In stark contradiction to the US Senate Committee’s findings, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Barham Salih reaffirms what I have been saying all along, that Saddam Hussein was no stranger to Al-Qaida, its operatives and terror. Braham Salih spoke in an address to the Brookings Institution that:
“The alliance between the Baathists and jihadists which sustains Al Qaeda in Iraq is not new, contrary to what you may have been told.” He went on to say, “I know this at first hand. Some of my friends were murdered by jihadists, by Al Qaeda-affiliated operatives who had been sheltered and assisted by Saddam’s regime.”
“A Kurdish politician who took his high school exams from inside a Baathist prison, Mr. Salih said he was the target of the alliance between jihadists, Baathists, and Al Qaeda in 2001, when a group known as Ansar al-Islam tried to assassinate him. In 2002, envoys of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two Kurdish parties sharing sovereignty over northern Iraq between the two Iraq wars, presented the CIA with evidence that the organization that tried to kill Mr. Salih had been in part funded and directed by Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard”
There are some (analysts I know) who will steadfastly cling to the assumption that Ansar al-Islam (though a terrorist org.) was only “lightly associated” with Al Qaida, not a part of it. That it was a Kurdish (Sunni) terror group in the north, somehow absolves Saddam Hussein from any supportive role. Keeping in mind the fact that Saddam never tolerated ANY group not under his domain is somehow irrelevent, and yet to be explained by those who believe no connection existed.
It’s just one of those convenient situations where one source is pitted against another, without taking into consideration the character of the key figure in question, Saddam himself. There is no question as to the ruthless character of Saddam Hussein, and the men he had surrounded himself with, his inner circle. Even within that iner circle, an atmosphere of terror existed, with each individual well aware of the fate that awaits those who fall out of Saddam’s favour. With that mindest in power, how is it that:
1.) Saddam was not aware of Ansar Al-Islam’s “loose connections” with Al Qaida?
2.) Saddam had even tolerated Ansar Al-Islam that supposedly not answerable to the Ba’atist government?
3.) Saddam had freed Zarqawi’s associate after he had been arrested, but not turned over to the Americans as requested?
4.) Iraqi documents show Saddam had set up terrorist training camps in the early 90’s up until the time of his removal from power?
5.) Saddam had approved funding of an Al Qaida group (Abu Sayyaff) in the Philipines?
All this shows that Saddam had been keeping in line with his known character, of using and abusing according to his own self interests. That he ran a secular Ba’atist government does not automatically prove an unwillingness to be involved with Islamists, especially when he believed he could control and use them according to his own designs. That, more than anything else, describes the character of a man who has used both guile and ruthlessness in maintaining his hold on Iraq. More here. KGS