The U.N. prelude to a blitz grinds on. It’s important to remember why Saddam Hussein must be dislodged, not just disarmed: He runs a one-stop-shop for international terrorists.
Hussein’s chemical weapons again may prove deadly. (Human Rights Watch estimates his gases fatally poisoned at least 50,000 Iraqi Kurds in 1988.) But his lethal largesse already has helped maim and kill thousands of innocent civilians, including Americans. Here’s how:
A 9/11 CONNECTION? According to Michael Ledeen’s book, The War Against the Terror Masters, September 11 ring leader Mohamed Atta flew from Virginia Beach to Prague on April 7, 2001. The next day, he met with an Iraqi diplomat and suspected spy named Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir Al-Ani in Prague. On April 9, Ledeen writes, Atta flew home to Florida. “Less than two weeks later he opened an account at the Sun Bank in Florida, and $100,000 was transferred into that account from an unknown money-changer in the Persian Gulf.” That April 22, Czech officials expelled Al-Ani for “engaging in activities beyond his diplomatic duties,” namely surveilling Radio Free Europe’s Prague headquarters.
COLLABORATION WITH AL QAEDA U.S. authorities say Abu Musab Zarqawi, a high-level Osama bin Laden associate, ran an Afghan camp that specialized in poisons and chemical weapons. With the Taliban under U.S. attack, he fled to Iran in fall 2001. Between May and July 2002, he had war-related leg wounds treated in Baghdad.
About two dozen Islamists reportedly joined him, including two top officers of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Zarqawi allegedly masterminded last October’s assassination of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman, Jordan. Intelligence officials believe Hussein let Zarqawi fight with a group called Ansar al-Islam against northern Iraq’s anti-Baghdad Kurds. Ansar al-Islam apparently produces explosives and poisons such as ricin, which kills via circulatory collapse.
REFUGE At gunpoint, Faisal Naji al-Balawi and Ayesh Ali al-Fridi diverted a London-bound Saudi Arabian Airlines jet from Jeddah to Baghdad on October 14, 2000. Rather than extradite these hijackers to Riyadh, Hussein granted them political asylum.
Veteran Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal died of possibly self-inflicted gunshot wounds last August 16. He lived in Baghdad since 1999, “with the full knowledge and preparations of the Iraqi authorities,” Nidal’s Beirut-based colleagues told the Associated Press’ Sameer N. Yacoub. (Iraqi officials claim he entered illegally.) Among other massacres, Nidal engineered the December 27, 1986 grenade and machine-gun attacks on El Al ticket counters at Rome’s and Vienna’s airports. His minions injured 121 and killed 14 innocents, including five Americans. Among them: John Buonocore, 20, a Delaware exchange student and 11-year-old Natasha Simpson, daughter of AP’s Rome news editor, Victor Simpson. All were returning to America for New Year’s.
“The fact that only Iraq would give safe haven to Abu Nidal demonstrates the Iraqi regime’s complicity with global terror,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said when Nidal died. “He will not be missed.”
REAL ESTATE The Arab Liberation Front, Palestine Liberation Front and Abu Nidal Organization all maintain Baghdad offices, according to the State Department’s “Patterns of Global Terrorism,” published last May 21.
Hussein also let Hamas open a Baghdad office in 1999. These Palestinian terrorists once warned that “the attacks of our fighters will reach the Jews within their homes and will turn their lives into an intolerable hell.” In 2000, Hamas led the parade of homicide bombings that still plague Israel.
INSTRUCTION As Secretary of State Colin Powell told the U.N. February 5, “Baghdad trains Palestine Liberation Front members in small arms and explosives.” One Iraqi defector, the AP reports, said Hussein sent Iraqi experts to Afghanistan to teach al Qaeda members how to forge documents. Al Qaeda detainees have indicated to American officials that Iraqi agents gave them chemical and biological weapons instruction between 1997 and 2000.
RESOURCES On March 11, 2002, Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister announced that “President Saddam Hussein has recently told the head of the Palestinian political office, Faroq al-Kaddoumi, his decision to raise the sum granted to each family of the martyrs of the Palestinian uprising to $25,000 instead of $10,000.” At this writing, 28 homicide bombers subsequently injured at least 1,273 people and killed 225, including some eight Americans. Among them: Hannah Rogen, 90, detonated at a March 27, 2002 Passover Seder and Abigail Leitner, a 17-year-old Baptist visitor killed in a March 5 Haifa bus explosion.
Connect these dots, and Iraq’s support for terrorists flows as clearly as the Tigris through Baghdad.
Even if the Iraqi dictator complies with Team Blix — or plausibly fakes it — disarmament will not do. Hussein could keep cooperating with Muslim extremists who target Israel, U.S. allies and America itself. With acreage rivaling California’s, Iraq teems with hiding spots for Islamist fugitives and future militants alike. He can host, finance and deploy these mass murderers, even if his venomous laboratories are padlocked.
The U.N.’s cozy mood lighting cannot obscure what America, England, and other intrepid nations must do to Saddam Hussein: Stick it to him, good and hard.
— Mr. Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service.