Posted on March 22, 2016
Al-Afari And Away
Ignoring the Saddam-ISIS link
During two Republican primary debates, presidential frontrunner Donald Trump claimed that Saddam Hussein had been an enemy of Islamic terrorism, and argued that he should have been left in power to kill terrorists, so that our soldiers didn’t have to. Considering that, one might think a reminder of Saddam’s moustache-deep involvement in terrorism, along with the fact that he’d retained an active chemical weapons program between wars, would be a major news story. One might even expect that a story about a former member of Saddam’s regime helping ISIS to produce chemical weapons, running contrary to the almost universally accepted version of “what we know now about Iraq,” would lead the national news.
American commandos have reportedly captured Sleiman Daoud al-Afari, who is identified as the head of ISIS’ chemical weapons program, and subsequently destroyed two of the terrorist group’s chemical facilities thanks in part to information gathered from his interrogations. Al-Afari had previously been one of Saddam’s chemical and biological weapons experts.
Al-Afari is now 50 years old. That means he was only 25 at the end of the 1991 Gulf War, when Saddam supposedly unilaterally destroyed all of his weapons of mass destruction. It defies credulity that al-Afari’s chemical weapons experience ended at that point, especially since the “what we know now” narrative of Saddam’s WMDs is already contradicted by his government’s admission to producing ricin in the mid-90s, the VX discovery that instigated Operation Desert Fox in ’98, the network of clandestine chemical laboratories that was revealed in the Duelfer Report, an extensive WMD paper trail including purchase orders and progress reports, and the damning admissions from Saddam’s own secret recordings, among other evidence.
In June 2014, ISIS raided Saddam’s chemical weapons site at al-Multhanna, which UN inspectors had considered too hazardous to enter, and had therefore simply tagged “destroyed.” ISIS knew that it had not in fact been destroyed, and likely also knew, with the help of at least one regime insider, what they might be able to salvage from it.
It’s not as if al-Afari and other former Iraqi officials have simply latched onto ISIS, either. Since the terrorist group first declared itself, multiple sources have reported that its command structure is dominated by Saddam’s officers, which is why it has often successfully conducted conventional military operations. Saddam’s Fedayeen, a guerilla force under the command of his son Uday, served as a conduit between his government and foreign jihadists, many of whom were recruited to training camps in Iraq. We know from Saddam’s “Blessed July” project that he deployed graduates of these camps to other countries, including England, to coordinate “martyrdom operations.” It should come as no surprise, then, that his men are now working hand-in-glove with an organization that is a derivative of al-Qaeda.
ISIS is reputed to exhibit unprecedented levels of cruelty, but does it really? Saddam’s officials, who now make up the terror group’s operational leadership, were already known to have drilled holes in people with power tools, pulled out teeth with pliers, cut out tongues and nailed them to boards for the victims to see, conducted sadistic experiments on living human subjects, locked children in “stinging rooms” filled with bees and scorpions, thrown people off rooftops, dropped live men into industrial shredders, gang-raped women to death while forcing their husbands and brothers to watch, hijacked busloads of schoolchildren and machine-gunned them into a mass grave, and wantonly slaughtered thousands of innocent people with chemical weapons. The atrocities committed by ISIS are only consistent with these, and no wonder.
The news media have reported al-Afari’s capture, but they’ve shown very little curiosity about its significance. “What we know now about Iraq” is that Saddam had “no weapons of mass destruction,” and that religiously zealous terrorists would never collaborate with his infidel regime. Al-Afari’s circumstance, which refutes both of those tales, ought to be the biggest story of the decade. Never mind man bites dog. This is more like dog walks man on leash, man has accident on rug in doghouse, man initiates amorous relationship with dog’s leg, and dog posts cloying video of man on YouTube.
This story should have generated profuse mea culpas on editorial pages all across the country by now. Instead, the mainstream news media have only mentioned it in passing, treating it as something barely more interesting or consequential than yesterday’s baseball scores. Tomorrow, they’ll revert to their “what we know now” lie, just as if the story had never happened – which it hasn’t, al-Afari as they’re concerned.
The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press