Skip to comments.Iraqis, Seeking Foes of Saudis, Contacted bin Laden (NY Times Documents Iraq/Al Qaeda on Page 1)
Posted on 06/24/2004 9:09:31 PM PDT by Southack
ASHINGTON, June 24 Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990's were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq.
American officials described the document as an internal report by the Iraqi intelligence service detailing efforts to seek cooperation with several Saudi opposition groups, including Mr. bin Laden's organization, before Al Qaeda had become a full-fledged terrorist organization. He was based in Sudan from 1992 to 1996, when that country forced him to leave and he took refuge in Afghanistan.
The document states that Iraq agreed to rebroadcast anti-Saudi propaganda, and that a request from Mr. bin Laden to begin joint operations against foreign forces in Saudi Arabia went unanswered. There is no further indication of collaboration.
Last week, the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks addressed the known contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda, which have been cited by the White House as evidence of a close relationship between the two.
The commission concluded that the contacts had not demonstrated "a collaborative relationship" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The Bush administration responded that there was considerable evidence of ties.
The new document, which appears to have circulated only since April, was provided to The New York Times several weeks ago, before the commission's report was released. Since obtaining the document, The Times has interviewed several military, intelligence and United States government officials in Washington and Baghdad to determine that the government considered it authentic.
The Americans confirmed that they had obtained the document from the Iraqi National Congress, as part of a trove that the group gathered after the fall of Saddam Hussein's government last year. The Defense Intelligence Agency paid the Iraqi National Congress for documents and other information until recently, when the group and its leader, Ahmad Chalabi, fell out of favor in Washington.
Some of the intelligence provided by the group is now wholly discredited, although officials have called some of the documents it helped to obtain useful.
A translation of the new Iraqi document was reviewed by a Pentagon working group in the spring, officials said. It included senior analysts from the military's Joint Staff, the Defense Intelligence Agency and a joint intelligence task force that specialized in counterterrorism issues, they said.
The task force concluded that the document "appeared authentic," and that it "corroborates and expands on previous reporting" about contacts between Iraqi intelligence and Mr. bin Laden in Sudan, according to the task force's analysis.
It is not known whether some on the task force held dissenting opinions about the document's veracity.
At the time of the contacts described in the Iraqi document, Mr. bin Laden was little known beyond the world of national security experts. It is now thought that his associates bombed a hotel in Yemen used by American troops bound for Somalia in 1992. Intelligence officials also believe he played a role in training Somali fighters who battled Army Rangers and Special Operations forces in Mogadishu during the "Black Hawk Down" battle of 1993.
Iraq during that period was struggling with its defeat by American-led forces in the Persian Gulf war of 1991, when American troops used Saudi Arabia as the base for expelling Iraqi invaders from Kuwait.
The document details a time before any of the spectacular anti-American terrorist strikes attributed to Al Qaeda: the two American Embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998, the strike on the destroyer Cole in Yemeni waters in 2000, and the Sept. 11 attacks.
The document, which asserts that Mr. bin Laden "was approached by our side," states that Mr. bin Laden previously "had some reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative," but was now willing to meet in Sudan, and that "presidential approval" was granted to the Iraqi security service to proceed.
At the meeting, Mr. bin Laden requested that sermons of an anti-Saudi cleric be rebroadcast in Iraq. That request, the document states, was approved by Baghdad.
Mr. bin Laden "also requested joint operations against foreign forces" based in Saudi Arabia, where the American presence has been a rallying cry for Islamic militants who oppose American troops in the land of the Muslim pilgrimage sites of Mecca and Medina.
But the document contains no statement of response by the Iraqi leadership under Mr. Hussein to the request for joint operations, and there is no indication of discussions about attacks on the United States or the use of unconventional weapons.
The document is of interest to American officials as a detailed, if limited, snapshot of communications between Iraqi intelligence and Mr. bin Laden, but this view ends with Mr. bin Laden's departure from Sudan. At that point, Iraqi intelligence officers began "seeking other channels through which to handle the relationship, in light of his current location," the document states.
Members of the Pentagon task force that reviewed the document said it described no formal alliance being reached between Mr. bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence. The Iraqi document itself states that "cooperation between the two organizations should be allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement."
The heated public debate over links between Mr. bin Laden and the Hussein government fall basically into three categories: the extent of communications and contacts between the two, the level of actual cooperation, and any specific collaboration in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The document provides evidence of communications between Mr. bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence, similar to that described in the Sept. 11 staff report released last week.
"Bin Laden also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein's secular regime," the Sept. 11 commission report stated.
The Sudanese government, the commission report added, "arranged for contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda."
"A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan," it said, "finally meeting bin Laden in 1994. Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded."
The Sept. 11 commission statement said there were reports of further contacts with Iraqi intelligence in Afghanistan after Mr. bin Laden's departure from Sudan, "but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship," it added.
After the Sept. 11 commission released its staff reports last week, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney said they remained convinced that Mr. Hussein's government had a long history of ties to Al Qaeda.
"This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and Al Qaeda," Mr. Bush said. "We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. For example, Iraqi intelligence officers met with bin Laden, the head of Al Qaeda, in the Sudan. There's numerous contacts between the two."
It is not clear whether the commission knew of this document. After its report was released, Mr. Cheney said he might have been privy to more information than the commission had; it is not known whether any further information has changed hands.
A spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission declined to say whether it had seen the Iraqi document, saying its policy was not to discuss its sources.
The Iraqi document states that Mr. bin Laden's organization in Sudan was called "The Advice and Reform Commission." The Iraqis were cued to make their approach to Mr. bin Laden in 1994 after a Sudanese official visited Uday Hussein, the leader's son, as well as the director of Iraqi intelligence, and indicated that Mr. bin Laden was willing to meet in Sudan.
A former director of operations for Iraqi intelligence Directorate 4 met with Mr. bin Laden on Feb. 19, 1995, the document states.
On the other hand, they may want to consult with Nick Berg.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Mr Gore.
Death to Mr.Bin Laden!
Guess those of us who took them up on their "Show Us The Proof" editorial got a reaction. Here's what I got in my email today (names, email addresses, and his phone number redacted):
Mr. Okrent will be addressing the June 17th article Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie; Describes a Wider Plot for 9/11, (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/17/politics/17panel.html) and its headline in his column in the week in review section on Sunday.
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times
At 11:03 AM 6/18/2004, you wrote:
Dear Mr. Okrent,
This is a complaint about the reporting on the 9/11 commission
report in the Times yesterday. There are a number of clear distortions and
an appalling lack of backround research evident in the content of the
First, the headline itself reads "Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie".
This headline is of course the most prominent thing in that day's edition
of the Times. All one needs to do is read the actual report from the
commission, which reads, in part:
"Bin Ladin also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his
time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein's secular regime. Bin
Ladin had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi
Kurdistan. The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly
persuaded Bin Ladin to cease this support and arranged for contacts
between Iraq and al Qaeda. A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly
made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Ladin in 1994. Bin Ladin
is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as
assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded.
There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also
occurred after Bin Ladin had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not
appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior Bin
Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al
Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda
cooperated on attacks against the United States."
Can you honestly tell me, after reading that paragraph of the
report, that the panel found no Iraq-Al Qaeda tie? Clearly, the person who
wrote that headline failed to read the report. This is a gross instance of
Unfortunately, that is only the beginning of the distorted
coverage of the report. The major story on the commission's report itself
is on the right side of the front page, and is headlined "Challenges
Bush". We learn in the first paragraph that the alleged absence of a
"collaborative relationship" between Al Qaeda and Iraq "sharply
contradicted one of President Bush's central justifications for the Iraq
war, ...." This is quite an allegation, given that President Bush never
declared the existence of such a relationship to be even a part of the
reason for the war, and certainly not a "central justification".
What is the reason for these outrageous distortions and
misinformation on the front page of the New York Times? I will offer what
I believe to be the reason. Turn to page A28, and you will see the lead
editorial proclaim "there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq
and Al-Qaeda". Given that a few minutes on Google turns up the 1998
indictment of Usama Bin Laden in the Untited States District Court for the
Southern District of New York (by the Clinton administration's Department
of Justice, no less), which states: "Additionally, the indictment states
that Al Qaeda reached an agreement with Iraq not to work against the
regime of Saddam Hussein and that they would work cooperatively with Iraq,
particularly in weapons development.", where do the individuals who wrote
that story get off calling themselves reporters? Iraq/AQ connections
abound if one does not deliberately blind onself to them: Salman Pak, Abu
Nidal, Atta in Prague, the pre-9/11 reports in official Iraqi press
predicting the attacks, Ramzi Yousef, Sudan connections, and so on.
If a person cannot do so much as look up a search term on the
Internet, which would lead them to many credible and substantiable sources
of information on the topic, they have no business calling themselves
reporters, to say nothing of getting their stories published on the front
page of the Times.
Occam's Razor (a general rule under which the simplest explanation
is considered the most probable) leads one to believe that the distortions
on the front page, viewed in the context of the clear agenda of the
editorial staff of the Times) were intended to support the predetermined
point of view of the editorial. In other words, the Times editors
deliberately lied to its loyal readers in order to launch yet another
attack on the President, facts be damned.
It leads one to wonder, at what point can the printing of the
Times be considered to be an illegal contribution to the Kerry campaign?
It also leads one to wonder how much farther the circulation of the Times
needs to drop before the business managers realize that the pattern of
deliberate distortion, which is plain as day to the objective reader, is
the reason why the Times and its cohorts in disinformation find their
circulation dropping regularly, while more objective sources such as the
Wall Street Journal and (it pains me to say it, but it's true) the NY Post
enjoy strong expansions of their readership?
I am starting to think that Gore is the designated scapegoat, and that he's so starved for attention that he's willingly taking the job.
9/11 comission = worthless dog and pony show!!!!
Well WELLLL WELLLLLLL isn't THAT interesting :)
Doesn't he have great timing? Didn't he give some wideyed publicized rant about global warming on the coldest day recorded in New York?
And it leads me to wonder at what point can the lies of the New York Times become an actionable slander, even given that the target of the slander is a "public figure".
I beleive slander against a public figure is actionable if the slander is willful and malicious.
It looks to me like this qualifies.
I mean, how is the national media gonna deal with this? And when Al Gore's speech was announced, freepers were all a-titter about his awful timing. I don't know exactly what the other incidents were, but I got the jist of it. And then blammo...here is is. I gotta rub my eyes. is this real? is this really a page 1 story?
Pray for W and our Awesome Troops
Al Gore is living proof that God not only exists but that he has a sense of humor as well. One man can simply not have such bad timing, luck and presence absent divine intervention. :-}
Cheers, kudos and "you da man," for your letter to Mr. Okrent at the NY Times. Thanks for touching on the circulation angle, which must surely sting given the news of yesterday. (If you hold the hammer, what do you do? Ans. Pound, pound, pound.)
OK...the dems want to niggle, as does the times, that the relationship was not "collaborative." Goodness me. They hadn;t got to second base yet. For starters, see here that Iraq initiated. THEY were the instigator. It doesn't matter if they were rebuked by Osama or not. The FACT is Saddam sought to form an alliance with terrorists in the middle east. In my book, that makes him a menace and a threat. Let the dems run against it. Let em explain to America that yes, Iraq sent love letters to Osama, and tried to unite the jihadist terrorists in an alliance of islamic fascism. BUT....the relationship was not "collaborative", and therefore, Bush went too far. France likes me better. I'll raise your taxes. Great platform. LOL!
Yeah, that's the sound of the crowd in the mosh pit parting ... right on schedule. Thanks, Al ... we really appreciate your help. Keep up the great work.
I 100% agree. If the National Enquirer can be forced to pay up for its lies, then so should the New York Times.