The Connection – Part IV


Excellent summary of further evidence connecting Saddam to Al-Qaeda:

Beginning in June 1990, Saddam had been hosting “Popular Islamic Conferences” of Islamist terrorists from around the world. Reporters described how speakers toasted Saddam as a holy warrior who would wage jihad against America.[24] Those present included Afghan mujahhidin as well as Egyptian, Palestinian, Pakistani and Sudanese terrorists. Iraq was not alone in this regard, however. The Sudanese government also held international terrorist conferences twice a year from 1991 to 1996. Bin Laden took up residence in the Sudan from 1991 to 1996. It is from the Sudan that we have the first incontroverted evidence of a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda.

At first the communications between Iraq and bin Laden were conducted by the Sudanese government, which obtained agreement by bin Laden to a “non-aggression” pact with Saddam, as bin Laden had been supporting anti-Saddam activities in Iraq. Beginning in 1994, bin Laden began holding private meetings with Iraqi intelligence officials at his farm in the Sudan.[25] This included at least one meeting with the head of Iraqi intelligence, Mani abd al-Rashid al-Tikrit.[26} While the content of these conversations remains largely unrecoverable, a foreign intelligence agency provided the CIA with a source purportedly close to bin Laden who reported that the two sides agreed to move to cooperation, with sophisticated explosives training (on letter and parcel bombs and aircraft explosives detonated by changes in barometic pressure) and passport fabrication. The source reported that Iraq provided the training. While it is still disputed as to whether or not Iraq did so, it is agreed that bin Laden made the request. [27]

Bin Laden was forced to leave the Sudan in May 1996. U.S. pressure on the Sudanese government was too great. He decided that he would now move back to Afghanistan, and his war against the United States would only escalate.

Evidence of meetings in the Sudan is supplemented by a contemporaneous document discovered in the aftermath of the invasion in early 2004 and apparently written shortly after bin Laden?s departure from that country, but covering the time beforehand. The document, which was made available to the New York Times,[28] discusses communications between the two sides in which bin Laden requested “joint operations against foreign [i.e. American] forces” in Saudi Arabia, as well as a request that the sermons of an anti-Saudi cleric be rebroadcast from Iraq. The document notes that the latter request was granted, but is silent as to the former. The document notes that bin Laden “had reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative” but had become willing discuss working together. It mentions that bin Laden’s departure from the Sudan would make it necessary to find other channels “through which to handle the relationship, in light of his [bin Laden’s] current location.” It states that “cooperation between the two organizations should be allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement.”

Iraq’s contacts with bin Laden indeed continued after he returned to Afghanistan from the Sudan. The 9/11 Commission wrote:’

In March 1998, after Bin Laden?s public fatwa against the United States, two al Qaeda members reportedly went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi intelligence. In July, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with Bin Laden. Sources report that one, or perhaps both, of these meetings were apparently arranged through Bin Laden?s Egyptian deputy, Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis.[29]

The report’s reference to the March 1998 meeting is likely a reference to the same meetings discussed in Iraqi intelligence documents discovered in Baghdad by a reporter for the Daily Telegraph. The document describe meetings which resulted in an invitation to bin Laden to come to Baghdad and meet with Saddam. They note that the visit of bin Laden’s emissary was extended for a week, and also refer to an oral message sent to bin Laden. They are marked “Top Secret and Urgent,” and bin Laden’s name is (ineffectively) whited out with correcting fluid three times.[30]

Perhaps as a result of these meetings, Iraq offered bin Laden asylum in Iraq in December 1998.[31] This was shortly after al-Qaeda’s attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the Taliban was under great pressure, from both the United States and Saudi Arabia, to kick bin Laden out, as the Sudanese had. To this end an Iraqi team made its way to Afghanistan to meet bin Laden. The team was headed by Faruq Hijazi, Iraq’s ambassador to Turkey and past head of external operations (i.e. assassinations) in the security organization headed by Saddam’s son Qusay.[32] At this point, if not earlier, Saddam seems to have come to the conclusion that a closer relationship with bin Laden was in his interest. As the Washington Post put it, “Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against Western powers.”[33] Obviously, bin Laden decided to stay in Afghanistan.

In addition, in October 2000 the Iraqi intelligence agent Salah Suleiman was captured in Pakistan while trying to meet with Zawahiri.[34] Secretary of State Colin Powell cited evidence of at least eight meetings between senior level Iraqi intelligence officials and senior al-Qaeda leaders.[35]


The Connection – Part III
The Connection – Part II

The Connection

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