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Inconvenient Facts

John Kerry has now decided that he must deny any links between Saddam's Iraq and terrorism. There are some facts which he should be confronted with at tomorrow's debate.

7:39 AM, Sep 29, 2004 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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* Later that same month--March 1993--Wali al Ghazali was approached by an Iraqi Intelligence officer named Abdel Hussein. Ghazali, a male nurse from Najaf, met another IIS agent named Abu Mrouwah who gave him an urgent mission: assassinate former President George H.W. Bush on his upcoming trip to Kuwait. On April 14, Kuwaiti police found Ghazali and other Iraqi Intelligence assets with two hundred pounds of explosives in a Toyota Landcruiser. Ghazali, the would-be assassin, told a Kuwait court that he had "been pushed by people who had no mercy." He said: "I fear the Iraqi regime, the Iraqi regime pushed me."

* According to numerous press reports, the deputy director of Iraqi Intelligence, Faruq Hijazi, met face-to-face with Osama bin Laden in 1994. Bin Laden asked for anti-ship mines and al Qaeda training camps in Iraq. There is no indication that Iraq made good on his requests.

* That same year, according to internal Iraqi Intelligence documents authenticated by the U.S. intelligence community and reported in the June 25, 2004, New York Times, a Sudanese government official met with Uday Hussein and the director of Iraqi Intelligence to facilitate the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

* According to the New York Times, the same Iraqi Intelligence document said that bin Laden earlier "had some reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative" and that "presidential approval" had been granted to the Iraqi Intelligence service to meet with him. Bin Laden "also requested join operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia. At bin Laden's request, Saddam Hussein also agreed to broadcast on Iraqi television sermons of an anti-Saudi cleric.

* The Clinton administration cited an "understanding" between Iraq and al Qaeda in its 1998 indictment of Osama bin Laden. "Al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq."

* The 9/11 Commission reports that Iraq and al Qaeda had a series of "friendly contacts" that did not appear to have developed into a "collaborative operations relationship." The final report provides details of meetings between senior Iraqi Intelligence officials and al Qaeda terrorists throughout the spring and summer of 1998 and indicates that "Iraqi official offered bin Laden a safe haven in Iraq."

* The offer of asylum was also included in the Senate Intelligence Committee's unanimous, bipartisan review of prewar intelligence. From p. 335 of the Senate report: "A [CIA Counterterrorism Center] operational summary from April 13, 1999, notes four other intelligence reports mentioning Saddam Hussein's "standing offer of safe haven to Osama bin Laden."

* This, from p. 316 of the Senate Intelligence Committee report: "From 1996 to 2003, the [Iraqi Intelligence Service] focused its terrorist activities on western interests, particularly against the U.S. and Israel. The CIA summarized nearly 50 intelligence reports as examples, using language directly from the intelligence reports. Ten intelligence reports, from multiple sources, indicated IIS 'casing' operations against Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Prague began in 1998 and continued into early 2003. The CIA assessed, based on the Prague casings and a variety of other reporting, that throughout 2002 the IIS was becoming increasingly aggressive in planning attacks against U.S. interests."

* Page 331 of the Senate report: "Twelve reports received [redacted] from sources that the CIA described as having varying reliability, cited Iraq or Iraqi national involvement in al Qaeda's CBW [chemical and biological weapons] efforts."

* Abu Musab al Zarqawi traveled to Iraq in May 2002. He lived in Baghdad with the knowledge--and perhaps sponsorship--of the Iraqi regime. A passage from p. 337 of the Senate Intelligence Committee report cites a CIA report called Iraqi Support for Terrorism: "A variety of reporting indicates that senior al Qaeda terrorist planner al Zarqawi was in Baghdad [redacted]. A foreign government service asserted that the IIS knew where al Zarqawi was located despite Baghdad's claims it could not find him." More, from p. 338: "Al Zarqawi and his network were operating both in Baghdad and in the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq. The HUMINT reporting indicated that the Iraqi regime certainly knew that al Zarqawi was in Baghdad because a foreign government service gave that information to Iraq."