Bin Laden and Iraqi Official Met in Sudan – With Saddam's Approval

ABC News reports on an additional pre-war document that shows Osama Bin Laden met with an Iraqi government official, after receiving approval from Saddam, in Sudan in February 1995:

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, icSaddam’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.

ABC News notes the following in the Editor’s Notes:

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 worth noting that eight months after the meeting — on November 13, 1995 — terrorists attacked Saudi National Guard Headquarters in Riyadh, killing 5 U.S. military advisers. The militants later confessed on Saudi TV to having been trained by Osama bin Laden

Why isn’t this being talked about more?

Salt Lake Tribune points out that the 9/11 Commission didn’t know that Saddam approved the Sudan meeting:

The report of the U.S. 9/11 Commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has already concluded that bin Laden met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in late 1994 or early 1995. The document ABC referenced suggests for the first time that the contacts were personally approved by Saddam, ABC said.

The New York Sun reports on 9/11 commissioner Bob Kerrey’s reaction:

A former Democratic senator and 9/11 commissioner says a recently declassified Iraqi account of a 1995 meeting between Osama bin Laden and a senior Iraqi envoy presents a “significant set of facts,” and shows a more detailed collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

In an interview yesterday, the current president of the New School University, Bob Kerrey, was careful to say that new documents translated last night by ABC News did not prove Saddam Hussein played a role in any way in plotting the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Nonetheless, the former senator from Nebraska said that the new document shows that “Saddam was a significant enemy of the United States.” Mr. Kerrey said he believed America’s understanding of the deposed tyrant’s relationship with Al Qaeda would become much deeper as more captured Iraqi documents and audiotapes are disclosed.

Paul at Powerline writes this:

These documents further undermine the claim that ideological differences precluded a relationship between secular Saddam and fundamentalist bin Laden. The documents show that they had a relationship and that Iraq was prepared to cooperate with al Qaeda to the extent that it would be beneficial to do so. Whether or to what extent such coooperation occurred is still not known. But the documents support the view that Saddam, who was almost universally thought to have WMD and clearly had the capability of producing them, might well cooperate with al Qaeda in future attacks on the U.S. or its interests. That’s something we don’t have to worry about anymore.

This must have been what it was like when the Reeses guy put peanut butter with chocolate...
Defending the New York Times

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