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March 23, 2006

ABCNews: Released Documents Show Exploration of bin Ladin/Hussein Alliance

Get ready for the spin.

No, strike that. Get ready for the silence.

"Osama Bin Laden Contact With Iraq"

A newly released pre-war Iraqi document indicates that an official representative of Saddam Hussein's government met with Osama bin Laden in Sudan on February 19, 1995 after approval by Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden asked that Iraq broadcast the lectures of Suleiman al Ouda, a radical Saudi preacher, and suggested "carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia. According to the document, Saddam's presidency was informed of the details of the meeting on March 4, 1995 and Saddam agreed to dedicate a program for them on the radio. The document states that further "development of the relationship and cooperation between the two parties to be left according to what's open (in the future) based on dialogue and agreement on other ways of cooperation." The Sudanese were informed about the agreement to dedicate the program on the radio.

The report then states that "Saudi opposition figure" bin Laden had to leave Sudan in July 1996 after it was accused of harboring terrorists. It says information indicated he was in Afghanistan. "The relationship with him is still through the Sudanese. We're currently working on activating this relationship through a new channel in light of his current location," it states.

Although the ABCNews editor attempts some spinning, he's surpisingly upfront about the document's implications:

(Editor's Note: This document is handwritten and has no official seal. Although contacts between bin Laden and the Iraqis have been reported in the 9/11 Commission report and elsewhere, (e.g. the 9/11 report states "Bin Ladn himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995) this document indicates the contacts were approved personally by Saddam Hussein.

It also indicates the discussions were substantive, in particular that bin Laden was proposing an operational relationship, and that the Iraqis were, at a minimum, interested in exploring a potential relationship and prepared to show good faith by broadcasting the speeches of al Ouda, the radical cleric who was also a bin Laden mentor.

The document does not establish that the two parties did in fact enter into an operational relationship. Given that the document claims bin Laden was proposing to the Iraqis that they conduct "joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia, it is interesting to note that eight months after the meeting β€” on November 13, 1995 β€” terrorists attacked Saudi National Guard Headquarters in Riyadh, killing 5 U.S. military advisors. The militants later confessed on Saudi TV to having been trained by Osama bin Laden.)

Emphases added.

Another document -- one I'm pretty sure I already noted on this site -- notes that (gathering intelligence from Afghanistan) an "Afghani consul heard about the issue of Iraq's relationship with "bin Laden's group" while he was in Iran."

That doesn't seem to prove a lot to me... except that Bush wasn't the only one who believed Bin Ladin and Hussein had a "relationship."

In related news, Chris Matthews just called in sick for tomorrow's Hardball, complaining of "menstrual cramping."

No, of course not. He'll be on the show tomorrow, same as ever. The topic? What else-- Valerie Plame.


Thanks to James.


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posted by Ace at 12:17 AM

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