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Bin Laden and Iraqi Official Met in Sudan - With Saddam's Approval

ABC News reports on an additional pre-war document that shows Osama Bin Laden met with an Iraqi government official, after receiving approval from Saddam, in Sudan in February 1995:

Bin Laden asked that Iraq broadcast the lectures of Suleiman al Ouda, a radical Saudi preacher, and suggested "carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia. According to the document, icSaddam's presidency was informed of the details of the meeting on March 4, 1995, and Saddam agreed to dedicate a program for them on the radio. The document states that further "development of the relationship and cooperation between the two parties to be left according to what's open [in the future] based on dialogue and agreement on other ways of cooperation." The Sudanese were informed about the agreement to dedicate the program on the radio.

The report then states that "Saudi opposition figure" bin Laden had to leave Sudan in July 1996 after it was accused of harboring terrorists. It says information indicated he was in Afghanistan. "The relationship with him is still through the Sudanese. We're currently working on activating this relationship through a new channel in light of his current location," it states.

ABC News notes the following in the Editor's Notes:

The document does not establish that the two parties did in fact enter into an operational relationship. Given that the document claims bin Laden was proposing to the Iraqis that they conduct "joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia, it is worth noting that eight months after the meeting -- on November 13, 1995 -- terrorists attacked Saudi National Guard Headquarters in Riyadh, killing 5 U.S. military advisers. The militants later confessed on Saudi TV to having been trained by Osama bin Laden

Why isn't this being talked about more?

Salt Lake Tribune points out that the 9/11 Commission didn't know that Saddam approved the Sudan meeting:

The report of the U.S. 9/11 Commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has already concluded that bin Laden met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in late 1994 or early 1995. The document ABC referenced suggests for the first time that the contacts were personally approved by Saddam, ABC said.

The New York Sun reports on 9/11 commissioner Bob Kerrey's reaction:

A former Democratic senator and 9/11 commissioner says a recently declassified Iraqi account of a 1995 meeting between Osama bin Laden and a senior Iraqi envoy presents a "significant set of facts," and shows a more detailed collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

In an interview yesterday, the current president of the New School University, Bob Kerrey, was careful to say that new documents translated last night by ABC News did not prove Saddam Hussein played a role in any way in plotting the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Nonetheless, the former senator from Nebraska said that the new document shows that "Saddam was a significant enemy of the United States." Mr. Kerrey said he believed America's understanding of the deposed tyrant's relationship with Al Qaeda would become much deeper as more captured Iraqi documents and audiotapes are disclosed.

Paul at Powerline writes this:

These documents further undermine the claim that ideological differences precluded a relationship between secular Saddam and fundamentalist bin Laden. The documents show that they had a relationship and that Iraq was prepared to cooperate with al Qaeda to the extent that it would be beneficial to do so. Whether or to what extent such coooperation occurred is still not known. But the documents support the view that Saddam, who was almost universally thought to have WMD and clearly had the capability of producing them, might well cooperate with al Qaeda in future attacks on the U.S. or its interests. That's something we don't have to worry about anymore.

Comments (22)

The ABC disclaimer is rich:... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

The ABC disclaimer is rich:

The document does not establish that the two parties did in fact enter into an operational relationship.

Thanks a lot for that deep insight, ABC. There was, however, a relationship in which operations were apparently discussed, if not agreed upon.

Yet more evidence that hist... (Below threshold)

Yet more evidence that history will look upon the Iraq war as, to paraphrase John Kerry, "the right war, in the right place, at the right time".

Each had something valuable... (Below threshold)

Each had something valuable to give to the other. To Osama, Iraq offered a place where people could gather and train, a place that could provide a stable source of funds and equipment. To Saddam, Al Qaeda provided an attack force that was sufficiently distant from himself that he could deny any participation.

How far each went in exploiting the other to advance his own ends is still the open question.

(Shoulda finished the above... (Below threshold)

(Shoulda finished the above musing). My guess is they were pretty close, had a loose operational arrangement, were doing some small-scale stuff together, and were trying to work out the details (and trust level necessary) for large-scale operations.

RE: "These documents furthe... (Below threshold)

RE: "These documents further undermine the claim that ideological differences precluded a relationship between secular Saddam and fundamentalist bin Laden." (Powerline)

This idea from the anti-war Left really needs to be examined: namely that a fundamentalist group can't possibly cooperate with a secular government like Iraq -- even when it's in both side's best interest.

Bin Laden and many of his men got their start in Afghanistan fighting the USSR. They received weapons, financial aid, and training from a secular government: the United States.

OK now, all those on the le... (Below threshold)

OK now, all those on the left, stick your fingers in your ears and keep repeating, as loud as you can, "there was no connection, there was no connection".

The rest of you, watch out for those moving goal posts as we move from "there was no connection" to "Saddam wasn't responsible for 9/11". Which, as we all know, Bush never claimed in the first place.

Wow Kim - is this your next... (Below threshold)

Wow Kim - is this your next attempt after striking out on that memo dump?

Anyways, I believe there could have been a connection to Al Qaeda, that makes sense seeing that Saddam was a bad guy and all. But operational? Well, you have the 9/11 commission or Powerlie.

However, the important thing is that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Why do you think 70% of people thought that Iraq did.

After all, it wasn't "pretty well confirmed" as Cheney lied on National TV. Or as he lied later that "we don't know" if Iraq was connected to 9/11. (We did know) And of course, it's not surprising that he would say something like this: "It's not surprising that people make that connection" when Bush would say something like this:

"The use of armed forces against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

While these connections, no... (Below threshold)
Rob Filomena:

While these connections, no matter how slight, do imply a relationship between Hussein's government and Al Quada (the liberal assertion that a relationship between the 2 was idealogically impossible is a laugher), all this does is vindicate the president's supporters who stood by him and his administration's assertions that the connecion did exist. To be fair and sober, that's all it does. This alone was never, and still is not, an adequate pretext for war. if we bombed the country of every intelligence group who met with a terrorist organization for operational and strategic advantage, we would run out of bombs, and the first ones would be dropped on Washington. The war in Iraq has been and remains a distraction in the very real War on Terror, and a stunningly enormous drain on our country's Treasury.

Rob, thanks for letting us ... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Rob, thanks for letting us know where the goalposts have been moved to now.

Apparently it is insufficient cause for war against a nation if 1)their leader is a self-declared enemy of the U.S. who threatened action against us with almost every speech for 12 years, 2) they fail to fulfill terms of cease-fire with the U.S. over that same period of 12 years, 3) they provide declared aid to organizations inimical to the U.S. and our allies (Hamas, Hezbollah), and now 4) engage in cooperation with an organization not only a declared enemy of the United States, but has actually attacked the U.S..

The case against the Iraq front of the War on Terror was lost long ago.

and jp2, you made geobandy'... (Below threshold)

and jp2, you made geobandy's point for him very nicely.

jp2,Another Bush b... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:


Another Bush basher posted the same quote a few days ago and he didn't understand it either, so I'll just repeat what I posted then minus the pin-head's moniker.

"The use of armed forces against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including, those nations, organizations or person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

Like I said, your reading comprehension is not up to parsing a complex sentence. Bush will have to dummy down his speeches so you'll be able to understand them.

Jay gave you the key, but you still don't get it; talk about dense. See the word "including" Here's the dictionary definition: "used to introduce examples of people or things forming part of a particular group or whole".

I've highlighted the important part for you. Bush was talking about a larger group that included the subset of "organizations or person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." Bush didn't say Iraq was a part of the subset, only of the group of "international terrorists and terrorist organizations". Saddam openly supported international terrorists by offering rewards to the families of suicide bombers.

Lean to read moron.

Now we have these documents showing that there was some connection between al Qaeda and Saddam, and if these bunkers contain WMDs the left will be in full retreat.

But wait, where are all the... (Below threshold)

But wait, where are all the other cut-n-runners decrying this source? Usually there's more than one screaming about the 'bush-bots' (or some similar cartoonish term) blindly accepting documents when their source doesn't jibe with their ideology (even though the 'sources' recently have been US intelligence-released documents). Did they start to write "Now you stupid bushites expect us to believe ABC..." before realizing how bad the argument is going for them?

Nicely put about the goalposts, John, as you must be aware it's a common technique when you don't really have an argument (in this case, a logical argument would be to disprove the documented evidence or provide contradictory evidence, not to start blathering about Cheney...again). Ignoring reality is popular, too, see the nice example above whereby the imaginary set of choices is to believe the 9/11 commission or powerline, ignoring that one of the cited articles discusses Bob Kerrey (of the 9/11 commission)'s reaction to this 'new' information that was unavailable when the commission was active. It's a good example, but in the end you're left hoping for something better from the deniers. After so long saying that going to Iraq was the right thing to do based on the UN resolutions if nothing else, to start being proven right about all the other stuff with actual Iraqi documents and tapes is a little heady.

"Well that document was translated by a conservative" and "that document could mean something else" and "so what if they were discussing the hiding of nuclear operations" can only go on so long before you start to scratch your head. Very reminiscent of the local coverage of the terrorist-supporting imam here in Albany...you probably heard about it, government sting operation caught him offering to fund the purchase of rockets or something to be expressly used to bring down airliners. Anyway, every new piece of evidence that the government is forced to make public (before the trial...jury pool tainting, anyone?) is quickly rebuffed by the defense attorney. One thing, maybe, two things, maybe, a dozen...two dozen things? At what point do you have to think his contacts with terrorists wasn't all just coincidental after all? The terrorists he kept calling all the time after getting the number from an Al Qaida operative? Just a coincidence! They were his old college buddies (I kid you not, that's the excuse)! The terrorists he had stay with him at his house? C'mon, he's an arab and it's all about hospitality to the traveller! His name in a terrorist training camp rolodex? He was a popular guy! His name's everywhere over there! And it goes on and on like that, they've got piles of contacts between this guy and terrorists (not to mention the offer to buy terrorist weapons "he was just trying to help out a buddy with his pizza shop venture!") but, according to his attorney, they just all happen to be amazing coincidences.

Sure one document references an obscure operative. Another talks about Saddam in a roundabout way. No one (reasonable) is denying that they're not the smoking gun by themself, but when you start to pile them all up, it's a pretty tall stack of coincidences and 'that looks pretty fishy's. And, to think, there's still a Raiders of the Lost Ark ending warehouse pile of the stuff left to be translated. How many dots do you need before you can connect them? 5? 10? Where's the goalpost today? Where will it be tomorrow?

John,It is clearly... (Below threshold)
Rob Filomena:


It is clearly an inappropriate pretxt for war because the same checklist is not applied to a number of other possible targets of US pre-emptive agression who fit the bill, namely Venezuela, Iran and North Korea. The existence of these nations' defiance of the US and the peace loving world with no military repercussions lends credence to my argument and proves that those facotors alone tht you listed are insufficient. It is a complicated world, John. Get used to it.

...namely Venezuela, Ira... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

...namely Venezuela, Iran and North Korea.

Rob, I would agree that one reason alone is not in itself cause or reason enough to go to war. However, there were multiple reasons for invading and liberating Iraq. But that's not what bothers me about this last rationale of not having the same foreign policy.

First, it's a red herring to compare Iraq to Iran, Venezuela or NK. The political and military situations of all 4 countires are completely unique and utterly different to one another. To employ and enact the same foreign policy strategy for one country as you would another as you suggest, would be terribly myopic, unreasonable, uncompromising and, as the US has been wrongly accused of, a foreign policy that is truly acting "laterally".

You're right, it's a far more complicated world than you think.

So you are insinuating that... (Below threshold)

So you are insinuating that because other nations besides Iraq wish the u.s. would lose and hate our success that somehow diminishes al quaeda and saddams love affair.. And i dont need Bush or Cheney to point out what is so obvious to anyone with no biases ..jp2 the 911 commission was a joke and a farce cover -up for all those involved..

So Rob, in order for your p... (Below threshold)

So Rob, in order for your principle to be valid, you have to apply it across the board against asll enemies at once?

Mac - that's an Iraq war re... (Below threshold)

Mac - that's an Iraq war resolution isn't it? It implies Iraq was involved.

jp2,If you accurat... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:


If you accurately read what you quoted, it's clear that Bush didn't say Iraq was involved in 9/11, but part of the larger group of "international terrorists and terrorist organizations".

Every time there's a topic about Iraq there's a bunch of contributors claiming Bush lied. When their claims are examined, however, there's no substance to them. So far they all require redefinition of words, misreading of statements, or claiming that Bush implied a meaning other than what he said, and that implied meaning makes him a liar.

In utter frustration, some of the Bush bashers then get mad at Bush supporters for our opinions, but they can't produce any rational reasons why would should change our opinions. The result is often some colorful name calling.

No, jp2, what the reference... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

No, jp2, what the reference to 9/11 in a statement about the Iraq war indicates is that Saddam was just as capable of carrying out an attack such as Al Qaeda had. In fact, with a great deal more resources and territory to work with, Saddam's Iraq posed a greater apparent threat than pre-9/11 Al Qaeda. Saddam had the means, motive, and opportunities to follow that example and secretly fund further terrorist attacks against the U.S.

Rob, you seem like a halfway smart guy, supporting the War on Terror in general. So my apologies for the large hammer about to drop on you.
the same checklist is not applied to a number of other possible targets of US pre-emptive agression who fit the bill, namely Venezuela, Iran and North Korea.
Let's see:
1)Threatening the U.S.
All three of your countries have done so, but not from a position of already being in a state of war with the U.S. So half a point.
2)Violation of cease-fire agreements:
With the added note that violating a cease-fire is usually considered 100% valid reason to resume warfare, none of your examples meet this requirement.
3)Open support of (non-al Qaeda) terrorist organizations.
All three of your examples have engaged in this practice, but so have other nations. We're working to make this less of a popular practice. Note that we didn't have to declare war on Libya to get them to capitulate.
4)Connections to Al Qaeda.
It is noteworthy that of all the national heads of state in the entire world, the only one who not only failed to denounce the 9/11 attacks, but expressed open support and admiration for them, was Saddam Hussein. The 9/11 report found ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but no evidence of operational ties. Now evidence has arisen that indicates operational ties and direct contacts. If you have evidence linking Al Qaeda as strongly to the governments of Venezuala, North Korea, or especially Iran, we'd all be interested in hearing it.

Iraq is a major front in the War on Terror.

And once Congress authorize... (Below threshold)

And once Congress authorizes force, it is to the discretion of the executive branch to decide when, where, what type, and how much force to apply. And the question of deciding to use force is a political one, and the political branches will hash that out.

So whether we go to war against Iraq is irrelevant as to whether we go to war at any time against any other nation or group.

John,You make all ... (Below threshold)
Rob Filomena:


You make all good points. My point was from a strictly argumentative point of view and perhapr I didn't make it clearly enough.

The declaration of the War on Terror amounted to a summary judgement on all nations that pose a threat to the Unitd States. In essence a blanket foreign policy within itself. My criticism of the administration on this point is that it is not consistent. Tough, no nonsense talk and action, which are the coin of the realm for this president, give way to nuance (for which he is not known) when an enemy actually has a well equipped army, regardless of the level of threat posed to the US by that country for which Iraq was very low and arguably NK and Iran is very high,

While Iraq may be a front in the War on Terror, I feel it was and remains a low priority target in that war. We have invested too much political capital and treasure and while we have made the world safer in the long run for Iraqis, I fear the world is still no safer for Americans.

Rob I seem to recal... (Below threshold)

Rob I seem to recall to recall a bunch of terroists dancing in the streets of the gaza strip or west bank on 911 , And i would have to say that crazy lunatic president of Iran sounds just the same as any al quaeda video put out by al jazeera.. Were dealing with the same ideology in all these different factions no matter how well they do or dont hide it. Iraq is now a lower priority because we are dealing with it ! THEY HAD THE 3RD largest well equipped military at one time.. I think Iraq was a high level threat ,not a low one .. political capital should never stand in the way of defending your country. and it does not now ! The world you are right is still very dangerous for americans as well as every other nationality , including muslims who are dying in greater numbers by their own hands than any other group , someone has to wake them up before they destroy themselves as well as everyone else, Unfortunately the nuclear weapon is going to be used somewhere in the near future.. may God save us all.






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