One of the many arguments used by opponents of the Liberation of Iraq was to minimize or dismiss the terrorist threat to Americans from Iraq’s Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein was that the Baathists, whom the war opponents refer to as “secular,” were unlikely to cooperate with al-Qaeda or other Sunni Islamists because of political or religious ideological differences. However, the recent reports of cooperation between Sunni jihadists, who had been affiliated with al-Qaeda, and former Baathist regime members disprove this anti-war argument.
Before the Liberation of Iraq in 2003 by the
United States and its allies, some
of the opponents of the war had raised the possibility of terrorist strikes
against Americans or its interests in retaliation for attacking Hussein’s
Baathist regime, which openly sponsored terrorism, as a reason not to go to war. During the war, after no such attacks
occurred, these anti-war critics reversed their argument and minimized or
as a terrorist threat. Some of these
critics of the War on Terrorism or other American policies of self-defense
justify terrorism, which is the targeting of violence toward innocent
civilians, as an emotional or rational response to those foreign policies they,
like the terrorists, oppose. However,
terrorism is neither emotional, nor rational and is never justifiable. It is evil.
Apparently, the opponents of liberating Iraq did not explain why terrorists
would oppose the overthrow of Hussein’s regime by the Americans and its allies
if they thought it did not matter to their Islamist objectives. The fact that many militant jihadists,
including a significant number affiliated with al-Qaeda, entered Iraq to fight the Americans, their allies and
the new Iraqi regime, only proved the Islamists’ strategic interest in
preventing Iraq from
enjoying representative government that respects the liberty of its people and
is an ally of the U.S.
in the War on Terrorism.
Although the opponents of the war had linked
terrorism and then later minimized or denied any link, the overall relevance of
to al-Qaeda was undeniable. In fact, al-Qaeda’s
largest gripe against the U.S.
had been the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden’s hatred of
Americans was such that he regarded their presence in that kingdom to be a
desecration of Islamic holy sites, even though the U.S. troops were not
anywhere near the holy region. The
American troops were present in Saudi Arabia
to protect it from an invasion by Iraq
and to enforce no-fly zones over Iraq to protect Arab Shi’ites from
Hussein’s oppression. One of bin Laden’s
other chief complaints against the U.S.
was the trade embargo against Iraq.
Furthermore, there were al-Qaeda affiliates present in
before the overthrow of Hussein’s Baathist regime, including Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi, who had been responsible for the murder of an American diplomat in Jordan. Regardless of whether his presence was known
or tolerated by the totalitarian Baathist regime, his presence alone refutes
the anti-war argument that al-Qaeda was not present in Iraq before its liberation in
The anti-war argument rests upon the theory that because Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Iraqi regime was “secular,” their religious and political differences with al-Qaeda were too great for the two ever to cooperate against American interests. The theory is based upon a misunderstanding of the word secular within the context of the Islamic world. There, secular means “non-theocratic,” (not ruled by clerics), not “non-religious.” In fact, the Baathist regime was coated with an Islamic veneer, despite being non-clerical. Its language and symbols were Muslim. For example, Saddam Hussein was officially portrayed in art as dressed in traditional religious garb; he made sure to be seen praying five times daily, and even spoke about his dream in which Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, appeared to him. Hussein even saw himself as a modern Saladin, the Muslim leader who fought the Christian Crusaders. Both were from
. Hussein and al-Qaeda were both anti-American
Sunni Islamic militants and terrorists, despite their differences. Although the record is not certain as to the
exact relationship between Hussein’s regime and al-Qaeda, it does suggest there
was at least a non-aggression pact between them. I have noted in other posts the tendency of
various rogues to cooperate. If even atheist
Tikrit, Iraq North Korea
and theocratic Muslim Iran cooperate, it would not have been far-fetched that
Hussein and al-Qaeda would have cooperated.
It would have been irresponsible for the U.S. to base its security on the
hope that these two enemies would never have made an alliance, especially if
their survival was in jeopardy. The
current cooperation between Baathists and Islamists proves the Liberation of
Iraq was justified.
Moreover, the sponsorship of terrorism by
Baathist regime under Saddam Hussein should not be dismissed or minimized. Iraq both harbored and financed
terrorists and other militant Muslim suicide bombers who targeted and killed
Americans. Among others, Hussein’s
regime had harbored for many years Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas, who had led
the hijacking of the Achille Lauro
cruise ship in 1985, during which his terrorists murdered a disabled elderly
American by dumping him overboard. Abbas
was also the conduit for Iraqi funds to subsidize Palestinian suicide bombers,
including the ones who successfully targeted an American-owned restaurant frequented
by Americans in Jerusalem,
among a number of other attacks on Israelis that also resulted in American
Whether or not there were links between the Baathist regime of
al-Qaeda is irrelevant as to whether or not Iraq was a terrorist threat to
Americans, as links to al-Qaeda are not the sole standard by which to judge
whether or not a terrorist was a threat to Americans. All terrorism is unacceptable, but that which
targets Americans or its interests or allies is of particular concern. The War on Terrorism is not only the “War on
al-Qaeda,” but a campaign against all terrorists who threaten Americans, which
included the Baathist regime of Iraq. In fact, state sponsors of terrorism, whether
the states themselves carried out acts of terrorism or not, were of particular
concern because of the safe harbor they often provided terrorists, in addition
to providing them resources. Hussein’s
regime was a sufficient terrorist threat, apart from al-Qaeda, for its
overthrow to be justified, among other reasons.
The recent events in Iraq
only remind us of the greater strategic threat posed by that regime in the War