Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Did US Play into Al Qaeda Hands in Iraq?

President Bush will tell graduates of the Coast Guard Academy that Osama bin Laden planned to use Iraq as a base of operations back in 2005, to attack the US.

The information is from a report the President just declassified. From ABC News:
He will say that in 2005 Osama bin Laden tasked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to go to Iraq to set up terror cells that would plan and plot attacks against the U.S. and other countries. Suspected terrorists captured or killed in the last 18 months have provided this intelligence but a White House official would not say if they were all captured or killed in Iraq.
Three US investigations since Baghdad fell -- from the US Senate, the Pentagon Inspector General, and the White House itself -- have discounted any connection between Iraq and al Qaeda before the war. This announcement raises the question of whether the invasion played into al Qaeda's plans for Iraq.

There have also been reports since the invasion that the administration fell victim to an al Qaeda disinformation campaign to encourage the US to invade Iraq.

The announcement's timing comes as the President struggles with Congress to get more money for the Iraq War. He'll argue that the plan shows the need for US troops remaining in Iraq.

But if al Qaeda's plan after 9/11 was to use the US military to destabilize Iraq -- making it ripe for al Qaeda operations, the President's announcement may only highlight more poor planning on the administration's part leading to the invasion -- and playing into al Qaeda's hands. (ABC)

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