September 14, 2006

Iraqi Minister: Saddam Was Tied to al Qaeda

A deputy prime minister of Iraq is challenging a Senate report which claims there was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. As you read Barham Salih's account of how jihadi operatives of Ansar al Islam tried to murder him, keep in mind a few things.

Ansar al Islam was a Salafi Kurdish jihad organization. While it had no love for the Hussein regime, it's main target were the secularist who have dominated Kurdish Iraq for years.

Many leading Ansar al Islam operatives were known to have received training at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. They were also heavily funded by bin Laden's network. Among them is a name you might recognize. A name we at the Jawa Report were following long before the world was aware of him: Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

After the liberation of Kurdistan from Saddam, the two main secular parties and their Peshmerga fighters effectively stamped out Ansar al Islam. Abu Musab al Zarqawi fled Kurdistan with a band of Arabs and founded a new terror organization called al Tawhid wal Jihad---where he first began beheading infidels. The Kurds who fled formed a group called The Army of Ansar al Sunnah--the same group which just posted a gruesome video of three Iraqi National Guardsman being beheaded.

Later, he renamed the group al Qaeda in Iraq and pledged loyalty to Osama bin Laden.

But before he and the other Ansar al Islam terrorists officially pledged loyalty to bin Laden, they had been trained by al Qaeda and shared exactly the same goals. There is no mystery here that the groups were allied.

NY Sun:

In a speech in which he challenged the belief of war critics that Iraqis' lives are now worse than under Saddam Hussein, Barham Salih said, "The alliance between the Baathists and jihadists which sustains Al Qaeda in Iraq is not new, contrary to what you may have been told." He went on to say, "I know this at first hand. Some of my friends were murdered by jihadists, by Al Qaeda-affiliated operatives who had been sheltered and assisted by Saddam's regime."

A Kurdish politician who took his high school exams from inside a Baathist prison, Mr. Salih said he was the target of the alliance between jihadists, Baathists, and Al Qaeda in 2001, when a group known as Ansar al-Islam tried to assassinate him. In 2002, envoys of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two Kurdish parties sharing sovereignty over northern Iraq between the two Iraq wars, presented the CIA with evidence that the organization that tried to kill Mr. Salih had been in part funded and directed by Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard....

he added, "There were links between Ansar al-Islam and Al Qaeda. The information at time [in 2002] was quite different. Now, we could not prove this in a court of law, but this is intelligence."... The DIA concludes that Ansar al-Islam "receives assistance" from Al Qaeda but is not a branch of the terrorist organization.

To think of al Qaeda as a structured organization in which one is either "in" the group or "out" of the group is to not quite understand the global jihadi network. Ansar al Islam had the same goals and same methods as al Qaeda. Whether or not they 'took orders' from bin Laden seems a rather weak point indeed.

John from Powerline adds:

There is no doubt that Ansar al Islam was a dangerous terrorist group; among its activities was the production of ricin to be used in terrorist acts in Europe. The left's conventional defense of Ansar al Islam is that it was located in the northern part of Iraq, and therefore under the presumed dominion of the Kurds. But so what? They were in Iraq, and Saddam not only tolerated but supported them. The Kurds had no ability to drive them out. The idea that Saddam is insulated from al Qaeda because Ansar was only supported by al Qaeda, but was not a "branch" of al Qaeda, is the kind of silliness liberals engage in on this issue. Ansar was a terrorist Islamic group, and Saddam both harbored and supported them.

Likewise with the claim that Saddam had no idea that Zarqawi was inside Iraq for over a year before the Iraq war began, conducting terrorist operations from Iraqi soil. I think that claim is highly unlikely, and that Saddam, at a minimum, tolerated Zarqawi and the other al Qaeda refugees from Afghanistan because of their shared goals. But again, what is the point? Zarqawi organized and carried out, from Iraq, the assassination of American diplomat Laurence Foley, in Jordan, in December 2002. So again, there is no question Saddam's government harbored terrorists who carried out terrorist acts against the United States from Iraqi soil.

If you still don't believe Saddam supported terrorists, well then you are just ignorant. If, however, the larger point is that Saddam had no connection to 9/11, then your point is well taken.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 02:19 PM | Comments |