Using some deductive reasoning to interrogate the Iraq-AQ connection and disentangling AQI from being in Iraq with AW working -with- Iraq. Also yes, 20 years from when this was posted there were documentaries about how Saudia Arabia was never held to account over 9/11. (Ed. 10/2/2023)
Before the Iraq war, I wondered why we had to go to Iraq to prove links to Al-Queda when we already had their top operations chief in custody, had done so for a year, and he’d already been talking to us and helped break up AQ rings in the US. It seemed kind of odd he’d turn over sleeper cells and yet not turn state evidence on Iraq when Osama himself was calling for the overthrow of Saddam. I’m pretty sure there are AQ elements in Iraq now, what better place to strike at the US with relative impunity? But I don’t see any AQ elements being involved with Saddam prior to the war. (1)
However I still seriously doubt there was an Al-Queda link to Iraq previously, and the supposition that Iraq somehow aided 9/11 is, in my opinion, absurd. Indeed of the recent 9/11 report the 28 blacked-out pages mainly had to do with a foreign country and direct links to the 9/11 hijackers. Who was that country? Iraq? Nope. Syria? Nope. Iran? Nope. Saudia Arabia. Yes. Not through charitable groups or backroom efforts, but direct government-to-hijacker financial links. Twenty years from now A&E and the History Channel and other cable shows will be running specials on how we as a public were duped into the belief Iraq had anything to do with 9/11 while Saudia Arabia got off relatively scott-free.
(1) The terrorist training camps in the northeast of Iraq commonly pointed to as being “influenced” by Saddam were in a part of the country where, because of the no-fly zone, Saddam had not had any ability to influence for the better part of twelve years. Instead it was in Kurdish controlled territory (our allies) and more realistically tied to the Iranian government than Al-Queda.
There was a government that was heavily tied to Al Queda and similar Afghani ‘freedom fighters,’ and provided them with advanced weaponry like surface-to-air missles. But that was Reagan and Bush, Sr..
As you know though that was in the context of a cold-war proxy fight. I’m not sure I can fault those at the time for making the enemy of their enemy their friend, but I think it does go to the critical point of “be careful who you pick as allies now because they may be your enemies 10 years from now.” Ala Saddam in the Iraq-Iran war.