Both In One Trench: Saddam's Secret Terror Documents - by C.I.A.  Iraq Survey Group Vet - Ray Robiso
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Both In One Trench: Saddam's Secret Terror Documents - by C.I.A. Iraq Survey Group Vet - Ray Robiso

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The Jordanian Connection
Why Amman helped track down Zarqawi

The Jordanian authorities thus had excellent reasons of their own to follow Zarqawi, and the kingdom's Mukhabarat—or General Intelligence Department, which generally earns high marks for efficiency—had been trailing him ever since he left Jordanian soil for Afghanistan, and then Afghan soil for Iraq. It is from this source that we know that Zarqawi was in Baghdad at least as early as June 2002, almost a year before the invasion. Indeed, as the Senate intelligence committee report has confirmed, it was in that month that the G.I.D. contacted the Saddam Hussein regime to "inform" the Iraqis that this very dangerous fellow was on their territory. Given the absolute police-state condition of Iraq at that time, it is in any case impossible to believe that such a person was in town, so to speak, incognito. And remember that in 2002, even states like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were at least ostensibly expelling known al-Qaida members from their turf or else arresting them. Only Saddam's Iraq—which did not reply to the Jordanian messages—was tolerating and encouraging the presence of men who were on the run from Afghanistan.

It is customary to dismiss evidence of this kind with a brisk and pseudo-knowing sneer about the "secular" nature of Saddam's regime and thus its presumed incompatibility with theocratic fanatics. Quite how this CIA-sponsored "analysis" has survived this long is beyond me. At least from the time of its conclusion of hostilities with Iran, Baghdad became a center of jihadist propaganda and sponsorship. Saddam himself started to be painted and photographed wearing the robes of an imam. He began a gigantic mosque-building program. He financed the suicide-murderers who worked against the more secular PLO. He sent money to the Muslim separatists in the Philippines. His closest regional ally was the theocracy in Sudan, which had been the host of Osama Bin Laden. (You can see a similar process at work with the other "secular" Baathist regime in Syria: It has long had very warm ties to the mullahs in Iran and to Hezbollah, and in its current and one hopes terminal phase, is forbidding all non-regime propaganda except the Islamist type.)

As we are gradually becoming aware, an enormous tranche of captured Iraqi government papers are very slowly being analyzed and translated. Currently housed in Qatar, this documentation can be reviewed thus far on the Pentagon's Foreign Military Studies Office Web site. Elements in the Bush administration are still highly reluctant to declassify and disclose much of this material, probably because it demonstrates yet again that our "intelligence" services knew less than nothing of what was happening in Iraq. But early yields have proved illuminating and will probably lead to a revision of the current complacent consensus, both on Saddam's WMD plans and on his extensive contact with the region's Islamic fanatics.

A suggestive new document from this trove has now been uncovered and analyzed by Ray Robison, a former staffer on David Kay's Iraq Survey Group. It details a meeting in Baghdad between Fazlur Rahman, a major Pakistani cleric and Taliban sympathizer, and Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam's vice president and chief party enforcer. Fazlur Rahman seeks and receives sympathy, brings a message of goodwill from Mullah Omar, and requests Iraqi help in mediating between the Taliban, Northern Alliance, and the Russians in Afghanistan. Though some of the conversation is opaque and hard to decipher, it clearly shows that a friendly informal contact existed between the two regimes. (Unconfirmed reports allege that Vice President Ramadan also met with Bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Baghdad in 1998.) - Christopher Hitchens - Monday, June 12, 2006

Hello, Zahawie, My Old Friend
I've come to talk with you again.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2006

As readers of the Fray will already have seen, I have once again drawn a response from Saddam Hussein's emissary to Niger. Dispel Wissam al-Zahawie's clouds of verbiage and you are left with the following:

1) Yes, he did represent Iraq at meetings of the International Atomic Energy Authority and at U.N. discussions on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

2) Yes, he has had dealings with Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, whose whole engagement with Iraq consisted of attempts, through UNSCOM, to disarm it.

3) Yes, he did attend a meeting of Hans Blix's WMD commission in Cairo, as a member of the Jordanian "entourage" if not "delegation."

Zahawie also stands by his earlier claim, which was that his visit to Niger in 1999 was solely for the purpose of persuading the Niger authorities to break the U.N. embargo on flights to Baghdad.

So, all you need to believe is that an Iraqi diplomat with experience in nuclear matters went all the way to a country to which he was not accredited; a country, furthermore, that exports mainly uranium, and that, although his visit was admittedly directed at sanctions-busting, it had nothing to do with sanctions on the acquisition of this material. At the time, Zahawie was the senior accredited Iraqi diplomat in Western Europe, the only one with full ambassador status. Could not an invitation to the president of Niger to fly to Baghdad have been conveyed just as easily by a cable from the Iraqi foreign ministry? What need of such a distinguished messenger?

Zahawie's uneasy conscience about this question is demonstrated by his resort to the old canard of the much-later-forged documents about his visit. These forgeries were circulated—whether for money or in order to discredit the original story is not yet known—long after British intelligence had informed Washington of Zahawie's trip. They have absolutely no bearing (unless as disinformation) on the authenticity of the original allegation.

Since I last had the pleasure of debating Zahawie on this, two further developments have come to light, both of them bearing on Niger. The security correspondent for BBC News, Gordon Corera, has published his illuminating book Shopping for Bombs, which is a detailed inquiry into the ramifications of the A.Q. Khan "Nukes 'R' Us" network. Recall that Zahawie's visit to Niger took place in February 1999. That was a busy month for the hospitality of the Niger authorities. It turns out that A.Q. Khan was visiting their capital also. Corera, who has been kind enough to make contact with me, has acquired the memoir of Abu Bakr Siddiqui, a member of Khan's traveling party, who reports on this trip that:

We left Dubai for Khartoum on 21 February 1999. The Education Minister of Sudan received the group and we were lodged at the State Guest House. After making a short stopover in a Nigerian city we reached Timbuktu on 24 February 1999. After spending a couple of days, we were on our way back and our first stop was Niamey, capital of Niger. Our next stop was N'Djamena, capital of Chad, where we were accorded official protocol. Next day, we flew to Khartoum. After Dr Khan attended to some business, we visited the Shifa factory that was destroyed last year by the American missiles. Dr Khan met the Sudanese President …

This was, in other words, by no means a sightseeing trip. The next year, according to Corera, the A.Q. Khan traveling circus "again went from Khartoum to Niamey in Niger where [former Pakistani Prime Minister] Nawaz Sharif's former military secretary welcomed the group." And, as Siddiqui points out in his diary of the trip, "Niger has big uranium deposits." Indeed, as Corera adds, it is a one-commodity country. I might add that, in February 1999, while A.Q. Khan was hopping from one rogue state to another (Sudan being Iraq's closest ally in the region, as well as the former patron of Osama Bin Laden), Saddam had just driven out the U.N. inspectors. Such an interesting time for a senior Iraqi to pick for a visit to an otherwise obscure African country, which had been one of Iraq's sources for uranium yellowcake since as far back as 1981.

The second discovery of interest comes by way of Ray Robison, formerly of the David Kay weapons inquiry, whose patient work I have mentioned before. He is currently engaged in the translation and collation of the captured documents from Saddam Hussein's presidency. One of the logbooks of correspondence deals specifically with Africa. Here is one entry:

Official envoy:
Letter to the Presidency, secret and urgent, number B/2853/K June 4 1997.
The President of Niger, General Ibrahim Bare, informed us about his willingness to visit Iraq during the current month and he wants Iraq to set a date.

So, it seems that air travel between Niger and Iraq could indeed be discussed without all the bother of sending a senior nuclear-knowledgeable Iraqi official to Niamey. You can read the original here. (You can also follow Robison's other valuable work on the Saddam dossier.)

This is not the only such contact or approach that has been uncovered from the Niger end. Iraq had lots of off-the-record cash and lots of off-the-record cheap oil. What did Niger have to offer in return? (Remember that Joseph Wilson was recommended by his wife to investigate these people mainly on the grounds that he was so friendly with them!)

At a minimum, this would suggest that the Blair and Bush administrations were quite right to view the Iraq-Niger relationship with concern. At a maximum, it would suggest that the Niger connection was a great deal more significant—and more dangerous—than anyone has even suspected. (The A.Q. Khan network was not exposed until after Muammar Qaddafi's capitulation and the opening of the Libyan stockpiles, which in turn did not occur until after Saddam Hussein had been overthrown.)

In any conflict of evidence or interpretation between Rolf Ekeus and Wissam Zahawie, there cannot be a person living who would prefer Zahawie's word. In any evaluation of the Wilson visit to Niger, it must indeed be acknowledged that he found nothing—but only because he had neither the ability nor the intention to do so. This was yet another CIA "intelligence failure" in the making, and it follows that those who asked searching questions about the agency's role were doing exactly the right thing. - Christopher Hitchens -

Ray Robison, whose blog has a greater claim to authority than most. He was a former army officer and member of the Iraq Survey Group, which tried to find the WMD after the war.
- The Guardian UK

I spoke with Ray Robison this morning. The NYT left a few things out:

- Ray's team at Iraq Survey Group worked to digitize, file, and translate audio and video for the released documents.
- He has a BS in pre-med biology from the University of Tampa.
- He served in the Gulf War, and was deployed as a senior signal officer with the 101st to Kosovo on a peacekeeping mission.
- He currently works as a senior military operations research analyst with a major defense contractor involving next-generation missile development.
This is a far cry from the loony-toony crazy-conservative blogger portrayed in the NYT.

- National Review Online

On Monday reported that just-released Iraqi documents show the Taliban ""welcomed 'Islamic relations with Iraq' to mediate among the Taliban, the Northern Alliance and Russia, and that the Taliban invited Iraqi officials to Afghanistan.""
Fox's Ray Robison notes the document ""provides evidence of a cooperative, operational relationship agreed to at the highest levels of the Iraqi government and the Taliban."" - Investor's Business Daily

But the anthrax document that intrigued Mr. Robison, the Alabama blogger, does not seem to prove much. It is a message from the Quds Army, a regional militia created by Mr. Hussein, to Iraqi military intelligence that passes on reports picked up by troops, possibly from the radio, since the information is labeled "open source" and "impaired broadcast." No anthrax was found in Iraq by American search teams.

"No offense, but the mainstream media tells people what they want them to know," said Mr. Robison, who worked in Qatar for the Iraq Survey Group, which did an exhaustive search for weapons in Iraq.

The document release may help the president, he said, but that is not the point. "It's not about politics," Mr. Robison said. "It's about the truth."

- New York Times

As Ray Robison in the American Thinker contends: "In the current environment, only small teams can go unmolested in the Iraqi lands al-Qaida used to control."
- Investor's Business Daily

(US News) On the conservative website The American Thinker, military operations research analyst Ray Robison had an article on the September 2001 anthrax attack. It's based on a recently revealed pre-September 11 letter from a London jihadi named Numan Bin Uthman to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Robison's conclusion:

"Now let's put that big picture together."

"Uthman says he tried to talk Mohammad Atef and Usama bin Laden out of using WMD in a terrorist attack to convince the U.S. not to retaliate in Afghanistan because it would ultimately spread to Iraq."

"Why would Uthman expect this? I can think of one salient reason."

"Because he knew that al Qaeda was planning an Anthrax attack with weaponized anthrax provided by Saddam Hussein."

Robison has written previously about the anthrax attacks, and in September I blogged on the subject. It continues to strike me as highly implausible that the anthrax attacks, which occurred just days after September 11, were not an al Qaeda operation. The FBI investigation, focusing on scientists in the United States, has produced nothing, and we are told that the FBI now concludes that the anthrax could have come from anywhere in the world. The good news is that the anthrax attacks did not produce the high casualties and the degree of panic that the attackers intended. The bad news is that we still don't know who attacked us and perhaps never will. We are assured by high-minded folks that we know for a fact that Saddam Hussein and his regime had no connection to al Qaeda. But we don't know that for a fact. We know as the 9/11 Commission reported that we have no direct evidence on ongoing collaboration between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda.

But we don't know for sure that there was none. Robison's post points in the other direction.
Also from Michael Barone at US News and World Report: Pajamas Media Panel

The blogosphere in action

An example of the blogosphere in action. In this post, blogger Ray Robison picked up on my Monday post about the Washington Post's lead story on the anthrax attacks of September 2001. So far as I can remember, I have never heard of Robison; I found his post through a post by Thomas Lifson on the admirable American Thinker blog. Here's Robison's bio from his website:

Hi folks, I am a military operations research analyst with a defense contractor in aviation and missile research. Before that I was an army officer and also a member of the Iraq Survey Group.

I also write a column for called "The Saddam Dossier" in which I provide research and analysis to captured documents from Iraq and Afghanistan. I also do some on-air work, mostly on Fox and Friends when we have some interesting finds. Scared the hell out of me at first but I am getting better.

Like me, Robison has long been skeptical of the FBI's theory that the anthrax attacks were probably launched by a U.S. research scientist. He points out that smuggling anthrax out of a federal laboratory would have been particularly difficult given the high security precautions taken on Sept. 11, 2001, and that there was probably a very small amount of weaponized anthrax in those laboratories. He goes on to make a point that I failed to make but that now seems to me obvious:

Motivation is the key problem in my view. Defense scientists at this level have Top Secret clearances, usually for compartmentalized information. It takes an extreme level of vetting to be granted this clearance. The scientist would surely be a Ph.D. That's a lot of years of demonstrated hard work to throw it all away for a bioweapons attack without a solid motivation. The real people involved with this type of research are smart, dedicated, successful and patriotic, not like a character in a bad movie who is motivated to hurt the United States because they were overlooked for a promotion or saw some sort of poetic justice at using U.S. anthrax on the United States.

Instead, he thinks it's far more likely that terrorists obtained the anthrax from a terrorist-sponsoring state, and he thinks the most likely nominees for those two roles are al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. I agree and also agree with Robison when he says that we do not know that; it's just a reasonable suspicion. Here's his concluding paragraph:

What does your common sense tell you? Most of my friends (usually military) at the time of the attacks believed the anthrax was a continuing, near simultaneous attack with the plane hijackings of 9/11. It seemed like a combined arms attack, a fundamental of modern warfare. Could it just be so simple that al Qaeda hit us not once, but twice in a week? And what would the effect of such a scenario be on an FBI charged with the domestic counterterrorism mission? Would a second al Qaeda attack rub salt on an already horrible wound? And wouldn't it be better for the FBI if the second attack was done by a military scientist, thus the Department of Defense's fault and not a subsequent FBI counterterrorism failure? There are still a lot of questions and for me the answer is and always will be that until I see the proof I will never believe an American scientist did this instead of al Qaeda. I just don't believe it.

I haven't read anything along these lines in the mainstream media, though perhaps I've missed something; I'd be grateful if readers could pass any relevant links along. In any case, Robison has added information to my speculative column and leaves me even more troubled about the anthrax attacks and their implications. An example of how the blogosphere exchanges information and adds to knowledge.

- Michael Barone for CBS News

In a report aired on the July 6 editions of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson and Special Report with Brit Hume, Fox News correspondent Reena Ninan advanced the discredited claim that "45,000 boxes of Arabic-language Iraqi documents captured by American troops" have revealed the purported connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda that the Bush administration repeatedly suggested in the run-up to the Iraq war. After reporting that "a Fox News team" led by blogger and former Army officer Ray Robison had studied some of the documents and found that they support the purported Saddam-Al Qaeda link, Ninan reported that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) stated that "[t]he U.S. government has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity, or factual accuracy of the information contained therein." In fact, senior intelligence officials have dismissed any suggestion that the documents provide evidence of a Saddam-Al Qaeda link, according to a March 28 New York Times report.

On The Big Story, guest host Julie Banderas introduced the segment by declaring that "documents captured in Iraq may link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda after all," adding that Ninan's report was "for all those naysayers who said, 'Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, no way, they didn't know each other before 9-11.' " Ninan reported on a document flagged by Robison -- "apparently written before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks" -- that purportedly instructed Arab soldiers in Afghanistan on how to "avoid being detected." Later in her report, Ninan included a statement by former CIA analyst Mike Baker that the documents suggest "Saddam viewed the Taliban, perhaps not as an ally but as an element that he didn't want to -- he didn't want to miss an opportunity." Ninan concluded the report by noting DNI's disclaimer that it could not vouch for the authenticity of the documents, and then informing viewers that "Robison's translation [of the documents] and their interpretation are available in their entirety as part of our exclusive Saddam dossier series on"

As Media Matters for America has documented, Big Story host John Gibson touted the documents on March 24, stating: "This is the Bush-lied story. No WMDs, no connection with bin Laden, no connection with 9-11, no connection with any attacks on the United States. Now these documents are saying, yes, all that's true." Right-wing weblogs such as Captain's Quarters, Flopping Aces, The QandO Blog, and Hot Air also touted Robison's purported findings on June 26. Robison has also cited several of the documents to allege that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction before the war.

And while Media Matters could not find a specific example of an intelligence official addressing the claim in the document Ninan cited that Iraqi soldiers were in Afghanistan, there's no evidence that the documents released by the DNI proved a significant connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
- Media Matters, March 29, 2006 · Oh, it's so easy to sit back and judge the CIA and Pentagon for botching intelligence before the war. You think you're so smart, buddy? Well, now's your chance to prove it.

You can now hunt for weapons of mass destruction.

The federal government is in the process of putting hundreds of thousands of documents seized in Iraq on the Internet. We're talking about memos, confidential communications, video and audio tapes. About 600 are up already. With titles like Saddam Hussein Talking to Some Iraqi Officials About Management Stuff. Bloggers like Ray Robison think they've already hit pay dirt.

The Pentagon is hoping the power of the Internet will lead to tips about those missing WMDs. But Donald Rumsfeld warns us to read the Iraqi docs with a grain of salt. "Some will be rumor," he says, "Some will be speculation." Now he tells us.
- National Public Radio


Both in One Trench - Saddam's Secret Terror Documents [November 29, 2007]

available at:



**URGENT UPDATE**: [7-16-08] Kurdish Paper Prints Captured Memo on Saddam-Zawahiri Cooperation

The Kurdish daily Kurdistani Nwe has published a 2002 letter from the Iraqi presidency that it says proves that there was cooperation between the regime of Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda.
The letter, which appeared on the paper's front page, was published by the intelligence apparatus of the Iraqi presidency and discussed an intention to meet with Ayman Al-Zawahiri in order to examine a plan drawn up by the Saddam to carry out a "revenge operation" in Saudi Arabia in 2002 [post 9/11/01]
Translation by Middle East Media Research Institute:

Original Source: -

It is worth noting that terror attacks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia were conducted in May 2003 and were blamed on al Qaeda. It is also worth noting that Saddam Hussein's connections to Ayman al Zawahiri have been documented in numerous U.S. govt. reports including the 9-11 Commission’s report and the recent Iraqi Perspectives Project [IPP] report. The recent IPP report also exposed Hussein’s terrorists capabilities and motives towards Saudi Arabia (internal documents discussed secret attacks on the Saudi Royal family, attacks on buildings in the country and terror plots coordinated by "Unit 999").
Read the Iraqi Perspective Project Report Here:

**URGENT UPDATE** [3/17/08]: Media Mangles Most Coverage of Latest Iraqi Perspectives Project Report...

The authors of The Iraqi Perspectives Project Report themselves fail to acknowledge that al Qaeda #2 Ayman Al-Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad group cited in the report began their merger with bin-Laden's group AT PRECISELY THE SAME TIME THIS REPORT STATES ZAWAHIRI's EGYPTIAN ISLAMIC JIHAD WAS RECEIVING FUNDING FROM SADDAM HUSSEIN's IRAQ [see Pulitzer Prize winning book 'The Looming Tower' by L. Wright for overlapping timeline]. As time and events have proven, Egyptian Islamic Jihad forms a core component of al-Qaida's coalition of terror. Extract 10 & 12 of this Iraqi Perspectives Project Report on the Saddam Archives show the Iraqi Intel Service describing Egyptian Islamic Jihad as a group with which it "cooperates and have relations with". It furthers describes Egyptian Islamic Jihad as "one of the most brutal Egyptian organizations".

There are no less than four al Qaeda 'affiliates' mentioned in the latest US Government report on Saddam's Archives which Iraq was supporting, financing, cooperating with, or otherwise "using as an instrument of state power". The report makes clear that, contrary to what most media are reporting, there is a lot more work to be done. This is "not an exhaustive study". A quick list of four al Qaeda 'affiliates' listed in the latest report on Saddam's Archives are:

1. Egyptian Islamic Jihad - Ayman al-Zawahiri
2. Hizb-i-Islami - Gulbadin Hekmatyar
3. Ansar-al-Islam - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi adopted group ["radical Kurdish-based Islamic movement"]
4. Army of Muhammed - Bahrain [country of]

The above listed terrorist groups are but a sample of the many terrorists this report shows Saddam was funding, training, or otherwise exploiting.

Read the entire report here:

Note: Among other evidence, Both In One Trench contains the document with Saddam's actual order to Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and Hekmatyar's Hizb-i-Islami, to target American forces in Somalia. The incident would later become famously known for its movie name: 'Blackhawk Down'.

For more background on 'Blackhawk Down' including statement from Mike Durant, one of the downed pilots that day, see:


A military career that spans the C.I.A.'s Iraq Survey Group, The Defense Intelligence Agency, and The Army's Elite 101st Airborne Division brings journalists from Christopher Hitchens [Author: God is NOT Great] on the left, to Rush Limbaugh [Radio Pundit] on the right to all agree: Ray Robison is uniquely qualified to analyze the millions of items in Saddam's Archives.

Ray's team with the C.I.A.'s Iraq Survey Group worked to digitize, file, as well as translate audio and video from Saddam's Archives. He served in the Gulf War, and was deployed as a senior signal officer with the 101st Airborne Division to Kosovo on a Peacekeeping Mission. Ray currently works as a senior military operations research analyst with a major defense contractor involving next-generation missile development. Ray has a Bachelor of Science Degree in pre-med biology from the University of Tampa.

Ray has written for, or had his work covered by: Fox News, The New York Times, Le Monde, The Jerusalem Post, Pajamas Media, Slate, National Review, U.S. News & World Report,