The Saddam Files: Why Make IEDs In 2000?

Joseph Shahda has translated yet another interesting document from the captured Iraqi files, although this one prompts more questions than it provides answers. The memo dictates goals for the year 2000 that involve the development and improvement of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that have been the mainstay of the insurgencies in Iraq after the fall of Saddam (via Power Line):

In the Name of God the Most Merciful the Most Compassionate The Presidency of the Republic The Intelligence Apparatus
Mr: The Respected Director
Subject: Projects of a Plan
Below are projects of the plan for the year 2000 and according to the budget suggested for it in the spending budget of the year 2000 and as follow:
1. Prepare an armored brief case to protect the VIPs 180 days.
2. Study on the Epoxy used currently in preparing the IEDs and the possibility of finding another type that will not affect the explosive.
3. Studies and researches of the materials that increase the intensity of the explosive.
4. Prepare theoretical and applied lessons on the popular explosives 120 days.
5. Training of the Arab Fedayeens- within the plan of the year 2000.
Establish tournaments specialized in the explosives 30 days.
Please review and your command with regards.
Signature┬ů
Khaled Ibrahim Ismail
Senior Chemist
22/11/99

Nothing in this memo speaks to WMD, at least not explicitly, nor of any notable breach of the cease-fire agreements or UNSC resolutions. It does raise some questions. Why would the Iraqi military have spent so much time and effort in IED development in 2000? After all, the Americans had not attacked Iraq in force since 1991. Almost exactly one year prior to the memo from this senior chemist in the IIS, Bill Clinton had retaliated for the expulsion of the UN inspectors by firing a fusillade of missiles at Baghdad, but no hint of an invasion or even a sustained military effort had come from the US since the Gulf War.
IEDs have no military use; the shells used for their construction have much better effect if fired normally at an enemy. And yet, not only do we have Iraqi intelligence investigating these explosive devices, this memo even proposes “tournaments”, presumably for competing designs. It also mentions “Arab fedayeens”, a term that Americans might remember from the irregular Ba’athist forces called the Saddam Fedayeen which formed the core of the native insurgency as Baghdad fell. (They also preyed upon the regular Iraqi Army to prevent desertions and surrenders during the conflict.) In this context, “Arab fedayeen” obviously refers to non-native forces, and irregulars rather than soldiers from another allied country — in other words, Arab terrorists.
Given all of this information, it seems clear that Iraq had planned to train and equip Arab terrorists on the manufacture and use of IEDs. They intended on doing research on making these terrorist weapons even deadlier and more effective, and they wanted it all done before the end of 2000. They may not have realized their own need for the technology in 1999, but they certainly considered the program so urgent at that time that they pushed to get it completed within a year.
It looks like those ties between Saddam and terrorism keep getting stronger every day.
UPDATE and BUMP: Some have questioned the translation for IED and the significance of the term “Arab fedayeen”. Joseph Shahda responded through a CQ commenter:

From jveritas | 04/20/2006 5:18:45 AM PDT new

Thanks for the update.

The Iraqi used the word “IBWAT” which mean “EXPLOSIVE DEVICES” used in cars, roads, and other places. That is what we call IED. Moreover the Synopsis posed by the Pentagon website for the particular document used the word IED, unfortunately the Pentagon translator did not include or missed in his/her synopsis the important part of this memo, which is the “Training of Arab Feedayeens” by the Iraqi Intelligence, i.e. the training of non Iraqi Foreign Arab Terrorists.

If they wanted to train Iraqi Army soldiers in the construction and use of IEDs, why would they refer to them as “Arab fedayeen” in a secret memo? They would have referred to them by their unit designation or their deployment, or in the case of the Saddam Fedayeen, by that specific name.