Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, as well as financial and logistical support, and may have included the bombing of the USS Cole and the Sept. 11 attacks.

That’s the assessment of a 16-page top secret government memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee, reports the Weekly Standard.

The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. The memo cites reports from a variety of domestic and foreign spy agencies including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources.

According to the Weekly Standard, the memo reports Saddam’s willingness to help bin Laden plot against Americans began in 1990, shortly before the first Gulf War, and continued through last March, the eve of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. It says 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-Qaida.”

The primary go-between throughout these early stages was Sudanese strongman Hassan al-Turabi, a leader of the al-Qaida-affiliated National Islamic Front.

A defector reported that ”al-Turabi was instrumental in arranging the Iraqi-al-Qaida relationship.” The defector said Iraq sought al-Qaida influence through its connections with Afghanistan, to facilitate the transshipment of proscribed weapons and equipment to Iraq. In return, Iraq provided al-Qaida with training and instructors.

Another man, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim ? who’s described as the terror lord’s ”best friend” ? was involved in planning the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

The Weekly Standard report says bin Laden visited Baghdad in January 1998 and met with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz ”to establish camps in Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan.”

The CIA believes ”fragmentary evidence points to possible Iraqi involvement” in the bombing of the USS Cole in Oct. 2000, according to the memo.

Two members of al-Qaida were sent to Iraq following the attack on the USS Cole, to be trained in weapons of mass destruction and to obtain information on ”poisons and gases.”

And according to the CIA, in December of 2000, the Saudi National Guard went on alert after learning Saddam agreed to ”assist al-Qaida in attacking U.S./UK interests in Saudi Arabia.”

The report also contains new information about alleged meetings between the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks Mohamed Atta and former Iraqi intelligence chief Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani.

The memo says the men met several times in the Czech Republic city of Prague and Iraq authorized the transfer of funds to Atta.

The relationship between Saddam and bin Laden continued in the aftermath of Sept. 11. An al-Qaida associate helped to set up ”sleeper cells” in Baghdad beginning in October 2002. And Iraq agreed, following a ”secret deal” last year, to provide money and weapons to al-Qaida and to obtain Iraqi and Syrian passports for its members.

As WorldNetDaily has often reported, compelling evidence of an Iraq-Al-Qaida link have been widely known for years. Yossef Bodansky, who as former director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare has been Congress’ foremost terrorism expert, documents in his book “Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America” how Saddam has supported al-Qaida for over a decade.

One example, widely reported before the Iraq war, concerned the Boeing 707 fuselage Saddam Hussein provided terrorists for practicing airline hijackings. Indeed, commercial satellite photos show the fuselage at the notorious terrorist training camp near a bend in the Tigris.

Specifically, says Iraqi defector Sabah Khalifa Alami, Iraqi intelligence trained groups at Salman Pak on how to hijack planes without weapons. It’s not specifically known whether al-Qaida operatives trained at Salman Pak.

When confronted about the camp, Baghdad has repeatedly told U.N. inspectors that Salman Pak was an anti-terror training camp for Iraqi special forces.

And as WorldNetDaily reported last December, CIA reports of Iraqi-al-Qaida cooperation number nearly 100 and extend back to 1992, according to a reporter for Vanity Fair whose sources include senior Pentagon officials.

David Rose, writing for the magazine and the United Kingdom’s Evening Standard, says he is convinced of the links between Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network and Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad regime.

“My own doubts emerged more than a year ago, when a very senior CIA man told me that, contrary to the line his own colleagues were assiduously disseminating, there was evidence of an Iraq-al-Qaida link,” Rose writes. “He confirmed a story I had been told by members of the anti-Saddam Iraqi National Congress – that two of the hijackers, Marwan Al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, had met Mukhabarat officers in the months before 9-11 in the United Arab Emirates. This, he said, was a pattern of contact between Iraq and al-Qaida which went back years.”

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WND stories on al-Qaida-Iraq link

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