Saddam’s relationship with al Qaeda and Bin Laden remains a matter of speculation. Nothing has been turned up so far that suggests an operational relationship (i.e., that they blew things up and killed people by arrangement). The question of Saddam’s involvement in terrorism, however, is far less murky. Wretchard links to an Institute for Defense Analyses survey and comments. An excerpt:
Saddam’s strategic use of terror was creative and flexible. It was used for both offensive and defensive purposes. To achieve this, Hussein maintained liaisons with all the major, many of the minor and sometimes some of the insignificant players in the terrorist world. They ran the gamut from Hamas to the wretched Mahmud Ghalib, who apparently ran a one-man cell in the Philippines attempting to keep tabs on American, Saudi and Israeli activities. He maintained a network of emissaries, agreements and arrangements among terrorist powers large and small eerily analogous to the diplomatic missions and treaties of the overt world.
The goal of Saddam’s terror policy was primarily to enhance his regional power. He dreamed of a pan-Arab superstate with himself, naturally, at the head. He mobilized his in-house and contract army of killers to eliminate dissidents, destabilize rival potentates and often, as a substitute for conventional military power. Although the third rate Iraqi conventional forces were only good for discomfiting equally mediocre armies like those of Iran, terrorism gave him global reach.
But since terrorism was a typical tool in the region, as much in use by other countries as himself, a large measure of Saddam’s efforts were devoted to using his terrorists to infiltrate other power’s terrorists or to keep tabs on powerful independents. The IDA notes that nearly all the terror outfits in the region, including al-Qaeda, were essentially bidding for the same demographic pool of rootless, violent young men.
Yes, Saddam was a revanchist psychopath with both in-house and outside contract assassination and terror capability that had global reach. In other words, Saddam Hussein was fully up to speed in having the capacity to wage asymmetrical warfare anywhere, anytime. But the critics of George Bush insist that Bush “lied” in order to justify removing Hussein’s regime. That would be pretty damn funny were it not so dangerous.
So, Bush was right on point all along about how dangerous the Hussein regime was, while his critics, not he, were and are the fabulists.