By Alan W. Dowd

Nexus of Evil

Challenging the widely held notion that there was no link between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, Deroy Murdock has authored a detailed, blow-by-blow account of the Hussein-terror nexus. Not only does the piece serve as a ready indictment of Hussein’s regime, it should silence those who have been dismissing the possibility that secular, Baathist Iraq could have cooperated with fundamentalist Islamic terrorists. “Claims about a lack of ties between Hussein and terrorists,” according to Murdock, “are untrue.”

Writing in American Outlook magazine, Murdock documents dozens of direct connections and tangential links between Hussein and an all-star team of international terrorists:

Beginning in March 2002, Hussein made cash payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. At least 223 murders can be traced back to Hussein’s terror scholarships; that death toll includes 12 Americans.

Prior to the fall of his regime, Hussein provided safe haven to the Palestinian Liberation Front, Arab Liberation Front, Mujahedin-e-Khalq, and Abu Nidal Organization (ANO). The ANO supplied Libyan terrorists with bomb-making materials that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, killing 189 Americans.

It gets worse. Ramzi Yousef, the al-Qaeda-backed mastermind of the 1993 WorldTradeCenter bombing, came to the United States on an Iraqi passport. Hussein provided a safe house to Yousef’s coconspirator Abdul Rahman Yasin, who constructed the bomb used during the attack.

Hussein ran a terror training camp 15 miles south of Baghdad, where agents used a full-sized passenger jet to practice hijackings.

Phone records reveal that Iraqi diplomats in Manila were in close contact with an al-Qaeda offshoot before and after it carried a bombing that killed a US soldier.

In late 2002, Hussein’s son bragged about cooperation between Iraq’s ambassador to Pakistan and al Qaeda. As far back as 1994, Hussein’s ambassador to Turkey was meeting with al-Qaeda operatives.  

And perhaps most damning of all, in early 2000, an Iraqi emissary escorted two of the September 11 hijackers to a meeting with some of al-Qaeda’s top planners in Malaysia.

In a word, the fact that Saddam was godless and bin Laden a religious fanatic is irrelevant. Like Hitler and Tojo, Churchill and Stalin, they worked together to fight a common enemy. As Murdock concludes, “Plenty of evidence clearly exists in the public record…to confirm that Saddam Hussein’s ouster, Iraq’s liberation and its current rehabilitation were and are vital phases of the continuing war on terrorism.” 

Help from Asia

Iraq’s rehabilitation is getting a strong assist from Japan, as Tokyo dispatches hundreds of troops to southeastern Iraq this month. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made the decision after visiting Iraq in December.  

The thousand-man deployment will be backed up by armored vehicles, cargo planes and six warships. The operation marks the first significant deployment of Japanese troops overseas since World War II, and it represents a serious political gamble for Koizumi: Japan has not lost a soldier in combat since 1945. 

In April, South Korea will send 3,000 troops to northern Iraq, including special operations forces, who are known to have a close working relationship with the US military. 

ABM Team

In yet another sign that Japan is ready to be a strong US partner in promoting security, Koizumi has announced his intention to go ahead with the construction of a missile defense system.  

Tokyo and Washington have been quietly co-developing missile defenses since the late 1990s, when North Korea began its push to deploy long-range missilery. Using both land-based missiles such as the modified Patriot PAC2 and PAC3, as well as sea-based missiles aboard Aegis cruisers, the anti-missile system will form a layered defense of Japanese cities and key US bases. The system could be operational by 2007. 

Several thousand miles to the south, Australia has also agreed to join the United States in developing an anti-ballistic-missile system. Word of the Australian decision came in December, when Foreign Minister Alexander Downer informed parliament. Australia’s decision to join the ABM team is important for America’s own defense, since a US system will depend on satellite tracking stations inside Australia. 

Published monthly in the American Legion Magazine, Under the Radar provides a snapshot of current challenges in international politics, U.S. foreign policy and national security.