Was Saddam connected to terrorism? His regime was rolling in it — according to a newly released, Pentagon-sponsored study based on documentation in the Harmony database of captured records of Saddam’s own government.
Is that what we’re reading in the headlines? Of course not, as Stephen Hayes points out in a Weekly Standard blog post that highlights the real news in this report – which ABC News has posted, even if no one there appears to have read it. Over at the NY Times, or ABC, as Hayes notes, the main point, the big “gotcha” for anyone who thinks Saddam needed overthrowing, is that this study did not find a “direct connection” between Saddam’s regime and al Qaeda. (though the study — as its authors state — was based on only a fraction of the massive and only partially translated Harmony database, and some records of the Iraqi regime were never captured).
But just because no one’s produced a candid photo of Saddam and Osama with arms entwined across a bag of bombs and cash, don’t rule out Al Qaeda, or Saddam’s cultivation of a sprawling network of terrorists. Here’s just a sample of what the report goes on to say:
“Saddam’s interest in, and support for, non-Iraqi non-state actors was spread across a wide variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. For years, Saddam maintained training camps for “fighters” drawn from these diverse groups. In some cases, particularly for Palestinians, Saddam was also a strong financial supporter. Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda’s goals and stated objectives.”
Or here’s a pithy phrase — based on Saddam’s own archives: “Iraq was a long-standing supporter of international terrorism.”
Here’s another: “From 1991 through 2003, the Saddam regime regarded inspiring, sponsoring, directing, and executing acts of terrorism as an element of state power.”
Here’s another: “State sponsorship of terrorism became such a routine tool of state power that Iraq developed elaborate bureaucratic processes to monitor progress and accountability in the recruiting, training and resourcing of terrorists.”
Or check out the information on Saddam’s regime providing a haven to terrorist Abu Abbas and his wife, with documents detailing “procedures for accepting Abu al-Abbas and his wife as residents and providing them with Iraqi diplomatic passports so the couple could move freely within the Middle East.”
Or the shopping list for equipment to be sent to train “Sudanese fighters” — including 15,000 Kalashnikov 7.62-mm rifles, 15,000 [SKS] rifes; 5,000 Markarov [sic] pistols and 1 high quality photocopier” (note, this was while Iraq was under UN sanctions).
Likewise intriguing is a list of weapons inventoried by Saddam’s regime as stocked at some of Iraq’s embassies abroad as of July, 2002. These included plastic explosives and booby-trapped suitcases at Iraqi embassies in India, Thailand, Azerbaijan and Lebanon; TNT in Pakistan; explosive charges in Athens; missile launchers and missiles in the Czech Republic, Turkey, Yemen and Romania…. and the list goes on, and the report goes on, and on, and here, once again, for convenience, is a link to the report, which really is worth reading: “Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents, Volume I (Redacted).”