The Blog

A Match Made in Hell

Today Colin Powell will deliver evidence not only of Saddam's U.N. violations, but of Iraqi cooperation with al Qaeda.

11:00 PM, Feb 4, 2003 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Salim was arrested in Germany in 1998 and was extradited to the United States. He is awaiting trial in New York on charges related to the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings; he was convicted last April of stabbing a Manhattan prison guard in the eye with a sharpened comb.

Intelligence officials told me that the agency also takes seriously reports that an Iraqi known as Abu Wa'el, whose real name is Saadoun Mahmoud Abdulatif al-Ani, is the liaison of Saddam's intelligence service to a radical Muslim group called Ansar al-Islam, which controls a small enclave in northern Iraq; the group is believed by American and Kurdish intelligence officials to be affiliated with Al Qaeda. I learned of another possible connection early last year, while I was interviewing Al Qaeda operatives in a Kurdish prison in Sulaimaniya. There, a man whom Kurdish intelligence officials identified as a captured Iraqi agent told me that in 1992 he served as a bodyguard to Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's deputy, when Zawahiri secretly visited Baghdad.

Goldberg's reporting last spring offered even more details. (Many of those details were seconded by a British documentary team that produced a special for PBS.) It was, in a word, stunning--the kind of article that should have changed long-accepted thinking about al Qaeda and Iraq. But while it was widely circulated among those of us who want regime change in Iraq, and triggered follow-ups, eventually, by U.S. intelligence, it failed to pierce the conventional-wisdom bubble of the national media.

Powell's testimony could change that. And even if these revelations fail to convince the French of the Iraqi threat, they might well persuade Americans.

Says Bayh: "The only evidence that some abroad will accept is more American casualties, and those are arguments we cannot accept."

Stephen F. Hayes is staff writer at The Weekly Standard.