Friday, January 06, 2006

Iraq Trained Terrorists Under Saddam

The guys over at Power Line found out from Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard that he was about to publish documents and photographs discovered in Iraq showing that Saddam's regime trained thousands of international terrorists at several camps in Iraq. Here is how Hayes' story opens:
THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME OF Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The existence and character of these documents has been confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by eleven U.S. government officials.

The secret training took place primarily at three camps--in Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak--and was directed by elite Iraqi military units. Interviews by U.S. government interrogators with Iraqi regime officials and military leaders corroborate the documentary evidence. Many of the fighters were drawn from terrorist groups in northern Africa with close ties to al Qaeda, chief among them Algeria's GSPC and the Sudanese Islamic Army. Some 2,000 terrorists were trained at these Iraqi camps each year from 1999 to 2002, putting the total number at or above 8,000. Intelligence officials believe that some of these terrorists returned to Iraq and are responsible for attacks against Americans and Iraqis.

According to this story, the idea that Saddam would never work with Islamic radicals because he was a secularist no longer has the weight it once did. It also turns the tables on anti-war arguments that put a lot of emphasis on fighting the war on terror first, while seeing Iraq as a different endeavor.

This story does indeed put the war on terror and the war in Iraq in a relationship that is much more meaningful than might have been originally thought. Furthermore, there are mounds of documents discovered in the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the overthrow of Saddam in Iraq that have not yet been reviewed and translated.

But the Bush administration is finally making a committed push to dig through these documents and uncover new information. Their is an abundance of information buried in these documents, and we are only beginning to scratch the surface. But even with the small pieces we have gathered from Iraq's intelligence records, there is still plenty of evidence revealing that Saddam was a major supporter and enabler of Islamic terrorism.