Saturday, July 09, 2005

Iraq and al Qaeda; Don't Even Dare Say It

Thanks to the thorough reporting of the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, we know and, indeed, have known, about the complex marriage of Saddam Hussein's intelligence service and al Qaeda, which was devoted not to each other's well being, but the destruction of America. In his latest finding on this relationship, Hayes (with Thomas Joscelyn) makes it quite evident the marriage was deeper and stronger than we've been lead to believe:

Indeed, more than two years after the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was ousted, there is much we do not know about the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. We do know, however, that there was one. We know about this relationship not from Bush administration assertions but from internal Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) documents recovered in Iraq after the war--documents that have been authenticated by a U.S. intelligence community long hostile to the very idea that any such relationship exists.

We know from these IIS documents that beginning in 1992 the former Iraqi regime regarded bin Laden as an Iraqi Intelligence asset. We know from IIS documents that the former Iraqi regime provided safe haven and financial support to an Iraqi who has admitted to mixing the chemicals for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. We know from IIS documents that Saddam Hussein agreed to Osama bin Laden's request to broadcast anti-Saudi propaganda on Iraqi state-run television. We know from IIS documents that a "trusted confidante" of bin Laden stayed for more than two weeks at a posh Baghdad hotel as the guest of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.

We have been told by Hudayfa Azzam, the son of bin Laden's longtime mentor Abdullah Azzam, that Saddam Hussein welcomed young al Qaeda members "with open arms" before the war, that they "entered Iraq in large numbers, setting up an organization to confront the occupation," and that the regime "strictly and directly" controlled their activities. We have been told by Jordan's King Abdullah that his government knew Abu Musab al Zarqawi was in Iraq before the war and requested that the former Iraqi regime deport him. We have been told by Time magazine that confidential documents from Zarqawi's group, recovered in recent raids, indicate other jihadists had joined him in Baghdad before the Hussein regime fell. We have been told by one of those jihadists that he was with Zarqawi in Baghdad before the war. We have been told by Ayad Allawi, former Iraqi prime minister and a longtime CIA source, that other Iraqi Intelligence documents indicate bin Laden's top deputy was in Iraq for a jihadist conference in September 1999.

All of this is new--information obtained since the fall of the Hussein regime. And yet critics of the Iraq war and many in the media refuse to see it. Just two weeks ago, President Bush gave a prime-time speech on Iraq. Among his key points: Iraq is a central front in the global war on terror that began on September 11. Bush spoke in very general terms. He did not mention any of this new information on Iraqi support for terrorism to make his case. That didn't matter to many journalists and critics of the war.

It's long, but read it all.

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