As the beat of the US’s war drums against Saddam Hussein boom ever louder, the voices of opposition sound ever shriller. On Monday night, US President George W. Bush gave yet another speech in which he set out to answer these voices.
One of the primary arguments that have been made against the Bush administration’s plans is that by going to war against the Iraqi regime, the US is being diverted from its primary war effort of combating international terrorism.
Former Vice President Al Gore made this argument clearly two weeks ago in saying, “I am deeply concerned that the policy we are presently following with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism.”
In his address on Monday evening, Bush countered this argument explaining, “Confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war against terror…. Terror cells and outlaw regimes building weapons of mass destruction are different faces of the same evil. Our security requires that we confront both.”
We wholeheartedly agree with the President, but we believe that he understated the case.
As Gore’s running mate in the 2000 presidential elections Senator Joseph Lieberman wrote in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, “Saddam himself meets the definition of a terrorist.” That is, not only does Saddam Hussein run a terror supporting regime, his regime is a terrorist entity. From his underground bunker Saddam has combined the roles of dictator and terror chief into a cataclysmic hybrid that manifests a clear and present danger to the entire world.
A brief and far from comprehensive perusal of Saddam’s own record shows that he has turned Iraq into one great big terror factory.
In October 1993, the World Trade Center was attacked for the first time. According to recent in-depth studies, Saddam Hussein was the primary force behind the attack.
Since the September 11 attacks, reams of information have surfaced about the Iraqi training camp at Salman Pak outside Baghdad where terrorist operatives were trained in hijacking civilian aircraft with knives. Information has also come out regarding close cooperation between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida in developing chemical warfare agents suitable for terror attacks.
Closer to home, Saddam Hussein has taken an active role in organizing and supporting the Palestinian terror war against Israel. In November 2001, the Shin Beit arrested 15 Palestinians who operated a terrorist cell affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Front. The PLF, run by Abul Abbas operates out of Baghdad.
Some members of the PLF terror cell arrested last year had been trained for their operations in Iraq. The cell was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Yuri Gushstein from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev and for planting an explosive device at the Checkpoint Junction near Haifa which lightly injured five Israelis in the summer of 2001. Its members were arrested while planning to carry out attacks against civilian jetliners at Ben Gurion International Airport.
The PLF has also been a primary vehicle through which Saddam Hussein pays blood money to the families of Palestinian terrorists. The Shin Beit yesterday announced that its investigation of recently arrested PLF leader in the West Bank, Rachad Salim, has taught them that Saddam has paid in excess of $15 million to families of suicide bombers and terrorists wounded while attacking Israeli targets. Saddam himself determined the mounts to be paid: $10,000 to families of suicide bombers, $1,000 to critically wounded terrorists and $500 to light to moderately wounded terrorists.
Today security officials fear that in the coming US campaign against Iraq, Saddam will deploy Iraqi pilots on kamikaze attacks against Israel. In recent press reports, western security sources have claimed that the Iraqi air force has managed to prepare a number of its Soviet-made Tupolev-16 and Sukhoi-25 aircraft for suicide missions against Israel. These aircraft would be equipped with a "dirty bomb" (radiological weapon) as a possible payload.
Saddam himself makes no effort to hide the fact that he views terrorism as a legitimate form of warfare. On September 5, the Iraqi weekly Al-Iqtisadi [The Economist], which is owned by Saddam Hussein's eldest son Uday, called for the carrying out of suicide operations against US targets. According to MEMRI’s translation, the call went out for Arabs to consider “everything American as a military target, including embassies, installations, and American companies, and to create suicide/martyr squads to attack American military and naval bases inside and outside the region, and mine the waterways to prevent the movement of war ships…”
The facts are unimpeachable. Iraq under Saddam has fully incorporated terrorism into its military doctrine thus moving from a state supporting terror to a state defined by terror. Not only is launching a military campaign against Saddam eminently justified in the framework of the war on terrorism, it will be impossible to competently prosecute the war without carrying out the operation.
Originally published as an unsigned editorial in The Jerusalem Post