Friday, June 16, 2006
Heretofore, Saddam and Al Qaeda have been connected primarily via Sudanese intermediaries and Saddam's apparent acceptance of Ansar Al Islam in Iraq. Some evidence has emerged regarding the use of Iraqi Intelligence Services to help train Al Qaeda recruits in terrorism tactics. And there has been speculation that Saddam used Abu Nidal, to whom he had given refuge, as a terror trainer. Those who would prefer to deny a connection cry foul -- though they tend not to have much in the way of a defense, save for questioning document authenticity. Fine.
However, these new documents are especially interesting because they point to a specific relationship between the fledgling Taliban regime and Iraq, introduced courtesy of a Pakistani islamist. The Taliban, generally isolated, asked for Iraq's assistance in reaching out to Russia. That seems reasonable and plausible. And Iraq's VP and intelligence representative acknowledge the US as a common foe, as both were being pressured by the Clinton Administration at the time of the meeting. By the way, the Pakistani fellow is no commoner -- he is a likely signatory of the famed 1998 fatwa by Osama Bin Laden against the US.
I would urge you to read the entire piece, though here is the author's analytical summary:
Due to the information provided in this notebook, we see a possible secret, intelligence based, operational relationship between the Taliban and the Saddam regime via Maulana Fazlur Rahman. We can discern that the Maulana most likely is meeting with Habbush al Tikriti, implicated in documents published by the Telegraph newspaper in reference to the training of Atta in Iraq. We also have an annotation that indicates Pakistani Fazlur Rahman Khalil, a known bin Laden associate, Al Qaeda terrorist and a 1998 fatwa co-signatory, also was traveling to Iraq in 1999. A further translation from this notebook indicates that in another meeting, again with the Maulana, the Taliban proposes joint military training with the Iraqi military.
Such a relationship would be another bit of evidence connecting Saddam's Iraq to Al Qaeda terror, albeit with a more significant set of intermediaries driving the relationship -- Al Qaeda's chief national sponsor and host, the Taliban, and senior Pakistani islamists with close ties to Bin Laden.
Update: Christopher Hitchens comments on the same intelligence.
If the Bush administration had not confronted and dismantled the Hussein regime I think it's quite likely Democrats (and many Republicans, for that matter) would inevitably have been quite critical of that failure to act. Instead of dismissing such evidence as this, these people would be touting it instead, and asking why it is the President was not forceful enough in upholding his duty to protect American lives.
There would also be questions about ongoing atrocities in Iraq, of course, and at least some of these same people would be touting President Clinton's prescience and wisdom in signing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.
Bush would be vilified as a miserable, stupid failure who was as impervious to Saddam's intolerable tyranny as he was of the threat to American lives.
Then we would see these documents printed in full in the NYTimes. (I know as well as you do that as long as Saddam retained power these documents would never have seen the light of day. So yes, this is fantasy. But bear with me.) And we would be reading and hearing about the obvious and inextricable linkage between Saddam and al Qaeda. I'm sure some brave Democrat would even posit a still-less-than ironclad connection between Saddam and the attack of 9/11.
And if we were to suffer another such monstrous attack on our homeland, then heaven help anyone who might suggest we shouldn't now, at long last, remove the dangerous men still running Iraq--as that would, finally, be a very minority opinion. And probably just as few people would believe our present Republican president and administration would be up to the job.
"Some evidence has emerged regarding the use of Iraqi Intelligence Services to help train Al Qaeda recruits in terrorism tactics..."
What! You mean there's a connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda! Isn't that all the invention of the neocons (funded by Halliburton?
Unfortunately most liberals are so invested in Bush lied! that nothing will convince them.