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A Fact Based Argument for the War in Iraq.
By J. Michael Washé October 13, 2004

John Kerry claimed in the presidential debate that the president made "a colossal error of judgment" and "Iraq is not even the center of the focus of the war on terror. The center is Afghanistan" but there were no more terrorist training camps remaining in Afghanistan when we invaded Iraq. There were however MANY terrorist training camps operating within Iraq. Kerry said "The terrorism czar, who has worked for every president since Ronald Reagan, said, "Invading Iraq in response to 9/11 would be like Franklin Roosevelt invading Mexico in response to Pearl Harbor." That's what we have here."

Oh Really? Did Mexico attempt the assassination of a former American President? Did it harbor an Al Qaeda leader who ordered the assassination of a US diplomat and opened a training camp in northern Iraq, which specialized in making chemical weapons? Did it harbor the man who mixed the chemicals for the bomb used in the first WTC bombing and pay his expenses? Did Mexico host a terrorist training camp complete with an aircraft fuselage to train hijackers? Iraq did all of these things and more.

* Iraqi Ramzi Yousef (1), architect of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, arrived in America on an Iraqi passport before fleeing after the attack on Pakistani papers. Abdul Rahman Yasin, indicted for mixing the chemicals for the bomb, fled to Baghdad after the attack and lived there for years afterward. New evidence shows that Saddam's regime provided money and housing to Yasin. (2)

* Abu Abbas masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the ocean liner Achille Lauro during which American retiree Leon Klinghoffer was murdered. U.S. troops captured Abbas in Baghdad April 2003. (3)

* Abu Nidal whose real name was Sabri al-Banna broke with the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1974, saying the organization and Yasser Arafat were too moderate. His terrorist gang killed 407 people, including 10 Americans, and wounded 788 more. They received considerable support, including safe haven, training, logistic assistance, and financial aid from Iraq, Libya, and Syria. He lived in Baghdad between 1999 and his mysterious shooting death in August 2002. (4)

* After running an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, Abu Musab al Zarqawi received medical care in Baghdad once the Taliban fell. He opened an Ansar al-Islam camp in northern Iraq and reportedly arranged the October 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Jordan. Zarqawi is at large. It is also worth noting that the 9/11 commission concluded Ansar al-Islam was formed with help from bin Laden. The commission concluded on page 60 of its bipartisan report "There are indications that by then the Iraqi regime tolerated and may even have helped Ansar al Islam against the common Kurdish enemy." (5) Others have concluded that Zarqawi may have been in competition with bin Laden. (6) Israeli intelligence no longer uses the term "Al-Qaeda" referring instead to what they call "World Jihad", according to a senior Israeli intelligence source "Al-Zarqawi embodies the complexity of this matrix," (7)

* Saddam Hussein proudly paid money to the relatives of Palestinian suicide bombers and in 2002 raised the amount paid from $10,000 to $25,000. Within one month 12 suicide bombers successfully struck inside Israel. (8) By funding and encouraging the suicide bombers Saddam acted as a roadblock to peace between Palestine and Israel contributed to the overall instability of the Middle East. This went on while sanctions were in place and was funded in part by the failed U.N. Oil for Food Program.

* In April 1993 Iraq plotted to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush. Kuwaiti authorities arrested 17 persons suspected in the plot to kill Bush using explosives hidden in a Toyota Landcruiser. Some of the suspects reportedly confessed that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) was behind the assassination attempt. (9)

Many people have claimed that the 9/11 report concluded there were no links between Saddam and al-Qaeda. Nothing could be further from the truth. The report lists a number of contacts between the representatives of Saddam and bin Laden.

* "With the Sudanese regime acting as intermediary, Bin Ladin himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995. Bin Ladin is said to have asked for space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but there is no evidence that Iraq responded to this request." (Pg 61)

Note that the report does not say that Iraq did not respond, only that we do not know if they responded. It is also worth noting that the 9/11 commission concluded the Ansar al-Islam camp in Iraq was established with al-Qaeda help. As we all know, actions speak louder than words.

* The report continues: "In July, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with Bin Ladin. Sources reported that one, or perhaps both, of these meetings was apparently arranged through Bin Ladin's Egyptian deputy, Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis. In 1998, Iraq was under intensifying U.S. pressure, which culminated in a series of large air attacks in December.75"..."Similar meetings between Iraqi officials and Bin Ladin or his aides may have occurred in 1999 during a period of some reported strains with the Taliban. According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides' hatred of the United States." (Pg 66)

Now I suppose we could assume that Saddam and bin Laden were discussing the upcoming soccer season but when a man like Saddam makes contact with an organization whose only export is terror and whose main target is the United States, I believe alarm bells should be ringing in the mind of any rational person.

* On September 11th, nineteen hijackers boarded four aircraft and with military precision took control of those aircraft within minutes after takeoff. We know how the four pilots trained to fly the aircraft into their targets but how did the "muscle" train to take control of the aircraft in the first place? Perhaps the most disturbing piece of evidence and oddly one of the least reported is the Terrorist training camp at Salman Pak. (10) At this camp, located just 20 miles south of Baghdad Iraqi nationals and "foreign fighters" were trained in techniques to hijack passenger aircraft using the fuselage of on old soviet airliner, most likely a TU-145. (Most news stories incorrectly identified the aircraft as a Boing 707) James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency said "there are at least five individual witnesses -- two American inspectors and three Iraqi defectors -- who tell us about Iraqi government training of non-Iraqi Arabs at Salman Pak, on the southern edge of Baghdad, on an old Boeing 707 [aircraft], in hijacking techniques, including hijacking with knives. Now is that direct evidence? It strikes me that it's pretty darn suggestive evidence. Would it alone convict Saddam in a court before a jury beyond a reasonable doubt? Probably not. But there's more." (11) One of the witnesses, Sabah Khodada was a captain in the Iraqi army from 1982 to 1992. According to Khodada "Nobody came and told us, "This is Al Qaeda people," but I know there were some Saudis". (12) Charles Duelfer, author of the recently released WMD report saw the aircraft in 1995. "We were told it was for counterterrorist training," he said "We automatically knocked off the word 'counter.'"

The 9/11 commission sited a Defense Department paper for the Camp David briefing book on the strategic concept for the war on terrorism, it specified "three priority targets for initial action: al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Iraq. It argued that of the three, al Qaeda and Iraq posed a strategic threat to the United States. Iraq's long-standing involvement in terrorism was cited, along with its interest in weapons of mass destruction.65" (Pg 335) One conclusion the 9/11 commission made was this: "Insight for the future is thus not easy to apply in practice. It is hardest to mount a major effort while a problem still seems minor. Once the danger has fully materialized, evident to all, mobilizing action is easier-but it then may be too late." (Pg 350)

Iraq was a known state sponsor of terrorism and sworn enemy of the United States. To assume that Iraq's known contacts with al Qaeda as documented in the 9/11 report were not a threat to the security of America would be to repeat the failed policies of the past. President Bush took the only reasonable opportunity available to deal with Iraq before sanctions could be lifted and before he could rebuild his WMD capacity. Had he not done so, we would be still facing the very real threat that Iraq posed as an avowed enemy of the United States.

In the chapter titled "What to do? A Global Strategy" the commission recommended "Just as we did in the Cold War, we need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously. America does stand up for its values. The United States defended, and still defends, Muslims against tyrants and criminals in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. If the United States does not act aggressively to define itself in the Islamic world, the extremists will gladly do the job for us." (Pg 337) Can there be any better way to do this than to remove a ruthless dictator and state sponsor of terrorism who preached hatred for America in the heart of the Islamic world and replace his government with a democracy that will benefit its people share our values?

In waging war against extremist Islamic terrorists and the nations that support them we must teach a lesson. The lesson is not "we will destroy you" it is "by resorting to terrorism, you will destroy yourselves". Libya got the message. Previous administrations have tried for years to get them to abandon their WMD programs. Five days after Saddam was pulled from his spider hole Muammar Gadhafi complied. His son said at the time "it will pave the way for the normalization of political relations with the States and also with the West in general and also will lead to eliminate any threat against Libya from the West and from the States in particular." This is a lesson that bin Laden and those who would follow in his footsteps have yet to learn. In fact bin Laden was taught exactly the opposite lesson in the years leading up to the events of 9/11. Any concession we make, no mater how well intended, will be seen as a reward for terrorism. Any withdrawal will be seen as weakness. This is a lesson we dare not teach. We don't have to guess what bin Laden would think if we were to abandon our efforts in Iraq, he has told us.

* "Few days ago the news agencies had reported that the Defense Secretary of the Crusading Americans had said that "the explosion at Riyadh and Al-Khobar had taught him one lesson: that is not to withdraw when attacked by coward terrorists"."

"We say to the Defense Secretary that his talk can induce a grieving mother to laughter! and shows the fears that had enshrined you all..... "But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia..... when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you..... You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut, Aden and Mogadishu."

John Kerry has said that George Bush has failed to build alliances, he said that this was "the wrong war at the wrong time" and he has called the allies we have a "coalition of the coerced and bribed". Kerry's sister, Diana is leading a campaign called Americans Overseas in his name. In a recent interview with an Australian newspaper titled "US 'endangers Australians'" she said "Australia has kept faith with the US and we are endangering the Australians". Kerry is not building alliances he is tearing them down. For the sake of his own political ambitions he ignores the progress we have made in Iraq and the war on terror, and focuses instead in our difficulties. In the debate he said "Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq in order to go out to people and say that America has declared war on Islam." John Kerry should read bin Laden's fatwa. In it, bin Laden encouraged his supporters to "spread rumors, fear and discouragement among the members of the enemy forces". Sound familiar?

(1) Who is Ramzi Yousef? And Why It Matters (circa 1995)

(2) U.S.: Iraq sheltered suspect in '93 WTC attack

(3) U.S. captures mastermind of Achille Lauro hijacking

(4) Abu Nidal Organization

(5) The 9-11 Commission Report can be downloaded at

(6) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the mysterious man behind the beheadings

(7) Jordanian indictment reveals operations of Jund al-Shams terror network

(8) Salaries For Suicide Bombers

(9) How do we know that Iraq tried to assassinate President George H.W. Bush

(10) Salman Pak - Iraq's own terrorist training camp

(11) Terrorism - the Iraqi connection

(12) PBS Frontline Interview with Sabah Khodada

Copyright © 2004 by J. Michael Washé

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