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April 6, 2006
Saddam Targeted American Assets For Terrorism (Update)

One of the most contentious issues of the Iraq War is whether the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein served as a distraction from the war on terror or as an integral part of the overall war itself. This is no mere academic question; the answer not only impacts the political future of those who supported and opposed the invasion, but also has real implications for the American resolve to stay in Iraq to see the effort through to completion.

A new document from the captured Iraqi files in Baghdad now appears to show that Saddam Hussein's regime not only had ties to al-Qaeda and financed terrorist efforts but also explicitly attempted to recruit people to attack American interests. According to Laurie Mylroie, page 6 of the document is a memo from the command of an Iraqi air force base asking for volunteers for suicide missions:

In the Name of God the Merciful The Compassionate

Top Secret

The Command of Ali Bin Abi Taleb Air Force Base

No 3/6/104

Date 11 March 2001

To all the Units

Subject: Volunteer for Suicide Mission

The top secret letter 2205 of the Military Branch of Al Qadisya on 4/3/2001 announced by the top secret letter 246 from the Command of the military sector of Zi Kar on 8/3/2001 announced to us by the top secret letter 154 from the Command of Ali Military Division on 10/3/2001 we ask to provide that Division with the names of those who desire to volunteer for Suicide Mission to liberate Palestine and to strike American Interests and according what is shown below to please review and inform us.

Air Brigadier General

Abdel Magid Hammot Ali

Commander of Ali Bin Abi Taleb Air Force Base

Air Colonel

Mohamad Majed Mohamadi.

If this translation stands up to further scrutiny, it will provide a substantial answer to the question of Saddam's role in terrorism, both in general and specifically aimed at America. This memo will prove that Saddam had no intention of remaining neutralized in the region. He not only funded and encouraged terrorism, but he actively recruited terrorists from the ranks of his own military to carry out suicide attacks on American interests.

Obviously, the terror missions could not be conducted under the color of Iraqi military or get traced back to them, otherwise the American forces -- especially under George Bush -- would almost certainly attack Iraq with everything we could muster. Saddam would also not be able to rely on his clandestine partners on the Security Council to wield their vetoes, as even France and Russia would have to acknowledge the right of the US to defend itself once Saddam initiated this kind of attack. So how would he hide the nationality and identity of these volunteers? He would have to "launder" them through another organization, one that would not necessarily immediately point back to Iraq -- like al-Qaeda.

It's also interesting that the Iraqi air force asked for these volunteers. By April 2001, the 9/11 attackers had already been selected and the pilot training finished. It appears that Saddam may have had a similar operation in mind, but using already-trained pilots that could easily handle commercial jets for the purpose of crashing them into buildings. It has already been discovered that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed wanted to conduct another wave of suicide hijackings after 9/11 but stopped when security got tight. Could it be that KSM wasn't the one concerned about operational security -- and that Saddam himself pulled out of Phase II?

If this translation holds up, it provides answers and even more troubling questions about Saddam and his connections to terrorism targeted against us. It also shows what a dangerously dumb decision it was to leave Saddam in power and to fritter away a dozen years at the UN in a vain attempt to defang the viper.

UPDATE: Free Republic's JVeritas has been doing excellent work in translating these same documents; see his translations as well. He's doing them for free, by the way, for all of us to see. Pat Fish posted an inteview with him as well.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 6, 2006 6:00 AM

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