The study does note on page 34 that Saddam Hussein’s regime was willing to co‐opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al‐Qaeda — as long as that organization’s near‐term goals supported Saddam’s long‐term vision. The report notes that from the beginning of his rise to power, one of Saddam’s major objectives was to shift the regional balance of power favorably toward Iraq. After the 1991 Gulf War, pursuing this objective “motivated Saddam and his regime to increase their cooperation with — and attempts to manipulate — Islamic fundamentalists and related terrorist organizations. Documents indicate that the regime’s use of terrorism was standard practice, although not always successful.”
The study’s primary conclusion should come as no surprise to any serious scholar of Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s regime was always relentless secular. The Baath party, after all, was founded (or co‐founded) by a Christian, and its ideology was pan‐Arab and nationalist, the opposite of the religious posture espoused by al‐Qaeda.
The report does acknowledge that the Iraqi regime was involved in regional and international terrorist operations prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But it also acknowledges that “the predominant targets of Iraqi state terror operations were Iraqi citizens, both inside and outside of Iraq.”
The report notes that as of August 2006, only 15 percent of the captured documents have English translations so the whole story on linkages between Saddam Hussein is not yet fully known. Many potentially relevant documents were either inadvertently destroyed by Coalition forces during major combat actions, or else were hidden or destroyed by members of the former regime.
As the Federation of American Scientists noted, the Iraqi documents themselves are an eclectic, uneven bunch. One of them, a 50‐page Iraqi “intelligence” analysis, disparages the austerely conservative Wahhabi school of Islam by claiming that its 18th century founder, Ibn ‘Abd al Wahhab, had ancestors who were Jews.
In what must be the only laugh‐out‐loud line in the generally dismal five‐volume report, the Iraqi analysis states that Ibn ‘Abd al Wahhab’s grandfather’s true name was not “Sulayman” but “Shulman.”
“Tawran confirms that Sulayman, the grandfather of the sheikh, is (Shulman); he is Jew from the merchants of the city of Burstah in Turkey, he had left it and settled in Damascus, grew his beard, and wore the Muslim turban, but was thrown out for being voodoo.”
The study does amply confirm, to nobody’s surprise, that Saddam Hussein was willing to use terror and terrorists to maintain his grip on power. A series of memorandum dated April 2000 outlined an operation where a volunteer was to travel to London to kill Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress. The operation failed, in part, because the Iraqi agent failed to obtain a visa to enter the United Kingdom.
It bears noting that this report is not the first one to conclude there was no al‐Qaeda link to Saddam Hussein. Other reports have also reached the same conclusion, including ones from the Sept. 11 Commission and the Pentagon’s Inspector General.
Yet in the world of fantasy and half‐truth that pervades the outlook of those who supported the invasion of Iraq and keeping U.S. troops there, the reality confirmed by the JFC report is likely to matter not at all. As publications like the Weekly Standard and National Review show, if reality can’t be denied it can always be spun.