Iraqis Worked With al Qaeda

We’ve apparently dug up new evidence confirming what we’ve known for years: That there was active cooperation between Saddam and al Qaeda during the 1990s while the terrorist group was training in Sudan.

NYT — Iraqis, Seeking Foes of Saudis, Contacted bin Laden, File Says [RSS]

Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990’s were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq.

American officials described the document as an internal report by the Iraqi intelligence service detailing efforts to seek cooperation with several Saudi opposition groups, including Mr. bin Laden’s organization, before Al Qaeda had become a full-fledged terrorist organization. He was based in Sudan from 1992 to 1996, when that country forced him to leave and he took refuge in Afghanistan.

The document states that Iraq agreed to rebroadcast anti-Saudi propaganda, and that a request from Mr. bin Laden to begin joint operations against foreign forces in Saudi Arabia went unanswered. There is no further indication of collaboration.

Last week, the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks addressed the known contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda, which have been cited by the White House as evidence of a close relationship between the two.

The commission concluded that the contacts had not demonstrated “a collaborative relationship” between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The Bush administration responded that there was considerable evidence of ties.

The new document, which appears to have circulated only since April, was provided to The New York Times several weeks ago, before the commission’s report was released. Since obtaining the document, The Times has interviewed several military, intelligence and United States government officials in Washington and Baghdad to determine that the government considered it authentic.

The Americans confirmed that they had obtained the document from the Iraqi National Congress, as part of a trove that the group gathered after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government last year. The Defense Intelligence Agency paid the Iraqi National Congress for documents and other information until recently, when the group and its leader, Ahmad Chalabi, fell out of favor in Washington.

Some of the intelligence provided by the group is now wholly discredited, although officials have called some of the documents it helped to obtain useful.

This connection was widely acknowledged during the Clinton Administration and was part of the rationale for calling for regime change in the late 1990s. Indeed, even “Anonymous,” the critic of the Bush terrorism policy whose forthcoming Imperial Hubris has been widely anticipated by the Left, details this tie in his first book, Through Our Enemies’ Eyes. Not only did the Iraqis participate in military training, but there was active cooperation in the effort to obtain CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) capability.

UPDATE:

Bin Laden’s first moves in this direction were made in cooperation with NIF [National Islamic Front, formerly the Muslim Brotherhood -ed.] leaders, Iraq’s intelligence service, and Iraqi CBRN scientists and technicians. He made contact with Baghdad through its intelligence officers in Sudan, and by a Turabi-brokered June 1994 visit by Iraq’s then-intelligence chief Faruq al-Hijazi; according to Milan’s Corrier della Sera, Saddam, in 1994, made Hijazi responsible for “nurturing Iraq’s ties to [Islamic] fundamentalist warriors.” *** Turabi’s scheme for an overall strategy was not achieved, but there is information shiowing that in the 1993-1994 period bin Laden began work with Sudan and Iraq to acquire a CBRN capability for al Qaeda.

***

A Sudanese military engineer named Colonel Abd-al-Basit Hamza. . . reportedly manages “a group of companies. . .run by the NIF in cooperation with Iraq and bin Laden. The operation of this program is led by Iraqi scientists and technicians, led by Dr. Khalil Ibrahim Mubaruhah, and by Asian and foreign experts.” The New Republic quotes a Sudanese military defector as saying that “up to 60 Iraqi military experts rotate through Sudan every six months, and that some of these experts are involved in some kind of munitions development” at the MIC [Military Industrial Corporation -ed.]. In addition, Sudanese oppositionists–not the most unbiased sources–claim Iraq’s technicians are helping Sudan build chemical weapons at MIC facilities in Khartoum and , in return, Iraqi chemical weapons have been hidden by Sudan at the Yarmuk Military Manufacturing Complex in Sheggara, south of Khartoum.

–Anonymous, Through Our Enemies’ Eyes (Washington: Brassey’s, Inc, 2002), pp. 124-125.

As is made clear elsewhere in the book, the relationship between MIC and al Qaeda during this period was symbiotic. Most of the sources date to the late 1990s.

For more analysis, see Dean Esmay, Steven Taylor, Rob Tagorda, Ed Morrissey, Tom McGuire, Glenn Reynolds, Cori Dauber, and Betsy Newmark. A major theme seems to be emerging: Why did the NYT so aggressively cover the infamous 9-11 Commission staff report, emphasizing “No Ties,” when it was working this story all along?

Other OTB posts relating to Anonymous and his books:


FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Iraq War, Terrorism,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. La Femme Crikcita says:

    I am shocked. Bush didn’t lie. Why that scoundrelly no good right winger told the truth.
    *cue Jack Nicholson’s rant as COL Jessup*

    The Left can’t handle the truth…et al. They are a bunch of whiners.

  2. So this means that Gore’s latest tirade that “Bush lied about Iraq-Al Queda links” is itself a lie since he had access to this info as VP during the 90s?

    I am shocked Gore would lie like that. Just shocked.

    Then again everyone has been talking about Gore’s public statements being a lagging indicator of when an issue jumping the shark.