Saddam Hussein on Iraqi TV prior to the war
Among the pre-war documents posted online yesterday by the Pentagon is a letter from a member of Saddam’s intelligence apparatus indicating al-Qaida and the Taliban had a relationship with the regime prior to the 9-11 attacks.
The letter by the member of Saddam’s Al Mukabarat to a superior, dated Sept. 15, 2001, reports a pre-9/11 conversation between an Iraqi intelligence source and a Taliban Afghani consul.
The documents were released yesterday at the direction of National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.
Among the first batch of the thousands expected to be declassified over the next several months, the Al Mukabarat document was translated from the original Arabic by a contributor to the online forum Free Republic.
Laura Mansfield, an independent Middle East analyst, examined the translation for WorldNetDaily and said it appears to be accurate.
The letter indicated Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan were in contact with Iraq – noting a specific visit to Baghdad – and said the U.S. had proof Saddam’s regime and al-Qaida were cooperating to hit a target in the U.S.
The document said the U.S. was aware of such a relationship and could strike Iraq and Afghanistan if the attacks proved to be tied to bin Laden and the Taliban.
The translated text is as follows:.
In the Name of God the Merciful
Presidency of the Republic
To the respectful Mr. M.A.M
Our source in Afghanistan No 11002 (for information about him see attachment 1) provided us with information that that Afghani Consul Ahmad Dahestani (for information about him see attachment 2) told him the following:
1. That Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan are in contact with Iraq and it that previously a group from Taliban and Osama Bin Laden group visited Iraq.
2. That America has proof that the government of Iraq and Osama bin Laden group have shown cooperation to hit target within America.
3. That in case it is proven the involvement of Osama bin Laden group and the Taliban in these destructive operations it is possible that American will conduct strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
4. That the Afghani Consul heard about the subject of Iraq relation with Osama Bin Laden group during his stay in Iran.
5. In light of this we suggest to write to the Commission of the above information.
Please view… Yours… With regards
Signature:……, Initials : A.M.M, 15/9/2001
Foot note: Immediately send to the Chairman of Commission
Zarqawi a pre-war presence?
Photos of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in pre-war Iraqi document recovered by U.S.
The document, released only in Arabic, is described by the U.S. government as follows:
2002 Iraqi Intelligence Correspondence concerning the presence of al-Qaida Members in Iraq. Correspondence between IRS members on a suspicion, later confirmed, of the presence of an Al-Qaeda terrorist group. Moreover, it includes photos and names.
Mansfield said a translation of the document shows the al-Qaida terrorist Saddam’s government had identified was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who emerged as one of the leading terrorists in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.
The document, dated Aug. 17, 2002, identifies the al-Qaida member as Ahmed Fadil Nizal Al Khalaylah, the real name of Zarqawi, and includes a series of photos.
A memo within the document shows that as early Aug. 8, 2002, Zarqawi was identified as a member of “Tanzeem al-Qaida,” or the “Al-Qaida Organization”.
“This document provides startling documentation that at the very least that Saddam Hussein’s government knew that al-Qaida was active and functioning in Iraq,” Mansfield said.
She pointed out that although the document goes on to outline activities of the group, there is no indication the Iraqi government took any steps to stop al-Qaida from operating within Iraq, in clear defiance of international law.
Weekly Standard reporter Stephen Hayes, whose reporting has helped move members of Congress to call for release of the documents, nevertheless, has cautioned that they are published with a caveat. The Pentagon website says: “The U.S. Government has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity or factual accuracy of the information contained therein, or the quality of any translations, when available.”
The administration’s intent is to allow lawmakers and the public to investigate the documents’ claims about controversial issues such as weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaida’s relationship to the regime prior to the March 2003 invasion.
House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., requested the release, and last weekend Negroponte agreed to set up the website.
Hoekstra said in a statement he welcomed the opportunity to answer questions critical to the debate over the war.
“Whether Saddam Hussein destroyed Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction or hid or transferred them, the most important thing is we discover the truth of what was happening in the country prior to the war,” he said.
In 2003, a 16-page top secret government memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee said bin Laden and Saddam 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.
“The memo, dated Oct. 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,” reported the Weekly Standard. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration.
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 until the eve of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. 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.”