Sunday, April 30, 2006

Intelligence Files In the War On Terror

After years of delay, the intelligence community has begun sharing with the public the millions of files from the intelligence haul amassed in the War on Terror. These include files from Saddam Hussein's regime. With scholars and analysts now poring over just the small portion thus far released, the yield is already corroborating an underemphasized justification for the removal of Saddam: his longtime facilitation of Islamist terror groups, including al-Qaeda and its affiliates. The Iraq files demonstrate a close relationship between Saddam's intelligence service and the Phillipines-based Abu Sayyaf organization, whose terrorist activities were bankrolled by bin Laden's brother-in-law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, beginning in the mid-1990s. They show that the regime was in personal contact with bin Laden himself, meeting with him, for example, in Sudan in 1995 for talks about collaboration, and seeking "to invigorate this relationship" after bin Laden settled in Afghanistan thereafter. Other files, meanwhile, indicate Iraqi involvement in terror training, financing, and operational planning--including preparations for a wave of bombings and assassinations against Western targets under the direction of Saddam's son, Uday, before Coalition forces invaded in March 2003. Inexplicably, the administration has done a poor job of making the case that Iraq was a logical extension of the War on Terror. The intelligence files, however, may yet solidify that case.

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