Was Saddam Regime a Broker for Terror Alliances?
Monday, June 26, 2006
Newly declassified documents captured by U.S. forces indicate that Saddam Hussein's inner circle not only actively reached out to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan and terror-based jihadists in the region, but also hosted discussions with a known Al Qaeda operative about creating jihad training "centers," possibly in Baghdad.
Ray Robison, a former member of the CIA-directed Iraq Survey Group (ISG), supervised a group of linguists to analyze, archive and exploit the hundreds of captured documents and materials of Saddam's regime.
This is the final installment in a three-part series concerning a notebook kept by an Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) agent called Khaled Abd El Majid, and covers events taking place in 1999. The translation is provided by Robison's associate, known here as "Sammi."
The first two translations from this notebook detailed an agreement between members of the Saddam regime and the Taliban to establish diplomatic and intelligence based cooperation. This final translation further advances the link between the Saddam regime and world-wide Islamic Jihad terrorism.
The relationship between the Taliban and Saddam appears to have been mediated by a Pakistani named Maulana Fazlur Rahman. Another document captured in Afghanistan and written by an Al Qaeda operative confirms the relationship between the Maulana and Saddam. The translation provided here includes an early 1999 meeting between the director of the IIS and the Maulana.
Another notebook entry records a meeting with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghani Islamic Jihadist and leader of the Islamic Party in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar made news recently with the BBC article Afghan Rebel's pledge to al-Qaeda that reports on a video statement from Hekmatyar in which he states he will fight alongside A Qaeda. In this translation, Hekmatyar makes specific requests for a "center" in Baghdad and/or Tajikistan.
A third meeting involves an Islamist representing Bangladesh that we believe to be Fazlur Rahman Khalil. Another page of the notebook indicates Khalil is coming or came to Iraq. Khalil is a Taliban/Al Qaeda associate who signed the 1998 fatwa from Usama bin Laden declaring war on the United States.
Editor's notes: "Sammi" puts translation clarifications in parenthesis. Robison (RR) uses parenthesis for clarification and bold-face type for emphasis.
Translation for ISGP-2003-0001412 follows (PDF):
Page 70, Left Side:
Saturday 3/20 at 11:45
Met with him Mr. MS4 (translator's note: MS4 is the code name for the high ranking IIS official).
1. Intelligence and security cooperation.
2. Mr. MS4 informed him that the Iraqi president and Iraqi leadership are interested in him.
3. "We are ready to help you in any country and against your enemies". (translator's note: most probably this is MS4)
4. Fadlul Haq - The governor of Peshawar that was assassinated.
(translator's note: points 5 and 6 are direct quotes from the Afghani)
5. "We are facing a vicious international plot against the Islamic Party and cannot find any country to help us at the time being".
6. "Iran helped us at the beginning and we brought 2,000 fighters but things changed at the time being. Also the Russians called to help but we do not trust them. Moscow and Iran want the war to drag on." (RR: this is probably the Taliban vs. Northern Alliance conflict). This is why he is coming to Baghdad for help. Asked Baghdad to help open a center in Tajikistan or in Baghdad and they will bring them (translator's note: not clear what them refers to) in through Iran or Northern Iraq.
He asked for help in printing Afghani money in Baghdad or help in printing it in Moscow.
Page 69, Right Side:
Stinger missiles have a range of 5 kilometers. (translator's note: there is only this one sentence on this page)
Page 69, Left Side:
Meeting of MS4 with 6951 on 4/10 at 8 p.m. in room 710.
He (6951) inquired about our relation with Usama (bin Laden).
(translator's note: The Iraqi answer is not reported.).
He (6951) proposed to the Taliban to form a front with Iraq, Libya and Sudan.
He met some of them in Hajj (Translator's note: Pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, it is one of the five pillars of Islam) and he came to the conclusion that they do not know anything about Foreign Relations.
The Taliban defense minister is Abdul Razzak (unclear) Association of Muslim Clerics.
They openly claim that they are against America.
He said that he was ready to build relations between the Taliban and Iraq.
(translator's note: meeting continues on both sides of page 68/76, with questions about Pakistani politics and the other Islamic parties.) The Iraqi official says, "I suggest that the parties come closer together because that means power to Islam against the American and Zionist policies".
Page 39, Left Side:
Meeting with an Islamist leader from Bangladesh. He promises support to Iraq. He says: "Let them know that I made Bangladesh a second country to Mr. President and we have 125 million (people)." (RR: Although no name is given for this meeting, it is important to note Fazlur Rahman Khalil, noted for meeting with Iraqi officials in the previous article, signed the 1998 fatwa as "Fazlur Rahman, Amir of the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh". This is a strong indication that this meeting is with Khalil or his representative.)
Page 27, Left side:
(translator's note: contains notes with information on prior meetings recorded in the notebook.)
The mentioned person (Translator's note: Fazlur Rahman) arrived to the country on 11/27/1999 and he was hosted in Al Rachid Hotel suite number 526. He will leave on 12/1/1999.
(translator's comment: note No. 1 in a list of notes.)
He visited Iraq on the beginning of April 1999 and the ex-director of the intelligence, may God rest his soul, instructed him to mediate between the Taliban and the leader of the Afghani Islamic party, Hekmatyar following the request for mediation done by Hekmatyar to the leadership of Iraq during a visit when they met us on 3/19/1999.
Because Arabic writing is right to left, the pages in this notebook go in reverse chronological order. The note on page 27 indicates that Hekmatyar met with the IIS on March 19, 1999. The translation of page 70 is dated March 20 and it refers to someone from the Islamic Party, which is Hekmatyar's group. Therefore it makes sense that the meeting on page 70 is with Hekmatyar.
The note on page 27 also says the meeting was with the director if the IIS, so we believe MS4 is his code-name. It appears that Hekmatyar, a jihadist leader warring with the Taliban for control of Afghanistan at the time, asked Baghdad "to help open a center in Tajikistan or in Baghdad and they will bring them (translator's note: not clear what them refers to) in through Iran or Northern Iraq." There is a strong indication that this requested "center" is a jihadist training camp.
From a US Department of State report Patterns of Global Terrorism, 1996:
maintained training and indoctrination facilities in Afghanistan, mainly for non-Afghans. They continue to provide logistic support and training facilities to Islamic extremists despite military losses in the past year. Individuals who trained in these camps were involved in insurgencies in
It looks very much like Hekmatyar, a long-time jihad leader and recently self-identified Al Qaeda associate, is asking the Saddam regime for a jihad training camp in Tajikistan and/or Baghdad.
Page 27 tells us that the Maulana Fazlur Rahman was meeting with the IIS Director in early April. The meeting on page 69 fits the time frame, has the code for the IIS director, and the guest speaks for the Taliban indicating that "6951" is the Maulana. According to these notes, the Maulana "proposed to the Taliban to form a front with Iraq, Libya and Sudan." He also enquires about the IIS relationship to Usama bin Laden.
In researching the Maulana, a third document has been found that demonstrated the relationship between Saddam and the Maulana. The document which appears to be an IIS memo also mentions a relationship with Hekmatyar. There is no government authentication of the document. Because this document matches closely with what we find in the IIS agent notebook we will reference it so that the reader may decide.
The article entitled Exclusive: Saddam Possessed WMD's, Had Extensive Terror Ties states:
A senior government official who is not a political appointee provided CNSNews.com with copies of the 42 pages of Iraqi Intelligence Service documents. The originals, some of which were hand-written and others typed, are in Arabic. CNSNews.com had the papers translated into English by two individuals separately and independent of each other.
The CNS report includes a translation of a memo from the IIS to Saddam. The memo is dated January 25, 1993. The subject is IIS influence with two groups: the JUI, led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman; and, the Afghani Islamic Party led by Hekmatyar. These are the same two men meeting with the IIS in Baghdad in 1999, according to the notebook.
The document states that the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) depended upon Pakistani support as well as foreign help from Iraq and Libya. It also mentions that the secretary general of the JUI has had a good relationship with the IIS since 1981, and that he is "ready for any mission".
The IIS document reported on by CNS News also states that the Islamic Party of Hekmatyar relies on Iraqi funding. It says the relationship has existed since 1989 and has improved under Hekmatyar's leadership. Although this document has not yet been validated by the U.S, government, we can see very specific information, not publicly available before 2004, that matches what we find in the IIS notebook. It indicates a long history of Saddam regime support to Islamic jihad groups, and that the IIS considers them organizations that will take on missions for Iraq's interests.
Let's review what we have learned from the IIS notebook.
We learned that in 1999 the IIS met with three significant leaders of Islamic jhad from Afghanistan: a warlord and Islamic jihadist; an Al Qaeda leader; and, a man known as the "Father of the Taliban."
The Saddam regime and Taliban leadership agreed to diplomatic ties and a secret intelligence service relationship. They discussed security cooperation with Hekmatyar's Islamic Jihad group. The Taliban representative also agreed to support the Saddam regime in Pakistan's North-West Frontier, a region sympathetic to and actively involved with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the world-wide Islamic jihad movement. An Islamist, most likely the Al Qaeda and Taliban affiliated Fazlur Rahman Khalil, promised the support of Bangladesh.
We see a request to the Saddam regime for a training center in Baghdad or Tajikistan from a jihad leader accused by the U.S. State Department during the Clinton Administration of running Islamic extremist training camps.
There is a discussion about transporting something into these centers, including a discussion that appears to mention surface-to-air missiles.
And, we have numerous statements of Islamic fidelity between Afghani jihad leaders and the Saddam regime, with many statements of mutual animosity towards the United States and intent to cooperate.
This notebook thus provides significant evidence that the Saddam regime collaborated with and supported Islamic jihad elements in Afghanistan at a time when the Taliban and Al Qaeda were attacking United States citizens and their interests and plotting the 9/11 attacks.
In this notebook, we see a Saddam Hussein actively seeking to expand his sphere of influence in a region at the heart of the world-wide Islamic jihad movement.
This now-public relationship between Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Saddam Hussein deserves great scrutiny.
As we researched the Maulana, a picture came into focus that our team was not looking to find: The Maulana is a senior leader of an affiliation of Pakistani groups supportive of Islamic jihad. These groups include the JUI and the Jamaat Islami (JI). The JUI provided direct support to both the planner and paymaster of the 9/11 attacks. The Pakistani government accused the JI of working with Al Qaeda. The Maulana mediated an intelligence pact between the IIS and the Taliban.
Clearly, this evidence indicates that the Maulana was in a position to procure assistance from Iraq for the 9/11 attacks.
Dr. Laurie Mylroie, an expert on Iraq, testified in front of the 9/11 commission in 2003:
After al Qaeda moved to Afghanistan, Iraqi intelligence became deeply involved with it, probably, with the full agreement of Usama bin Ladin. Al Qaeda provided the ideology, foot soldiers, and a cover for the terrorist attacks; Iraqi intelligence provided the direction, training, and expertise
This notebook demonstrates that Islamic jihad leaders in Afghanistan were seeking IIS assistance and Saddam was giving them that assistance.