Captured Iraqi intel confirms pre-war links between Saddam's regime and terrorists
By Sam Wells
The DNC's mantra that President Bush "misled the nation into war" is losing whatever clout it once had as more and more people become better informed. The massive post-invasion evidence mounts confirming that it was the mainstream media and leading Democrats -- not the Bush Administration -- who lied to the American people on the issue of pre-war ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida terrorists. We now know that during the years before 9/11/01 and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, over 8,000 terrorists were trained inside Iraq by the Iraqi military.
But don't hold your breath waiting for an apology from the New York Times, the TV networks, and the rest of the partisan establishment media. Having a cynical contempt for the intelligence and attention spans of the American people, the mainstream media hopes that the repeated lie that "Bush lied" will still be taken seriously by enough people for it to stick. After all, their motto is: perception is reality! And, although their influence is gradually waning, the establishment liberal-left media news twisters still have a great deal of influence on public opinion, especially on those who watch TV news, and they know it.
Will they get away with it? Not if enough informed individuals continue to point out the truth. The mainstream media can no longer ignore or cover up the growing body of evidence which confirms the terrorist links to Saddam.
Marine Corps counter-terrorism specialist W. Thomas Smith, Jr. points out that "those with connections to the U.S. special operations community have long known that the pre-war link between Saddam and the al-Qaida terrorist network is not only a fact, but one that had to be addressed as part of the global war on terror."
He recalls that the mainstream media ignored or glossed over the parts of the 9/11 Commission Report which admitted evidence for those links. As just one example, the report states that "[Osama] bin Laden himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995." Bin Laden asked the Iraqi official for weapons procurement assistance and permission to establish terrorist training facilities in Iraq. While the Commission's report claimed that it was not known what response was given bin Laden's requests, it leaves the issue somewhat hanging with the statement that "The ensuing years saw additional efforts to establish connections [between al-Qaida and Saddam's regime]." Elsewhere the 9/11 Report admits there was some evidence to indicate possible collaboration with al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists. Smith, who did read the report, writes:
"[T]here was Ansar al Islam, an al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group with training camps in Northern Iraq prior to 2003. This group was hoping to establish an Islamist state in Iraq. But the – again, rarely read – 9/11 Commission Report clearly states, 'There are indications that [by 2001] the Iraqi regime tolerated and may even have helped Ansar al Islam against the common Kurdish enemy.'"
Since the invasion, materials captured, translated, and analyzed have only added further evidence. Smith reports, "Intelligence gathered since the U.S. invasion indicates that as early as the late 1990’s, Iraq's Unit 999 (a special branch of the old regime’s army) was directly involved in the training of foreign terrorists inside Iraq. Intelligence about U.S. and other Western forces was shared between operatives of the Iraqi intelligence services and al-Qaida. And foreign terrorists operating in the region (outside of Iraq) who needed medical attention or other support received it once inside Iraqi borders."
Secret terrorist training camps in Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak -- all inside Iraq -- were directed by elite Iraqi military units. At Salman Pak, a facility south of Baghdad, a number of videos, computer disks, documents, and other materials, including explicitly Jihadist propaganda. revealed terrorist training footage, where the targets were clearly Americans, and notes and communications (since translated into English) which document the cooperation between the Baathist regime and various terrorist groups.
Sargat – an enormously significant international terrorist training camp in northeastern Iraq near the Iranian border -- was run by Ansar al Islam, and based on information from the U.S. Army special forces operators who led the attack, it is indeed "more than plausible" that al-Qaida members trained there.
"[A Special Forces sergeant] believed, given the heavy fortifications, ample weaponry, and quality of the fighters, that his team had just invaded the world’s largest existing terrorist training camp since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan. This was no way-station, in his view. It was remote yet in the heart of the region, so radicals could wreak havoc all over the Middle East." (Linda Robinson, Masters of Chaos, Public Affairs, 2004)
According to Robinson, the American Green Berets discovered among the dead in Sargat: foreign ID cards, airline-ticket receipts, visas, and passports from Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Tunisia, Morocco, and Iran.
Others who were in a position to know the truth about the Iraq-terrorist links are now speaking out, hoping not to be ignored as they were in the past. "There were terrorists training in Iraq prior to our invasion of that country," according to retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John Bruce Blount, former chief of staff of Allied Forces Southern Europe. "No question about it. There also were many things Saddam was doing – money, passports, visas, you name it – to further the terrorists ability to operate in other places throughout the world."
Another expert on Middle Eastern jihadism, Dr. Walid Phares, states: "The Saddam-al-Qaida cooperation was centered around weakening the U.N.-sponsored, U.S.-British-backed sanctions against Iraq. al-Qaida would strike U.S. interests, prompting a U.S. withdrawal from the region. Iraq would in turn provide some facilities and other services to al-Qaida’s operatives and local allies without necessarily becoming their main supplier or strategic partner."
International terrorists like Jordanian-born Abu Musab al Zarqawi were able to access many locations in Iraq long before the 2003 invasion, and this was known prior to the invasion. But those in the intelligence community -- and in the partisan liberal media -- who had insisted that there could never be any cooperation between Islamic jihadists and a secular dictator like Saddam Hussein simply ignored these facts since they did not fit into their template of assumptions -- and continued to challenge the claims by the Bush administration that there had been links to terrorism in Iraq. Unfortunately, many people bought into that line and have accepted it as true. But those journalists and analysts who relied on that flawed ideological template of false assumptions now have embarrassing egg on their faces.
Smith asks an important question: Why is the White House not jumping all over the fact that terrorists were indeed training in pre-invasion Iraq as defensible proof and one of the reasons why we had no choice but to invade that country? And here is the answer he gives:
"The answer is simple and unfortunate: Many in the mainstream media have been so successful at debunking any evidence, proof, or substantive facts as they relate to the Saddam-al-Qaida connection, that any new information supporting any facts those of us in-the-know already know will simply be rejected. The new information will be seen as desperate backtracking on old ground. The White House, which is committed to winning the war, will be seen as being in a defensive mode regarding issues that now have no strategic or tactical relevance in the future prosecution of the war. And the general public, which has been fed a steady diet of Iraq-is-the-wrong-theater since 2003, no longer knows what to believe."
Commander Mark Divine, a U.S. Navy SEAL officer who served in Iraq and who now operates the NavySEALs.com website, explains: "There is tremendous evidence to suggest there were terrorist training camps in Iraq before 9/11. . . . Those who have decided that the Iraq-al-Qaida connection claims (along with WMD) were ginned up by Bush to bolster the rationale for going into Iraq, are so firmly invested in those beliefs that they wouldn't believe any corroborating evidence anyhow."
In other words, the "anti-war" zealots don't want to be confused by facts, so wedded are they to their claims that "Bush lied" and that there were no links between Saddam and the jihadists. They would now have to admit that Bush was on target all along. Don't hold your breath waiting for their apology.
(c) Sam Wells 2006
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