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Two days after ABC News reported, deep into a story on Abu al-Zarqawi, that the al-Qaeda operative and beheader of Nick Berg had received support, shelter, and arms from Saddam Hussein at least as far back as "late 2002", the Wall Street Journal discovers another link to Islamofascists and Saddam Hussein. In this case, the terrorist in question has long been suspected of having involvement in 9/11 and now appears to be a commander in the Saddam Fedayeen:
One striking bit of new evidence is that the name Ahmed Hikmat Shakir appears on three captured rosters of officers in Saddam Fedayeen, the elite paramilitary group run by Saddam's son Uday and entrusted with doing much of the regime's dirty work. Our government sources, who have seen translations of the documents, say Shakir is listed with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
This matters because if Shakir was an officer in the Fedayeen, it would establish a direct link between Iraq and the al Qaeda operatives who planned 9/11. Shakir was present at the January 2000 al Qaeda "summit" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at which the 9/11 attacks were planned. The U.S. has never been sure whether he was there on behalf of the Iraqi regime or whether he was an Iraqi Islamicist who hooked up with al Qaeda on his own.
As their lead editorial on OpinionJournal.com states, Shakir is well known not only to the US, but became a global celebrity of sorts early on in the war on terror. Shakir attended the infamous summit meeting in Malaysia in January 2001, where the attendees included the operational commander of 9/11 (Ramzi bin al-Shibh), a high-ranking Osama bin Laden lieutenant who ran the USS Cole operation, and two of the 9/11 "pilots" who took Flight 77 into the side of the Pentagon. After 9/11, Shakir resurfaced in Qatar the week after 9/11 with phone numbers to various terrorist groups involved in 9/11, WTC I, and other information.
At that point, the Qatarians arrested him, and then almost as quickly released him to Jordan, where he was arrested again. For some reason, Amnesty International made a huge public stink about his being held without charges, and the Iraq government -- Saddam's government -- pressured Jordan to release Shakir. The CIA failed to understand Shakir's significance at the time and made no protest, so Jordan released Shakir, who promptly flew to Baghdad. Up to now, he has not resurfaced.
Now Shakir shows up on three Saddam Fedayeen rosters with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, a command rank that indicates significant involvement with Saddam's regime. His presence in Iraq, 18 months prior to the Anglo-American-led invasion, demonstrates Saddam's interaction and support for Islamofascist terrorists, and probably more than that. After all, in the wake of 9/11, with everyone looking for an Iraqi connection, it was hardly a propitious time to publicly take in an AQ terrorist just for the sheer thrill of it. If Saddam wanted him back that badly, it had to be for more reason than to trade American epithets and play a little backgammon in the palace.
UPDATE: Our Northern Alliance colleague, Hindrocket, also provides analysis on this article at Power Line:
Iraq was, to a degree that is still unknown, involved in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. It now appears that Saddam had a hand in the 2001 attack as well. The only doubt at this point would appear to be the possibility that the "Ahmed Hikmat Shakir" who was an officer in the Fedayeen might be a different person with the same name as the al Qaeda operative who helped plan the Sept. 11 attacks. If I were a member of the administration, I would devote a great deal of effort to investigating Col. Shakir, and tracking him down if he is still alive.
Just as long as we don't offend the sensitive natures at Amnesty International in doing so, I suppose.Sphere It View blog reactions
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