Tuesday, July 26, 2005

 

Iraq and Ansar al Islam

Stephen F. Hayes makes note of some disturbing developments in a recent article, Another Link in the Chain, up at the Weekly Standard.

Hayes has been on constant watch over the as yet still not fully explained background plotting to the September 11th attack. In this, his latest exploration of facts ignored by U.S. mainstream media, he reminds us of initial reporting on Ansar al Islam, the shadowy Iraqi adjunct of al Qaeda:
AS THE WAR with Saddam's Iraq approached, a small group of terrorists in Kurdish-controlled Iraq garnered a significant amount of news coverage. Senior-level Bush administration officials had claimed that this group, Ansar al Islam, represented a key link between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda. There was evidence, after all, that Saddam's intelligence operatives funded and supplied the al Qaeda terrorists who joined this group's ranks in the wake of the invasion of Afghanistan. That evidence was hotly contested for months until the story of Ansar al Islam gradually receded from the headlines. Today, the group is hardly even mentioned--if at all--in above-the-fold stories by the U.S. press.
Yet, surprisingly, European press focuses quite extensively on Ansar al Islam, as noted by Hayes:
In France, according to one press account, authorities "launched a preventive operation . . . targeting highly radical individuals who have visited Syria and Iraq on several occasions." This group was reportedly "in contact with the Ansar al Islam." According to the German press, Ansar al Islam is the "target of Germany-wide police action" and more than several individuals have been arrested for alleged ties to the group. The CIA is accused of abducting the influential Islamist imam, Abu Umar, in Italy and the press there says he is "thought to be a member of the terrorist network known as Ansar al-Islam." According to one account in the Spanish press, authorities there recently "disbanded a terror ring linked to the Ansar al-Islam."
Hayes rightly question how what is dismissively described by U.S. media as a “small, motley collection of jihadists” can at the same time seem to control a sweeping international network. Hayes proceeds to ask two important questions: how did a “regional terrorist group” morph into a terrorist superpower, and what role did Saddam’s Iraq play in the group’s evolution? Hayes admonishes those who maintain that Iraq and al Qaeda had no connection of significance prior to toppling Saddam Hussein’s terror network -- was it not, against Shia, Kurds, Marsh Arabs, dissidents, Israel? – to accept what others equally opposed to the war in Iraq have concluded:
The evidence, of course, suggests that this analysis is wrong. Even as naysayers in the States continue to deny any connection, such staunchly anti-Iraq War publications as Le Monde have long since conceded the point. One day before the Time article, on July 9, the French daily published a news story that declared Ansar al Islam "was founded in 2001 with the joint help of Saddam Hussein--who intended to use it against moderate Kurds--and al Qaeda, which hoped to find in Kurdistan a new location that would receive its members."
This is the great untold story of the War on Terror (and hence the War in Iraq, truth be told). And outside of Hayes and a few conservative commentators, there isn’t an investigative reporter of any stature within a 1,000 miles of this scoop. We must encourage Hayes in his efforts to flag this story. Others need to get busy digging in.

Hayes mentions in his piece that compelling evidence suggests that Ansar al Islam was established a few weeks prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001. Might this not be relevant? Since Al Qaeda members fled Afghanistan to “safe haven” with Ansar al Islam in Iraq (with Hussein’s tacit permission), is it possible that was one of the primary purposes of setting up the group at its inception?

Wouldn’t this suggest that Hussein was a knowing collaborator and accomplice of 9/11, or at least an “in the know” sympathizer?



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