Sunday, November 16, 2003
Must read: The Weekly Standard's Stephen F. Hayes has gotten his hands on an intelligence memo that details, point by point, Saddam Hussein's connections to al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden.
According to the memo--which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points--Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight, fact-based intelligence reporting, which in
some cases includes an evaluation of the credibility of the source. This reporting is often followed by commentary and analysis.
The relationship began shortly before the first Gulf War. According to reporting in the memo, bin Laden sent "emissaries to Jordan in 1990 to meet with Iraqi government officials." At some unspecified point in 1991, according to a CIA analysis, "Iraq sought Sudan's assistance to establish links to al Qaeda." The outreach went in both directions. According to 1993 CIA reporting cited in the memo, "bin Laden wanted to expand his organization's capabilities through ties with Iraq."
Many people in the United States believe Hussein was somehow connected to the Sept. 11 attacks. Though the memo doesn't contain any evidence of such a specific connection, those enlightened pundits who suggested that the fundamentalist bin Laden would never ally himself or his terrorist organization with the secular Hussein have been proven wrong.