14 March 2008

While The Headlines Trumpet "NO LINK!!"

... I invite you to read the actual Pentagon report on the terrorism-related material collected in Iraq after Iraqi Freedom. While the executive summary does state that there was "no 'smoking gun' (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda," its very first sentence is:

The Iraqi Perspectives Project (IPP) review of captured Iraqi documents uncovered strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism.


I got to this via Powerline, here... Scott there quotes another blog post, on the Weekly Standard, that goes into a bit more analysis of the report. Quoting it:

And what about this revelation from page 34? "Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda -- as long as that organization's near-term goals supported Saddam's long-term vision." (The example given in the report is the Army of Muhammad in Bahrain, a group the Iraqi Intelligence Service describes as "under the wings of bin Laden.")

And there is this line from page 42: "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 stated goals and objectives."


From what I've read of the report so far, it does seem that some of the administration's claims about a formal, official connection between Saddam and al Qaeda were not well justified. However, as for informal al-Qaeda ties and broader connections to terrorists on the part of Saddam's Iraq, the report leaves basically no doubt in my mind. (Bear in mind, for example, the financial support of Palestinian Arab suicide bombers which is corroborated by the report.)

Ultimately, I agree with Scott at Powerline: "If you have only learned of the report via [mainstream media coverage], take a look at the report with your own eyes before drawing any conclusions about it."

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