Skip to comments.Bush always suspected Saddam was behind 9/11
Posted on 04/26/2003 4:20:20 PM PDT by MadIvan
The revelation that Saddam Hussein's intelligence chiefs were seeking to establish links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda network is the first concrete proof that the dictator was colluding with the world's most ruthless terrorist operation.
The documents discovered yesterday by The Telegraph in the former headquarters of the Iraqi intelligence service, the Mukhabarat, will also reopen the debate about whether Saddam was directly involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
The issue of Saddam's involvement has been a long-standing source of contention between London and Washington. In the days immediately following the attacks, President George W Bush confided to colleagues that he believed that Saddam was directly involved in the attacks. "He probably was behind this in the end," he said.
In his State of Union speech in January, Mr Bush made the case for confronting Iraq, saying: "Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qa'eda."
This belief has been the driving force behind Washington's determination to seek "regime change" in Baghdad, particularly after Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, indicated in February that he had received intelligence reports that al-Qa'eda operatives had approached Iraq about co-operating on chemical and biological weapons.
Washington's insistence that Saddam had links with bin Laden was not reciprocated in London, where Tony Blair, acting on the advice he received from British intelligence, was more circumspect about the links.
During his appearance before a Commons select committee in January, Mr Blair said that while "there is some intelligence about loose links between al-Qa'eda and various people in Iraq", he was unaware of any evidence linking Saddam to September 11.
Until now, most of the evidence presented by Washington to prove the link between Saddam and al-Qa'eda has been inconclusive. In the weeks immediately after the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration was keen to draw attention to a report issued by the Czech Republic's interior ministry claiming that Mohamed Atta, the lead hijacker, had met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague earlier that year. The report later turned out to be false.
Washington was similarly frustrated earlier this year when it claimed that an al-Qa'eda cell called al-Ansar al-Islam was operating in Iraq. It later transpired that the group was active in a region beyond Saddam's control.
The new documentation uncovered by The Telegraph, however, is the first concrete evidence to emerge to back up claims made by Mr Powell during his presentation to the United Nations Security Council. He said Iraqi intelligence had funded a number of terrorist training camps in Sudan in the 1990s which were used by al-Qa'eda.
During his presentation, Mr Powell said that al-Qa'eda had been working with Baghdad since the early 1990s after reaching an understanding that bin Laden would stop targeting Saddam's regime. "Ties were forged by secret, high-level intelligence contacts," he said.
"We know members of both organisations have met at least eight times at very senior levels since the early 1990s. In 1996 . . . bin Laden met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Khartoum, and later met with the director of the Iraqi intelligence service."
US officials also claimed that Saddam was particularly impressed by al-Qa'eda's 1998 terrorist attacks against the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and sent Iraqi intelligence officers to help train al-Qa'eda fighters in Afghanistan after bin Laden was forced to move his base there from Sudan.
The documents also give the lie to those who said that al-Qa'eda, the Islamic zealots, would have nothing to do with the brutally secular regime of Saddam. It appears that their shared hatreds - of America, of Saudi Arabia, of the West - outweighed such considerations.
"This discovery backs up everything we have heard about Baghdad's dealings with bin Laden," a Western intelligence official said last night. "It shows that Iraqi intelligence was desperate to form an alliance with al-Qa'eda. And if Saddam was working with bin Laden from the mid-1990s, that raises the question of whether he was involved in the 9/11 attacks."
Saddam himself always rigorously denied having any links with al-Qa'eda. During an interview with Tony Benn, the Left-wing former MP, in early January, Saddam said: "We have no relationship with al-Qa'eda." He added: "If we had a relationship with al-Qaeda and we believed in that relationship, we would not be ashamed to admit it."
So simple! So elegant! and so VERY, very true!
( Slapping my head in frustration! )
I recall several stories from that time about killings & identity thefts, but did not save links to the stories.
Second, you and every other anti-war person should be utterly ashamed. Have you NO shame whatsoever?
This is an absolutely key and central point that should be shouted out from all the rooftops near Mclean and Foggy Bottom. Michael Ledeen in his dead-on book "The War Against The Terror Masters",
goes into great detail about the fatal mistakes our intelligence organizations have consistently made in assuming that Sunni's won't work with Shiites won't work with Secularists...BullSquat. Their overriding hatred is centered on the West - and the US and UK being those leaders - are their key targets.
He provides countless examples of how they work together, exchange information, and train and supply each other's terrorists organizations. Later, in their somewhat interrupted gameplan, they think they'll get around to raping, maiming and slaughtering each other, but right now - all their focus is on and against us.
Don't you think that it is even a little odd that with all the dead bang pronouncments about WMD before our invasion, that now we can't find any at all? The Iraqis weren't much good at anything but suddenly we're expected to think they are master magicians who make huge complex weapons programs disappear. What do I have to be ashamed of -- pointing out the obvious?
No. If you were an Iraqi official, the last thing you'd want to do is be caught dead with WMD. Sorry if that logic escapes you.
The Iraqis weren't much good at anything but suddenly we're expected to think they are master magicians who make huge complex weapons programs disappear. What do I have to be ashamed of -- pointing out the obvious?
Saddam, as most anyone sane admits, had become a master of concealment. No I'm not surprised that the weapons are difficult to find. Nor am I surprised that anti-war people are already complaining about the length of time to find the weapons, because no timescale was ever going to be good enough. I suspect when they are found, you will next complain that it wasn't "enough" WMD to justify an invasion, and even if they are found in massive quantities, I am sure you will complain that these WMD weren't lethal enough in total to justify the invasion. Your position, to be sure, is not the product of any legitimate concerns or questions - it is an attempt to find some crack in the logic of taking out Iraq.
Every anti-war person should be utterly ashamed given what we've discovered just so far about this regime. The fact that you're not, and your premature crowing about WMD, indicates you are indeed anti-war no matter what, a position which has grown more pathetic and despciable over time.
They will never be satisfied that the invasion was justified. Ever. It doesn't matter how many WMD's we find, what evidence of links to Al Qaeda, how many people were gassed or tortured or killed - all that matters to the anti-war people is the sanctity of their position, and ignoring anything that might shatter that perception.