24 September 2010

Analysis of Iraq-Al Qaeda (non)-Relationship

Just how hostile was Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda?

Former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, a prominent member of Saddam Hussein's inner circle, told the FBI that the dictator "delighted" in the 1998 terrorist bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa but had no interest in partnering with Osama bin Laden, declassified documents show.

"Saddam did not trust Islamists," Aziz said, according to handwritten notes of a June 27, 2004 interrogation, although he viewed al-Qaida as an "effective" organization.

The FBI notes are among hundreds of pages of interrogation records of top Iraqi officials — including Saddam — provided to the AP this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. While most of the Saddam records had been previously released, the National Security Archive, an independent research institute at George Washington University, said the FBI had previously refused to declassify Aziz's records.

The records are from an FBI operation code-named Desert Spider, which sought to compile evidence of the Saddam regime's war crimes and to test the theory that Saddam and his intelligence services had some form of cooperation with al-Qaida prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003.

The FBI had previously released summaries of its 20 sessions with Saddam, in which he denied any relationship with bin Laden but appeared to acknowledge that some Iraqi officials had met him.

More than seven years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, suspicions Saddam might have secretly collaborated with al-Qaida or other terror groups remains central to the continuing debate over the wisdom of launching the war, which has cost more than 4,400 U.S. lives.

By: Brant

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