Category Archive 'Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda'

26 Jan 2010

Laurie Mylroie and Neocon Conspiracy Theory

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Edward Jay Epstein, in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, explains that the Anthrax spores used in postal attacks around the time of 9/11 had been weaponized by a coating of silicon greatly enhancing their effectiveness as an aerosal. Over 100 scientists had had access to the particular strain of Anthrax, and the FBI’s ham-handed investigative efforts applied such intense scrutiny, pressure, and public accusations that they resulted in two suicides and a public apology including a $5.8 million settlement with no actual resolution.

The crux of the investigative problem is the silicon. None of the scientist suspects or the laboratories they had access to possessed either the specialized equipment or expertise needed to weaponize the Anthrax. Over 8 years later, the case remains open.

The Epstein editorial came to mind this morning, as I was looking through the Memeorandum aggregator page and found a link to this sneering hit piece by Justin Elliott, one of Talking Points Memo’s little leftist elfs.

Elliott is busily trying to marginalize Laurie Mylroie, a Harvard-educated Arabist, who has served on the faculty of Harvard and the Navy War College and as an advisor to Bill Clinton, identifying her as a “crackpot” and conspiracy theorist. I had not been previously familiar with Dr. Mylroie, her books, or opinions, but looking into all this, it is very clear that she has taken a position very much at odds with the prevailing consensus of the foreign policy and intelligence establishments and the media, one attributing a far more significant ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda and an active role on the part of the Iraqi regime in both the first WTC bombing and 9/11.

I don’t own her books (I just ordered two of them), so I don’t know if I agree with her, find any of her evidence persuasive or her reasoning credible, but I am interested in seeing what she has to say. Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Whenever I see the left performing one of their little excommunication-on-the-basis-of-thought-crime ceremonies, I always develop the suspicion that the target of such attention may be perfectly correct.

The TPM hit piece notes that the Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment (an internal Pentagon think tank) was employing Dr. Mylroie as recently as 2007 as a consultant to produce reports on Saddam Hussein’s strategy for dealing with UN inspections and his intelligence service. She had previously written in 2005 a History of Al Qaeda. I plan to read it carefully.

The popularly prevailing theory, completely excluding state support for al Qaeda’s terrorist activities, is very useful if you are interested in asserting Iraqi innocence in order to indict Bush, but it does leave a number of important problems unanswered, like where did those weaponized Anthrax spores come from?

24 Nov 2008

Captured al Qaeda Letter Praises Iran’s Support of Terror

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Let’s see, Bush’s war policy was wrong, because sophisticated people knew that al Qaeda is a Sunni organization, and neither secular Ba’athists, like Saddam Hussein, nor Shiites, like the mullahs controlling Iran, would ever under any circumstance cooperate with or assist al Qaeda.

The Telegraph:

Fresh links between Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and al-Qaeda have been uncovered following interception of a letter from the terrorist leadership that hails Tehran’s support for a recent attack on the American embassy in Yemen, which killed 16 people.

Delivery of the letter exposed the rising role of Saad bin Laden, son of the al-Qaeda leader, Osama as an intermediary between the organisation and Iran. Saad bin Laden has been living in Iran since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, apparently under house arrest.

The letter, which was signed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s second in command, was written after the American embassy in Yemen was attacked by simultaneous suicide car bombs in September.

Western security officials said the missive thanked the leadership of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for providing assistance to al-Qaeda to set up its terrorist network in Yemen, which has suffered ten al-Qaeda-related terror attacks in the past year, including two bomb attacks against the American embassy.

In the letter al-Qaeda’s leadership pays tribute to Iran’s generosity, stating that without its “monetary and infrastructure assistance” it would have not been possible for the group to carry out the terror attacks. It also thanked Iran for having the “vision” to help the terror organisation establish new bases in Yemen after al-Qaeda was forced to abandon much of its terrorist infrastructure in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

There has been intense speculation about the level of Iranian support for al-Qaeda since the 9/11 Commission report into al-Qaeda’s terror attacks against the U.S. in 2001 concluded that Iran had provided safe passage for many of the 9/11 hijackers travelling between Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia prior to the attacks.

Scores of senior al Qaeda activists – including Saad bin Laden – sought sanctuary in Iran following the overthrow of the Taliban, and have remained in Tehran ever since. The activities of Saad bin Laden, 29, have been a source of Western concern despite Tehran’s assurances that he is under official confinement.

But Iran was a key transit route for al Qaeda loyalists moving between battlefields in the Middle East and Asia. Western security officials have also concluded Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have supported al-Qaeda terror cells, despite religious divisions between Iran’s Shia Muslim revolutionaries and the Sunni Muslim terrorists.

21 Mar 2008

No Ties to Al Qaeda?

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Kenneth R. Timmerman debunks the partisan Institute for Defense Analysis study, at Newsmax, with chapter and verse from his new book.

I have written about the Harmony data base of captured Iraqi military and intelligence documents in my recent book, “Shadow Warriors: Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender.”

One of the most damning documents to emerge from the Harmony data base, I wrote, was a Jan. 18, 1993 order from Saddam Hussein, transmitted to the head of Iraqi intelligence, “to hunt the Americans that are in Arab lands, especially in Somalia, by using Arab elements or Asian (Muslims) or friends.”

In response, the head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service informed Hussein that Iraq already had ties with a large number of international terrorist groups, including “the Islamist Arab elements that were fighting in Afghanistan and [currently] have no place to base and are physically present in Somalia, Sudan, and Egypt.” In other words, al-Qaida.

The authors of the IDA study note that Saddam’s Iraq “was a long-standing supporter of international terrorism,” and that these particular documents provided ‘detailed evidence of that support.’”

The study also points out that the captured documents “reveal that Saddam was training Arab fighters (non-Iraqi) in Iraqi training camps more than a decade prior” to the 2003 war.

But the study shies away from identifying them as al-Qaida terrorists, even though many of them were members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, whose leader, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahri, became the deputy leader of al-Qaida in 1998.

While the IDA study includes no information that would show operational ties between Saddam’s regime and the 9/11 hijackers, it reveals that Saddam personally gave orders on Sept. 17, 2001 to his general military intelligence directorate to recruit Iraqi officers for “suicide operations” against the United States.

The 112-page Harmony data file ISGQ-2005-00037352 contains Saddam’s order, as well as personal pledges to carry out suicide operations from more than one hundred “volunteers,” including a brigadier general.

In the order he issued just one week after the 9/11 attacks, Saddam stated that the volunteers should sign pledges “to be written in blood,” presumably their own.

Four years before this order, Saddam announced with great fanfare that he had tasked a prominent Iraqi calligrapher to produce a Quran written with his own blood. Saddam reportedly had doctors draw his blood for the task.

Several other key documents are glaringly absent from the IDA report and provide direct evidence of Saddam Hussein’s deep involvement with al-Qaida and its component organizations.

Among them is a 1999 notebook kept by an unidentified Iraqi intelligence official that detailed meetings between top Iraqi leaders and visiting Islamic terrorists. (Harmony document ISGP-2003-0001412).

One Baghdad visitor was Maulana Fazlur Rahman a signer of Osama bin Laden’s infamous 1998 fatwa calling on Muslims to “murder Americans.” Another was Afghan mujahedin leader Gulbudin Hekmatyar, who was also supported by Iran.

Roy Robison, a former U.S. government contractor who published an analysis of Saddam’s relationship to al-Qaida last year, argues that when Rahman met with Iraqi Vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan in 1999 “he did so as the father of the Taliban and as a leader of the World Islamic Front which declared war on the U.S the year before.”

Another document not included in this latest report was a review by Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) of their ongoing ties with Osama bin Laden and other opponents to the Saudi regime (Harmony document ISGZ-2004-009247).

This document reads like a memorandum for the record, written in early 1997, tracing the beginnings of the Iraqi regime’s relationship to Osama bin Laden.

In a letter dated Jan. 11, 1995, Saddam Hussein personally authorized the General Director of Intelligence to establish direct contact with bin Laden in Sudan, the report states.

The initial meeting with bin Laden took place just one month later, on Feb. 19, 1995, and included an offer by Iraq to provide bin Laden with broadcasting facilities and a discussion of plans “to perform joint operations against foreign forces in the land of Hijaz [ie, Saudi Arabia].

Following bin Laden’s expulsion from Sudan, in July 1996, the memo states that the Iraqi intelligence service is “working to revitalize this relationship through a new channel.”

The IDA report includes in its supporting documentation a detailed report by the Iraqi general director of intelligence in response to an “action directive” issued by Saddam on Jan. 18, 1993, ordering his intelligence service to establish relations with terrorist groups around the world and to develop the “expertise to carry out assignments.”

In addition to a variety of Palestinian groups, the document lists the Hezb Islami of Afghanistan, the Islamic Scholars Group of Pakistan, the Jam’iyat “Ulama Pakistan, all of which subsequently became affiliated with al-Qaida.

The authors of the IDA report note in the abstract accompanying their work that the captured documents provide “evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including . . . Islamic terrorist organizations.”

While the documents “do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al-Qaida network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al-Qaida,” and to provide financing and training of these outside groups.

“This created both the appearance of and, in some ways, a ‘de facto’ link between the organizations,” the report’s authors stated. …

Contrary to the accounts that have appeared in mainstream media outlets, the Harmony documents and the IDA report show beyond any doubt that Saddam Hussein was willing to fund, train, and use Islamic terrorists, including groups affiliated with al-Qaida, to carry out his long-standing plans against the United States and U.S. allies in the region.

A 2002 annual report to the Iraq Intelligence Service M8 directorate of liberation movements shows that the IIS hosted 13 terrorist conferences during the year, and that Saddam personally received 37 congratulatory messages from international terrorist groups. The annual report also noted that the IIS had issued 699 passports to terrorists during the year.

“Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al-Qaida [such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri], or that generally shared al-Qaida’s stated goals and objectives,” the IDA report states.

But an element of competition also kept Saddam from too much direct involvement with al-Qaida, the IDA report states.

While both Saddam and bin Laden wanted to drive the West out of Muslim lands and to create a single powerful state that would replace America as a global superpower, “bin Laden wanted — and still wants — to restore the Islamic caliphate while Saddam, despite his later Islamic rhetoric, dreamed more narrowly of being the secular ruler of a united Arab nation,” the report’s authors state.

The relationship between Saddam Hussein and bin Laden bore some resemblance to the Cali and Medellin drug cartels.

While the seemingly rival cartels were vying for market share, “neither cartel was reluctant to cooperate with the other when it came to the pursuit of a common objective,” the report’s authors state.

“Recognizing Iraq as a second, or parallel, “terror cartel” that was simultaneously threatened by and somewhat aligned with its rival helps to explain the evidence emerging from the detritus of Saddam’s regime,” the IDA report states.

One terror tie apparently put to rest in this latest report are the suspicions that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

Analysts such as Laurie Mylroie have argued for years that Saddam’s regime was behind the 1993 attack, and cited as evidence the fact that a key member of the plot, Abdul Rahman Yasin, fled to Iraq immediately after the bombing.

As I reported in Shadow Warriors, Saddam Hussein recorded all meetings in his presidential office, and the Harmony data base includes tapes from a series of meetings during 1993 that discussed the interrogation of Yasin.

Saddam “discusses the possibility that the attack was part of the ‘dirty games that the American intelligence would play if it had a bigger purpose,’” and expresses concern that Yasin might be an American agent, the IDA report states.

According to Saddam, Yassin was “too organized in what he is saying and [he] is playing games, playing games and influencing the scenario” during his interrogations by Iraqi intelligence. Saddam ordered that the interrogations continue but “actually warns against allowing Yasin to commit suicide or be killed in jail,” the report states.

Saddam believed that “the most important thing is not to let the Arabic public opinion [believe] we are cooperating with the US against the opposition. I mean that is why our announcement [that Yasin is being held] should include doubts . . . [about] who carried out this operation. Because it is possible that in the end we will discover — even if it is a very weak possibility — that a fanatic group who carried it organized the operation.”

Saddam and his advisors were hoping to use the interrogations of Yasin, and whatever information they could gather from him about the organizers of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, to enhance their position in world public opinion.

If handled correctly, Saddam said, Yasin’s confessions “will benefit us greatly; it will benefit us in our issue in the matter of the stance that the U.S. has taken against us.”

18 Mar 2008

No Connection?

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Richard Miniter, at PJM, tells you what the MSM will not about the scope, details, and omissions of the Institute for Defense Analysis study whose recently leaked executive summary was widely reported to have shown that there was “no connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda.”

Miniter provides considerable details on Iraqi officials’ meetings with al Qaeda, Iraqi funding of al Qaeda affilates, Iraqi provided training, and al Qaeda personnel carrying Iraqi passports or obtaining refuge in Iraq.


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