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More Proof of Saddam's Ties to Terrorists

By Jon Kyl

Critics of the war in Iraq often try to minimize - if not dismiss - the links between Saddam Hussein and terrorists in Iraq. Yet, Saddam's ties to terrorists are well known and were confirmed yet again in a new report commissioned by the Joint Forces Command. It found that Saddam Hussein actively supported and financed terrorist activities during the years he controlled Iraq.

The report, "Iraqi Perspectives Project: Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents," was released on March 13, and it was based on a review of over 600,000 documents captured in Iraq since 2003. It concluded that Saddam's security forces and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network "operated with similar aims (at least in the short-term)."

According to the report, "Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam's use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime." In other words, Saddam Hussein was engaged in terrorist activities when coalition forces invaded Iraq in 2003.

The report found that Saddam Hussein worked with several different terrorist groups, including groups with direct ties to al Qaeda, and many were engaged in a jihad against the U.S. and its allies. The report shed light on the relationship between Saddam Hussein and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's second in command: "Saddam supported groups either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), led at one time by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives."

A report by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard on March 24, 2008 noted that Zawahiri's organization was being financed by Saddam Hussein at the very time Zawahiri was working almost exclusively with bin Laden. In fact, Zawahiri had been working with al Qaeda from its inception in late 1989. By 1993, Zawahiri, as the leader of the EIJ, sought to merge the organization with al Qaeda (the two terrorist organizations eventually merged in 1998). He worked closely with Osama bin Laden.

The Standard further reported that "Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda - as long as that organization's near-term goals supported Saddam's long-term vision."

The Iraqi Perspective Project's 1,600-plus pages describe numerous examples of Saddam's support for terrorist activities that coincided with the activities of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. The more than 600,000 documents likely reveal only a fraction of what we will ultimately know of the true relationship between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Despite the importance of the information presented in the report, the media have failed to diligently bring it to the attention of the American people. One of the few items that did appear discounted the myriad links between Saddam Hussein and terrorist organizations that were exposed in the report. Astonishingly, it reported that there was no "smoking gun" linking al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

For those who are intent on re-litigating why it was necessary for the United States to remove Saddam from power, the Iraqi Perspectives Project provides yet another substantial body of evidence to complement what is already on the public record.

The American people deserve to know the facts, and the media have a duty to report them.

Sen. Kyl serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees and chairs the Senate Republican Conference. Visit his website at www.kyl.senate.gov.

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