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More possible Saddam-terror link stories

It is by now a familiar statement from anti-war folk that Saddam had no real links to Islamic terror groups of any consequence. The idea, dear boy, is totally incredible. The man, who after all was a “secular ruler” (conjuring up the image of the old bastard reading Voltaire of an evening). had a positive revulsion of Islamic religious extremism. To suggest a link is to fall prey to the fantasies of the great neoconservative/Zionist/whatever conspiracy now trying to rule the world. Right?

Well, no, actually. The Wall Street Journal has an article today setting out what it believes is rather a big lump of evidence pointing to terror links before and after 9/11:

One striking bit of new evidence is that the name Ahmed Hikmat Shakir appears on three captured rosters of officers in Saddam Fedayeen, the elite paramilitary group run by Saddam’s son Uday and entrusted with doing much of the regime’s dirty work. Our government sources, who have seen translations of the documents, say Shakir is listed with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

This matters because if Shakir was an officer in the Fedayeen, it would establish a direct link between Iraq and the al Qaeda operatives who planned 9/11. Shakir was present at the January 2000 al Qaeda “summit” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at which the 9/11 attacks were planned. The U.S. has never been sure whether he was there on behalf of the Iraqi regime or whether he was an Iraqi Islamicist who hooked up with al Qaeda on his own.

Okay, I know what the responses will be. It’s the Wall Street Journal! You can’t believe these guys! etc, etc.

But stepping aside from this specific article, consider this following general scenario: you have a military dictator who loves taking his nation to the brink even at great cost; his military forces are seriously damaged from two devastating wars and a sanctions regime; he craves revenge and enjoys humiliating his foes. To whom does he turn to help hurt his great enemy, the United States?

Exactly. Why is it so crazy, so bonkers, to think that terror links probably did exist, and that, if it were possible, it was vital for the intelligence services of the Western powers to check those possibilities?

You may say, why does this really matter now? Well, to be frank, the argument that we need to “reshape the Middle East” always struck me as dangerously ambitious, and the costs of such a venture struck me as potentially prohibitive. That is one part of the isolationist position I have some sympathy for, a fact which might surprise some. (“Johnathan Pearce has gone wobbly!”) For me, though, what counted was the potentially deadly nexus of terror groups, mass weapons, and rogue states able and willing to offer harbour and support to such terror groups. My conscience is troubled at the thought that we might have attacked a nation of no serious threat to us. Well, if the latest stories turn out to be even half-true, then the evidence of Saddam’s malignity just got a lot, lot harder.

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23 comments to More possible Saddam-terror link stories

  • One of the best sources for the Al Queda/Iraq connection was the Clinton administration. They said that the Chemical weapons plant they attacked in Sudan was being run with the cooperation and advice of Iraqi experts from Saddam’s government.

  • It is by now a familiar statement from anti-war folk that Saddam had no real links to Islamic terror groups of any consequence.

    However you feel about the Iraq war, anyone who says anything like the above is just ignorant; I’d advise against engaging them at length, or indeed at all, as it will only cause frustration for you and leave them even more confused. Considering that Saddam Hussein openly and proudly publicised his financial support for the families of those Islamist terrorists who “martyred” themselves by murdering innocents, such as suicide bombers, anyone who doesn’t know this most basic of information isn’t going to know much else about the matter. Life’s too short to deal with such people.

  • Mashiki

    Old words still ring true:

    The enemy of my enemy, is my friend.

    That doesn’t mean we have to like each other, that simply means that we have a common foe which which wishes to strike at us, we shall put our hate, our dislike, and discord on a shelf; take out our common foe then go back to what we were doing.

  • Jacob

    “…then the evidence of Saddam’s malignity just got a lot, lot harder.”

    Like the two aggresion wars he started against his neighbors, causing around one million deaths, and his systematic murder of his own people is not enough “evidence of Saddam’s malignity”.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Jacob, I agree with you 100 pct. I was directing my views at those for whom Saddam’s appalling track record was not sufficient cause for his overthrow.

    I will be frank with you guys — I continue to fret that the war was predictated on a false prospectus, but reading stories like this has made me more convinced that knocking off Saddam was the right thing to do.

  • Secret Squirrel

    You warmongerers are hilarious.

    “Government sources”… with hard evidence. Are these the same sources that crafted Powell’s presentation to the UN?

    I trust the Wall Street Journal to pass on the message but I don’t trust the source of the message.

    Let’s see open hearings examine this evidence. Let’s see forensics inspect these rosters.

    Let’s do some hard analysis of the evidence coming from these shadow warriors, whose recent reputation has been shite on my shoe, thanks to getting us into a $85bn and rising quagmire.

    Btw, did you know that gullible isn’t in the dictionary?

  • Johanthan Pearce

    Secret Squirrel, you say let’s do some hard analysis. Okay, let’s do it. But I guess your comments about “you warmongers are hilarious” tells us in advance about your objectivity and respect for the facts.

    Yes, western intelligence is flawed, and has been so in the past. But like I said, it makes perfect sense to imagine that some form of terror link existed, and look at stuff like this. After all, Saddam actually bragged about giving money to Palestinian families of homicide bombers.

  • Scott

    The fact that y’all are clutching at everything you can find to justify your war over a year after it started speaks volumes. This may or may not have been justification if you had known it at the time of the invasion. You didn’t, so it isn’t.

    We’ll see if this turns out to be another “we found the evidence!!!” that turns into nothing on closer inspection, like the Prague meetings, the yellowcake, the bio-trailers…. Maybe you’re just being faked out by the Iranians again.

  • Scott

    Has anyone produced better evidence, or evidence of a stronger link between Iraq (which we just had to invade) and terrorism vs. Libya (who we seem to think are just peachy today) and terrorism?

  • Johnathan

    Scott, mentioning stuff like this is not, by the way, some sort of “desperate” after-the-event justification of what has happened. There is nothing “desperate” about citing possible further evidence for why Saddam had to be deposed by force.

    Of course, those who were content (if that is the right word) to leave Saddam in power are equally “desperate” to make out that the old fella was a harmless guy with a taste for military clothing and a lot of badly designed palaces.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Scott, your point about Libya is perfectly valid, but so what? All the time opponents of the war will say that country X or Y posed a threat so why don’t we deal with that country etc, etc. To which the reply, is, quite brutally simple: we invaded Iraq because we could. Had to make a start somewhere.

    BTW, the capture of Saddam almost certainly gave Gadaffi one hell of a reality check, which probably explains his subsequent behaviour. Don’t tell me that he came clean about Libya’s weapons etc out of the goodness of his heart.

  • Scott

    BTW, the capture of Saddam almost certainly gave Gadaffi one hell of a reality check, which probably explains his subsequent behaviour. Don’t tell me that he came clean about Libya’s weapons etc out of the goodness of his heart.

    1. We don’t have the resources (and are unlikely to get Blair to go along again) to occupy Libya. Gadaffi is safer because of Iraq and knows it.

    2. He had been trying to cut some sort of deal to end the sanctions before we invaded Iraq.

  • Johnathan

    Scott, it may be true that there were negotiations between Libya, Britain and other nations prior to the Iraq war, and that they bore fruit. You will have no quarrel from me on that point. But the fact of Saddam”s capture, and its demonstration of US military power, was surely a factor.

    Seriously Scott, I take it you believe in deterrence. Well, the overthrow of Saddam surely has deterred other would-be dictators. Am I right?

  • Yes and Sarin is a WMD…except of course when its found in Iraq.

  • Scott

    The sarin shell was evidently a pre-1991 war leftover, not evidence of a stockpile. That, and we didn’t supposedly go to war because the WMD just existed, we supposedly did it to capture that WMD before it fell into the hands of someone who would, say, use it against Americans. The war didn’t accomplish that.

    No, I don’t think the overthrow of Saddam deterred anyone, because it tied up the resources needed to go after anyone else, and the backlash from your Iraqi disaster may very well deter us in the future.

  • Scott

    And if it turns out that Iran had a hand in tricking Bush into invading Iraq, that blows your whole deterrence argument out of the water. Iran would have been one of the countries we would want to deter, and if they wanted the invasion, they obviously didn’t feel threatened by it.

  • Johnathan

    Scott writes, “I don’t think invading Iraq deterred anyone because it tied up resources to go after anyone else”. Well, I don’t buy the idea that invading Iraq meant the US and its allies could not also go after other sources of danger. It is a moot point whether the war has made that job easier or harder. Dunno if I can really answer that question with much certainty, to be honest.

    The whole point about toppling Saddam and therefore warning other dictators about what happens if you piss off the United States is that the deterrent effect makes said invasions less necessary. For example, Syria is a lot less belligerent to the US and Israel than it was a few years ago. The Iranians have been coming out with admissions about their nuclear weapons policy, though the situation there is still far from ideal. And I still maintain that the Libyan move was a consequence, in part, of the toppling of Saddam, but I will grant that other factors played a part too.

    I find it a bit odd Scott that you should dismiss this argument about deterrence, since deterrence is a key part of the belief that libertarians have in the essential rationality of human beings.

    I don’t understand your point about Iran.

    rgds

  • Scott

    I find it a bit odd Scott that you should dismiss this argument about deterrence, since deterrence is a key part of the belief that libertarians have in the essential rationality of human beings.
    I don’t understand your point about Iran.

    If I shoot an intruder in my house, I’ve proven my willingness to defend myself. If I shoot that intruder with what everyone knows to be my last bullet, the fact I’ve shown my willingness to use it is meaningless. I’m willing, but unable, to shoot the next intruder.

    Its not ok that we’ve made the next invasion harder (if its even possible) because we won’t have to do it again if the people we might have to invade know that, too.

    As far as Iran goes, evidently it was an Iranian operative feeding us the BS WMD info, to make an invasion of Iraq more likely. That implies Iran wanted Iraq invaded, which implies Iraq being invaded doesn’t scare them, so it wouldn’t deter them from anything.

  • Duncan

    Johanathan wrote “Well, I don’t buy the idea that invading Iraq meant the US and its allies could not also go after other sources of danger”…

    Only if you’re footing the bill, cuz I don’t think most of us, including the pro Iraq war gang, are so eager to shell out another 85bn+ too soon. And I don’t know about the rest of the coalition, but the US is starting to come up short on troops as it is.

  • Harmala

    Before the invasion of Iraq, The French, Germans and Russians never said that Saddam didn’t have WMDs. This was mainly because they sold them to Saddam, and they knew that we knew. But Secret Squirrel et al. are happy to overlook this inconvenient fact, because they’re so desperate for the coalition to fail, and for Islamic extremists to succeed.

  • Aral Simbon

    Whew! I was beginning to think that there would be no discussion on Samizdata about Chalabi. Instead of rehashing old arguments about Saddam’s links to terrorism, it would be interesting to have some new arguments about Chalabi’s links to Iran and to the Bush administration. Whichever way you look at it, the whole Chalabi thing seems bizarre. If he was passing off secrets to Iran, why isn’t he enjoying a vacation at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo? And why aren’t Cheney and co. undergoing some serious grilling about what they were doing putting their trust in him? And if Chalabi wasn’t passing off secrets, then WTF is the CIA playing at? What is certain is that this highly-educated wealthy man, who may or may not have been a friend of the US, is now definitely an enemy of the US and has the potential to cause harm (if he hasn’t done so already). Sorta sounds familiar doesn’t it?

  • Secret Squirrel

    Harmala accuses me of overlooking inconvenient facts that I was unaware of.

    Perhaps trying to create another Colin Powell moment.

    Pray tell Harmala, what evidence do we all have of WMD sales by the French, German and Russian nations. Furthermore, where are they? These elusive WMDs…. perhaps if we spend another $85bn or so, then we’ll find them.

    Chortle.

    As for your belief in my desperation for coalition failure, I don’t think so. I merely observe the current ongoing failures and rue the waste of my taxes.

    I challenge you warmongerers and your coercive political representatives to ask for the money next time.

    Then you’ll have to persuade us with evidence, before the action… not afterwards.

  • gena

    I’m sorry but I am looking for someone from a small town in south central OK who was once voted “most likely to succeed”.