First, we had audio tapes hinting at WMDs...now documents detailing more links between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda.
NEWLY released documents seized in Iraq immediately after the American invasion in 2003 point to the presence of Al-Qaeda members in the country before the war and moves to hide traces of “chemical or biological materials” from United Nations weapons inspectors.
The documents were posted on the internet as part of a rolling programme by the US government to make public the contents of 48,000 boxes of untranslated papers and tapes relating to the workings of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Saddam is said to have routinely taped talks with cabinet members and intelligence chiefs.
John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, was ordered by President George W Bush to release the material. Hundreds of thousands of previously unseen documents and hundreds of hours of tapes will be placed on the web in the coming weeks.
The first documents to be released offer tantalising clues to possible Iraqi contacts with Al-Qaeda. An Iraqi intelligence report dated September 15, 2001 — four days after the attacks on America — says Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban were in contact with Iraq and Al-Qaeda members had visited the country.
It claims America had proof that the Iraqi government and “Bin Laden’s group” had agreed to co-operate to attack targets in America and that the US might strike Iraq and Afghanistan in retaliation.