Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, President Bush had laid out a case for war with a country having nothing to do with the attacks on our homeland on September 11th. In the spirit of anger and retaliation, most of his base supported the action along with more than half of his political opponents in the Senate.
The cause was clear - Saddam's regime was responsible for sponsoring terrorism, had restarted their programs of weapons for mass destruction, and was seeking uranium from foreign nations to develop nuclear weapons. The mission was simple - invade Iraq with a show of great force, find the WMD's, capture the government heads, and liberate the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator. The "big picture" reason was new to the nation's foreign policy. Bush had promised to deter terrorists by killing or capturing those who carry out the acts along with nations and organizations that fund, sponsor, or provide a safe-haven for them. This policy is strongly upheld by neoconservatives in strident support of nation building.
Today, the base seems split as to whether all of the hype was worth it. To the run-of-the-mill Republican or Conservative citizen, doubt builds as to whether invading and liberating Iraq has actually made the nation and our allies safer or if it can be justified at the cost of rising American death tolls. A majority, for non-political reasons, feel that knowing what they know now, the U.S. should not have invaded, but should continue until mission complete as to not diminish the value of sacrifice so many have given. Many don't feel that another generation of disgruntled vets is a way to repay those who have given so much, as well. A small percentage of Conservatives and Republicans still stick with the original rally for war and would again support the initial campaign.
The former of the two ideologies seems to be ascending while the latter, the neoconservative dogma, is steadily waning. New information surfacing through magazines, blogs, and newly released tapes regarding the brutality and lethality of Saddam's regime, should reflect an opposing trend. Yet, few right-of-center citizens make it a point to research the facts that made the case for war a noble one and one that should still be embraced, today.
Now, more than the buildup to the war, it is necessary to refresh the minds of the majority who see the U.S. involvement in Iraq as a "mistake" that the tyrant who once ruled a great land with an iron fist did have connections to al Qaeda, did seek weapons grade uranium in Niger, did operate torture and rape rooms, did run terrorist training camps, and did provide a safe-haven as well as support for known terrorists.. Not only was war a viable option, prior to the invasion; looking back, it still was the best choice in deterring terrorism on the homeland and sending a strong message to those who support "evildoers" that wish to do America harm.
A year before bombing began over Baghdad, research was found that Saddam had not only been funding Palestinian suicide bombers. Instead of once paying $US10,000 to the family of martyrs who blew themselves up with Israeli citizens, a $US15,000 bonus was added to encourage more "suiciders" to carry out acts in the name of Palestine and Allah. Ma'amoon Tayeh, a senior official of Palestine, admitted that "Saddam Hussein considers Palestine to be a governate of Iraq and he thinks the same of the Palestinian martyrs as he does of the Iraqi martyrs - they are all martyrs for the whole Arab nation." Dr. Hassan Khraisheh, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council later praised Iraq for being the only country to officially donate to the Palestinian cause. Few regard the Palestinian Authority as peaceful. With financial backing from the Iraqi dictator, the terrorist organization carried out countless more attacks on innocent Israeli civilians than would have been without the cash and recruitment from Saddam's government. Business dealings such as these embolden the link between Saddam and terrorists.
In late 2004, documents originally found in Iraq were released to the media and public. One memo revealed an order from Hussein to support attacks against U.S. forces in Somalia in 1993. The warlord that headed up the operation to counter the U.S. operation in Mogadishu had alleged ties to al Qaeda. As a result of the movement to stop Rangers and Delta Force from accomplishing their mission to detain the warlord who had starved hundreds of thousands of innocent Somalis to death, 18 elite soldiers lost their lives, one more dying from a mortar attack days later. Later in the memo, Saddam directed his party to "move to hunt the Americans who are on Arabian land, especially in Somalia, by using Arabian elements…"
Along with the Palestinian Authority and Somali warlords, the memos reveal Iraq had ties with to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (a group that plotted a thwarted attack against a U.S. embassy in Albania in 1998), the Abu Nidal Organization (responsible for killing or injuring nearly 900 people while targeting the United States, the United Kingdom, and other allies), and the Palestine Liberation Front (responsible for an attack on an Italian cruise ship in 1985 and was based in Iraq).
Perhaps the most damning evidence of Saddam's terrorist ties comes from The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes. Last month, memos and recordings discovered in post-war Iraq were declassified, allowing the media and pundits to have their share at uncharted investigative journalism. The evidence shows that Hussein's regime provided financial support to an al Qaeda organization based in the southern Philippines called Abu Sayyaf. The group was founded by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law in 1998 or 1999, following a break-off of the Moro National Liberation Front.
In mid-2001, 21 civilians had been held hostage (including three Americans) in the Philippines by Abu Sayyaf members. The previous years, Iraq had financially supported the organization known for other kidnappings for ransom, bombings, and beheadings. To show the watching world (the U.S.) they had nothing to do with Abu Sayyaf, Iraq had declared they had "cooperated in the field of intelligence information with some of our friends to encourage the tourists and the investors in the Philippines." However, memos now reveal to the contrary. "The kidnappers were formerly receiving money and purchasing combat weapons."
A few months before faxes were transmitted between Iraq and Abu Sayyaf, Ahmad Mahmud Ghalib, an Iraqi embassy secretary, dispatched an embassy worker to contact Abu Ahmad to find out how "American and Zionist intelligence operate in the Philippines, especially the movements of the American intelligence in their efforts to fight terrorism and recruiting a variety of nationalities, particularly Arabs." In later contacts with Abu Ahmad, the Iraqi embassy official eagerly wanted to know the names of "bin Laden's people" in the Philippines to perform martyrdom operations. Abu Ahmad replied with, "I will supply you with the names very soon. I will write some for you because I am in touch with them."
In a Foreign Affairs piece, it shows how the Iraqi regime sought to carry their own terrorist acts.
As well, the CIA has established a link between a high-level al Qaeda member, Ayman al Zawahiri, and Iraqi intelligence. In 1992 and 1998, al Zawahiri met with intelligence officials in Baghdad where he was paid $US300,000. Five separate sources have confirmed the encounter and transaction.