Iraqi Colonel and 9/11

Although I watched portions of both Meet the Press and This Week yesterday, via TiVo delay, I actually missed what appears to be a rather interesting development.

WaTimes — Iraqi officer in al Qaeda, papers show

A senior officer in Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s security services was a member of the terrorist group that committed the September 11 attacks, a member of the commission investigating the suicide hijackings said yesterday.

“There is at least one officer of Saddam’s Fedayeen, a lieutenant colonel, who was a very prominent member of al Qaeda,” said September 11 commission member and former Navy Secretary John Lehman.

Reuters — Iraqi Officer Tied to Al Qaeda – 9/11 Commissioner

The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks has been told “a very prominent member” of al Qaeda served as an officer in Saddam Hussein (news – web sites)’s militia, a panel member said on Sunday.

Republican commissioner John Lehman told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that the new intelligence, if proven true, buttresses claims by the Bush administration of ties between Iraq (news – web sites) and the militant network believed responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America.

“We are now in the process of getting this latest intelligence,” Lehman said.

Commission Chairman Thomas Kean urged the administration to make any such information available to the panel quickly.

“Obviously, if there is any information (that) has to do with the subject of the report, we need it, and we need it pretty fast,” Kean said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “We’ll ask for it and see.”

He said the final report would be modified to take any new intelligence into account.

Lehman said the information, contained in “captured documents,” was obtained after the commission report was written that stated there was no evidence of a “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda.

UPDATE: More information on this appeared in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph:

The Wall Street Journal reported that captured documents listed one Ahmed Hikmat Shakir as a senior officer in the elite paramilitary Saddam Fedayeen. By an amazing coincidence, an Ahmed Hikmat Shakir was present at the January 2000 al-Qa’eda “summit” in Kuala Lumpur at which the September 11 attacks were planned.

It is of course possible that this was a different Ahmed Hikmat Shakir. However, Hayes reveals subsequent events showed this man was very important indeed to Iraq. Four days after September 11, he was arrested in Qatar and found to possess phone numbers of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombers’ safe houses and contacts, as well as information about an al-Qa’eda plot to blow up airliners. But he was released, re-arrested in Jordan and released again (with CIA collusion) – following pressure from Iraq at the highest level. What is the point of an inquiry into al-Qa’eda that doesn’t even consider such evidence?

The piece also provides other compelling arguments about ties between Saddam and jihadist terrorists.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. tom says:

    this poor joke of a panel headed by Keane and Hamilton didn’t even know that the staff members gave out the no connection report; and seem to be running things.

  2. Jim Henley says:

    So we have everything but

    * the provenance of the documents (captured by whom, precisely)
    * any dates whatsoever (when the officer served, when the documents were found etc.)
    * the capacity of the officer’s service (was he on secondment from the Fedayeen, or was he penetrating the Fedayeen on Al Qaeda’s behalf?)

    In other words, we have everything but practically everything we would need to know to form any kind of judgment on the veracity and import of this news. As usual.

  3. McGehee says:

    Does our friend Henley also still insist that “no WMDs have ever been found in Iraq”?

  4. Jim Henley says:

    No WMDs worthy of the name have been found, no. If you want to pretend chemical weapons are “WMDs,” no chemical weapons not well within the tolerance of bookkeeping errors have been found in Iraq, no.

    If you have anything serious, though, by all means come forward. In the meantime, if you want to admire the latest breathless revelation before it bursts, by all means. Soap bubbles are pretty too.

  5. capt joe says:

    Jimbo said, “If you want to pretend chemical weapons are “WMDs,”

    When I was in the military, there was this thing called NBCD (before it was NBCW). The C was chemical. This is generally the older term for WMD. Please enlighten me as to when nerve gas stopped being a WMD. I must have missed the memo.