Stephen Hayes has a new article in The Weekly Standard in which he examines three documents that show a link between Iraq and Abu Sayyaf from al Qaeda in the Philippines. Saddam funded Abu Sayyaf through Muammar Qaddafi’s charity front.
SADDAM HUSSEIN’S REGIME PROVIDED FINANCIAL support to Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-linked jihadist group founded by Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law in the Philippines in the late 1990s, according to documents captured in postwar Iraq. An eight-page fax dated June 6, 2001, and sent from the Iraqi ambassador in Manila to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, provides an update on Abu Sayyaf kidnappings and indicates that the Iraqi regime was providing the group with money to purchase weapons. The Iraqi regime suspended its support–temporarily, it seems–after high-profile kidnappings, including of Americans, focused international attention on the terrorist group…
Here is some interesting information from one of the documents:
…One Iraqi memo, from the “Republican Presidency, Intelligence Apparatus” to someone identified only as D4/4, makes the case for supporting the work of the Qaddafi Charity Establishment to help Abu Sayyaf. The memo is dated March 18, 2001.
1. There are connections between the Qaddafi Charity Establishment and the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines; meanwhile, this establishment is providing material support to them.
2. This establishment is one of the Libyan Intelligence fronts.
3. The Tripoli post has indicated that there is a possibility to form what connections are available with this establishment as it can offer the premise of providing food supplies to [Ed: word missing] in the scope of the agreement statement.
Please review . . . it appears of intelligence value to proceed into connections with this establishment and its intelligence investments in the Abu Sayyaf group.
The short response, two days later:
Mr. Dept. 3:
Study this idea, the pros and the cons, the relative reactions, and any other remarks regarding this.
That exchange above was fully translated by U.S. government translators. The two pages of correspondence that follow it in the Iraqi files were not, but a summary of those pages informs readers that the Iraqi response “discourages the supporting of connections with the Abu Sayyaf group, as the group works against the Philippine government and relies on several methods for material gain, such as kidnapping foreigners, demanding ransoms, as well as being accused by the Philippine government of terrorist acts and drug smuggling.”
These accusations were, of course, well founded. On June 12, 2001, six days after Samarmad’s dispatch, authorities found the beheaded body of Guillermo Sobrero near the Abu Sayyaf camp. Martin Burnham was killed a year later during the rescue attempt that freed his wife.
To refresh some memories, the Burnhams were the missionaries in the Philippines who were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf and whose kidnappings were followed in the international press. All the press attention apparently caused Saddam to halt his support for Sayyaf.