Eclipsed by the election campaignining, this story slipped under the radar. Much has been said about the invasion of Iraq. Often there are claims that there were no weapons of mass destruction and no ties to Al Queda. In fact, most of the WMD claims that were made before the invasion turned out to be true. Iraq was not clean and innocent in regards to WMD, and the ties to Al Queda were wrongly dismissed.
One of those ties regard Saddam’s involvement with Al Queda groups like Ansar al Islam which no one disputes was present and active in the northern section of Saddam’s Iraq. Opponents of the war dismiss that tie by saying that if they weren’t in the part of Iraq that Saddam controlled, then they weren’t under his control. That’s a nice piece of rhetoric, and it’s good spin, but it’s ignorant of the fact that Ansar was the ONLY means of influence Saddam had in the North (that, and the threat of invading the north). He used Ansar as his proxy guerrilla force to attack his Kurdish enemies and impose his will in the North.
The point remains, Ansar and other Al Queda groups were inside Iraq in 2002, and the CIA knew it. They knew it because they sent extremely brave people there-into Iraq, and those people monitored the Al Queda until the Pentagon blew the opportunity to destroy the camps.
Charles “Sam” Faddis, who led a CIA team into northern Iraq following the 9/11 attacks, says the Pentagon’s “endless planning and delays” foiled a chance to wipe out a band of al Qaeda leaders who were fleeing American bombs in Afghanistan.
Faddis says the delays, beginning in 2002, also facilitated the escape of some “key” al Qaeda figures, including terrorist scientists who were working on chemical and biological weapons.
“Some died, some are still on the run,” Faddis said in a telephone interview Tuesday, following his appearance on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show to promote a new book, Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq.
“The site was physically destroyed … but certainly the research wasn’t destroyed.”
To argue that the Pentagon “botched” this is to argue that there was something substantial to be botched. Admitting the US missed an opportunity to attack Al Queda in Iraq before 2002 is admitting that there was enough of an Al Queda presence in Iraq before the invasion to warrant military action.
Today, Ansar al Islam’s remnants and other Al Queda groups are lumped into the term AQI for Al Queda in Iraq groups as if they are all the same. Like all Al Queda groups, they are affiliated-not the same. They have great differences, but bear common themes, objectives, tactics, and alliance.
Why is this important today? America is looking at two more years of war in Iraq under President Obama. To accomplish anything, Americans must support efforts to succeed. It’s time to put away the anti-war, political opposition rhetoric, finally recognize facts such as this one, and support not only the troops, but the hard work, the good work that they are doing.