With conservative congressional majorities at risk in next November’s midterm election, President Bush repeatedly should remind everyone that a key reason Coalition troops invaded Iraq was to padlock Saddam Hussein’s Wal-Mart for terrorists. Pressured by congressmen and journalists, the administration finally has started releasing intelligence documents captured in Baghdad. These papers confirm what The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes, Wall Street Journal editorialists, and I have demonstrated for years: Saddam Hussein indeed was entwined with terrorists in general and al Qaeda in particular. Bush should explain this, in detail, in his speeches on Iraq.
These papers appear on the U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office’s website (http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/products-docex.htm
). The administration should create and promote a simple URL (e.g., iraqdocuments.gov) so readers easily can examine Hussein’s terror ties.
According to a March 23 ABC News analysis of several records, “an official representative of Saddam Hussein’s government met with Osama bin Laden in Sudan on February 19, 1995, after receiving approval from Saddam Hussein.” Bin Laden requested that Baghdad broadcast into Saudi Arabia sermons by radical Saudi mullah Suleiman al Ouda. He also proposed, as one file says, “carrying out joint operations against foreign forces” in Saudi Arabia.
The document states that Hussein was briefed on the March 4, 1995 meeting, and that further “development of the relationship and cooperation between the two parties to be left according to what’s open [in the future] based on dialogue and agreement on other ways of cooperation.” This memo notes that after Sudan booted bin Laden, and he decamped to Afghanistan, “The relationship with him is still through the Sudanese. We’re currently working on activating this relationship through a new channel in light of his current location.”
Hussein approved bin Laden’s requested broadcasts. As for “joint operations against foreign forces,” ABC notes that “eight months after the meeting–on November 13, 1995–terrorists attacked Saudi National Guard Headquarters in Riyadh, killing five U.S. military advisers. The militants later confessed on Saudi TV to having been trained by Osama bin Laden.”
In the April 3 Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes cites a U.S. government “Summary of Evidence” on an Iraqi at Guantanamo. “From 1987 to 1989, the detainee served as an infantryman in the Iraqi Army and received training on the mortar and rocket propelled grenades,” the document states. “A Taliban recruiter in Baghdad convinced the detainee to travel to Afghanistan to join the Taliban in 1994,” it continues. “The detainee was a member of al Qaeda,” it adds. “In August 1998, the detainee traveled to Pakistan with a member of Iraqi Intelligence for the purpose of blowing up the Pakistan, United States and British embassies with chemical mortars.”
In a March 27 cover story, Hayes dissects an eight-page fax from Iraq’s then-ambassador to Manila, Salah Samarmad, to Baghdad’s foreign ministry. The June 6, 2001, communiqué reveals Baathist financing of Abu Sayyaf, al Qaeda’s Philippine branch. That May 27, these terrorists abducted 20 tourists, including three Americans, on the resort island of Palawan. They soon beheaded Californian Guillermo Sobrero. A June 7, 2002, rescue liberated Kansas City missionary Gracia Burnham, though her husband, Martin, died in the crossfire. The Burnhams were seized while celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary.
Martin and Gracia Burnham, seized by
the Baathist-funded Abu Sayyaf.
Samarmad tried to loosen Hussein’s embrace of these extremists.
“The kidnappers were formerly (from the previous year) receiving money and purchasing combat weapons,” Ambassador Samarmad wrote headquarters. “From now on we (IIS) are not giving them this opportunity and are not on speaking terms with them,” he added, mentioning the Iraqi Intelligence Service.
As former Clinton foreign-policy adviser Laurie Mylroie wrote April 2 on OpinionJournal.com, an order from Saddam Hussein dated January 18, 1993, reads: “Hunt Americans on Arab territory, particularly in Somalia.” On October 3, 1993, Islamic zealots staged the so-called Blackhawk Down attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing 18 U.S. soldiers and wounding 73.
The Iraqi Perspectives Project, led by retired Army Lt. Colonel Kevin Woods for the U.S. Joint Forces Command, reviewed some of these papers and discovered an October 7, 2000, document titled “Correspondence from Presidential Office to Secretary General of the Fedayeen Saddam Regarding Foreign Arab Volunteers.” The FS, as this document indicates, operated paramilitary training camps that hosted “Arab volunteers from Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, ‘the Gulf,’ and Syria” who were “sacrificing for the cause.”
Lebanese-born Joseph Shahda translated Document BIAP 2003-00654 for FreeRepublic.com. Dated March 11, 2001, this top-secret letter is addressed “To all the Units” from Air Brigadier General Abdel Magid Hammot Ali, Commander of Ali Bin Abi Taleb Air Force Base, and Air Colonel Mohamad Majed Mohamadi. The subject is “Volunteer for Suicide Mission.” It reads, “We ask to provide…[Command of Ali Military] Division with the names of those who desire to volunteer for Suicide Mission to liberate Palestine and to strike American Interests.”
“This idea that Saddam Hussein was some sort of isolationist dictator holed up in his palace and just happy to have his hands around the throats of his own people was inaccurate,” Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R., Calif.), chairman of the House International Relations Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee tells me. “He saw himself as a Saladin and had contacts with people around the world who hated the United States, because he hated the United States.”
Rohrbacher, who conducted a hearing Thursday on these documents, wishes Team Bush would move more quickly to release these papers. “This administration is overly protective and, I think, overly restrictive, and a little bit arrogant,” he says. “My advice to President Bush is what Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R., Mich.) and I suggested in the first place: Get as much information out to the public as fast as you can, and let people make their own determinations based on what they see in the documents. So much of this has been held up for so long, in part so the government can control distribution of the documents. Forget distribution. Let it all hang out, and let people decide for themselves.”
Senator Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) shares Rohrbacher’s impatience. “The pace with which these documents are being released is inadequate,” Santorum said March 28 in the Senate chamber. Of the “48,000 boxes, containing roughly 2 million documents,…less than 2 percent of the documents have been translated. At this pace, my grandchildren may know what is in these documents.”
Still, even at a trickle, what is emerging is unsettling.
The May-June 2006 Foreign Affairs cites a May 25, 1999, text titled “Fedayeen Saddam Instructions” in which Uday Hussein, the tyrant’s older son, orders “special operations, assassinations, and bombings, for the centers and traitor symbols in London, Iran and the self-ruled areas” [Kurdistan]. As authors Kevin Woods, James Lacey, and Williamson Murray observe, “Preparations for ‘Blessed July,’ a regime-directed wave of ‘martyrdom’ operations against targets in the West, were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.”
President Bush repeatedly should remind everyone that Coalition forces liberated Iraq on April 9, 2003, less than three months before “Blessed July.”
–Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.