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CASE CLOSED (Osama-Saddam Link Proved in Intel Cmte Brief)
Weekly Standard ^ | Nov 14, 2003 | Stephen Hayes

Posted on 11/14/2003 5:15:05 PM PST by RobFromGa

Case Closed
From the November 24, 2003 issue: The U.S. government's secret memo detailing cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
by Stephen F. Hayes
11/24/2003, Volume 009, Issue 11



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OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda--perhaps even for Mohamed Atta--according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. Intelligence reporting included in the 16-page memo comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources. Some of it is new information obtained in custodial interviews with high-level al Qaeda terrorists and Iraqi officials, and some of it is more than a decade old. The picture that emerges is one of a history of collaboration between two of America's most determined and dangerous enemies.

According to the memo--which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points--Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight, fact-based intelligence reporting, which in

some cases includes an evaluation of the credibility of the source. This reporting is often followed by commentary and analysis.

The relationship began shortly before the first Gulf War. According to reporting in the memo, bin Laden sent "emissaries to Jordan in 1990 to meet with Iraqi government officials." At some unspecified point in 1991, according to a CIA analysis, "Iraq sought Sudan's assistance to establish links to al Qaeda." The outreach went in both directions. According to 1993 CIA reporting cited in the memo, "bin Laden wanted to expand his organization's capabilities through ties with Iraq."

The primary go-between throughout these early stages was Sudanese strongman Hassan al-Turabi, a leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated National Islamic Front. Numerous sources have confirmed this. One defector reported that "al-Turabi was instrumental in arranging the Iraqi-al Qaeda relationship. The defector said Iraq sought al Qaeda influence through its connections with Afghanistan, to facilitate the transshipment of proscribed weapons and equipment to Iraq. In return, Iraq provided al Qaeda with training and instructors."

One such confirmation came in a postwar interview with one of Saddam Hussein's henchmen. As the memo details:

4. According to a May 2003 debriefing of a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, Iraqi intelligence established a highly secretive relationship with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and later with al Qaeda. The first meeting in 1992 between the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) and al Qaeda was brokered by al-Turabi. Former IIS deputy director Faruq Hijazi and senior al Qaeda leader [Ayman al] Zawahiri were at the meeting--the first of several between 1992 and 1995 in Sudan. Additional meetings between Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda were held in Pakistan. Members of al Qaeda would sometimes visit Baghdad where they would meet the Iraqi intelligence chief in a safe house. The report claimed that Saddam insisted the relationship with al Qaeda be kept secret. After 9-11, the source said Saddam made a personnel change in the IIS for fear the relationship would come under scrutiny from foreign probes.

A decisive moment in the budding relationship came in 1993, when bin Laden faced internal resistance to his cooperation with Saddam.

5. A CIA report from a contact with good access, some of whose reporting has been corroborated, said that certain elements in the "Islamic Army" of bin Laden were against the secular regime of Saddam. Overriding the internal factional strife that was developing, bin Laden came to an "understanding" with Saddam that the Islamic Army would no longer support anti-Saddam activities. According to sensitive reporting released in U.S. court documents during the African Embassy trial, in 1993 bin Laden reached an "understanding" with Saddam under which he (bin Laden) forbade al Qaeda operations to be mounted against the Iraqi leader.

Another facilitator of the relationship during the mid-1990s was Mahmdouh Mahmud Salim (a.k.a. Abu Hajer al-Iraqi). Abu Hajer, now in a New York prison, was described in court proceedings related to the August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as bin Laden's "best friend." According to CIA reporting dating back to the Clinton administration, bin Laden trusted him to serve as a liaison with Saddam's regime and tasked him with procurement of weapons of mass destruction for al Qaeda. FBI reporting in the memo reveals that Abu Hajer "visited Iraq in early 1995" and "had a good relationship with Iraqi intelligence. Sometime before mid-1995 he went on an al Qaeda mission to discuss unspecified cooperation with the Iraqi government."

Some of the reporting about the relationship throughout the mid-1990s comes from a source who had intimate knowledge of bin Laden and his dealings. This source, according to CIA analysis, offered "the most credible information" on cooperation between bin Laden and Iraq.

This source's reports read almost like a diary. Specific dates of when bin Laden flew to various cities are included, as well as names of individuals he met. The source did not offer information on the substantive talks during the meetings. . . . There are not a great many reports in general on the relationship between bin Laden and Iraq because of the secrecy surrounding it. But when this source with close access provided a "window" into bin Laden's activities, bin Laden is seen as heavily involved with Iraq (and Iran).

Reporting from the early 1990s remains somewhat sketchy, though multiple sources place Hassan al-Turabi and Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden's current No. 2, at the center of the relationship. The reporting gets much more specific in the mid-1990s:

8. Reporting from a well placed source disclosed that bin Laden was receiving training on bomb making from the IIS's [Iraqi Intelligence Service] principal technical expert on making sophisticated explosives, Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed. Brigadier Salim was observed at bin Laden's farm in Khartoum in Sept.-Oct. 1995 and again in July 1996, in the company of the Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti.

9 . . . Bin Laden visited Doha, Qatar (17-19 Jan. 1996), staying at the residence of a member of the Qatari ruling family. He discussed the successful movement of explosives into Saudi Arabia, and operations targeted against U.S. and U.K. interests in Dammam, Dharan, and Khobar, using clandestine al Qaeda cells in Saudi Arabia. Upon his return, bin Laden met with Hijazi and Turabi, among others.

And later more reporting, from the same "well placed" source:

10. The Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti, met privately with bin Laden at his farm in Sudan in July 1996. Tikriti used an Iraqi delegation traveling to Khartoum to discuss bilateral cooperation as his "cover" for his own entry into Sudan to meet with bin Laden and Hassan al-Turabi. The Iraqi intelligence chief and two other IIS officers met at bin Laden's farm and discussed bin Laden's request for IIS technical assistance in: a) making letter and parcel bombs; b) making bombs which could be placed on aircraft and detonated by changes in barometric pressure; and c) making false passport [sic]. Bin Laden specifically requested that [Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed], Iraqi intelligence's premier explosives maker--especially skilled in making car bombs--remain with him in Sudan. The Iraqi intelligence chief instructed Salim to remain in Sudan with bin Laden as long as required.

The analysis of those events follows:

The time of the visit from the IIS director was a few weeks after the Khobar Towers bombing. The bombing came on the third anniversary of a U.S. [Tomahawk missile] strike on IIS HQ (retaliation for the attempted assassination of former President Bush in Kuwait) for which Iraqi officials explicitly threatened retaliation.

IN ADDITION TO THE CONTACTS CLUSTERED in the mid-1990s, intelligence reports detail a flurry of activities in early 1998 and again in December 1998. A "former senior Iraqi intelligence officer" reported that "the Iraqi intelligence service station in Pakistan was Baghdad's point of contact with al Qaeda. He also said bin Laden visited Baghdad in Jan. 1998 and met with Tariq Aziz."

11. According to sensitive reporting, Saddam personally sent Faruq Hijazi, IIS deputy director and later Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, to meet with bin Laden at least twice, first in Sudan and later in Afghanistan in 1999. . . .

14. According to a sensitive reporting [from] a "regular and reliable source," [Ayman al] Zawahiri, a senior al Qaeda operative, visited Baghdad and met with the Iraqi Vice President on 3 February 1998. The goal of the visit was to arrange for coordination between Iraq and bin Laden and establish camps in an-Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan under the leadership of Abdul Aziz.

That visit came as the Iraqis intensified their defiance of the U.N. inspection regime, known as UNSCOM, created by the cease-fire agreement following the Gulf War. UNSCOM demanded access to Saddam's presidential palaces that he refused to provide. As the tensions mounted, President Bill Clinton went to the Pentagon on February 18, 1998, and prepared the nation for war. He warned of "an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers, and organized international criminals" and said "there is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein."

The day after this speech, according to documents unearthed in April 2003 in the Iraqi Intelligence headquarters by journalists Mitch Potter and Inigo Gilmore, Hussein's intelligence service wrote a memo detailing coming meetings with a bin Laden representative traveling to Baghdad. Each reference to bin Laden had been covered by liquid paper that, when revealed, exposed a plan to increase cooperation between Iraq and al Qaeda. According to that memo, the IIS agreed to pay for "all the travel and hotel costs inside Iraq to gain the knowledge of the message from bin Laden and to convey to his envoy an oral message from us to bin Laden." The document set as the goal for the meeting a discussion of "the future of our relationship with him, bin Laden, and to achieve a direct meeting with him." The al Qaeda representative, the document went on to suggest, might provide "a way to maintain contacts with bin Laden."

Four days later, on February 23, 1998, bin Laden issued his now-famous fatwa on the plight of Iraq, published in the Arabic-language daily, al Quds al-Arabi: "For over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples." Bin Laden urged his followers to act: "The ruling to kill all Americans and their allies--civilians and military--is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it."

Although war was temporarily averted by a last-minute deal brokered by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, tensions soon rose again. The standoff with Iraq came to a head in December 1998, when President Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox, a 70-hour bombing campaign that began on December 16 and ended three days later, on December 19, 1998.

According to press reports at the time, Faruq Hijazi, deputy director of Iraqi Intelligence, met with bin Laden in Afghanistan on December 21, 1998, to offer bin Laden safe haven in Iraq. CIA reporting in the memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee seems to confirm this meeting and relates two others.

15. A foreign government service reported that an Iraqi delegation, including at least two Iraqi intelligence officers formerly assigned to the Iraqi Embassy in Pakistan, met in late 1998 with bin Laden in Afghanistan.

16. According to CIA reporting, bin Laden and Zawahiri met with two Iraqi intelligence officers in Afghanistan in Dec. 1998.

17. . . . Iraq sent an intelligence officer to Afghanistan to seek closer ties to bin Laden and the Taliban in late 1998. The source reported that the Iraqi regime was trying to broaden its cooperation with al Qaeda. Iraq was looking to recruit Muslim "elements" to sabotage U.S. and U.K. interests. After a senior Iraqi intelligence officer met with Taliban leader

[Mullah] Omar, arrangements were made for a series of meetings between the Iraqi intelligence officer and bin Laden in Pakistan. The source noted Faruq Hijazi was in Afghanistan in late 1998.

18. . . . Faruq Hijazi went to Afghanistan in 1999 along with several other Iraqi officials to meet with bin Laden. The source claimed that Hijazi would have met bin Laden only at Saddam's explicit direction.

An analysis that follows No. 18 provides additional context and an explanation of these reports:

Reporting entries #4, #11, #15, #16, #17, and #18, from different sources, corroborate each other and provide confirmation of meetings between al Qaeda operatives and Iraqi intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. None of the reports have information on operational details or the purpose of such meetings. The covert nature of the relationship would indicate strict compartmentation [sic] of operations.

Information about connections between al Qaeda and Iraq was so widespread by early 1999 that it made its way into the mainstream press. A January 11, 1999, Newsweek story ran under this headline: "Saddam + Bin Laden?" The story cited an "Arab intelligence source" with knowledge of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. "According to this source, Saddam expected last month's American and British bombing campaign to go on much longer than it did. The dictator believed that as the attacks continued, indignation would grow in the Muslim world, making his terrorism offensive both harder to trace and more effective. With acts of terror contributing to chaos in the region, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait might feel less inclined to support Washington. Saddam's long-term strategy, according to several sources, is to bully or cajole Muslim countries into breaking the embargo against Iraq, without waiting for the United Nations to lift if formally."

INTELLIGENCE REPORTS about the nature of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda from mid-1999 through 2003 are conflicting. One senior Iraqi intelligence officer in U.S. custody, Khalil Ibrahim Abdallah, "said that the last contact between the IIS and al Qaeda was in July 1999. Bin Laden wanted to meet with Saddam, he said. The guidance sent back from Saddam's office reportedly ordered Iraqi intelligence to refrain from any further contact with bin Laden and al Qaeda. The source opined that Saddam wanted to distance himself from al Qaeda."

The bulk of reporting on the relationship contradicts this claim. One report states that "in late 1999" al Qaeda set up a training camp in northern Iraq that "was operational as of 1999." Other reports suggest that the Iraqi regime contemplated several offers of safe haven to bin Laden throughout 1999.

23. . . . Iraqi officials were carefully considering offering safe haven to bin Laden and his closest collaborators in Nov. 1999. The source indicated the idea was put forward by the presumed head of Iraqi intelligence in Islamabad (Khalid Janaby) who in turn was in frequent contact and had good relations with bin Laden.

Some of the most intriguing intelligence concerns an Iraqi named Ahmed Hikmat Shakir:

24. According to sensitive reporting, a Malaysia-based Iraqi national (Shakir) facilitated the arrival of one of the Sept 11 hijackers for an operational meeting in Kuala Lumpur (Jan 2000). Sensitive reporting indicates Shakir's travel and contacts link him to a worldwide network of terrorists, including al Qaeda. Shakir worked at the Kuala Lumpur airport--a job he claimed to have obtained through an Iraqi embassy employee.

One of the men at that al Qaeda operational meeting in the Kuala Lumpur Hotel was Tawfiz al Atash, a top bin Laden lieutenant later identified as the mastermind of the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole.

25. Investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 by al Qaeda revealed no specific Iraqi connections but according to the CIA, "fragmentary evidence points to possible Iraqi involvement."

26. During a custodial interview, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi [a senior al Qaeda operative] said he was told by an al Qaeda associate that he was tasked to travel to Iraq (1998) to establish a relationship with Iraqi intelligence to obtain poisons and gases training. After the USS Cole bombing in 2000, two al Qaeda operatives were sent to Iraq for CBW-related [Chemical and Biological Weapons] training beginning in Dec 2000. Iraqi intelligence was "encouraged" after the embassy and USS Cole bombings to provide this training.

The analysis of this report follows.

CIA maintains that Ibn al-Shaykh's timeline is consistent with other sensitive reporting indicating that bin Laden asked Iraq in 1998 for advanced weapons, including CBW and "poisons."

Additional reporting also calls into question the claim that relations between Iraq and al Qaeda cooled after mid-1999:

27. According to sensitive CIA reporting, . . . the Saudi National Guard went on a kingdom-wide state of alert in late Dec 2000 after learning Saddam agreed to assist al Qaeda in attacking U.S./U.K. interests in Saudi Arabia.

And then there is the alleged contact between lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague. The reporting on those links suggests not one meeting, but as many as four. What's more, the memo reveals potential financing of Atta's activities by Iraqi intelligence.

The Czech counterintelligence service reported that the Sept. 11 hijacker [Mohamed] Atta met with the former Iraqi intelligence chief in Prague, [Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir] al Ani, on several occasions. During one of these meetings, al Ani ordered the IIS finance officer to issue Atta funds from IIS financial holdings in the Prague office.

And the commentary:

CIA can confirm two Atta visits to Prague--in Dec. 1994 and in June 2000; data surrounding the other two--on 26 Oct 1999 and 9 April 2001--is complicated and sometimes contradictory and CIA and FBI cannot confirm Atta met with the IIS. Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross continues to stand by his information.

It's not just Gross who stands by the information. Five high-ranking members of the Czech government have publicly confirmed meetings between Atta and al Ani. The meeting that has gotten the most press attention--April 9, 2001--is also the most widely disputed. Even some of the most hawkish Bush administration officials are privately skeptical that Atta met al Ani on that occasion. They believe that reports of the alleged meeting, said to have taken place in public, outside the headquarters of the U.S.-financed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, suggest a level of sloppiness that doesn't fit the pattern of previous high-level Iraq-al Qaeda contacts.

Whether or not that specific meeting occurred, the report by Czech counterintelligence that al Ani ordered the Iraqi Intelligence Service officer to provide IIS funds to Atta might help explain the lead hijacker's determination to reach Prague, despite significant obstacles, in the spring of

2000. (Note that the report stops short of confirming that the funds were transferred. It claims only that the IIS officer requested the transfer.) Recall that Atta flew to Prague from Germany on May 30, 2000, but was denied entry because he did not have a valid visa. Rather than simply return to Germany and fly directly to the United States, his ultimate destination, Atta took pains to get to Prague. After he was refused entry the first time, he traveled back to Germany, obtained the proper paperwork, and caught a bus back to Prague. He left for the United States the day after arriving in Prague for the second time.

Several reports indicate that the relationship between Saddam and bin Laden continued, even after the September 11 attacks:

31. An Oct. 2002 . . . report said al Qaeda and Iraq reached a secret agreement whereby Iraq would provide safe haven to al Qaeda members and provide them with money and weapons. The agreement reportedly prompted a large number of al Qaeda members to head to Iraq. The report also said that al Qaeda members involved in a fraudulent passport network for al Qaeda had been directed to procure 90 Iraqi and Syrian passports for al Qaeda personnel.

The analysis that accompanies that report indicates that the report fits the pattern of Iraq-al Qaeda collaboration:

References to procurement of false passports from Iraq and offers of safe haven previously have surfaced in CIA source reporting considered reliable. Intelligence reports to date have maintained that Iraqi support for al Qaeda usually involved providing training, obtaining passports, and offers of refuge. This report adds to that list by including weapons and money. This assistance would make sense in the aftermath of 9-11.

Colin Powell, in his February 5, 2003, presentation to the U.N. Security Council, revealed the activities of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Reporting in the memo expands on Powell's case and might help explain some of the resistance the U.S. military is currently facing in Iraq.

37. Sensitive reporting indicates senior terrorist planner and close al Qaeda associate al Zarqawi has had an operational alliance with Iraqi officials. As of Oct. 2002, al Zarqawi maintained contacts with the IIS to procure weapons and explosives, including surface-to-air missiles from an IIS officer in Baghdad. According to sensitive reporting, al Zarqawi was setting up sleeper cells in Baghdad to be activated in case of a U.S. occupation of the city, suggesting his operational cooperation with the Iraqis may have deepened in recent months. Such cooperation could include IIS provision of a secure operating bases [sic] and steady access to arms and explosives in preparation for a possible U.S. invasion. Al Zarqawi's procurements from the Iraqis also could support al Qaeda operations against the U.S. or its allies elsewhere.

38. According to sensitive reporting, a contact with good access who does not have an established reporting record: An Iraqi intelligence service officer said that as of mid-March the IIS was providing weapons to al Qaeda members located in northern Iraq, including rocket propelled grenade (RPG)-18 launchers. According to IIS information, northern Iraq-based al Qaeda members believed that the U.S. intended to strike al Qaeda targets during an anticipated assault against Ansar al-Islam positions.

The memo further reported pre-war intelligence which "claimed that an Iraqi intelligence official, praising Ansar al-Islam, provided it with $100,000 and agreed to continue to give assistance."

CRITICS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION have complained that Iraq-al Qaeda connections are a fantasy, trumped up by the warmongers at the White House to fit their preconceived notions about international terror; that links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have been routinely "exaggerated" for political purposes; that hawks "cherry-picked" bits of intelligence and tendentiously presented these to the American public.

Carl Levin, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made those points as recently as November 9, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." Republicans on the committee, he complained, refuse to look at the administration's "exaggeration of intelligence."

Said Levin: "The question is whether or not they exaggerated intelligence in order to carry out their purpose, which was to make the case for going to war. Did we know, for instance, with certainty that there was any relationship between the Iraqis and the terrorists that were in Afghanistan, bin Laden? The administration said that there's a connection between those terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Iraq. Was there a basis for that?"

There was, as shown in the memo to the committee on which Levin serves. And much of the reporting comes from Clinton-era intelligence. Not that you would know this from Al Gore's recent public statements. Indeed, the former vice president claims to be privy to new "evidence" that the administration lied. In an August speech at New York University, Gore claimed: "The evidence now shows clearly that Saddam did not want to work with Osama bin Laden at all, much less give him weapons of mass destruction." Really?

One of the most interesting things to note about the 16-page memo is that it covers only a fraction of the evidence that will eventually be available to document the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. For one thing, both Saddam and bin Laden were desperate to keep their cooperation secret. (Remember, Iraqi intelligence used liquid paper on an internal intelligence document to conceal bin Laden's name.) For another, few people in the U.S. government are expressly looking for such links. There is no Iraq-al Qaeda equivalent of the CIA's 1,400-person Iraq Survey Group currently searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.

Instead, CIA and FBI officials are methodically reviewing Iraqi intelligence files that survived the three-week war last spring. These documents would cover several miles if laid end-to-end. And they are in Arabic. They include not only connections between bin Laden and Saddam, but also revolting details of the regime's long history of brutality. It will be a slow process.

So Feith's memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee is best viewed as sort of a "Cliff's Notes" version of the relationship. It contains the highlights, but it is far from exhaustive.

One example. The memo contains only one paragraph on Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, the Iraqi facilitator who escorted two September 11 hijackers through customs in Kuala Lumpur. U.S. intelligence agencies have extensive reporting on his activities before and after the September 11 hijacking. That they would include only this brief overview suggests the 16-page memo, extensive as it is, just skims the surface of the reporting on Iraq-al Qaeda connections.

Other intelligence reports indicate that Shakir whisked not one but two September 11 hijackers--Khalid al Midhar and Nawaq al Hamzi--through the passport and customs process upon their arrival in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2000. Shakir then traveled with the hijackers to the Kuala Lumpur Hotel where they met with Ramzi bin al Shibh, one of the masterminds of the September 11 plot. The meeting lasted three days. Shakir returned to work on January 9 and January 10, and never again.

Shakir got his airport job through a contact at the Iraqi Embassy. (Iraq routinely used its embassies as staging grounds for its intelligence operations; in some cases, more than half of the alleged "diplomats" were intelligence operatives.) The Iraqi embassy, not his employer, controlled Shakir's schedule. He was detained in Qatar on September 17, 2001. Authorities found in his possession contact information for terrorists involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 embassy bombings, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, and the September 11 hijackings. The CIA had previous reporting that Shakir had received a phone call from the safe house where the 1993 World Trade Center attacks had been plotted.

The Qataris released Shakir shortly after his arrest. On October 21, 2001, he flew to Amman, Jordan, where he was to change planes to a flight to Baghdad. He didn't make that flight. Shakir was detained in Jordan for three months, where the CIA interrogated him. His interrogators concluded that Shakir had received extensive training in counter-interrogation techniques. Not long after he was detained, according to an official familiar with the intelligence, the Iraqi regime began to "pressure" Jordanian intelligence to release him. At the same time, Amnesty International complained that Shakir was being held without charge. The Jordanians released him on January 28, 2002, at which point he is believed to have fled back to Iraq.

Was Shakir an Iraqi agent? Does he provide a connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11? We don't know. We may someday find out.

But there can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein's Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans.

Stephen F. Hayes is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.

TOPICS: Breaking News; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 911; abdallah; abdulazizaziz; abuhajer; afghanistan; alani; alatash; alhamzi; allibi; almidhar; alqaeda; alqaedaandiraq; alshaykh; alshibh; altikriti; alturabi; alzarqawi; atta; binladen; caseclosed; cbw; eij; feith; gore; gross; hijazi; iis; intelcommittee; iraq; janaby; khartoum; khobartowers; lauriemylroie; mahmdouhmahmudsalim; memo; mohamedatta; omar; osama; osamabinladen; pakistan; prague; qatar; roberts; rockefeller; saddam; saddamhussein; salim; sept11; shakir; stephenhayes; sudan; tariqaziz; usscole; wmd; zawahiri
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1 posted on 11/14/2003 5:15:07 PM PST by RobFromGa
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To: RobFromGa
Well, well.
2 posted on 11/14/2003 5:17:36 PM PST by Howlin
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To: RobFromGa
This briefing was also provided to Rockefeller on the intell committee, yet he still is looking for a way to slaughter the President over the handling of the Iraq War intelligence.
3 posted on 11/14/2003 5:18:04 PM PST by RobFromGa (The Bush Recovery Is In Full Swing....)
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To: backhoe; MizSterious; Pokey78; JohnHuang2; Miss Marple; deport
4 posted on 11/14/2003 5:18:23 PM PST by Howlin
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To: RobFromGa
Surprise, surprise, surprise.
5 posted on 11/14/2003 5:19:27 PM PST by Rocko
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To: RobFromGa
Above the fold story tomorrow in the NYSlimes, LAXSlimes, and WashSlimes. < /sarcasm >
6 posted on 11/14/2003 5:20:06 PM PST by Labyrinthos
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To: RobFromGa
Holy smoking gun Batman
7 posted on 11/14/2003 5:20:27 PM PST by JIM O
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To: Howlin
Can't wait to hear what Babs and Susan Saranwrap have to say.

I also can't wait to hear Bubba spin this.

8 posted on 11/14/2003 5:20:38 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: Howlin
wonder who leaked this?
9 posted on 11/14/2003 5:21:33 PM PST by RobFromGa (The Bush Recovery Is In Full Swing....)
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To: RobFromGa
I always thought it would be ironic if we found no WMD but instead found solid evidence of ties to al-Qaeda.

Let's not forget that its been fairly well accepted that Saddam tried to have President Bush the Elder asassinated in 1992 or 93 during a visit to Kuwait, and the first WTC attack took place in 1993. If Saddam was lunatic enough to try to kill GHW Bush, why not crazy enough to help al-Qaeda?

Looks like we found something.

10 posted on 11/14/2003 5:21:35 PM PST by pierrem15
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To: RobFromGa; Torie; woodyinscc; deadhead
Nice post, very nice.

Ya'll might want to take a gander at thie one.

An opening volley in campaign 2004.

11 posted on 11/14/2003 5:21:39 PM PST by jwalsh07
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To: RobFromGa
What is very distressing to me is that if this TOP SECRET memo is leaked this quickly (written October 27th) we have a very BIG problem in the Intelligence Committee, and the Senate and House.

People need to be brought on charges for leaking information. Just think is something is leaked that causes the deaths of tens, or hundreds, of military personel, or civilians.

12 posted on 11/14/2003 5:21:40 PM PST by technomage
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To: Paul Atreides
I've learned to tune out their infantile yammerings. The urge to punch them in the teeth was driving my blood pressure too high.
13 posted on 11/14/2003 5:23:02 PM PST by Viking2002
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To: Dog; PhiKapMom; Mo1; Calpernia; Ragtime Cowgirl
14 posted on 11/14/2003 5:23:33 PM PST by prairiebreeze (Brought to you by The American Democratic Party, also known as Al Qaeda, Western Division.)
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To: Viking2002
Oh, I don't know. Sometimes, Babs's verbal contortions can be humorous at times. I mean, is there anything more funny than a pretentious idiot shrew with delusions of grandeur?
15 posted on 11/14/2003 5:25:01 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: RobFromGa
16 posted on 11/14/2003 5:25:33 PM PST by BenLurkin (Socialism is Slavery)
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To: RobFromGa; Mo1
How many smoking guns does this make now?
17 posted on 11/14/2003 5:25:47 PM PST by sweetliberty ("Having the right to do a thing is not at all the same thing as being right in doing it.")
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To: RobFromGa
Tom Daschle is deeply saddened by this leak. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
18 posted on 11/14/2003 5:26:31 PM PST by Young Rhino (
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To: Howlin
according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

How did this get to The Weekly Standard? Sounds like leaks still abound

19 posted on 11/14/2003 5:26:40 PM PST by deport
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To: BenLurkin
a toast, to George W. Bush's landslide victory in November 2004!!!!!
20 posted on 11/14/2003 5:27:14 PM PST by jacket ( ---
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To: sweetliberty
The left will just say that W falsified the info.
21 posted on 11/14/2003 5:28:55 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: jwalsh07
"An opening volley in campaign 2004."

Read and bookmarked. Thanks for the ping

22 posted on 11/14/2003 5:29:05 PM PST by deadhead (God Bless Our Troops and Veterans)
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To: prairiebreeze
I would imagine that President Bush is holding quite a bit of information that he would like to use to defend himself, but he will not jeopardize the lives of our soldiers by revealing the information. I hope this leak doesn't hurt.
23 posted on 11/14/2003 5:29:33 PM PST by RobFromGa (The Bush Recovery Is In Full Swing....)
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To: RobFromGa

Time to start recalling who's been telling us that these connections were simply ludicrous because Saddam was a secular dictator and OBL a religious fanatic.

Here are a few pre-2000 links, some excerpted in the main article.

2/6/1999 The UK Guardian The Western nightmare: Saddam and Bin Laden versus the world
At the head of the group was a man by the name of Farouk Hijazi, President Saddam Hussein's new ambassador to Turkey and one of Iraq's most senior intelligence officers. He had been sent on one of the most important assignments of his career - to recruit Osama bin Laden.

Thus the world's most notorious pariah state, armed with its half-built hoard of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, tried to embrace the planet's most prolific terrorist. It was the stuff of the West's millennial nightmares, but United States intelligence officials are positive that the meeting took place, although they admit that they have no idea what happened.

1/11/1999 Newsweek
Here's what is known so far: Saddam Hussein, who has a long record of supporting terrorism, is trying to rebuild his intelligence network overseas--assets that would allow him to establish a terrorism network. U.S. sources say he is reaching out to Islamic terrorists, including some who may be linked to Osama bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi exile accused of masterminding the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa last summer. U.S. intelligence has had reports of contacts between low-level agents. Saddam and bin Laden have interests--and enemies--in common. Both men want U.S. military forces out of Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden has been calling for all-out war on Americans, using as his main pretext Washington's role in bombing and boycotting Iraq. Now bin Laden is engaged in something of a public-relations offensive, having granted recent interviews, one for NEWSWEEK (following story). He says "any American who pays taxes to his government" is a legitimate target.

Saddam's terrorism capability is still small-time, according to senior U.S. officials. "He's nowhere close to the level of the Iranians or Hizbullah," says one. But terrorism may be Iraq's growth industry. An Arab intelligence officer who knows Saddam personally and stays in touch with his clandestine services predicts that "very soon you will be witnessing large-scale terrorist activity run by the Iraqis." The attacks, he says, would be aimed at American and British targets in the Islamic world. Washington is somewhat skeptical, but this source says plans have already been put into action under three "false flags": one Palestinian, one Iranian and one "the al-Qaeda apparatus," the loose collection of terrorists who receive bin Laden's patronage. "All these organizations have representatives in Baghdad," says the Arab intelligence officer.

8/6/1999 National Press Club transcript with terrorism expert Yosef Bodansky
The other state that is rising up -- and I've elaborated a lot in the book about that -- is Iraq. Bin Laden has been dealing with Iraq intelligence since the early 1990s, where they cooperated in Sudan and in Somalia. This has been a love-hate relationship because of the Iraqi secular policies and Saddam Hussein's disdain for Islamism and even persecution of Iraqi Islamists, including veterans of Afghanistan.

1999 Excerpt from terrorism expert Yossef Bodansky’s book, Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America.
Bin Laden moved to solidify the cooperation with Saddam Hussein. In mid-July (1998)*, Ayman al-Zawahiri traveled to Iraq clandestinely. He met senior Iraqi officials, including Taha Yassin Ramadan, to discuss practical modalities for the establishment of bin Laden’s base in Iraq, the expansion of training for his mujahideen, and a joint strategy for an anti-U.S. jihad throughout the Arab world and North Africa. Baghdad could not have been more helpful, conditioning its support on bin Laden’s promise not to incite the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood into establishing and Islamic state in Iraq; in other words not to conspire against Saddam Hussein’s reign.

2/17/1999 Radio Free Europe
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein offered bin Laden asylum last month.
Middle East analyst Neil Partrick of the Royal United Services Institute in London told RFE/RL that the Iraqi ambassador to Turkey has met with bin Laden.

24 posted on 11/14/2003 5:29:42 PM PST by Monti Cello
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To: RobFromGa
Does anybody have a collection of quotes from politicians and pundits that said this was not possible and a blatant lie?
25 posted on 11/14/2003 5:29:55 PM PST by tentmaker
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To: RobFromGa
If the Senate Dem's were privy to this, and Al Gore was privy to this, and the Clinton's were privy to this, THEN, they are all liars.

And not only that, since they knew this information existed, they are stupid liars.
26 posted on 11/14/2003 5:30:16 PM PST by xzins (Proud to be Army!)
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To: RobFromGa
This is truly disturbing. Our intelligence can't be this bad and fabricated. This is a blatant puff piece that could not get close to passing the rules of evidence. Are we this desperate?
27 posted on 11/14/2003 5:30:47 PM PST by decibel
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To: technomage
What is very distressing to me is that if this TOP SECRET memo is leaked this quickly (written October 27th) we have a very BIG problem in the Intelligence Committee, and the Senate and House.

Agree that there appears to be a big problem... But there was an origination point and a destination point.... so it could have been from either or maybe even somewhere else... But Oscam's razor would point where you said.
28 posted on 11/14/2003 5:31:07 PM PST by deport
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To: decibel
29 posted on 11/14/2003 5:34:43 PM PST by Interesting Times (ABCNNBCBS -- yesterday's news.)
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30 posted on 11/14/2003 5:35:21 PM PST by spunkets
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To: RobFromGa
The Administration had best have a plan to get this information out there.

Linking Saddam and Bin Laden is better than WMD as a rationale for he war.

Just the other day I heard Dean tell Wolfe Blitzer that there was no evidence of al Qaeda involvement in Iraq. He and the other Dems need to eat those words.

31 posted on 11/14/2003 5:35:43 PM PST by Plutarch
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To: Paul Atreides
Did you see her on the Oprah Winfrey show?
I did not but I heard she was in top form....

She has to match her flowers outside to the inside decor or she must close the drapes.

She told a story about how she demanded a certain color of flower in a window box...her minions didn't put in the right flower. She kept the drapes shut. THe flower changed colors. She claims Deepak Chopra said that her will changed the color of the flowers....

32 posted on 11/14/2003 5:35:57 PM PST by ChiliCheeseDog
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To: RobFromGa
This briefing was also provided to Rockefeller on the intell committee, yet he still
is looking for a way to slaughter the President over the handling of the Iraq War intelligence.

As long as Rockefeller will let Tony Snow expose him as a conniving liar...
I wish Rockefeller and his fellow-travelers all the luck!
(RE: Tony Snow's interview in which he handed Rockefeller his (the Senator's)
head. Figuratively, that is.)
33 posted on 11/14/2003 5:37:21 PM PST by VOA
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To: ChiliCheeseDog
I didn't see her, but I heard a little about it. I didn't hear what you just posted. If she wasn't such a rabid socialist, the media would portray her as a laughing stock. But, she parrots the DNC talking points, so she gets a pass.
34 posted on 11/14/2003 5:38:06 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: RobFromGa
It's great to have this out in the open and validated, but for several years, even the media had documented some of these very connections. If you go back and Google, you'll find articles from the mid to late 90's that have journalists making these connections (between Osama and Saddam). It has only been since the threat of war, that both the media and the Dems have ignored these stories. And don't think the Democrats don't know about this, as those on the select committees have access to some of these facts. It doesn't matter to them...they are out for blood. And they and their media conspirators will attempt to ignore this, as well.
35 posted on 11/14/2003 5:38:35 PM PST by cwb (.)
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To: Dog; Dog Gone; Coop; swarthyguy; Destro; Peach; Jacob Kell; FairOpinion; JustPiper; Green Knight; ..
Yet more clarification on what most of us already knew.
36 posted on 11/14/2003 5:39:25 PM PST by Angelus Errare
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To: wardaddy; seamole; MEG33; windchime; Dog; Sabertooth
37 posted on 11/14/2003 5:41:41 PM PST by TexKat
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To: Angelus Errare
And just as Saddam's connection to Bin Laden and terrorism came out, details of his WMD will come out as well.

I bet we know more and found more about those too, than what they are able to say publicly.
38 posted on 11/14/2003 5:42:17 PM PST by FairOpinion
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To: technomage
"What is very distressing to me is that if this TOP SECRET memo is leaked this quickly (written October 27th) we have a very BIG problem in the Intelligence Committee, and the Senate and House."

Odds are that whoever leaked this report to the Weekly Standard also leaked the subversive Dem memo to Hannity.

It would not surprise me if the leaker isn't a committee staffer on the Dem side, who has become immune to the Kool-aid.

Nor would it surprise me that the leak was stimulated by the Democrats' failure to respond properly to the exposure of their blatent attempt to subvert the committee. And, secondarily, to make Carl Levin look like the partisan fool that he is.

One of the Democrat staffers has re-discovered that he is an American...and turned vigilante...

39 posted on 11/14/2003 5:44:40 PM PST by okie01 ( Congress isn't for the morally halt and the mentally lame.)
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To: Angelus Errare
Impossible. Hogwash. Everyones knows the secular Baathists and the Wahhhabi Jihadi International Islamic Front hate each other. They'd NEVER cooperate, not even against those they hate more than each other.

40 posted on 11/14/2003 5:45:46 PM PST by swarthyguy
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To: Paul Atreides
I heard that even Oprah was a tad incredulous about it and said something like..couldn't the sun have changed the colors of the flowers.

She was wearing a cream colored outfit and at the end Oprah said tell people about the mic. She said she owned that studio for X amount of years and had never seen that color of mic. Babs had the mic painted to match her outfit because she said a black one got in the way of the song....but what she meant was got in the way of keeping your every attention on HER UGLY FACE!

I wish I had seen the sounds like a hoot.
41 posted on 11/14/2003 5:46:31 PM PST by ChiliCheeseDog
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To: xzins
"If the Senate Dem's were privy to this, and Al Gore was privy to this, and the Clinton's were privy to this, THEN, they are all liars."

It is worth remembering that, while all this was happening, and much of it reported to him, Bill Clinton was getting BJs in the Oval Office.

It's hard to be a leader -- when your highest priority is in your pants.

42 posted on 11/14/2003 5:48:25 PM PST by okie01 ( Congress isn't for the morally halt and the mentally lame.)
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To: section9
43 posted on 11/14/2003 5:49:17 PM PST by Pubbie ("Cheney is behind it all, The whole neo-conservative power vortex," - Chris Matthews)
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44 posted on 11/14/2003 5:49:45 PM PST by Consort
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To: Paul Atreides
...The left will just say that W falsified the info......

Who cares what the left says. What amazes me is the fact they intend to try and destroy Bush having already seen this memo. Just how in the world could they destroy Bush?

The left also could say that Bush had ties to Al Qaeda and was related to Bin Laden.

The left could say that it is because Bush was elected that we were attacked and that if Gore had been in there (with his superior negotiating skills) that there never would have been an attack.

The left could say................
45 posted on 11/14/2003 5:50:45 PM PST by ClancyJ
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To: swarthyguy
I always get a kick out of those who say that...especially since I thought I heard it said that the saying, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is Arabic in origin.
46 posted on 11/14/2003 5:52:17 PM PST by cwb (.)
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To: RobFromGa
47 posted on 11/14/2003 5:52:47 PM PST by DoctorMichael (Thats my story, and I'm sticking to it.)
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To: okie01
imho, you've got it, okie.

And W has rather cooly played what he KNOWS is a winning hand. His statement last month about 'no connection between Saddam and 9/11' may have been an attempt to get the Dems to take their best shot. He might have suckered them again. I'd like to think so. I suspect W has known this information for a long time.

48 posted on 11/14/2003 5:53:50 PM PST by chiller (could be wrong, but doubt it)
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To: RobFromGa
This is all too late to do any good.

In the public eye, there is no link. Months of sound bites and one liners say so. The Media and Dems have repeated it so often, it is almost impossible at this late date to refute The Big Lie, despite this story which nobody will read. All they have to do to refute the genuine facts is quote each other's lies, ad infinitum.

The lasting impression made out there in public is "No Link!", the inconvenient facts be damned! It will be repeated at every opportunity all the way through the Election. That's the result of letting the other side's propaganda and lies take hold.

49 posted on 11/14/2003 5:54:27 PM PST by Gritty
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To: Interesting Times
Do I smell a newbie zot?
50 posted on 11/14/2003 5:55:13 PM PST by js1138
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