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No evidence of Iraq-Al Qaeda connection

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Now this article comes from one of the most conservative newspapers around--The Wall Street Journal. Very interesting.

Bush's Efforts to Link HusseinTo al Qaeda Lack Clear Evidence.

U.S. Intelligence Can't Affirm President's Claims,

Despite His History With Other Terror Groups



WASHINGTON -- It's one of President Bush's regular arguments for ousting Saddam Hussein: The Iraqi dictator has ties to the al Qaeda network that brought terrorism to the U.S. last Sept. 11. Mr. Bush and his top aides have repeatedly cited suspicions that Iraq has provided training and safe haven for al Qaeda members, and the fear that it could furnish them with weapons of mass destruction.

Yet despite some intriguing leads, U.S. intelligence officials say they haven't found hard evidence of an active link between Iraq's secular regime and al Qaeda's Islamic militants.

Instead, a look inside Mr. Hussein's history offers a clear pattern of supporting terrorism, but terrorism of a different variety. Though early in his tenure he aided Islamic fundamentalist groups, he has more recently consorted with groups whose regional goals could enhance his stature in the Middle East, and with homegrown agents he can keep on a short leash -- not something easily done with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.

The Iraqi leader has a record of attacking Iraqi exiles overseas using assassinations and bombings. He has funded Palestinian extremists -- lately by paying $25,000 rewards to the families of suicide bombers. He has sponsored an anti-Turkish Kurdish group in northern Iraq, a Marxist paramilitary group attempting to overthrow Iran's Islamic government and terrorist campaigns against Syria. He attempted to use proxies to strike the U.S., during and immediately after the Persian Gulf War, but most analysts think those attempts were largely failures.

Little Evidence

But there is little evidence that he has been willing so far to share his biological or chemical weapons with his partners in terror, even during the Gulf War.

It's impossible to prove, of course, that there hasn't been some cooperation that Iraq has successfully hidden from view, and no way to say for sure that a relationship couldn't flower from the joint hatred of the U.S. that Iraq and al Qaeda share. And Mr. Bush has offered other forceful arguments for confronting Mr. Hussein, including his defiance of United Nations resolutions, his threats toward his neighbors and, above all, his long quest to develop weapons of mass destruction.

For now, Mr. Hussein has every reason to keep al Qaeda at arm's length. "It would be the dumbest thing in the world for Saddam to be supporting anti-U.S. terrorism right now, and most of what we've seen from him suggests that he recognizes this," says Kenneth Pollack, a former National Security Council official and author of a recent book on Iraq.

Greater Urgency

The question of a possible al Qaeda connection continues to hover over the Iraq debate. The Bush administration has sought to establish an Iraq-al Qaeda link since shortly after taking office, but the effort has taken on greater urgency lately as the White House has attempted to build both domestic and U.N. constituencies for ousting Mr. Hussein. Just last week, Mr. Bush declared: "This is a man who we know has had connections with al Qaeda. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al Qaeda as a forward army."

White House spokesman Sean McCormick said the administration was still exploring how extensive the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship is. "There are reports that we have seen that point to some ties. It's a developing story, and we're looking into it."

One reason the debate over the al Qaeda question has remained so hot is the occasional surfacing of tantalizing hints of potential links -- which so far have yet to lead to a clear connection.

The latest example is the case of an al Qaeda operative named Abu Musab Zarqawi, who turned up in Baghdad last summer. The Central Intelligence Agency investigated and learned Mr. Zarqawi was in Baghdad at least partly for personal reasons: He had lost a leg during fighting in Afghanistan and was in the Iraqi capital seeking medical treatment in one of the few places he might escape capture. When Jordan, which wanted to get its hands on Mr. Zarqawi, asked Iraqi security officials to turn him over, they denied knowing Mr. Zarqawi's whereabouts. When the Iraqis were shown what one Jordanian intelligence official called "irrefutable proof" that he was in Baghdad, the Iraqis agreed to investigate. Within days, Mr. Zarqawi was hustled out of Iraq, officials say, and there's no sign that he has been back. The hint of collaboration couldn't be pursued.

In public statements, senior officials have referred repeatedly to intelligence about al Qaeda-Iraq links that remains largely unverified, intelligence officials say. One incident received special scrutiny: In late 1998, after U.S. cruise-missile strikes on al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, Mr. Hussein was reported to have dispatched an Iraqi ambassador to offer sanctuary to both Mr. bin Laden and Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar. But U.S. intelligence officials say that they haven't been able to confirm the meeting and doubt it ever occurred.

An intelligence report passed to the U.S. from officials in the Czech Republic said that one of the leaders of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Mohamed Atta, may have met with an Iraqi intelligence agent last year in Prague. But the meeting has never been verified and most analysts at the CIA doubt it happened, officials say.

Iraq's small diplomatic corps often provided cover for its overseas intelligence agents, who are suspected of arranging assassinations of dissidents. Iraqi weapons scientists may have been sent in the mid-1990s to Sudan -- where Mr. bin Laden was living at the time -- to escape U.S. monitoring. But there's no evidence of contact between al Qaeda and the Iraqis, according to current and former intelligence officials.

Combing Through Reports

In early 1998, amid growing worries about the rise of al Qaeda, the National Security Council's counterterrorism coordinator, Richard Clarke, asked his aides to comb through years of back intelligence reports for any indication that the group was receiving secret support from Iraq. The study found no significant links, according to a former official involved. Mr. Clarke didn't return calls seeking comment.

Since flushing al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence has picked up telephone intercepts and other information to suggest that some al Qaeda members, including Iraqis, may have fled to Iraq.

U.S. officials also have pressed the intelligence community to probe Iraq's links with Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish Islamic militant group that has mounted increasingly violent attacks against other Kurdish parties in northern Iraq. Some of the group's members are believed to have been trained at camps in Afghanistan and to have fled earlier this year to Iraq. The CIA suspects that Mr. Hussein's agents may have penetrated the group. But so far there is no evidence that the group represents a Hussein-al Qaeda alliance, intelligence officials say.

An al Qaeda detainee being held at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba told interrogators that Iraq may have trained some of the group's members in the use of poisons and gases and in explosives. U.S. intelligence officials say it's possible but that they haven't confirmed the report.

Mr. Hussein, in fact, appears to be the type of secular Arab leader -- like the Saudi royal family and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak -- whom Mr. bin Laden and his Islamic followers would most like to see overthrown, with strict Islamic law imposed on Iraq's relatively nonobserving population.

Still, when the Bush administration took office in 2001, officials at the Pentagon immediately began peppering intelligence agencies with requests for studies on Baghdad's links to terrorism. At a meeting of senior administration officials in April 2001 to discuss al Qaeda, a top Defense Department official asked Mr. Clarke about whether Iraq had connections to Mr. bin Laden's group. Mr. Clarke said no, according to two people in the room. A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment.

A Pattern With Terrorists

Mr. Hussein has a pattern of dealing with terrorists mostly when they serve his personal and regional ambitions. In the early 1970s, when he was emerging as Iraq's leader, he sought to consolidate his position inside Iraq by backing the Palestinian cause and so presenting himself as a committed enemy of Israel. To this end, his intelligence services helped Palestinian terrorist leader Abu Nidal create his own organization based in Baghdad, giving it training and funds.

Mr. Hussein also has had ambitions to build Iraq into a regional power, and ultimately the Arab world's most formidable leader. Almost from the start of his rule he began providing funds and training to groups dedicated to knocking off his regional rivals -- especially Syria. For example, despite his secular leanings, Mr. Hussein for a time spanning the late 1970s and early 1980s backed the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist forerunner of al Qaeda. With Mr. Hussein's backing, the Muslim Brotherhood mounted a campaign of assassinations and bombings aimed at toppling Syrian President Hafez al-Assad until he violently suppressed it in 1983.

In the 1980s Mr. Hussein also began backing Abul Abbas, a leader of a PLO faction called the Palestine Liberation Front and the suspected mastermind of the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship. Mr. Hussein's once-frosty relations with the PLO improved. Mr. Arafat moved much of its operation to Baghdad after a 1985 Israeli strike on his headquarters in Tunis. But the U.S. had little evidence that Mr. Hussein was directly planning or supporting specific operations.

After Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the terrorism issue surfaced again. U.S. intelligence agencies found that in the months before his move into Kuwait, Mr. Hussein had been building new ties with a long list of Palestinian terrorists. The first Bush administration put Mr. Hussein back on the U.S. State Department list of state terrorism sponsors, which he had been removed from in 1982. The Iraqi leader reinstalled members of the Abu Nidal organization in Baghdad. He had expelled Mr. Nidal in 1983 in return for being removed from the U.S. terrorist list, and the group had been exiled for years to Libya. And Mr. Hussein made an overture to Ahmad Jibril, leader of a violent Palestinian faction. Mr. Jibril was invited to open an office in Baghdad, despite his main sponsors being rivals Syria and Iran. Even the more-moderate PLO maintained a large presence in Baghdad.

With these various associations, Mr. Hussein may have hoped that after taking Kuwait's oil fields in early August 1990, he could position himself as the main Arab sponsor of anti-Israeli terrorism, displacing the PLO's moderate Arab backers, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He appears not to have counted on all his main Arab rivals joining the U.S.-led alliance bent on ousting him from Kuwait.

When they did, Mr. Hussein and other Iraqi officials called publicly for a holy war against "imperialist targets" if the U.S.-led coalition invaded. It was at this point that he broke his pattern of regional focus and for the first time prepared a homegrown terrorist assault against the U.S. Several hundred operatives were put through a hurried training course at two camps near Baghdad. The Iraqis made plans to bomb U.S. facilities in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, according to published accounts and former U.S. intelligence officials.

The effort was a failure. Although there were numerous shootings, grenade attacks and other small-scale terrorism in the Middle East before and during the Gulf War, there were no hijackings, bombings or other major strikes against Western targets. The CIA and other friendly intelligence services rounded up Iraqi agents in Thailand and the Philippines with ease.

The reason, according to current and former intelligence officials, was that the Iraqi teams proved remarkably unskilled, both at keeping their links to Baghdad secret and at carrying out their missions. In Manila, a bomb intended for the U.S. Cultural Center blew up prematurely; one of the suspected bombers asked authorities to notify the Iraqi Embassy when he was taken into custody. A bomb planted next to the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta failed to detonate because of a bad battery.

Teams of operatives were sent out carrying sequentially numbered forged passports, making it easy to round them up. A plot to blow up airline offices and restaurants frequented by Westerners was aborted when several Iraqis carrying the fake passports were quickly arrested.

Mr. Hussein's agents proved equally unsophisticated when they tried to assassinate former President George Bush, the current president's father, during a 1993 visit to Kuwait. Kuwaiti security forces arrested a 17-man hit team carrying explosives just before the elder Mr. Bush's arrival. The U.S. found that the explosive devices matched those in past Iraqi operations and had telephone intercepts implicating Baghdad. The Clinton administration launched a cruise-missile strike against Iraq in retaliation.

The assassination plot and the failed terrorism offensive during the Gulf War are the only real benchmarks for assessing the possibility of Mr. Hussein resorting to terrorism strikes against the U.S. today, when he has reason to feel similarly threatened. "You can't assume that they are still that inept, but we just don't know," says a senior U.S. intelligence official.

Ever since its failures in the early 1990s, Iraq appears to have abandoned its support for anti-U.S. terrorism. Repeated efforts by U.S. intelligence agencies to find links between Iraq and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing have come up empty, officials say. Hemmed in by U.N. sanctions, Mr. Hussein has sought to rally international support for easing his international isolation. Any link with international terrorist attacks would have given the U.S. further justification for attacking him and for keeping sanctions in place.

Mr. Hussein has continued to provide a haven for terrorist groups aimed at weakening his regional rivals. Mujahedin-e Khalq, an Iraqi-backed paramilitary group that calls for the overthrow of Iran's Islamic government, mounted regular attacks in Tehran and along the Iran-Iraq border. Another Iraqi client, the Kurdistan Worker's Party, known as the PKK, attacked Turkish government targets until its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured in February 1999.

But according to a U.S. intelligence analysis released this month, Mr. Hussein "appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks." That could change, the report said, if a U.S. invasion loomed, as it did in 1991: "Should Saddam conclude that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions."

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theres no evidence that govt was involved in JFK assasination... there wasnt any substantial evidence on OJ... there wasnt any evidence on lizzie borden, fatty arbuckle,errol flynn, c'mon in this country evidence isnt not a neccassity... it just helps... in this case its a matter more of finishing what his father started as opposed to the whole AlQaeda thing... Republicans love war... shit the country loves war... Fuckin A, we're the only country that has rockets and bombs in its National Anthem!!!, WAR WAR WAR!!!

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Originally posted by dgmodel

Republicans love war... shit the country loves war... Fuckin A, we're the only country that has rockets and bombs in its National Anthem!!!, WAR WAR WAR!!!

:laugh: :laugh: ....the colonel from Apocalypse Now would be so proud of u right now..."I love the smell of Napalm in the morning"....:laugh: :laugh:

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anyone who isnt a WASP... we're basically all about wiping ppl out... look at our fore fathers... they were slave owners looking for new land and Freedom... how ironic... slave owners looking for freedom, so they try to wipe out the entire african american race by enslaving them, then they move here wipe out native americans bam, then go to japan bam nuke the country wipe them out... the list goes on on on on on on... not that im anti american, or anti war or pro america or pro war... just a trend that keeps reapting itself throughout history... take a look its in a book reading rainboooooooooooooooooow~!

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