Documents found in the bombed-out headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq’s secret police, show Saddam Hussein brought a bin Laden aide to Baghdad in early 1998 from Osama’s former base in Sudan to arrange closer ties, and to seek a meeting with the terror kingpin in person, according to reports in the London Telegraph and Toronto Star.
Iraqi document suggests meeting with bin Laden (photo: Toronto Star)
Al-Qaida was based in Sudan until 1996, when its leadership moved to Afghanistan after the Sudanese government bowed to pressure from the U.S. to expel bin Laden’s terror network.
The paper trail indicates the meeting, which was based on a common hatred of America and Saudi Arabia, apparently went so well it was extended by a week and ended with arrangements being
discussed for bin Laden to visit Baghdad.
The documents include a letter containing a message to be relayed to Osama which would ”relate to the future of our relationship with bin Laden, and achieve a direct meeting with him.”
The documents do not make clear whether the hoped-for meeting between Iraqi officials and bin Laden took place,
according to the Telegraph.
One letter refers to the envoy as a trusted confidant of bin Laden. It adds: ”According to the above, we suggest permission to call the Khartoum station [Iraq’s intelligence office in Sudan] to facilitate the travel arrangements for the above-mentioned person to Iraq. And that our body carry all the travel and hotel costs inside Iraq to gain the knowledge of the message from bin Laden and to convey to his envoy an oral message from us to bin
The meetings took place a month after bin Laden called for jihad against the Jews and Crusaders. His statement said: ”To kill Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual
duty for every Muslim.”
The 1998 visit described in the documents took place less than 5 months before bin Laden became a household name in the West, when Washington zeroed in on him for the bombings of
two U.S. embassies in Africa later that year.
The discovery of the documents coincides with the capture of former Mukhabarat head of operations Farouk Hijazi near the Syrian border on Friday. Washington has said Hijazi was Iraq’s
key link man with al-Qaida, and that he travelled to meet Osama in Afghanistan.
The finding, if verified, would appear to support Washington’s assertion of links between Saddam and bin Laden,
one of the justifications for the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
The file contradicts the claims of Baghdad, bin Laden and many critics of the coalition that there was no link between the Iraqi regime and al-Qaida. One Western intelligence official
described the file as ”sensational”, adding: ”Baghdad clearly sought out the meeting. The regime would have wanted it to happen in the capital as it’s only there they would feel safe from surveillance by Western intelligence.”