Mar 14 2008

The Clear Connections Between Iraq And al-Qaeda

Published by at 12:16 pm under All General Discussions,Iraq

Addendum: I have to emphasize that the connection discovered between Saddam’s Iraq and AQ’s Number 2 Zawahiri is more than enough of a smoking gun to realize AQ and Saddam’s Iraq were poised to bring on future 9-11s together – if they wanted to. And all indications are they wanted to, as long as it could not be traced back to them.

The problem with the bureaucracy of the federal government is the higher up you go the more you find people playing president. Their tenure has gone to their head as the skills have atrophied. Clearly whoever wrote the executive summary and picked the phrase “no smoking gun” had a presonal agenda. No one but someone trying to cover up the detailed findings would say a long term relationship between Zawahiri’s organization and Saddam’s regime would result in ‘no connection’ between al Qaeda and Iraq, when that other organization became al Qaeda when it was formed. Zawahiri led an organization Saddam trained and funded – they knew each other. They may not have talked, but their groups worked together for over 10 years at least. And to say that once Zawahiri’s group joined Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda this all ended is BS. Without proof to the contrary there is no reason to assume things have changed.

One bureaucrat, or a group of like minded ones, can make horrible decisions based on their egos and biases. It happens all the time. Even when the evidence is staring them in the face and others are doing all they can to open these people’s eyes it happens. Bureaucrats like to think their views are sacrosanct. But this country has plenty of examples of what happens as a result. Just look here and here for clear evidence of this all to common phenomena. Even experts in their fields can go horribly wrong when they stop looking at the data and start pushing their own views. Stephen Hayes has similar comments out as well. – end update

Others have posted on the actual contents of a Defense Intelligence Agency report on the analysis of Iraqi documents, video and interviews which was (as usual) erroneously reported through leaks to show no connection between Saddam’s Iraq and al-Qaeda. Ed Morrissey posted here and Michael Goldfarb posted here. I have glanced at their comments but wanted to read the report myself and share what I see independently. So there may be some overlap.

First off I want to note that the materials analyzed are not the complete set of information known to the US government. As a section up front clearly notes there are other sources of intelligence not accessible to the study group:

This paper summarizes a detailed review of a unique source-the captured documents and media files from the Harmony database, which have been translated and analyzed. While Harmony holds most of the documents captured in Iraq, it is not an exhaustive list. Other documents were not available for this phase of the IPP study, e.g., those under the control of other US government agencies or others still being processed.

To translate, this means highly sensitive classified materials may exist which would could dramatically change the results of this study. However, in terms of the risk Saddam posed post 9-11, and remembering this is 20-20 hindsight which was a cloudy blur of intelligence bits and pieces before the war, the case is made that Saddam did pose a major threat.

To appreciate this is to get out of the liberal, surrendermedia mindset that Iraq was payback for 9-11 and realize Iraq was all about who would take 9-11 as an indicator that al-Qaeda was a new and worthwhile force to work with on future 9-11s. As the report indicates Saddam was not reckless or naive about the risks associated with aligning with terrorists. He knew the west would increase the pressure and scrutiny of his regime if he was seen to be a major supporter and conductor for terrorist acts:

Saddam’s interest in, and support for, non-state actors was spread across a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. Some in the regime recognized the potential high internal and external costs of maintaining relationships with radical Islamic groups, yet they concluded that in some cases, the benefits of association outweighed the risks.

As with most strategic decisions, the greater the potential pay off the more risk some will take on. Saddam was not risk adverse, as his invasion of Kuwait clearly demonstrates. So we begin with the fact he supported terrorists across the spectrum and provided training and other critical resources to these groups:

• On occasion, the Iraqi intelligence services directly targeted the regime’s perceived enemies, including non-Iraqis. Non-Iraqi casualties often resulted from Iraqi sponsorship of non-governmental terrorist groups.
• Saddam’s regime often cooperated directly, albeit cautiously, with terrorist groups when they believed such groups could help advance Iraq’s long-term goals. …
• State sponsorship of terrorism became such a routine tool of state power that Iraq developed elaborate bureaucratic processes to monitor progress and accountability in the recruiting, training, and resourcing of terrorists.

So would a post 9-11 world believe there was no chance he would reach out to al-Qaeda with its newly demonstrated credibility? Would any sane person trying to be sure America was safe assume that the one and only group Saddam would not support was the world’s new top terrorist organization? Doubtful. Only liberals blinded by naive views of reality would make such rash and reckless determinations.

But the report does say more. It does show al-Qaeda and Saddam communicating. But let’s delve more deeply into how Saddam was intricately immersed in the world of terrorism.

Under Saddam, the Iraqi regime used its paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam training camps to train terrorists for use inside and outside Iraq. In 1999, the top ten graduates of each Fedayeen Saddam class were specifically chosen for assignment to London, from there to be ready to conduct operations anywhere in Europe.

It is not beyond the pale to see how Saddam’s agents in London could facilitate al-Qaeda operations. There is no proof he did, but there was also no way to prove he would not. And that is what a risk assessment is about – what is feasible and likely. Saddam would be very smart to keep his forces clandestine while allowing al-Qaeda radicals to damage the West and shake their resolve or confidence. One thing is clear, Saddam was housing the materials needed by al-Qaeda to execute massive attacks like we have seen across Europe:

Two other documents present evidence of logistical preparation
for terrorist operations in other nations, including those in the West. …

Romania – Missile launcher and missile
Athens [Greece] – Explosive charges
Vienna [Austria] – Explosive charges, rifles with silencers, hand grenades,
and Kalashnikov rifles
Pakistan – Explosive materials ofTNT
India – Plastic explosive charges and booby-trapped suitcases
Thailand – Plastic explosive charges and booby-trapped suitcases
Prague [Czech] – Missile launcher and missile

al-Qaeda could move people into the EU and Iraq could supply the necessary weapons of mass carnage. The fact this did not happen, again, has no bearing on whether it could. The records shown in the report about the manufacturing of hidden explosives and car bombs is enough to make one realize the man was a weapons factory for terrorists. It seemed he had the ability for transportation too. All the things an al-Qaeda cell would need to fulfill their martyrdom to Jihad. Check out this product description for terrorists:

An IIS memorandum dated 5 August 2001 describes in detail the manufacture and testing of a powerful type of lED that could be exploded by remote control and “vectored like rays so it will largely [destroy] the objective.,,21 These devices were tested in a “residential area,” with an emphasis on wireless detonation from 100 to 200 meters, and camouflaged to match the area.

Liberals who refuse to see the reality will still scream Saddam was not a risk, he was contained. Which is pathetical and laughable at the same time. The fact is Saddam was working towards what has become al-Qaeda’s preferred MO: the suicide bomb:

Documentary evidence shows that suicide operations became an increasingly popular weapon in Saddam’s arsenal in the decade before QPERATIO IRAQI FREEDOM (2003).

These documents indicate that as early as January 1998, the scheduling of suicide volunteers was routine enough to warrant not only a national-level policy letter but a formal schedule-during summer vacation-built around maximizing availability ofArab citizens in Iraq on Saddam-funded scholarships.

These are the most insidious and worrisome weapons of the terrorist army. These are the hardest to defend against. Which is why no one in their right mind would marginalize this kind of capability as not being all the big of a threat. Saddam did not have the religious zealots ready to die for his cause – Bin Laden did and still does.

The report goes on to note Saddam’s connections to terrorists organizations, and it is here where we get a link DIRECTLY to al-Qaeda’s top leadership:

Iraq was a long-standing supporter of international terrorism. The existence of a memorandum (Extract 10) from the lIS to Saddam, written a decade before OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, provides detailed evidence of that support.

Islamic Jihad Organization [Egyptian Islamic Jihad] In a meeting in the Sudan we agreed to renew our relations with the Islamic Jihad Organization in Egypt.

Why is this a direct connection to al-Qaeda? Because al-Qaeda was formed by integrating Islamic Jihad, the leader of which was Aymen Zawahiri – the number two man in al-Qaeda:

Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri (Arabic: أيمن محمد ربيع الظواهري ‎) or closer to the original Arabic pronunciation al-Dhawahri (born June 19, 1951) is a prominent leader of al-Qaeda, and was the second and last “emir” of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, having succeeded ‘Abbud al-Zummar in the latter role when Egyptian authorities sentenced al-Zummar to life imprisonment.

What kind of rationale does it take to assume the relationship between Zawahiri and Saddam ended when Zwahiri helped Bin Laden create al-Qaeda? What kind of suicidal idiocy is required to assume a name change in the organization caused by a new alliance would eliminate a decade’s long tie to a major sponsor of terrorism? Only the truly blind would miss this connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda. Even I am stunned this ‘smoking gun’ is not sufficient to see how Saddam and Zawahiri could continue their ties – especially after the success al-Qaeda had with 9-11.

The report also shows Saddam was a major supporter of terrorism, training their forces so they could go on and train more forces.

Captured Iraqi archives reveal that Saddam was training Arab fighters (non-Iraqi) in Iraqi training camps more than a decade prior to QPERATIO DESERT STORM (1991). A Saddam memorandum directed the IIS to submit a list of foreign nationals who were trained in Iraq and carried out operations during the 1991 war against the United States.

While there is no direct connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam in this list, there is also no evidence that those thousands of people who went through Saddam’s training were not pivotal in setting up al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan and elsewhere. In fact, if one looks at the person of Zarqawi, one time head of AQ in Iraq who was fighting in Afghanistan, was injured and returned to Iraq for sanctuary, the case could be made the ties exist.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (Arabic: أبومصعب الزرقاوي‎, ’Abū Muṣ‘ab az-Zarqāwī, Abu Musab from Zarqa)) (October 30, 1966 – June 7, 2006), born Ahmad Fadeel al-Nazal al-Khalayleh (Arabic: أحمد فضيل النزال الخلايله‎, ’Aḥmad Faḍīl an-Nazāl al-Ḫalāyla) was a Jordanian militant Islamist who ran a militant training camp in Afghanistan. He became known after going to Iraq and being accused by United States and Jordanian officials for a series of bombings, beheadings and attacks during the Iraq War.

He was believed to have formed al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, which later became the group called Al-Qaeda in Iraq, in the 1990s, and led it until his death in June 2006.

He was likely trained by Saddam, set up shops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ran back to his home base after Afghanistan fell. He was one of those foreign Arabs trained by Saddam – because he was allowed to exist and operate under Saddam’s regime. So that makes two links to al-Qaeda’s leadership, since Zawahiri and Zarqawi were supposedly in direct communication, as well as Zarqawi and Bin Laden. Not just anyone has access to AQ’s top two leaders. And there is a third link to al-Qaeda:

When attacking Western interests, the competitive terror cartel came into play, particularly in the late 1990s. Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda-as long as that organization’s near-term goals supported Saddam’s longterm vision. A directive (Extract 24) from the Director for International Intelligence in the IIS to an Iraqi operative in Bahrain orders him to investigate a particular terrorist group there, The Army of Muhammad.

The agent reports (Extract 25) that The Army of Muhammad is working with Osama bin Laden.

After 9-11 the US was accused of not connecting the dots running up to the attack. But after 9-11 the liberal left looked at the picture the dots where showing and stuck their heads in the sands of denial. In fact they have reverted to their pre 9-11 idiocy of putting their paranoid fears about someone listening in on their lame rantings has a higher risk to the country than those who are working to attack us. This is the same blind obsession that led to the Gorelick wall and NSA intercepts that noted the presence of terrorists inside our borders to be thrown out for privacy issues.

One final note – the report cannot say there was not connection between Saddam and AQ, because clearly it has been shown there were connections, long standing ones. And this is stated in the report:

For years, Saddam maintained training camps for foreign “fighters” drawn from these diverse groups. In some cases, particularly for Palestinians, Saddam was also a strong financial supporter. Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda’s stated goals and objectives.


One question remains regarding Iraq’s terrorism capability: Is there anything in the captured archives to indicate that Saddam had the will to use his terrorist capabilities directly against United States? Judging from examples of Saddam’s statements (Extract 34) before the 1991 Gulf War with the United States, the answer is yes.

The author’s, in a ridiculous amount of caution, said there was no smoking gun. That begs the question – what was their definition of a smoking gun? When faced with trying to determine where the next 9-11 attack would come from Iraq was clearly at the top of the risk list. And this study shows it was there for good reason. Unless someone wants to prove these connections could not possibly lead to another 9-11 if we let Saddam and al-Qaeda alone then they cannot say Iraq was not a threat. Because that is the option: prove he was not a threat and we could assume our people would be safe, or not. There are no grey areas when it comes to defending the people of this nation.

11 responses so far

11 Responses to “The Clear Connections Between Iraq And al-Qaeda”

  1. Well done AJ; I wonder where the Nutbag “Bootlicker” is??

  2. Terrye says:

    I think their idea of a smoking gun is a tape or video of Saddam and Osama in the same room at the same time planning 9/11 and then shaking on it.

    Really. That is what they would have to see.

    I think Saddam and Osama are/were both Alpha males. Neither of them would have let the other one run things and so they worked through other people. They used each other, but each one retained a certain amount of autonomy over their respective operations.

    That means that Osama might be willing to let some of Saddam’s intel people train his people on the use of chemicals…but they would not let Saddam tell them exactly when and where to use them.

    We have people in prison on less evidence of complicity.

  3. kathie says:

    Good post AJ, did you see this? Of course we need Gitmo…do we want these guys in the US?

    The Pentagon said on Friday it has taken custody from the CIA of an Afghan national who helped arrange Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s escape from Tora Bora in 2001, a spokesman said Friday.
    Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman would not say when or where Muhammad Rahim was captured or how long he was held by the CIA, but said he was transferred to US military custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba earlier this week.

    “He is one of UBL’s (Osama bin Laden’s) most trusted facilitators and procurement specialists. He helped prepare Tora Bora as a hideout for Osama bin Laden. He assisted Al-Qaeda’s exodus from the area in late 2001,”

  4. Karon von Gerhke says:

    “The author’s, in a ridiculous amount of caution, said there was no smoking gun. That begs the question – what was their definition of a smoking gun?”

    Perhaps, rather the beg the question of “what was their definition of a smoking gun.” is to query whom were their sources on a smoking gun, which is what I suspect may have influenced their conclusion on the absence of a smoking gun.

    The conclusions you drew based on the excepts are indeed grounded in reason. A sound mind would be hard put to come to any other conclusion. But as so oft happens in the course of collection of intelligence, the source of the intelligence may have been flawed.

    I personally cannot image a report issued the Department of Defense refuting the administration’s claim of the existence of a smoking gun absent irrefutable evidence that the intelligence in the original assessment was flawed. Honor, over and above political loyalties, is their creed.

  5. Karon von Gerhke says:

    Perhaps, rather than beg the question of “what was their definition of a smoking gun.” is to query whom were their sources on a smoking gun, which is what I suspect may have influenced their conclusion on the absence of a smoking gun.

    The conclusions you drew based on the excepts are indeed grounded in reason. A sound mind would be hard put to come to any other conclusion. But as so oft happens in the course of collection of intelligence, the source of the intelligence may have been flawed.

    I personally cannot image a report issued the Department of Defense refuting the administration’s claim of the existence of a smoking gun absent irrefutable evidence that the intelligence in the original assessment was flawed. Honor, over and above political loyalties, is their creed.

  6. MerlinOS2 says:

    The Harmony archives are only a small part of all the documents we have on this subject.

    There are still multiple warehouses of documents in Kuwait yet to be exploited for intel and also about 2 years ago one of the documentaries on Gitmo had the base commander noting that they also had a large warehouse of captured documents that came with their detainees that have yet to be looked at.

    Now if they have not translated and transcribed documents from those who were closest to OBL, it is likely that one could conclude the picture we have now is less than complete.

  7. Mark78 says:

    Great post. I’ve been screaming this story to the rooftops for years now over at It’s nice to see this stuff in an official report. Now all we need is the media to uncover it’s ear and eyes and we might get somewhere.

    Keep up the great posts.

  8. Mark78 says:

    Good point. I know that there were more than 60, 000 or 600,000 thousand that the media said is “comprehensive.” (As if they had been following this story and knew how many documents from Saddam’s regime were recovered)

    Weren’t there millions of documents recovered?

  9. gwood says:

    Great post!
    It has never been important, for me, to justify the Iraq invasion by proving either 1-that there was a prior relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida, or 2-that there was a potential tie between Iraq and al-Qaida.
    All that is necessary is to conclude that Saddam’s hatred for America,and his vast resources, could cause him to attempt to clandestinely support a group of jihadis that planned to attack us.Surely the lesson of 9-11 was that ANYONE with the motive and the resources could do us great harm, without missiles, without nuclear capability, and without being implicated, because al-Qaida was only one of many entities willing to take “credit”.

    The surrendercrat narrative has it that Saddam not only did not attack us, but that he wouldn’t attack us. The latter assumption is tenuous at best, but all we have to prove is that he COULD have attacked us. Motive and capability are there in spades. The sacking of Saddam also has crucial value on the psychological battlefield, in that he was perceived to be the region’s “strong horse”, having been seen by the Arab street as having won the Gulf War, simply by maintaining his power after facing the Great Satan’s war machine. He simply had to be taken out.

    Though we have attempted (mistakenly, in my view) to frame our post 9-11 actions as defensive and altruistic in nature, the Arab world has (fortunately) seen every one of them as punitive and retaliatory; this is one of two reasons we have not been attacked on our soil since 9-11. The other is our willingness to stand and shed blood in Iraq, which restored the dearth of respect that caused the attack on our buildings to begin with.

  10. […] One thing to remember about Saddam Hussein’s support network for terrorists were all the weapons caches he had in his embassies across Europe. When you connect these weapons caches with illegal immigrants from the hotbeds of world terrorism […]

  11. […] as we prepared to challenge Saddam and his ties to al-Qaeda (they existed through Ayman Zawahiri before and after 9-11), we were a nation bracing for the next strike from al-Qaeda. Osama Bin Laden and […]