On August 20, 1998, President Bill Clinton ordered a cruise missile attack against a chemical weapons factory in Sudan. The cruise missle strike was in retaliation for the August 7, 1998 truck bomb attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya which killed more than 200 people and wounded more than 5,000 others. The chemical weapons factory in Sudan was funded, in part, by Osama bin Laden who the U.S. believed responsible for the embassy bombings. Richard Clarke, a national security advisor to President Clinton, told the Washington Post in a January 23, 1999 article that the U.S. government was "sure" that Iraqi nerve gas experts had produced a powdered substance at that plant for use in making VX nerve gas.
On August 25, 1998 the Fort Worth Star-telegram reported a link between Iraq and the Sudanese chemical weapons factory destroyed by the United States in a cruise missile attack. The chemical weapons factory was hit because of links to Osama bin Laden who the U.S. believed responsible for the recent embassy bombings. A senior intelligence official said one of the leaders of Iraq's chemical weapons program, Emad al-Ani, had close ties with senior Sudanese officials at the factory. The intelligence official also said a number of Iraqi scientists working with al-Ani attended the grand opening of the factory two years earlier. Emad Husayn Abdullah al-Ani surrendered to U.S. military forces on April 18, 2003.
On November 5, 1998 a Federal grand jury in Manhattan returned a 238-count indictment charging Osama bin Laden in the bombings of two United States Embassies in Africa and with conspiring to commit other acts of terrorism against Americans abroad. The grand jury indictment also charged that Al-Qaeda had reached an arrangement with President Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq whereby the group said that it would not work against Iraq, and that the two parties agreed to cooperate in the development of weapons.
On January 11, 1999, Newsweek magazine ran the headline "Saddam + Bin Laden?" The subheadline declared, "It would be a marriage made in hell. And America's two enemies are courting." The article points out that Saddam has a long history of supporting terrorism. The article also mentions that, in the prior week, several surface-to-air missiles were fired at U.S. and British planes patrolling the no-fly zones and that Saddam is now fighting for his life now that the United States has made his removal from office a national objective.
On January 14, 1999, ABC News reported, "Saddam Hussein has a long history of harboring terrorists. Carlos the Jackal, Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, the most notorious terrorists of their era, all found shelter and support at one time in Baghdad. Intelligence sources say bin Laden's long relationship with the Iraqis began as he helped Sudan's fundamentalist government in their efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction."
On February 13, 1999, CNN reported, "Osama bin Laden, the Saudi millionaire accused by the United States of plotting bomb attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa, has left Afghanistan, Afghan sources said Saturday. Bin Laden's whereabouts were not known....." The article reports, "Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden....."
On February 18, 1999, National Public Radio (NPR) reported, "There have also been reports in recent months that bin Laden might have been considering moving his operations to Iraq. Intelligence agencies in several nations are looking into that. According to Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of CIA counterterrorism operations, a senior Iraqi intelligence official, Farouk Hijazi, sought out bin Laden in December and invited him to come to Iraq." NPR reported that Iraq's contacts with bin Laden go back some years, to at least 1994, when Farouk Hijazi met with bin Laden when he lived in Sudan.
On February 14, 1999, an article appeared in the San Jose Mercury News claiming that U.S. intelligence officials are worried about an alliance between Osama bin Laden and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The article states that bin Laden had met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official near Qandahar, Afghanistan in late December 1998 and that "there has been increasing evidence that bin Laden and Iraq may have begun cooperating in planning attacks against American and British targets around the world." According to this article, Saddam has offered asylum to bin Laden in Iraq. The article said that in addition to Abu Nidal, another Palestinian terrorist by the name of Mohammed Amri (a.k.a. Abu Ibrahim) is also believed to be in Iraq.
On February 28, 1999, an article was written in The Kansas City Star which said, "He [bin Laden] has a private fortune ranging from $250 million to $500 million and is said to be cultivating a new alliance with Iraq's Saddam Hussein, who has biological and chemical weapons bin Laden would not hesitate to use. An alliance between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein could be deadly. Both men are united in their hatred for the United States....."
On December 28, 1999, an article appeared in The Herald (Glasgow, Scotland) titled, "Iraq tempts bin Laden to attack West." The article starts, "The world's most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, has been offered sanctuary in Iraq....." The article quotes a U.S. counter-terrorism source who said, "Now we are also facing the prospect of an unholy alliance between bin Laden and Saddam. The implications are terrifying."
On April 8, 2001, an informant for Czech counter-intelligence observed an Iraqi intelligence official named al-Ani meeting with an Arab man in his 20s at a restaurant outside Prague. Following the 9/11 attacks, the Czech informant who observed the meeting saw Mohammed Atta’s picture in the papers and identified Mohammed Atta as the man who met with the Iraqi intelligence official.
On July 21, 2001 [less than two months prior to 911] the Iraqi state-controlled newspaper "Al-Nasiriya" predicted that bin Laden would attack the U.S. "with the seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert about the way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House." The same state-approved column also insisted that bin Laden "will strike America on the arm that is already hurting," and that the U.S. "will curse the memory of Frank Sinatra every time he hears his songs" - an apparent reference to the Sinatra classic, "New York, New York."
After the 9/11 attacks, Saddam became the only world leader to offer praise for bin Laden, even as other terrorist leaders, like Yassir Arafat, went out of their way to make a show of sympathy to the U.S. by donating blood to 9/11 victims on camera. Saddam later pays tribute to 9/11 by having a mural painted depicting the World Trade Center attack at an Iraqi military base in Nasariyah.
On December 3, 2001 USA Today reported that the CIA had convincing evidence from the mid-1990s Saddam Hussein's regime was funneling money through Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network to the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in Algeria and other terrorist organizations. Stanley Bedlington, a senior analyst in the CIA's counterterrorism center until his retirement in 1994, said "We were convinced that money from Iraq was going to bin Laden, who was then sending it to places that Iraq wanted it to go."
On March 15, 2002 the Christian Science Monitor reported that a Taliban-style group known as Ansar al-Islam was threatening stability in the Kurdish northern region of Iraq. Prior to the start of the Iraq War in 2003, Colin Powell addressed the United Nations and pointed out that both Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida had links with the Ansar al-Islam terrorist group. Saddam had provided arms and funding for this terrorist group waging a jihadist war against the Kurds. One month prior to the formation of Ansar al-Islam, leaders from several Kurdish Islamist factions had visited the al-Qaida leadership in Afghanistan. Ansar al-Islam announced their formation on September 1, 2001 just days prior to the September 11 attacks in the United States.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a director of an al Qaeda training base in Afghanistan, fled to Iraq after being injured as the Taliban fell (prior to the U.S./Iraq war). He received medical care and convalesced for two months in Baghdad. He then opened a terrorist training camp in northern Iraq and arranged the October 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Amman, Jordan.
CIA director George Tenet (appointed by President Bill Clinton July 11, 1997) wrote in a letter to Senator Bob Graham dated October 7, 2002. "We have solid reporting of senior level contact between Iraq and al Qaeda going back a decade. Credible information exists that Iraq and al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression. . . . We have credible reporting that al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities."
On October 16, 2002, the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 was signed into law. The authorization (Public law 107-243) had passed the House by a vote of 296-133, and the Senate by a vote of 77-23. This resolution stated, "Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;" and "Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens."
Babil, an official newspaper of Saddam Hussein's government, run by his oldest son Uday, published information that appeared to confirm U.S. allegations of the links between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda. In its November 16, 2002 edition, Babil identified one Abd-al-Karim Muhammad Aswad as an "intelligence officer," describing him as the "official in charge of regime's contacts with Osama bin Laden's group and currently the regime's representative in Pakistan."
In December 2002 the House and Senate intelligence committees issued a report on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. CIA director George Tenet testified (page 137) that, “Atta may also have traveled outside of the U.S. in early April 2001 to meet an Iraqi intelligence officer, although we are still working to corroborate this.” This report also noted (page 211) that, "In February 1999, the Intelligence Community obtained information that Iraq had formed a suicide pilot unit that it planned to use against British and U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf. The CIA commented that this was highly unlikely and probably disinformation."
On April 25, 2003 CNN reported that Farouk Hijazi had been captured by U.S. forces. Farouk Hijazi was a former intelligence official who may have plotted the attempted assassination of George H.W. Bush in 1993. He was also a contact between Saddam Hussein's regime and Osama bin Laden. Farouk met with bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998 and is also believed to have met with bin Laden in Sudan in the early 1990's.