Friday, July 07, 2006

The Saddam-Osama Connection: The Terrorist Testimony

Mark Eichenlaub
July 7, 2006

One of the pillars of the argument that there were “no links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda” is that the captured/defected members from both sides have denied any relationship existed. (The Left makes this claim even though most of the detainees’ interrogation logs remain classified and their contents remain on a need-to-know basis.) This “no connection” claim has been made a number of times, and those making it generally receive favorable media attention; they’re rarely if ever confronted with testimony that conflicts with their argument. I will not argue on behalf of the truthfulness of former Ba’athists and al-Qaeda members, but if their testimony is going to admitted, shouldn’t critics also hear the testimony of those in custody who tell a different story?

There are more than a few former Iraqi officials and captured al-Qaeda affiliates who have revealed examples of cooperation between Saddam’s Iraq and Osama’s terrorist assets.

· “Abu Mohammed,” a former colonel of Saddam Hussein’s Fedayeen fighters, told reporters long ago that Iraq was training terrorists, including al-Qaeda.
Gwynne Roberts, Sunday Times, July 14, 2002

· Iraqi soldiers, captured during the early phases of the war on Iraq in 2003, revealed that al-Qaeda terrorists were present inside Iraq fighting alongside Iraqi troops
Gethin Chamberlain, The Scotsman, 10-28-03

· Hamsiraji Sali, Commander of the al-Qaeda affiliate Abu Sayyaf, admitted receiving $20,000 dollars a year from Iraq.
Marc Lerner, Washington Times, 3-4-03

· Salah Suleiman, revealed that he was a former Iraqi Intelligence officer, captured on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border shuttling between Iraq and Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Janes Foreign Report, 9-19-01

· Jamal al-Qurairy, a former General in Iraq’s Mukhabarat, who defected years ago, said “that [is] ours” immediately after seeing 9/11 attacks.
David Rose, Vanity Fair, Feb. 2003, and David Rose, The Observer, 3-16-03

· Abbas al-Janabai, a personal assistant to Uday Hussein for 15 years, has repeatedly stated that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden that included training terrorists at various camps in Iraq.
CNN, 7-23-2003
Gwynne Roberts, Sunday Times, July 14,2002
Richard Miniter, TechCentralStation, 9-25-03

· Two Moroccan associates of Osama bin Laden, arrested in Rabat in Nov 98, confirmed that Col Khairallah al-Tikriti, the brother of Iraq’s top Intelligence official (Mukhabarat), was the case officer in charge of operations with al-Qaeda in Kashmir and Manila
Jacquard, Roland, In the Name of Osama Bin Laden, Duke University Press, 2002, pg.112

· Wali Khan Amin Shah, an al-Qaeda operative in custody, told the FBI that Abu
Hajer al-Iraq had good contacts with Iraq Intelligence Services (reported to Senate Intelligence Committee)
Stephen Hayes, Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard, 7-18-05

· Farouk Hijazi, former #3 in Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabarat, although he denies the well documented reports of his later meetings with bin Laden, Hijazi admits that he met with Osama bin Laden to discuss antiship mines and terror training camps in Iraq during the mid-90’s.
9-11 Commission, Staff Statement 15

· Abdul Rahman al-Shamari, who served in Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabarat from 1997-2002, says that he worked to link Saddam Hussein regime with Ansar al Islam and al-Qaeda.
Preston Mendenhall, MSNBC, "War Diary"
Jonathan Schanzer, Weekly Standard, 3-1-04

· Mohamed Gharib, Ansar al Islam’s Media chief, later admitted that the group took assistance from Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor, 10-16-03

· Mohamed Mansour Shahab, aka Muhammad Jawad, is a smuggler who claims to have been hired by Iraq to bring weapons to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan
Jeffrey Goldberg, New Yorker, 3-25-02
Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor, 4-03-02
Richard Miniter, TechCentralStation, 9-25-03

· Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi is a senior al-Qaeda operative. Although he has changed his story, he initially told his captors that his mission was to travel to Iraq to acquire poisons and gases from Iraqi Intelligence after impressing them with al-Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole
Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard, 11-24-03

· An “enemy combatant” being held at Guantanamo Bay, who was also a former Iraqi Army officer, admits that he served as a liaison between Osama bin Laden and Iraqi Intelligence. He was arrested in Pakistan before completing joint IIS/al-Qaeda mission to blow up U.S. and British embassies
Associated Press, 3-30-05
Stephen Hayes, Thomas Joscelyn. Weekly Standard. 7-18-05

· Abu Hajer al-Iraqi (aka Mahmdouh Mahmud Salim) told prosecutors that he was bin Laden’s best friend and in charge of trying and procure WMD materials from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 6-17-04
Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard, 11-24-03

· A “Former Senior (Iraqi) Intelligence Officer” has told U.S. officials that a flurry of activity between Saddam Hussein’s regime and al-Qaeda took place in early and late 1998, the meeting point was Baghdad’s Intelligence station in Pakistan
Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard, 11-24-03

· Wafiq al-Sammarrai, former head of Iraq’s Military Intelligence before defecting in 1994, stated that Saddam Hussein has agents “inside” al-Qaeda
Laurie Mylroie, “Study of Revenge”

· Khidir Hamza, Saddam Hussein’s former top WMD official, says that Saddam had connections to al-Qaeda
CNN, 10-15-01
PBS Frontline "Gunning For Saddam"

· Abu Zeinab al-Qurairy , a former high-ranking officer in Iraq’s Mukhabarat, told PBS Frontline and the New York Times that the September 11 attackers were trained in Salman Pak, as were other members of al-Qaeda
PBS Frontline "Gunning For Saddam"

· Sabah Khodada, a former Captain in Iraq’s Army, told PBS Frontline and the New York Times that the terrorist training camp at Salman Pak included the training of al-Qaeda members airplane hijacking
PBS Frontline "Gunning For Saddam"

· An “Iraqi Defector,” who spent 16 years working for Iraq’s Mukhabarat, told the Iraqi National Congress that Saddam Hussein’s illegal oil revenues helped fund al-Qaeda (story later corroborated by Claudia Rosett )
Radio Free Europe 9-29-2002

· Khalil Ibrahim Abdallah, a captured senior Iraqi official, said that IIS agents had met with bin Laden until the middle of 1999
Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard, 11-24-03

· Qassem Hussein Mohamed, who served in Iraq’s Mukhabarat for 20 years, told reporters that Saddam Hussein has been secretly aiding, arming and funding Ansar al Islam and al-Qaeda for several years
Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor, 4-2-02
Jeffrey Goldberg, New Yorker, 3-25-02

· Dr. Mohammed al-Masri, a known al-Qaeda spokesman, told the Sunday Times that Saddam Hussein contacted the “Arab Afghans” (al-Qaeda) in 2001. Al-Masri also said that Saddam even went so far as to fund the movement of some al-Qaeda members into Iraq and then later supplied them with arms caches and money, later to be used in insurgent attacks. Abdel Bari Atwan, Sunday Times, 2-26-06 via Thomas Joscelyn, "Saddam, the Insurgency, and the Terrorists, 3-28-06

· Hudayfa Azzam, the son of bin Laden’s former mentor, told reporters in 2004, “Saddam Hussein's regime welcomed them with open arms and young al-Qaeda members entered Iraq in large numbers, setting up an organization to confront the occupation.” AFP, 8-30-04 Thomas Joscelyn, "What Else Did Hudayfa Azzam Have To Say About Al-Qaeda In Iraq?” 4-3-06

· Hudayfa Azzam, the son of bin Laden’s mentor Abdullah Azzam, has said Iraq’s government worked closely with al-Qaeda before the war and welcomed a number of members in after they left Afghanistan and armed and funded them Thomas Joscelyn citing AFP, 8-30-04

· Dr. Mohammed al-Masri, a known al-Qaeda spokesman, told the Sunday Times that Saddam Hussein contacted the “Arab Afghans” (al-Qaeda) in 2001. Abdel Bari Atwan, Sunday Times, 2-26-06 via Thomas Joscelyn, “Saddam, the Insurgency, and the Terrorists,” 3-28-06

· Haqi Ismail, a Mosul native with relatives at the top of Iraq’s Mukhabarat and spent time in al-Qaeda/al Ansar camps in Afghanistan and Northern Iraq before being caught by Kurdish security, indicated that he was working for Saddam Hussein’s Intelligence Service (Mukhabarat)
Jeffrey Goldberg, New Yorker, 3-25-02

· Moammar Ahmad Yussef, a captured deputy of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, told officials that Iraq provided money, weapons, fake passports, safe haven and training to al-Qaeda members
Dan Darling, Winds of Change, 11-21-03

· A “top Saddam Hussein official,” who was also a senior Intelligence official, says that Iraq made a secret pact with Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad and later al-Qaeda. Secret meetings between the two sides began in 1992.
Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard, 11-24-03

· Abu Zubaydah, a high ranking al-Qaeda operative in U.S. custody, has said that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had good contacts with Iraqi Intelligence Services
Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard, December 2, 2005

· Abu Iman al-Baghdadi, a 20-year veteran of Iraqi intelligence, told BBC news that Saddam Hussein is funding and arming Ansar al-Islam to fend off anti-Saddam Kurds
Jim Muir, BBC, July 24, 2002

Surely, much more detail is locked away in the classified interrogation logs of other captured al-Qaeda fighters and former Baathists in custody. (I have filed an FOIA request for a few.) Those who may have some answers would be the big name al-Qaeda fighters who were caught in Iraq and the captured Baathists in custody caught after the war terrorizing with Zarqawi and his affiliates. But what we know already should make us discount the “no connection” argument made by partisans denying reality.

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Mark Eichenlaub runs the website
Regime of Terror, "Documenting Saddam Hussein's State Sponsorship of Terrorism."

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