Iraq War 2003: Background & Lessons

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May 30, 2003

Iranian Clerics Meet With Iraqi Ba’athists to Form New Terrorist Operation; Bin Laden/Islamists Team With Ba’athists

Exclusive. From GIS Station Tehran, and other sources. Very well-placed first-hand sources reported to GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily on May 29, 2003, that officials working directly with Iranian Minister of Intelligence & Security Hojjat ol-Eslam (Mohammad) Ali Yunesi have reportedly met in recent days in Tehran with officials of the Iraqi Ba’ath Party to discuss the formation of a new terrorist operation to target US interests.

As well, other sources in Tehran, confirming the meetings, said that there was also a strong possibility that the Iraqi Ba’athists also met with former Iranian Pres. Hojjat ol-Eslam Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani — the key power in current Iranian strategic policy — and possibly with the Supreme Leader, "Ayatollah"  Ali Hoseini-Khamene‘i, in order that the senior Iranian clerics could satisfy themselves that such a link with the Iraqi Ba’athists, who are Sunni Muslims, could be trusted not to go against the plans of the Iranian Shi’a leaders. However, there is now strong evidence that the Iraqi Ba’athists, who are by definition secular socialists as well as mostly Sunni Muslims, are working very closely both with the Iranians and with the radical Islamists.

Sources within the bin Laden group — nominally called al-Qaida — have told GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs in late May 2003 that some of the attacks inside Iraq against US troops were conducted by combined Ba’athist-Islamist forces. The links between the secular Ba’athists and the bin Laden Islamists, as well as between the Iraqi Ba’athists and the Iranian Islamists and the Shi’a Iranian Islamists and the Sunni/Wahabbist Islamists around bin Laden, have consistently been denied by many US officials and analysts because of the apparent incompatibility of the belief systems of the three groups. Nonetheless, the bin Laden sources confirmed the linkage with the Iraqi Ba’athists, who remain loyal to former Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein.

As well, it is now understood that the mechanism by which former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has been transmitting faxed, handwritten notes to the outside world has been provided by the bin Laden network. This is quite a separate communications network than the one currently being used by Saddam and his son, Qusay, to communicate with Syrian officials, for example. 

Despite international public protestations from the Iranian leadership that it has no links with al-Qaida or Osama bin Laden, there is now mounting evidence of growing complicity, to meet the tactical needs of all, between the Iraqi clerical leaders, the bin Laden network and the Iraqi Ba’athists. Given the use by former Pres. Saddam of the bin Laden communications network, there is almost certainly a shared understanding as to where Saddam and Qusay are located, and, indeed, where Osama bin Laden is located.