April 9, 2007
Cheney is Absolutely CorrectBy Ray Robison
On the Rush Limbaugh radio program, VP Cheney restated his position that Saddam had ties to al Qaeda. The Vice President is completely correct. Specifically, he spoke of Abu Mus'ab al Zarqawi's presence in Iraq before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As much as a year earlier, al Qaeda affiliated jihadists lead by Zarqawi began aggressive attacks on the Kurdish regions in the north of Iraq. Why would this committed jihadist leader bring his fighters to Iraq to attack Saddam's enemies?
While researching for our new eBook Both In One Trench we realized that there seems to be a confluence of prominent terrorists emanating from Kuwait after it was occupied by Saddam's armies. Many of these men are of Palestinian ethnicity. The Palestinians living in Kuwait had favored Saddam because he was a prominent proponent of the Palestinian cause. Their allegiance to Saddam was so thorough that the Kuwaiti government kicked out its Palestinian population after liberation because they collaborated with Saddam. Saddam's support of Palestinian terrorism is incontrovertible.
A large number of these Palestinians, over a hundred thousand, made their way to Jordan where they began to radicalize the moderate Jordanian population. One of these Palestinians - part of the Palestinian migration from Kuwait which has been termed the "returnees from Kuwait" - was Sheik Abu-Mohammed al-Maqdisi (or Isam Mohammad Taher al-Barqawi). He would later become a major al Qaeda leader.
Barqawi became the spiritual leader for the newly radicalized Jordanians like Abu Mus'ab Al Zarqawi. Zarqawi would organize a group of radicalized Jordanians and other "returnees from Kuwait" called tawhid, which would align itself with al Qaeda for the Millennium Plot (or before).
Barqawi, a Palestinian-Jordanian, a "returnee from Kuwait" sympathized with Saddam. Barqawi sent Zarqawi to Iraq with other Palestinian-Jordanian "returnees" to fight jihad against Saddam's enemies, not to fight Saddam. It may very well be that Zarqawi had no personal love for the Ba'athists. But Osama bin Laden himself has called for the jihadists in Iraq to work with the Ba'athists to defeat the Christian crusaders.
A study reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute explains what happened next:
The Jihad fighters "related that Abu Mus'ab [Al-Zarqawi] used the experience of the [Iraqi] Ba'th[ists] in his war on the Americans and Iraqis, including regarding the security issue. [A man named] Ahmad clarified that this was particularly true regarding the city of Al-Fallujah, which contained hundreds of former Iraqi military intelligence officers with great experience in the security sphere.
According to one of Zarqawi's own followers, Zarqawi traveled to Iraq where he joined with Saddam's intelligence agents - with great experience - not new recruits but senior level intelligence officials, loyal men who would only have been there if they had been sent by Saddam.
The evidence of this alliance is the insurgency itself. The Iraqi government has many times tried to inform the American public that the leaders of the insurgency are Ba'athists working with al Qaeda. Such reports are ignored or criticized by the US media. Typically, the US media trots out a retired, senior CIA official who made rank under President Clinton to deny these reports because they don't want the American public to know that Ba'athists and Islamic terrorists were working together before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. To acknowledge such a connection would be to demonstrate that certain intelligence officials who said that this type of combined operation could not happen - in fact made careers off the theory after the 1993 WTC attack - were wrong.
Some time after the Saddam regime fell and Zarqawi began to slaughter Iraqis, Barqawi (Maqdisi) got cold feet. He tried to rein-in Zarqawi which caused a split in the Palestinian-Jordanian branch of al Qaeda. In late 2004, Zarqawi distanced himself from the Jordanian branch of al Qaeda by swearing allegiance directly to al Qaeda. In other words, he quit the Barqawi branch of al Qaeda and went to the Ayman al Zawahiri branch because he still needed jihad recruits to fight in Iraq.
Upon breaking away from his mentor, he began to set himself up as the Islamic authority in Iraq (the pupil became the teacher). Those Iraqi intelligence agents who had worked with him since before OIF had themselves become radicalized, realized the Ba'athist regime wasn't coming back, and began to swear loyalty to Zarqawi. Thus, Zarkawi, who had come to Iraq to support the Saddam regime would abandon his directives from his mentor and attempt to take direct control of Iraq.
But why would Saddam send senior IIS agents to work with jihadists? Because they were already working with Islamic jihadists long before the start of OIF. This Dar al Hayat article, "The Resistance In The "Sunni Triangle", makes clear that because the Iraqi economy was strangled by UN sanctions. Saddam's senior military officials, many of them with land grants in Fallujah - where Zarqawi teamed up with them - had smuggled oil in cooperation with Islamic extremists. These Islamic extremists were joined to Anbar province by religious and tribal affiliation.
These extremists, already living under the radar in places like Jordan, were the perfect smuggling partners. Thus, as the sanctions dragged on, senior Iraqi military leaders and even a few close advisors to Saddam began to adhere to the extremists' Islamic teachings. Initially, Saddam tried to shut it down. But because these Iraqi officials were Saddam's support base, he eventually had to come to terms with them to protect his power. These Islamic extremists and smugglers were from places like the Palestinian "returnee" camps in Jordan. They were feeding Saddam's support base.
Our research points to these Palestinian-Jordanian "returnees" as one of many portals of influence between Saddam and the global Islamic jihad movement. Other portals of influence to the movement include Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (Islamic Party) and Mulla Omar (Taliban) in Afghanistan, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and his jihad political parties in Pakistan, Hassan al Turabi and his National Islamic Front followers in Sudan, and Ayman al Zawahiri himself with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and later when it became al Qaeda along with Bin Laden's followers.
To not see the portals means averting the eyes. Too many people who should know better have done so.
Ray Robison is co-author of the book Both in One Trench, and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.