Sunday, June 11, 2006

Zarqawi - Their Man in Baghdad

Another great piece by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard on the pre-war connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam -- the same Stephen Hayes once called,
"a notorious liar," by recent Yale-job-rejectee Juan Cole in a characteristically Stalinesqe bit of Leftist ad hom.

"THE LAST QUESTION to General Bill Caldwell at his briefing last Thursday on the death of Abu Musab al Zarqawi came from New York Times reporter Richard Oppel, who wanted to know about Abu al-Masri, an Egyptian whom many expect to replace Zarqawi as the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Said Caldwell: "Yeah, al Masri, Egyptian Arab. He's not an Iraqi. Born and raised in Egypt. He was trained in Afghanistan, went through his training there. We know he has been involved with IEDs and making here in Iraq. Probably came here around 2002 into Iraq, probably actually helped establish maybe the first al Qaeda cell that existed in the Baghdad area."

Huh? Doesn't Caldwell understand that there were no al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq before the U.S. invasion of March 2003? Everyone knows that terrorists flocked to Iraq only after the war began.

Reading the coverage of Zarqawi's death in the mainstream press one can understand why that myth persists. Many journalists either don't know or choose not to report the fact that Zarqawi was in Baghdad with two dozen al Qaeda associates nearly a year before the war."


"...More recently, a "Jordanian security official" spoke to the Washington Post. "There is proof that he was in Iraq during that time," the official said. "We sent many memos to Iraq during this time, asking them to identify his position, where he was, how he got weapons, how he smuggled them across the border."

The Post account continues:

Hussein's government never responded, according to the official, who added that documents recovered after its overthrow in 2003 show that Iraqi agents did detain some Zarqawi operatives but released them after questioning. Furthermore, the Iraqis warned the Zarqawi operatives that the Jordanians knew where they were, he said. After he recovered from his injuries, Zarqawi continued to cross borders in the region frequently, using disguises and fake passports to stay one step ahead of the Jordanians.

Why would the Iraqis detain Zarqawi associates only to release them with a warning that the Jordanians were on their trail? According to former and current U.S. military officials, the foreign jihadists were swept up in a broader crackdown on Iraqi religious extremists. But that was not the end of the story. The foreigners were soon released following a directive issued by the office of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. (Most leaks to the media about the detentions apparently omitted that interesting fact.)

The death of the savage fanatic Zarqawi reminds us why we are fighting. A look back at his career after Afghanistan reminds us why we are fighting in Iraq."


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