The Jordanian story
mainstream media is giving more attention to the foiled chemical weapon attack in Jordan
now that the Jordanian government has broadcast the confessions of the arrested terrorists, I wonder why there was so little discussion about this huge story in the ten days after the plot was discovered. How could there be a planned chemical attack on Jordan coming from Syria, and this not re-configure the whole WMD debate? The fact that the Al Qaeda operatives came from Syria lends possible support to the claim that WMDs or WMD production facilities were moved from Iraq to Syria before war. Also, the key figure in this plot, Azmi Jayousi, said he contacted his mastermind, the top Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in Iraq: “I pledged allegiance to Zarqawi and after the fall of Afghanistan I met him again in Iraq,” he said in his confession.
So, though the facts are murky and subject to change, what we tentatively have so far is (1) chemical weapons originating from Syria aimed at killing tens of thousands of people in the Jordanian capital (though the Jordanians haven’t said what kind of chemical weapaons they are); and (2) one of the top Al-Qaeda honchos setting up these terror operations in Iraq, after the Afghanistan war, but apparently before the Iraq war. Which further suggests that it was not the U.S. occupation of Iraq that inspired the Al Qaeda people to rush to Iraq to kill American GIs and insufficiently pious Moslems; Al Qaeda was already working on its devilish deeds in Iraq before we invaded. We thus tentatively have an Al Qaeda-Iraq connection, and a WMD-Iraq connection, constituting the very triangle of Iraq/WMDs/Al Qaeda which was our chief reason for toppling the Hussein regime.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 27, 2004 12:49 AM | Send
The media is ignoring the story because it punctures so many of the cherished myths of isolationsist and those ooposed to the Iraq war.
The Bush administration does not bring it up because they have been burned on weapons of mass distruction.
Reading the reports its sounds like these guys were strictly amateur. One quote has them planning to mix 71 types of chemicals. The photos show plastic jerry cans. Somehow that doesn’t sound like the professional programs of development that Dr. Germ and other scientists in Saddam’s regime were supposed to be developing.
Saying these guys are part of Saddam’s program is like saying McVeigh was part of Clinton’s defense program.
WND/Insight now headline that there have/has been plenty of evidence—“smoking gun” evidence—of WMD in Iraq for some time but that the Press simply won’t report the story. If this story has legs, it will validate Bush’s cause for invasion. THIS is the proof that Bush has been hoping for, but why he and his minions haven’t been trumping the finds, I can understand. I mean, if it vindicates his going to war, then why not crow about it?
Don’t get me wrong; this won’t change my decision to vote for a third party candidate or write in. But, it should, if it stands up to scrutiny, be the early end of the John Kerry campaign and give Bush his re-election. For the economy is coming back, and so is patriotism in this fight against the evil of Islam. The Demos and Kerry in particular will look more and more like “the whiny, spoiled boys” they are from whom fate snatched victory, giving them another crushing defeat.
I have it on the reliable authority of the anti-war right that secular Baathists and al-Qaeda are enemies and cannot possibly cooperate together. Given that Syria is run by a secular Baathist regime, the al-Qaeda terrorists with the chemical weapons who went from Syria into Jordan CANNOT possibly be from Jordan. Someone must have made a mistake in that story. Pardon my sarcasm.
Mr. Young writes:
“Saying these guys are part of Saddam’s program is like saying McVeigh was part of Clinton’s defense program.”
I said nothing like this. What is possibly indicated (and not proved, since the facts are not clear yet) is that there were weapons materials/capabilities in Iraq, that one of the top Al Qaeda leaders operated in Iraq, that these weapons materials were moved to Syria, and that the Al Qaeda-directed attempt on Jordan originated from Syria. If this is true, this is precisely the kind of nexus of Iraq/weapons/terrorists that has been discussed all along by those who supported the war. That is not at all the same thing as “saying these guys are part of Saddam’s program.”
Mitchell Young needs a course in reading comprehension and maybe basic honesty as well. A person who was speaking in good faith would not have caricatured my argument as “saying these guys are part of Saddam’s program.” But Mr. Young has a record of taking indefensible positions and then disappearing when he’s called out on them. I’m thinking in particular of my exchange with him concerning Sam Francis’s attack on Michael Ledeen.
I withdraw the statement. Mr. Auster did not say that whatever they have found in Jordan was part of Saddam’s program. Any more than I said that Baathists and Al Qaeda couldn’t possibly cooperate, as Mr. Coleman construes my position. There is simply no evidence of the latter regarding WMD’s. And this current Jordan thing simply doesn’t change matters.
I would say that this:
“How could there be a planned chemical attack on Jordan coming from Syria, and this not re-configure the whole WMD debate? The fact that the Al Qaeda operatives came from Syria lends possible support to the claim that WMDs or WMD production facilities were moved from Iraq to Syria before war.”
strongly *implies* that somehow the WMD’s about which the war was supposedly fought, i.e. Saddam’s state-sponsored research program and its products, were somehow spirited to Syria. RonL then takes the bait. It’s all the antiwar media, covering up this obvious evidence of WMD in Iraq.
All of this is, of course, nonsense. Remember, before the war we were talking about uranium from Niger, centrifuge tubes to enrich that uranium, mobile biological weapons labs, etc. Now we are talking about some guys ‘mixing 71 chemicals together’. These things simply do not correspond, and I think it is rather irresponsible to imply a connection to what was *supposed* to have been in Iraq and these obviously amateurish Al Qaeda guys. (This is also assuming that the Jordanian story is true — this is the first time this forum has put so much trust in an Arab government.)
It also bears repeating that fully 1/3 of Iraq, the north, was outside Saddam’s control and continually patrolled by US aircraft. The questions aboud: Did these chemicals originate there? Are these chemicals common household, industrial or agricultural chemicals? Yet Mr. Auster thinks this reconfigures the WMD debate. That fact is that the WMD’s that we were told were there obviously were not there.
I am still waiting for Ledeen’s lawsuit against Francis, in which he proves that he is not a Likudnik and that Francis is a big, fat liar.
“Reconfigure” the WMD debate was not the best choice of words. I simply meant that it ought to revive the issue. I also repeatedly used words like “tentative” in my post because the whole story remains uncertain. The Jordanians’ failure to identify the type of chemical weapons, the extravagant but unsubstanted statement by the Jordanian spokesman that the weapons would kill 80,000 people, all suggest that one must be cautious. And I was cautious. Nevertheless, if the truth is even roughly as presented by Jordan, then that does logically lead us back to all the possible connections I mentioned, as a _possibility_ to be explored, not as a conclusion. So there was nothing irresponsible in my discussion. It is Mr. Young, in his contemptuous dismissal of these connections and possibilities, who is being irresponsible.
Finally, Mr. Young’s suggestion that Ledeen’s failure to sue Francis over his column shows that Francis was telling the truth is ludicrous, and just the kind of pathetic, lame argument I’ve come to expect from Mr. Young.
Typo on Mr. Coleman’s part:
“the al-Qaeda terrorists with the chemical weapons who went from Syria into Jordan CANNOT possibly be from Jordan.”
I think the last word in that sentence was meant to be Syria.
As for Mr. Auster’s comment, yes, this does bring up the WMD debate again. This definitely warrants investigation.
I would disagree with Mr. Coleman’s apparent assertion that the presence of terrorists in Syria means that the Syrian government was cooperating with them (same with Iraq, for that matter, as Mr. Young says, Saddam didn’t maintain contorl over the Northern part of the country). In fact, Syria may actually be a target.
(Not that Syria doesn’t have ties to terrorists like Hamas and Hizbollah, just I doubt they would have ties to Al Qaeda).
I would also be cautious of anything coming out of WorldNetDaily. The article leaves out some important facts (e.g. the parts for the uranium-enrichment centrifuges had been buried in a scientist’s backyard for ten years).
Also, the tone ofthe article is a lot less certain than the headlines. I remember during the war that FrontPageMag and WND both headlined that we had found chemical weapons factories (FPM even asked why Mr. Blix hadn’t found these) when the articles themselves only said that the factories were suspected to be chemical weapons factories.
Not that WorldNetDaily might not be correct, but I would be as skeptical of them as of anyone else.
But Mr. Auster is right. This does need to be looked into.
Mitchell Young wrote: “Any more than I said that Baathists and Al Qaeda couldn’t possibly cooperate, as Mr. Coleman construes my position.”
What I actually said was that this was a typical line from the anti-war Right. Unless you are synonymous with the anti-war Right, I was not talking about you at all.
“It also bears repeating that fully 1/3 of Iraq, the north, was outside Saddam’s control and continually patrolled by US aircraft.” Mitchell Young repeats this tired old nonsense, and Michael Jose agrees with him. We have been over this ground before, but it seems that everything must be repeated endlessly to the anti-war crowd.
Northern Iraq was a no-fly zone. That means that Saddam was not allowed to fly military airplanes or helicopters there. He was allowed to keep his army and police there, and in fact, the army kept shooting at our planes, locking onto them with surface-to-air missile radar, etc., and provoking minor battles. With the Iraqi army and police roaming all over northern Iraq, it was very much under Saddam’s control. That is why the Kurds were still anxious to fight by our side when the war started. If they were already totally out from under Saddam’s control, it would have been merely a formality to get rid of him.
When Saddam was challenged on the subject of the Ansar al-Islam terrorist training camps, he replied that he was not responsible because that was a no-fly zone and he was not in control up there. He was playing the “poor pitiful me, they are blaming me for things I cannot even control” role to get sympathy in the West. It worked. The anti-war Left started repeating this excuse immediately, and the anti-war Right was parroting it soon after.
I would be ashamed and embarrassed to repeat the propaganda of the likes of Saddam Hussein. But that is the way it always goes in America. In the past, we had leftist saps repeating the propaganda that was fed into this country by agents of the Soviet Union. History repeats itself.
I was under the impression that even the pro-war people believed that the no-fly zones severely diminished Saddam’s control over Northern Iraq. I’m sorry if I implied that he had no control, but I always thought that he had very much reduced control, which is why we had all of these Kurdish institutions popping up.
Still, I stand by my general point that saying the terrorists came from inside Syria does not necessarily mean that they had the support of the Syrian government.
I apologize for my errant typo in:
“THIS is the proof that Bush ha been looking for, but why he and his minions have not been trumping the finds, I can understand.” It should have read “…, I can’t understand.”
I think reasonable men (and women) can agree that just “where” the terrorist foreigners are coming into Iraq from is a debatable point. News reports lately have said things like “…streaming in from Syria”, etc. Yet others have said, perhaps more quietly, “…entering from Iran.” Them Iranians are well known to be assisting Al Qaida.
I’m not the only person frustrated by the absence of specific facts connected with the foiled terrorist attack in Jordan. Here are a few more details, plus a plea for more information, from the Wall Street Journal:
More details of the plot emerged Monday night with the dramatic broadcast on Jordanian television of confessions from the terror cell’s leader and associates. The idea apparently was to crash trucks—fitted with special battering rams and filled with some 20 tons of explosives—through the gates of targets that included the U.S. Embassy, the Jordanian Prime Minister’s office and the national intelligence headquarters. The explosions notwithstanding, the real damage was reportedly to come from dispersing a toxic cloud of chemicals, which included nerve and blister agents.
Anonymous U.S. officials have been quoted playing down the WMD wrinkle, suggesting the chemicals may have been meant to merely amplify a conventional explosion. But then much of our “intelligence” bureaucracy is still wedded to the discredited notion that secular tyrants and fundamentalist terrorists don’t cooperate (see Hezbollah). They may also be defensive about their earlier, dismissive assessments of Zarqawi’s significance.
Plotter Hussein Sharif Hussein was shown on Jordanian television saying the aim was “carrying out the first suicide attack to be launched by al Qaeda using chemicals.” A Jordanian scientist described a toxic cloud that could have spread for a mile or more. So was it really a foiled WMD attack? Here’s hoping someone is trying to get to the bottom of this.
This is an ominous sign. The continued presence in the U.S. of millions of Muslims and the lack of border control are ingredients for another disaster. Would it be so difficult for Muslim terrorists to infiltrate, to obtain fertilizer, and to mix it with a deadly gas? I don’t think so. Why is is going to happen? The pols say terrorists are not going to stop us from having multiculturalism (i.e., votes). So hopefully, when the terrorists do strike again, they will strike the pols instead of innocent working people. But are terrorists, on average, that stupid?