While Western press agencies continue to report years-old allegations of Qu'ran abuse from detainees as if they were new, the Exempt Media completely missed important corroboration from Iraq's new government that Saddam sheltered and even encouraged al-Qaeda terrorists during his reign of terror. CQ reader Jason Smith at Generation Why? notes this revelation from the Italian news portal AKI which confirms that Saddam's regime sponsored an Islamist conference and specifically invited AQ's #2 man and Zarqawi to attend:
The number two of the al-Qaeda network, Ayman al-Zawahiri, visited Iraq under a false name in September 1999 to take part in the ninth Popular Islamic Congress, former Iraqi premier Iyad Allawi has revealed to pan-Arab daily al-Hayat. In an interview, Allawi made public information discovered by the Iraqi secret service in the archives of the Saddam Hussein regime, which sheds light on the relationship between Saddam Hussein and the Islamic terrorist network. He also said that both al-Zawahiri and Jordanian militant al-Zarqawi probably entered Iraq in the same period.
"Al-Zawahiri was summoned by Izza Ibrahim Al-Douri – then deputy head of the council of the leadership of the revolution - to take part in the congress, along with some 150 other Islamic figures from 50 Muslim countries," Allawi said.
According to Allawi, important information has been gathered regarding the presence of another key terrorist figure operating in Iraq - the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
"The Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi entered Iraq secretly in the same period," Allawi affirmed, "and began to form a terrorist cell, even though the Iraqi services do not have precise information on his entry into the country," he said.
Last week, King Abdullah told a Saudi newspaper that the Jordanians knew Saddam to be sheltering Zarqawi in the last years of the Ba'athist reign of terror and demanded his extradition. Saddam refused to turn Zarqawi over to the Jordanians. Abdullah had been clear on that point; the Ba'athists had not claimed they could not reach him, but that they flatly refused to hand him over.
Last year, Stephen Hayes wrote about the Islamist conference in his book The Connection, which outlined a number of such ties between the Saddam regime and the AQ network, as well as other terrorists. Now that the new Iraqi government has possession of Saddam's old files, they have begun to corroborate Hayes' work. Far from being an enemy to the Islamists, Saddam reached out to the fanatics as an ally in order to covertly support attacks on Western nations, either directly or indirectly. The IIS records that Allawi has on Zawahiri shows that al-Douri -- currently running the ex-Ba'athist insurgency in Iraq -- knew who to contact in order to set up those connections.
Does the Exempt Media report this? Not to my knowledge. They have already set their story line on Saddam and terrorism, and they apparently have no interest in evidence that contradicts it. The media, however, stands willing to report every captured terrorist's claims of abuse as gospel truth, as well as the Amnesty International's hyperbolic rhetoric proclaiming the Gitmo detention center -- which houses illegal combatants captured in battle -- as the equivalent of the Soviet gulag. Small wonder the public continues to lose confidence in the integrity and the objectivity of American media outlets.