Thursday, March 13, 2008

From the Pentagon Report IV

Again the reading comprehension challenged media rears it's ugly head. Splashed everywhere in headlines of varying forms:

Exhaustive review finds no link between Saddam and al Qaida.. per Warren P. Strobel of McClatchy Newspapers.

An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.

The Pentagon-sponsored study, scheduled for release later this week, did confirm that Saddam's regime provided some support to other terrorist groups, particularly in the Middle East, U.S. officials told McClatchy. However, his security services were directed primarily against Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime.

Whoa there, Nelly. Let's back up, shall we? The "exhaustive" review is a sheer Strobel dramatization. Assuming Strobel wasn't describing the analysts' state of mind while preparing the report, the reality given (as stated in the report) is that of the 600,000 or so docs, only 15% had been translated into English. And, presumably, used for this report.

There is no substitute for a complete read of this document. Trust not your local supposed "journalist" with your own education of the facts.

Link to full report available at this
ABC article "Report Shows No Link Between Saddam and al Qaeda", or order direct from the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia in paper or CD versions via US Mail services. Warning, it's a 94-pg, 11.74MB PDF). Oh yes... so much for it being "hidden" from public view, right?

Again, these minimum faux pas aside, I am stunned as to the headlines when you read the report. For those "give me the short version" types, let's leap to the conclusion on page 45 of the report (pg 65 of the PDF version).

One question remains regarding Iraq's terrorism capability: Is there
anything in the captured archives to indicate that Saddam had the will to use his terrorist capabilities directly against United States? Judging from examples of Saddam's statements (Extract 34) before the 1991 Gulf War with the United States, the answer is yes.

In the years between the two Gulf Wars, UN sanctions reduced Saddam's ability to shape regional and world events, steadily draining his military, economic, and military powers. The rise of Islamist fundamentalism in the region gave Saddam the opportunity to make terrorism, one of the few tools remaining in Saddam's "coercion" toolbox, not only cost effective but a formal instrument of state power. Saddam nurtured this capability with an infrastructure supporting

(1) his own particular brand of state terrorism against internal and external threats,

(2)the state sponsorship of suicide operations, and

(3) organizational relationships and "outreach programs" for terrorist groups. Evidence that was uncovered and analyzed attests to the existence of a terrorist capability and a willingness to use it until the day Saddam was forced to flee Baghdad by Coalition forces.

Hummm... so far, not such a slam dunk proving we had "no justified reason" to eye Saddam warily. In fact, I'd say most American's may sit back and say "wow! I didn't know that!". It's hardly the "no threat" BS pounded into our sheeple heads for the past five years.

So let's go back to the gloating headline... that "no link" between Saddam and al Qaeda bit, and see what the report really did say. From the Executive Summary:

The Iraqi Perspectives Project (IPP) review of captured Iraqi documents
uncovered strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism. Despite their incompatible long-term goals, many terrorist movements and Saddam found a common enemy in the United States. At times these organizations worked together, trading access for capability. In the period after the 1991 Gulf War, the regime of Saddam Hussein supported a complex and increasingly disparate mix of pan-Arab revolutionary causes and emerging pan-Islamic radical movements. The relationship between Iraq and forces of pan-Arab socialism was well known and was in fact one of the defining qualities of the Ba'ath movement.

But the relationships between Iraq and the groups advocating radical pan-Islamic doctrines are much more complex.
This study found no "smoking gun" (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda. Saddam's interest in, and support for, non-state actors was spread across a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. Some in the regime recognized the potential high internal and external costs of maintaining relationships with radical Islamic groups, yet they concluded that in some cases, the benefits of association outweighed the risks.

No "smoking gun" or "direct connection" was found. I have a serious beef with the media interpretation of this as a headline. And perhaps with the authors for not spelling it out so that the history-challenged can fully understand the global Islamic jihad players and their backgrounds. But the key word here is "direct".


If I purchase a 6 pack of Budweiser from the local mart, am I supporting Anheiser-Busch? If I buy an appliance made in China from Walmart, am I supporting Chinese industry? If I donate to a charity, whom I know full well works with a designated terror group, am I culpable for supporting terrorism?

The answer to all three is an emphatic "YES". I've no "direct" sale link to Anheiser-Busch or China, but I am most certainly engaging in a relationship that benefits the other end of the "triangulation". And if I knowingly provide monetary aid to a charity that is passing it along to a terrorist network, I most certainly am supporting terrorism.

So we have it that, in Nov of 1999, the Taliban's commander Mulla Omar sent his personal Defense Minister, the Maulana Fazlur Rahman (of today's Pakistan's JUI-F) to meet with Saddam to ask for aid. From the IIS agent's confiscated diary, and quote from Ray Robison's "Both in One Trench",

According to the record of the event, the Saddam regime agreed to provide that vital support to a desperate Taliban regime.


An agent of Saddam’s intelligence service was present to transcribe the meetings in Arabic. His spy tradecraft was a little sloppy at times and perhaps he never considered that his records would someday lead to a revealing look at Saddam’s ties to international Islamic jihad. This man, whose name is believed to be Khaled Abd El Majid, acted as a liaison between Saddam’s government and its contacts with influence with organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban. He moved between Iraq and Pakistan as evidenced by entries in a notebook he kept that was bought in Pakistan. He coordinated meetings between the Saddam regime and Islamic terrorists.

From another section in Both in One Trench:

The IIS Director described the relationship between the Ba’athist government of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban in Afghanistan by stating “We already believe that there are no points of disagreement between us and the Taliban because we are both in one trench facing the world’s oppression.”

OBL's al Qaeda, in the meantime, had moved it's headquarters from the Sudan to Afghanistan and allied with the Taliban in 1996. So as of the Nov 1999 meeting with Omar's Defense Minister, Saddam was agreeing to aid the Taliban... who was already playing host to OBL's al Qaeda network. One of those "indirect" ties to al Qaeda.


Were it not enough for Saddam to be helping the Taliban, and in triangulation, al Qaeda, another truth emerges from this report. Again for the history challenged: Section II, State Relations with Terror Groups reprtings Extract 10 on pg 13-15 in the report (pg 33-35 of the PDF). It is here we find detailed evidence of Islamic jihad groups Saddam's regime was supporting, in a memo dated March of 1993.

Of these groups, the most notable mentioned was Egyptian Islamic Jihad (aka Islamic Jihad Organization). Ring a bell? Well it should. Zawahiri led the EIJ from 1993,and orchestrated the merger with what we know as today's al Qaeda in 1998... then issuing the
World Islamic Front Statement of 1998.

This is, contrary to the media headlines, a very direct link to al Qaeda. Saddam is documented in this report as dealing with Zawahiri since his EIJ leadership. Are we to assume that when Zawahiri changed the name of the movement, Saddam magically ostracized him, finding him to be of no further value?

The report addresses this morphing of the players and their group names over time as well. From pg 17 (PDF pg 37):

One other memorandum (Extract 12) bears consideration. Drafted
in Saddam's office, it refers to an agreement with Islamic terrorists to conduct operations against the Egyptian regime during the first Gulf War (1991) and for continued financial support for the terrorists after hostilities ended.

Mata Musing: A memo addressed to Zawahiri's Islamic Jihad Organization is then reprinted.

The last sentence (in italics referring to the agreement with Islamist terrorists) deserves special attention: it refers to a top-secret order for Saddam's intelligence services to maintain contact with any movement in Arab countries. While it is not surprising that Saddam, one of the last of the Middle East's revolutionary nationalists, would endeavor to support revolutionary groups, it is important to recognize that many of these nationalist groups changed in the late 1990s. Saddam viewed these groups through the eyes of a pan-Arab revolutionary, while the leaders of the growing Islamist movements viewed them as potential affiliates for their Jihad. In other words, two movements, one pan-Arab and the other pan-Islamic, were seeking and developing supporters from the same demographic pool.

Captured documents reveal that later IIS activities went beyond just maintaining contact. For example, at the time this memorandum was written 39, the Iraqi GMID was training Sudanese fighters inside Iraq. The details appear in a separate GMID report40 (21 ovember 2001) about the reorganization or reconstruction of a training camp in the Sudan. This memorandum states that Iraq would send one administrative officer to establish and oversee the camp and that the following equipment would be provided initially: (snip)

Yes folks. Not only does this report document that Iraq was training Arab non-Iraqi jihad fighters in Iraq, but was specifically training some Sudanese fighters. It's also a bit more of a troubling coincidence that Saddam:

In the first, from January 1993, and coinciding with the start of the US humanitarian intervention in Somalia, the Presidential Secretary informed the council member of Saddam's decision to "form a group to start hunting Americans present on Arab soil; especially Somalia."

In the second memorandum, Saddam orders the IIS Director to revise a plan the IIS director had previously forwarded to include setting up operations inside Somalia. The overlap between bin Laden's and Saddam's interests in Somalia provides a tactical example of the parallel between Iraq and radical Islam: at the same time Saddam was ordering action in Somalia aimed at the American presence, Osama bin Laden was doing the same thing.

from pg 18 of the Pentagon report/pg 37 of the PDF

And who, pray tell, in 1993 was headquartered in Sudan? That would be al Qaeda's previous address - from 1991 to 1996. Could it be that Saddam's terrorist training camps were training OBL's Sudanese fighters?

Coincidence in timing? I think not. In fact, it begs to be asked, did Saddam finance and/or have involvement with Clinton's infamous Somalian "Black Hawk Down" operation? It is well known that the local fighters, who attacked US troops, were armed and trained by OBL.

This Pentagon Report, contrary to the BS headlines splashed in your faces, validates even further all that I've already read in Robison's "Both in One Trench". That Saddam did, in fact, have ties to al Qaeda. Ties thru the Taliban, and ties thru Zawahiri as not only the Egyptian Islamic Jihad but also as his new status as an al Qaeda member. As well as ties to any other jihad movement that suited his needs.

Do not be fooled, people. This is an important election year. And the headlines are nothing but BS propaganda by an agenda driven media. Their misinterpretation and false claims are easily debunked with the actual reading of the report.


Mark Eichenlaub said...

Damn good piece. I have been yelling about this for years and posting at as much as I can on the subject.

This report does NOT support the "no ties" crowd despite the dishonest liberal media headlines.

Just wait until they interview the HUNDREDS of Baathists in custody who were caught working as al Qaeda LEADERS in Iraq, some since 2002 that I've written about.

MataHarley said...

Coming from you, Mark, that is one high compliment. My humble thanks.

Went over to visit your Regime of Terror blog and found myself even further humbled by your stellar work. I shall consider it a regular, must read bookmark.

In the meantime, you may find a kindred spirit in Ray Robison, author of Both in One Trench.

Ray is a former Iraqi Survey Group member. He, is essence, wrote the precursor for this Pentagon Report IV over a year ago. It's one heckuva trainer in the "NIMBY" attitude Arab govts adopt in order to survive with the Global Islamic Jihad Movement in their midst. It opened my eyes that a terrorist by any other name is still a terrorist.... i.e., not all bad guys wear the AQ badge.

Also we can realistically only expect so much from from allied Muslim govts (even that help must be stealth) as they seek to walk that fragile line between between their terrorist Shariah/Islamic law advocates, and those that desire an Arab democracy (but abhor overt US alliances)... witness Pakistan today.

But it gets harder and harder to get the American electorate to go past headlines and read the source material. Alas, journalism headlines have proven to be nothing more than a Hollywood trailer for their ensuing fictional works. And our nation is becoming a coven of sound or headline-byte educated voters, clueless to actual history.

VERY happy you stopped by! You've redeemed my faith in humanity for the day.... LOL

Scott Malensek said...

Outstanding piece! I hit on pg 45 myself too-right off the bat. Might wanna check out the footnotes section too. There's some incredible stuff in there as well. Ultimately, the newspaper article based on AN anonymous source rather than the actual report was a complete opposite of the real report. From the moment the newspaper article talked about being relentlessly secular, it was obvious. It's a real shame that there won't be a retraction for that article.

Great work on this one though!!!!

MataHarley said...

Well now, I'm beside myself with "shock and awe". More kudos from another "big gun"?

My thanks for the very kind words, Scott. However, to give credit where credit is due, I owe my logical train of thought and analysis of the enemy and the GIJM (Global Islamic Jihad Movement) to reading Robison's book. I do believe his "connect the dots" perspectives on the ISG/Harmony docs is paying off. The mud is slithering off the MSM reports and I can see things far more clearly now.

And I get to add another great bookmark to my reading list!