Bin Laden's name appears three times in the handwritten Iraqi file, but each of the references was concealed clumsily with corrective fluid and then blackened with ink, presumably by agents of the Mukhabarat.
You’d think a “feared intelligence agency” would know enough to blacken out the words before applying the corrective fluid.
The letter describes bin Laden as an "opponent" of the regime in Saudi Arabia and said the message to convey to him through the envoy would relate to "the future of our relationship with him (bin Laden) and to achieve a direct meeting with him."
This suggests that the point of the alleged meeting was to discuss intelligence on Saudi Arabia or possible action against that country. It doesn’t say anything about attacking the United States.
In a margin note, it mentions the name Mohammed F. Mohammed Ahmed, but there is no indication whether this is the envoy. The documents do not indicate whether an actual meeting took place, or whether any follow-up contact was planned.
That speaks for itself.
According to U.S. officials, Hijazi travelled to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December, 1998, for an alleged meeting with bin Laden near his expanding network of terrorist training camps.
Details of that meeting are not known, but U.S. officials cite the allegation as the clearest link to date between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
, I wonder why some of us think that Bush didn’t have enough evidence to use the alleged link between Saddam and Al Qaeda as a reason for war. Not only has the link been “dismissed as fiction by many Western leaders (Toronto Star
),” but here’s a 1/30/2003 LA Times article
in which U.S. intelligence officials discounted and dismissed all the evidence of it. Here’s a 4/27/2003 LA Times article
on Ansar al Islam's bases:
Militants' Crude Camp Casts Doubt on U.S. Claims
-- Ansar al Islam's bases show that the Al Qaeda surrogate posed no serious threat beyond its mountain borders, despite what Powell asserted before the war
Before U.S. Special Forces and Kurdish fighters overran the region last month, this was the redoubt of Ansar al Islam, the radical Islamic group that the Bush administration alleged was the nexus between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and therefore part of the justification for invading Iraq. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell asserted in February that Ansar was running a "poison factory" and was intent on exporting terrorism from the Middle East through Europe and into the United States.
Many of the guerrillas who lived here are dead now. Others vanished through the white-rock canyons of northern Iraq. They left behind thousands of pages of documents, letters, wills and computer files that reveal the extent of their ambitions — and call into question the U.S. allegations.
Documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times, along with interviews with U.S. and Kurdish intelligence operatives, indicate the group was partly funded and armed from abroad; was experimenting with chemicals, including toxic agents and a cyanide-based body lotion; and had international aspirations.
But the documents, statements by imprisoned Ansar guerrillas and visits to the group's strongholds before and after the war produced no strong evidence of connections to Baghdad and indicated that Ansar was not a sophisticated terrorist organization. The group was a dedicated, but fledgling, Al Qaeda surrogate lacking the capability to muster a serious threat beyond its mountain borders.
The U.S. is tracing a possible link between Hussein's regime and Ansar, but it has not made a solid connection. Much of the investigation centers on one man, Abu Wael, who joined Ansar in 2001 and, according to U.S. intelligence, was Hussein's secret liaison between Baghdad and Ansar. U.S. officials say that Wael and other Ansar members traveled through Baghdad and met with "high-ranking" government members.
When pressed about a direct tie between Ansar and Baghdad, the Special Forces major said: "It's very difficult to make a crystal-clear link. These guys did not take group pictures at their meetings."