hear. But these reports go back to the Clinton administration, well before Iraq became such a political inferno. And their volume and detail are impressive. Hayes quotes an intelligence summary about one informant which said 'the information and level of detail is so specific that this source's reports read almost like a diary'.
The book quotes a 'well-placed' intelligence source saying: 'Bin Laden was receiving training on bomb making from the IIS's [Iraqi Intelligence Service's] principal technical expert on making sophisticated explosives, Brigadier Salim al Ahmed. Brigadier Salim was observed at bin Laden's farm in Khartoum in Sep-Oct 1995 and again in July 1996, in the company of the director of Iraqi Intelligence Mani-abd-al-Rashid-al-Tikriti ...[to discuss] bin Laden's request for IIS technical assistance' in making bombs.
Hayes quotes another 'regular and reliable' intelligence source who said that bin Laden's top deputy Ayman al Zawahiri 'visited Baghdad and met with the Iraqi vice-president on 3 February 1998. The goal of the visit was to arrange for co-ordination between Iraq and bin Laden and establish camps in al-Falluja, an-Nasiriya and Iraqi Kurdistan under the leadership of Abdul Aziz.' Hayes says that visit coincided with a $300,000 payment from Iraqi intelligence to Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic jihad, which merged with al-Qa'eda.
Recently, yet more evidence has emerged. The Wall Street Journal reported that captured documents listed one Ahmed Hikmat Shakir as a senior officer in the elite paramilitary Saddam Fedayeen. By an amazing coincidence, an Ahmed Hikmat Shakir was present at the January 2000 al-Qa'eda 'summit' in Kuala Lumpur at which the September 11 attacks were planned.
It is of course possible that this was a different Ahmed Hikmat Shakir. However, Hayes reveals subsequent events showed this man was very important indeed to Iraq. Four days after September 11, he was arrested in Qatar and found to possess phone numbers of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombers' safe houses and contacts, as well as information about an al-Qa'eda plot to blow up airliners. But he was released, re-arrested in Jordan and released again (with CIA collusion) - following pressure from Iraq at the highest level. What is the point of an inquiry into al-Qa'eda that doesn't even consider such evidence?
Bill Clinton's administration was absolutely certain that Saddam was in cahoots with al-Qa'eda. It was a given. That is surely why, after September 11, Pentagon officials were obsessed with Iraq. Whether Saddam was personally involved in 9/11 was irrelevant; if he was aiding al-Qa'eda's terror, he had to be stopped. But this has been obliterated from the collective memory in order to place the most malign interpretation possible on the motives of the Bush administration.
Of course, one should be wary of intelligence. But the volume and specificity of these claims surely mean they should be addressed. Yet journalists for whom such nuggets would normally trigger a feeding frenzy astonishingly fail to report them and mislead the public instead. That is because the only story in town is that George W Bush and Tony Blair lied - a blinding certainty that cannot be disturbed by anything so inconvenient as the facts.
The NYT is a Rat rag sheet. Yellow journalism, demagoguery,lies, innuendo....look how many reporter hve had to leave in the past few years because live up to even the NYT questionable ethical bar...
Please provide a link for this.
"Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden"
1999 ABC News Report : The Osama - Hussein Connection
ABC News, January 14, 1999
'". . . [Mamdouh Mahmud] Salim, alleged to be a key military advisor and
believed to be privy to bin Laden's most secret projects, is also apprehended.
The US government alleges that he was under secret orders to procure enriched
uranium for the purpose of developing nuclear weapons.
These are allegations bin Laden does not now deny. "It would be a sin for
Muslims not to try to possess the weapons that would prevent the infidels from
inflicting harm on Muslims, but how we could use these weapons if we possessed
them is up to us.
With an American price on his head, there weren't many places bin Laden could
go, unless he teamed up with another international pariah, one also with an
interest in weapons of mass destruction. Osama believes in the 'enemy of my
enemy is my friend, and someone I should cooperate with.' That is certainly
the current case with Iraq. Saddam Hussein has a long history of harboring
terrorists: Carlos the Jackal, Abu Nida, Abu Abbas. The most notorious
terrorist of their era all found shelter and support at one time in Baghdad.
Intelligence sources say bin Laden's long relationship with the Iraqis began
as he helped Sudan's fundamentalist government in their efforts to acquire
weapons of mass destruction. Three weeks after the bombing, on August 31st,
bin Laden reaches out to his friends in Iraq and Sudan. Iraq's vice president
arrives in Khartoon to show his support for the Sudanese after the US attack.
ABC News has learned that during these meetings, senior Sudanese officials,
acting on behalf of bin Laden, asked if Saddam Hussein would grant him asylum.
Iraq was indeed interested. ABC News has learned that in December, an Iraqi
intelligence chief, named Farouk Hijazi, now Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, made
a secret trip to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden. Three intelligence
agencies tell ABC News they cannot be certain what was discussed, but almost
certainly, they say, bin Laden has been told he would be welcome in Baghdad.''
And intelligent sources say that they can only speculate on the purpose of an
alliance. What could bin Laden offer Saddam Hussein? Only days after he meets
Iraqi officials, bin Laden tells ABC news that his network is wide and there
are people prepared to commit terror in his name who he does not even control.
'It's our job to incite and to instigate. By the grace of God, we have done
Iraq Tempts Bin Laden To Attack West
By Ian Bruce
December 28, 1999
The world's most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, has been offered sanctuary in
Iraq if his worldwide terrorist network succeeds in carrying out a campaign of
high-profile attacks on the West over the next few weeks.
Intelligence sources say the Saudi dissident believed responsible for the
bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and a US military
barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1998, is running out of options for a safe haven.
He is now thought to have overcome his initial rejection of Saddam Hussein,
whom he regarded as an exploiter of the Islamic cause rather than a true
believer, and is considering the offer of a bolt-hole from which he can
continue to mastermind terrorism on a global scale.
A US counter-terrorist source said yesterday: "Our State Department issued a
worldwide warning on December 11. We have solid information that many of the
groups operating under bin Laden's patronage are planning 'spectaculars' to
coincide with the period leading up to and through the millennium
"They want to inflict maximum loss of life in return for publicity. Now we are
also facing the prospect of an unholy alliance between bin Laden and Saddam.
The implications are terrifying.
'We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qa'eda co-operated on attacks upon the United States' - not that they never dealt with each other. On the contrary, it says they did deal with each other, particularly in Sudan."
referance ping for future
Nothing new here, but it does tie a lot of things already out there in a big lump sum.
It appears to take a lot of people, telling a lot of lies, to trash the Bush Administration.
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