July 1, 2005


Body of Evidence (Stephen F. Hayes, July 1, 2005, The Weekly Standard)

"THERE IS NO EVIDENCE that Saddam Hussein was connected in any way to al Qaeda."

So declared CNN Anchor Carol Costello in an interview yesterday with Representative Robin Hayes (no relation) from North Carolina. [...]

[S]uch claims are, sadly, representative of the broad media misunderstanding of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. Richard Cohen, columnist for the Washington Post, regularly chides the Bush administration for presenting what he calls fabricated or "fictive" links between Iraq and al Qaeda. The editor of the Los Angeles Times scolded the Bush administration for perpetuating the "myth" of such links. "Sixty Minutes" anchor Lesley Stahl put it bluntly: "There was no connection."

Conveniently, such analyses ignore statements like this one from Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission. "There was no question in our minds that there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda." Hard to believe reporters just missed it--he made the comments at the press conference held to release the commission's final report. And that report detailed several "friendly contacts" between Iraq and al Qaeda, and concluded only that there was no proof of Iraqi involvement in al Qaeda terrorist attacks against American interests. Details, details.

There have been several recent developments. One month ago, Jordan's King Abdullah explained to the Arabic-language newspaper al Hayat that his government had tried before the Iraq war to extradite Abu Musab al Zarqawi from Iraq. "We had information that he entered Iraq from a neighboring country, where he lived and what he was doing. We informed the Iraqi authorities about all this detailed information we had, but they didn't respond." He added: "Since Zarqawi entered Iraq before the fall of the former regime we have been trying to have him deported back to Jordan for trial, but our efforts were in vain."

One week later, former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told the same newspaper that the new Iraqi government is in possession of documents showing that Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden's top deputy, and Zarqawi both entered Iraq in September 1999. (If the documents are authentic, they suggest that Zarqawi may have plotted the Jordanian Millennium attacks from Iraq.)

Beyond what people are saying about the Iraq-al Qaeda connection, there is the evidence. In 1992 the Iraqi Intelligence services compiled a list of its assets. On page 14 of the document, marked "Top Secret" and dated March 28, 1992, is the name of Osama bin Laden, who is reported to have a "good relationship" with the Iraqi intelligence section in Syria. The Defense Intelligence Agency has possession of the document and has assessed that it is accurate. In 1993, Saddam Hussein and bin Laden reached an "understanding" that Islamic radicals would refrain from attacking the Iraqi regime in exchange for unspecified assistance, including weapons development.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 1, 2005 10:22 PM

And don't forget, the man who was having a copy of the Koran written in his own blood is devotedly secular and abjured religous extremism.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 1, 2005 10:57 PM

Saying there was no connection (relationship, understanding, communication, waving, etc.) between AQ and Iraq is like saying there was no whatever between Germany and Russia in the 1930s. Bin Laden and Saddam didn't celebrate their relationship with a nice formal treaty, like Hitler and Stalin, but I suspect the Left would wish that away as well.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 1, 2005 11:14 PM