On the 20th of March 2003 one of most controversial military invasions of our times began as America backed by coalition forces invaded the sovereign
state of Iraq. At the time there were mass protests on the streets of western countries and claims of war crimes against the coalition forces rolling
across the Iraqi desert, little did they know at the time that since 2002 American Special Forces and CIA units had been operating in the country and
their protests were futile as the decision to invade had been made months before. America was going to war and taking its allies along for the ride.
When the people of the world stood up and asked why the west was invading Iraq the governments responded, most notably with Colin Powell’s now
historic address to the United Nations in February 2003 and many idiotic ramblings form George Bush. The claim was that Saddam was directly supporting
the terrorists responsible for the attacks of 9/11, Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qa’ida network and further to this that Saddam was in possession of
weapons of mass destruction (WMD), committed human rights abuses and was in breach of binding resolutions form the UN Security Council.
When the fog of war cleared hindsight showed that the claim that there was an operational collaboration between Al-Qa’ida and Iraq was wrong. It is
the intention of this thread to explore the history of Al-Qa’ida and Iraq and how this false assumption that Iraq was working with Al-Qa’ida came
Many who seek to critique this position that Saddam and Bin Laden were working together rightfully point out that the two men would were opposites in
the Islamic world would never have worked together after the actions of Saddam’s Iraq during the invasion of Kuwait. During this time Bin Laden saw
Saddam as attempting to conquer the Middle East and assumed that his next move was to head into Saudi Arabia and implement his secular ideas onto the
kingdom. In the face of this Bin Laden offered up his assistance to the Saudi’s to defend the kingdom against Saddam. They refused instead taking
up the offer of America, the impact of this period of time on the future of Bin Laden is significant however it is not the scope of this thread to
examine this impact.
After the first Gulf war it is fair to assume that the two men who were also opposites in terms of ideology would never have conceded working with
each other, however that is not true. Although the relationship between Al-Qa’ida and Iraq would always be strained to two did have contact
although this never developed into any meaningful operational cooperation that was proposed as a justification of war.
The first real link between Iraq and Al-Qa’ida comes from when Bin Laden’s support of Anti-Saddam militants(probably supporting them because of
his fear of Saddam following the first gulf war) in northern Iraq changed. This change came about at a time when Bin Laden had been expelled from his
native Saudi Arabia to Sudan. The Sudanese enjoyed cordial relations with Saddam but because they were now sheltering Bin Laden who was providing
support to anti-Saddam militant’s relations became strained. To circumvent an erosion in relations the Sudanese brokered a deal in between Bin Laden
and Iraq to withdraw his support for the militants which involved Bin Laden himself meeting with a senior member of Iraqi intelligence in Khartoum
sometime in late 1994. This appears to be the first contact directly between Al-Qa’ida and Iraq however it was not to create any operational
Then in 1997 when Bin Laden’s war against America and the west was really beginning to gain momentum he supposedly sent looked at the possibility of
offering some level of cooperation to Iraq. However at this time Saddam was attempting to amend relations with Saudi Arabia who had expelled Bin Laden
for speaking out against the ruling monarchy. So as not to put diplomatic talks between the two states Saddam initially refused.
However in the 1998 the situation changed, Iraq now saw that it had a common enemy with Al-Qa’ida, America. By 1998 Bin Laden had been in
Afghanistan for two years and had recently issued his second and most damming Fatwa against America. He had then been responsible for the bombing of
American embassies in Africa and America had responded with Operation Infinite Reach launching 75 cruise missiles at Al-Qa’ida targets. In December
of 1998 America then turned its cruise missiles on Saddam in Operation Desert Fox and Iraq noticed that they and Al-Qa’ida now sheared the same
enemy in America.
As a result of this Iraq took up Al-Qa’ida on its 1997 offer for talks with a view to the two groups cooperating together. It has been reported that
even before the attacks in July of 1998 members of Al-Qa’ida and Iraqi intelligence met. However in 1999 after both groups had been attacked by
America these meetings intensified. It is alleged that the conclusion of these meetings was for Iraq to offer Al-Qa’ida a home in Iraq, something
that Bin Laden declined. According to the 9/11 commission
“The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides’ hatred of the United States. But to date we have seen no
evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that
Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States”
It is again made clear, that these talks never developed into anything meaningful but they did however take place.
The last contact between Al-Qa’ida and Iraq before 9/11 was alleged to have taken place in Prague during April of 2001 between Mohamed Atta (leader
of the 9/11 plot) and an Iraqi intelligence officer and diplomat. This intelligence came from Czech intelligence and it was later proved to be
inaccurate as it has been shown that Atta and the official he is alleged to have met was not present in Prague at the time of the alleged meeting.
This all therefore raises the question, how did American intelligence develop this believe that there was a operational cooperation between
Al-Qa’ida and Iraq based on these few meetings and this historical backdrop that makes it quite clear that the two entities despite being in contact
with each other throughout the 1990’s never had any operational cooperation.
The answer comes from a senior member of Al-Qa’ida captured in 2001 by Pakistani forces as he was attempting to escape Afghanistan in November.
That man was the Libyan Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi, and he was the basis of the intelligence regarding the connection between Al-Qa’ida and Iraq used in
Powell’s infamous speech to the UN. The Americans could hardly have used a worse source.
By far the best account of the fate of al-Libi can be found in Omar Nasiri’s book “Inside the Jihad”, Nasirir was a spy who infiltrated a
Al-Qa’ida training camp and was trained there by al-Libi. Al-Libi is said to have been one of Al-Qa’ida’s top trainers and his capture by
Pakistani forces was a major early blow for Al-Qa’ida in the war.
Shortly after he was captured he was taken into America custody and transferred to Bagram Air Base for interrogation with the FBI who by all accounts
treated him humanely and he was cooperating with them, providing information about Richard Reid the shoe bomber for example. However he was soon then
handed over to the CIA who had him rendered to Egypt where he was tortured. Under torture he provided intelligence that the Jordanian terrorist Abu
Musab Al-Zarqawi (the soon to be leader of the Organization of the Jihad base in the country of the two rivers, aka Al-Qa’ida in Iraq) was being
harboured by Iraq. He also claimed that Al-Qa’ida had sent members to Iraq to be trained in the use of WMDs.
Initially the American intelligence community assumed that they had found the smoking gun connecting Iraq and Saddam to Al-Qa’ida but there was one
problem. Al-Libi’s job with Al-Qa’ida was to train the group’s members in interrogation survival and how to plant false information. And that is
exactly what he done and it worked, al-Libi believed that by dragging America into a war in a Muslim country would lead to mass American casualties
and a bloody war. As history has shown he was correct.