Newsbusters notes the discrepancies between the current version of the facts as defined by the establishment media and some previous reporting.
While it is currently conventional wisdom in the media that there was no Al-Qaeda presence in Iraq before the 2003 invasion, as evidenced by the media’s failure to correct Barack Obama’s recent claim that “there was no such thing as Al-Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq,” for several years dating back before the Iraq invasion, there have been media reports of former Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s connections to Osama bin Laden, and his use of Iraq as a base to plot terror attacks against other countries before the war. In fact, four years ago, the NBC Nightly News claimed not only that there was an Al-Qaeda presence in Iraq before the invasion, busy plotting attacks against Europe, but that the Bush administration intentionally “passed up several opportunities” to attack terrorist bases in Iraq “long before the war” in 2002 because of fear it would “undercut its case” for overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
On the March 2, 2004 NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw introduced the report: “[Abu Musab al-Zarqawi] is widely believed to have ties to Al-Qaeda, and the Bush administration apparently passed up several opportunities to take him out well before the Iraq war began.”
And on the January 27, 2003 NBC Nightly News, after revelations of a plot to attack targets in Europe with the poison ricin, which was believed to have been hatched by Zarqawi in Iraq, correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reported that “U.S. Special Forces had plans to launch a covert raid against the Kirmadara complex [in northern Iraq], but Pentagon officials say it was called off because the Bush administration feared it would interfere with upcoming UN weapon inspections.”
Although some have tried to argue that Zarqawi did not declare allegiance to bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda organization until after the Iraq invasion, as far back as April 4 and May 16, 2001, AP’s Jamal Halaby reported that Jordanian authorities suspected Zarqawi, also known as Ahmad Fadeel Al-Khalayleh, of plotting attacks in Jordan, and relayed that Zarqawi was “believed to be in Afghanistan.”
On November 9, 2002, a London Times article by Roger Boyes and Daniel McGrory, citing Hans-Josef Beth of the German secret service BND, claimed that Zarqawi “used London as his base until Osama bin Laden ordered him to move to Afghanistan in 2000 to run one of al-Qaeda’s training camps.”
On December 18, 2002, after the arrests of several terror suspects in France amid fears of a chemical weapon attack, Sebastian Rotella of the Los Angeles Times reported that “A top Al Qaeda suspect said to be commanding a campaign targeting Europe is Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian reputedly knowledgeable about chemical warfare, according to German and Italian intelligence officials.”
On December 19, 2002, Knight Ridder’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported, citing Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu al Ragheb, that Zarqawi was behind the murder of American diplomat Lawrence Foley, and was believed to be “an ally of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.” Ragheb further contended that Zarqawi “was probably in northern Iraq working with Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish Muslim extremist group.” Jordanian officials were also cited as claiming that the men suspected of carrying out Foley’s murder met Zarqawi “in Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.”