Al Qaida in Iraq?
Those are fighting words to anyone who opposes the war in Iraq, because it seems to be an article of faith with them that there has never been a connection between al Qaida and Iraq.
How did Al Gore put it the other day?
THE PRESIDENT CONVINCED the country with a mixture of documents that turned out to be forged and blatantly false assertions that Saddam was in league with al Qaeda.
And if you believe in these false assertions, why, there’s a study which shows you’re suffering from “misperceptions.”
Stephen F.Hayes has written a book documenting the numerous connections between Iraq and al Qaida.
You can read some of it here. But no matter what the evidence is, it won’t convince any of the true disbelievers….
I read about it in 1999, in a book called Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America.
Yeah, war was declared, but in those days no one was looking. No one cared whether al Qaida and Iraq were linked either.
That’s because it just wasn’t an election issue.
Truth these days depends on political considerations.
For what it’s worth, I have posted about the connection between al Qaida and Iraq connection in this blog repeatedly (here, here, here, here, and here.)
UPDATE: Because I have cited it repeatedly in this blog, I think it’s appropriate to quote a couple of passages from the Bodansky book.
This is from page 324:

….[T]wo of bin Laden’s senior military commanders, Muhammad Abu-Islam and Abdallah Qassim, visited Baghdad between April 25 and May 1 [1998] for discussions with Iraqi intelligence. The importance of these contacts to Baghdad was shown by their meeting with Qusay Hussein, Saddam’s son, who is now responsible for intelligence matters and was personally involved in both the Iraqi contribution to the Somalia operation and later the intelligence cooperation with Iran. Both sides were very satisfied with the results of the negotiations.
One of the first concrete outcomes of these contacts was Baghdad’s agreement to train a new network of Saudi Islamist intelligence operatives and terrorists from among bin Laden’s supporters still inside Saudi Arabia. Special clandestine cross-border passages were organized by Iraqi intelligence to enable these Saudis to make it to Iraq without passports or any other documents. The first group of Saudi Islamists crossed over in mid-June for a four-week course in the al-Nasiriyah training camp. Most were trained in intelligence?how to collect intelligence on American targets and plan and launch strikes. The Other Saudis were organized into a network for smuggling weapons and explosives from Iraq into Saudi Arabia, This group has returned to Saudi Arabia and is operational, having smuggled in the first loads of weapons and explosives. Later in the summer a second group of eleven Saudi lslami’stS received a month of training in the most sophisticated guerrilla techniques. By then Iraqi intelligence anticipated a marked expansion in the training of Saudi Islamisrs, for Iraqi intelligence took over two training camps they had previously used for training the Iranian Mujahideen-ul-Khalq.
Bin Laden moved quickly to solidify the cooperation with Saddam Hussein. In mid-July, Ayrnan al-Zawahiri traveled to Iraq clandestinely. He met senior Iraqi officials, including Taha Yassin Ramadan, to discuss practical modalities for the establishment of bin Laden’s base in Iraq, the expansion of training for his mujahideen, and a joint strategy for an anti-U.S. jihad throughout the Arab world and North Africa. Baghdad could not have been more helpful, conditioning its support on bin Laden’s promise not to incite the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood into establishing an Islamic state in Iraq; in other words not to compete with Saddam Hussein’s reign. While in Iraq, Zawahiri was also taken to visit a potential site for bin Laden’s headquarters near al-Fallujah and terrorist training camps run by Iraqi intelligence. In al-Nasiriyah he saw the training provided to Saudi Islamists. In the name of Osama bin Laden, Zawahiri assumed responsibility for a training camp in the al-Nasiriyah desert established by Iraqi intelligence in about 1997 for terrorists from Saudi Arabia and the gulf states.

From page 346:

In retrospect, the U.S.-Iraqi crisis of mid-November [1998] was the turning point in galvanizing Baghdad’s resolve to strike out and sponsor an unprecedented terrorist campaign. A well-connected Arab source stated that “Saddam Hussein became convinced for the first time that Washington was seriously seeking to topple him and had decided to bring him down in any possible way. He chose to confront [the United States] with all possible means) too, particularly extremism and terrorism) since he had nothing else to lose.” Convinced that he had Co act urgently, Hussein held lengthy discussions with the two people he truly trusts — his sons Qusay and Uday — on how to confront the Unired States and spoil its designs against their family. Qusay argued, and Saddam ultimately agreed, that there was no way emaciated Iraq could deflect a determined American attempt to assassinate them and bring down the regime. The key to their survival was in deterring such a campaign in the first place through a series of devastating anti-American terrorist attacks that would persuade Washington of the futility of challenging the Hussein regime. The option of conducting such a terrorist campaign under bin Laden’s “deniable” banner was irresistible.
A few days after this conversation Qusay dispatched rwo of his most loyal intelligence operatives?al-Jubburi and al-Shihabi?to Afghanistan. They held a series of lengthy meetings with bin Laden, Zawahiri, Abu-Hafs, and other senior Islamist terrorist commanders in an isolated building not far from Kabul. Al-Jubburi and al Shihabi brought with them detailed lists of Iraq’s contributions to the joint effort, including the anticipated arrival of the chemical weapons experts. They then worked out a detailed, coordinated plan for a protracted anti-American war. They decided that spectacular and martyrdom operations should be carried out throughout the world. In addition bin Laden agreed that Islamist hit teams should hunt down Iraqi opposition leaders who cooperated with the United States and the West against the Hussein regime. Bin Laden assured the Iraqis that the Islamists could now reach areas that Iraqi intelligence could not. The series of meetings concluded with an agreement to study closely and formulate details of specific operations and then meet again to decide on the first round of strikes.

Bear in mind that this wasn’t written as Bush election material. In fact, it was written two years before September 11!
This contradicts the common view that al Qaida only established a presence in Iraq because of “Bush’s war.” If anything, it shows that the Iraqis decided to team up with al Qaida because of Bill Clinton.
My apologies for any misspellings in the above, for I had to transcribe the damn thing, and it wasn’t easy.
Hope someone can use it!
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds notes that it is an antiwar “article of faith” that there was “no connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.” He’s interested in hearing their response to the Hayes book, but I’m not holding my breath.
(Most likely, the response will consist of attacks on the author. Should I be holding my breath?)
MORE: Here’s an October 7, 2002 statement from George Tenet, which pretty much confirms what I read in 1999:

“We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade. Credible information indicates that Iraq and Al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression. Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad. We have credible reporting that al-Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al-Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.”

Forgive me for not being more surprised.
And even Newsweek and ABC reported similar stuff, back in 1999:

Newsweek magazine ran an article in its January 11, 1999, issue headed “Saddam + Bin Laden?” “Here’s what is known so far,” it read:

Saddam Hussein, who has a long record of supporting terrorism, is trying to rebuild his intelligence network overseas–assets that would allow him to establish a terrorism network. U.S. sources say he is reaching out to Islamic terrorists, including some who may be linked to Osama bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi exile accused of masterminding the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa last summer.

Four days later, on January 15, 1999, ABC News reported that three intelligence agencies believed that Saddam had offered asylum to bin Laden.

Intelligence sources say bin Laden’s long relationship with the Iraqis began as he helped Sudan’s fundamentalist government in their efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. . . . ABC News has learned that in December, an Iraqi intelligence chief named Faruq Hijazi, now Iraq’s ambassador to Turkey, made a secret trip to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden. Three intelligence agencies tell ABC News they cannot be certain what was discussed, but almost certainly, they say, bin Laden has been told he would be welcome in Baghdad.

More here. Surprise, surprise, surprise!
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for his link to this post, and a warm welcome to all InstaPundit readers!
UPDATE: The above post by Glenn Reynolds on the Hayes book appeared in hard copy in the Blog Cabin section of today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.
Glad to see it!
MORE: reports that Iraq’s new Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has “vouched for the authenticity of evidence that links Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks.”

Though the notion that Iraq played a role in 9/11 is considered heresy in U.S. intelligence circles, newly appointed Iraq Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said in December that a document purported to be from Saddam’s intelligence service that places lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta in Baghdad two months before the attacks was indeed “genuine.”
“We are uncovering evidence all the time of Saddam’s involvement with al-Qaeda,” Allawi told the London Telegraph at the time. “But this is the most compelling piece of evidence that we have found so far. It shows that not only did Saddam have contacts with al-Qaeda, he had contact with those responsible for the September 11 attacks.”
As reported by the Telegraph at the time, the document – a handwritten memo dated July 1, 2001 – provides a short resume of a three-day “work program” Atta had undertaken at Abu Nidal’s terrorist training camp in Baghdad.
Nidal was executed by Saddam’s secret police in August 2002 in what some suspect was a bid to keep him from telling what he knew about 9/11. (HT G. Gordon Liddy Show.)

Whether this view will continue to be regarded as “heresy” remains to be seen.
MORE: Deroy Murdock offers more intriguing evidence on the Iraqi connection with Mohamed Atta, including perfidy by the New York Times:

Czech authorities have defended their story despite the American media’s valiant efforts to discredit it.
On October 21, 2002, the New York Times reported on its front page that “The Czech president, Vaclav Havel, has quietly told the White House he has concluded that there is no evidence to confirm earlier reports that Mohamed Atta, the leader in the Sept. 11 attacks, met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague just months before the attacks on New York and Washington, according to Czech officials.”
Havel quickly spurned the Times’s creative writing. Within hours, his spokesman, Ladislav Spacek, dubbed the Times story “a fabrication.” He added, “Nothing like this has occurred.”
That same day, Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross reasserted his government’s finding, complete with unique spellings of the names of two key characters:
“In this moment we can confirm that during the next stay of Mr. Muhammad Atta in the Czech Republic, there was the contact with the official of the Iraqi intelligence, Mr. Al Ani, Ahmed Khalin Ibrahim Samir, who was on the 22nd April 2001 expelled from the Czech Republic on the basis of activities which were not compatible with the diplomatic status.”
Two days later, America’s so-called “Paper of Record” retreated. On October 23, 2002, it quoted Spacek, Havel’s spokesman. “The president did not call the White House about this. The president never spoke about Atta, not with Bush, not with anyone else.” (Via InstaPundit.)