Saddam Sponsored Birth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq
By adnokronosinternational May 24, 2005
The number two of the al-Qaeda network, Ayman al-Zawahiri, visited Iraq under a false name in September 1999 to take part in the ninth Popular Islamic Congress, former Iraqi premier Iyad Allawi has revealed to pan-Arab daily al-Hayat. In an interview, Allawi made public information discovered by the Iraqi secret service in the archives of the Saddam Hussein regime, which sheds light on the relationship between Saddam Hussein and the Islamic terrorist network. He also said that both al-Zawahiri and Jordanian militant al-Zarqawi probably entered Iraq in the same period.
"Al-Zawahiri was summoned by Izza Ibrahim Al-Douri – then deputy head of the council of the leadership of the revolution - to take part in the congress, along with some 150 other Islamic figures from 50 Muslim countries," Allawi said.
According to Allawi, important information has been gathered regarding the presence of another key terrorist figure operating in Iraq - the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
"The Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi entered Iraq secretly in the same period," Allawi affirmed, "and began to form a terrorist cell, even though the Iraqi services do not have precise information on his entry into the country," he said.
Allawi's remarks come after statements to al-Hayat by King Abdallah II of Jordan over Saddam's refusal to hand over al-Zarqawi to the authorities in Amman.
On this question Allawi said: ''The words of the Jordanian King are correct and important. We have proof of al-Zawahiri's visit to Iraq, but we do not have the precise date or information on al-Zarqawi's entry, though it is likely that he arrived around the same time."
In Allawi's view, Saddam's government "sponsored" the birth of al-Qaeda in Iraq, coordinating with other terrorist groups, both Arab and Muslim. "The Iraqi secret services had links to these groups through a person called Faruq Hajizi, later named Iraq's ambassador to Turkey and arrested after the fall of Saddam's regime as he tried to re-enter Iraq. Iraqi secret agents helped terrorists enter the country and directed them to the Ansar al-Islam camps in the Halbija area," he said.
The former prime minister claims that Saddam's regime sought to involve even Palestinian Abu Nidal - head of a group once considered the world's most dangerous terrorist organisation - in its terrorist circuit. Abu Nidal's organisation was responsible for terrorist attacks in some 20 countries, killing more than 300 people and wounding hundreds more.
He added that Abu Nidal's refusal to cooperate with Islamist groups was the reason for his death in Iraq, in the summer of 2002.