Al Qaeda's Man in Saddam's Iraq

Then-Secretary of State Collin Powell made the case in 2003 in front of the United Nations that Saddam was providing al Qaeda safe haven in Iraq. As evidence he alleged that Abu Mus’ab Al Zarqawi was an al Qaeda operative in northern Iraq.

For those who want to chastise the invasion of Iraq as misdirected and having nothing to do with al Qaeda, it became important to establish that Secretary of State Powell and the Bush Administration were “lying” to the UN.


Since that UN speech a concerted effort has been undertaken to challenge Powell’s claim. Reports like this article in the UK Telegraph began surfacing, indicating that Zarqawi was not really with al Qaeda, or that he was not really leading al Qaeda in Iraq, or that he and Usama bin Laden were actually antagonists, and that his being in Iraq had nothing at all to do do with al Qaeda leadership based in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

All implying that the war with and occupation of Iraq were a horrible misguided, if not heinously deceptive, maneuver, destined to end in futility.

But new reporting from an important Pakistani journalistic source close to al Qaeda leadership confirms that Abu Mus’ab al Zarqawi was an al Qaeda operative sent by Usama bin Laden to Iraq to fight US forces.

He was definitely not in Iraq to fight against Saddam Hussein. This new revelation puts the Saddam regime and al Qaeda on the same side against Coalition forces in the initial invasion.

There is so far no specific information from this new source as to whether both parties orchestrated their activities.  However, it dispels claims by war opponents that Zarqawi was not al Qaeda before the war and that he was in Iraq to fight Saddam.

As is widely known, Zarqawi was indeed moving between Iraq and Iran at this time but his links to al Qaeda and reasons for being in Iraq have been contested.

As I explained in a previous American Thinker article, he was indeed al Qaeda and he was in Iraq to fight Americans instead of Saddam. In that article I detailed how the Jordanian population had become more radicalized by a “jihad stream” of Palestinian refugees who were kicked out of Kuwait by that government for collaborating with Saddam when Iraq invaded in 1990. Those Jordanians, like Zarqawi, were directed by an al Qaeda associate named al Barqawi.

Zarqawi’s mentor Barqawi was a Saddam sympathizer and al Qaeda affiliate who sent these Jordanian-Palestinians to Iraq to fight the Americans. Clearly these Jordanian-Palestinians were not in Iraq to impose their own brand of regime change on Saddam; they were there to kill US forces.

Now a man named Hamid Mir, who is an Executive Editor for Geo TV in Islamabad, Pakistan, writing for the popular India news website, reveals his inside knowledge of the matter. Hamid is well-respected in Pakistan and is no Bush “neocon” conspirator. His writings subtly support al Qaeda.
While explaining how Usama bin Laden slipped away from US and British forces on several occasions he gave this account 
In April 2003, Osama surfaced again in Afghanistan after the US invasion of Iraq. He called a meeting in the Pech valley of the northeastern Afghan province Kunar and delivered a hard-hitting speech in which he announced his plans to resist America in Iraq. He said, 'Get Americans in Iraq before they get us in Afghanistan.'

He declared Saif ul Adil as in charge of organising the resistance in Iraq and also advised him to contact Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, who was hiding in Iran at that time.
Hamid’s narrative, which must rely for sourcing on his close association with al Qaeda and Taliban leadership, is as close as you can get to the inner circle without getting your head cut off. Perhaps unwittingly, his statements clearly indicate that Usama bin Laden directed one of his leaders to send Zarqawi to Iraq to fight Americans. Zarqawi, who had received treatment in Baghdad for a severed leg before this had to be known to Usama bin Laden as a man with Iraqi contacts for him to hand pick Zarqawi for such an assignment.

Although Hamid’s timeline appears erroneous since Zarqawi was already in Iraq at the time, it may be that he was relaying what Usama bin Laden said, and bin Laden would probably have been relying on dated information, since he had been in hiding for some time.

Whatever the details, Zarqawi is known to have already been in Iraq. Do critics of the war want to maintain it was sheer  coincidence that the man identified by Powell as al Qaeda’s man in Iraq was hand-picked by Usama bin Laden? Zarqawi was al Qaeda, he was directed by Usama bin Laden and he was clearly there not to attack Saddam but to attack US forces.

Although this revelation from Hamd Mir does not definitively answer the question of whether al Qaeda was acting in concert with the Saddam regime, it does much to show that critics have been peddling a false narrative that al Qaeda and the Iraqi Baathists  had nothing to do with each other.

Ray Robison is proprietor of the blog Ray Robison: Pointing out the Obvious to the Oblivious.