What was Saddam Hussein's involvement with terrorist groups?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Dick Cheney, MA, US Vice President at the time of the quote, stated in a Jan. 11, 2006 FOX News radio interview:

"...[T]he fact is we know that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were heavily involved with terror. They were carried as a terror-sponsoring state by our State Department for many, many years. Abu Nidal operated out of there; Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Saddam Hussein was making payments to families of suicide bombers. All of this is very well established."

Jan. 11, 2006 - Dick Cheney, MA 

The Council on Foreign Relations stated in a Dec. 2005 article "Terrorism Havens: Iraq":

"Has Iraq sponsored terrorism?

Yes. Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship provided headquarters, operating bases, training camps, and other support to terrorist groups fighting the governments of neighboring Turkey and Iran, as well as to hard-line Palestinian groups. During the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam commissioned several failed terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities. Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the State Department listed Iraq as a state sponsor of terrorism. The question of Iraq’s link to terrorism grew more urgent with Saddam’s suspected determination to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which Bush administration officials feared he might share with terrorists who could launch devastating attacks against the United States...

What type of terrorist groups did Iraq support under Saddam Hussein’s regime?

Primarily groups that could hurt Saddam’s regional foes. Saddam has aided the Iranian dissident group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (known by its Turkish initials, PKK), a separatist group fighting the Turkish government. Moreover, Iraq has hosted several Palestinian splinter groups that oppose peace with Israel , including the mercenary Abu Nidal Organization, whose leader, Abu Nidal, was found dead in Baghdad in August 2002. Iraq has also supported the Islamist Hamas movement and reportedly channeled money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. A secular dictator, however, Saddam tended to support secular terrorist groups rather than Islamist ones such as al-Qaeda, experts say."

Dec. 2005 - Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) 

The White House, in a Sep. 12, 2002 report titled "A Decade of Deception and Defiance: Saddam Hussein's Defiance of the United Nations," stated:

"Iraq is one of seven countries that have been designated by the Secretary of State as state sponsors of international terrorism...:

  • In 1993, the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) directed and pursued an attempt to assassinate, through the use of a powerful car bomb, former U.S. President George Bush and the Emir of Kuwait. Kuwaiti authorities thwarted the terrorist plot and arrested 16 suspects, led by two Iraqi nationals.
  • Iraq shelters terrorist groups including the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO), which has used terrorist violence against Iran and in the 1970s was responsible for killing several U.S. military personnel and U.S. civilians.50
  • Iraq shelters several prominent Palestinian terrorist organizations in Baghdad, including the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), which is known for aerial attacks against Israel and is headed by Abu Abbas, who carried out the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro and murdered U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer.51
  • Iraq shelters the Abu Nidal Organization, an international terrorist organization that has carried out terrorist attacks in twenty countries, killing or injuring almost 900 people. Targets have included the United States and several other Western nations. Each of these groups have offices in Baghdad and receive training, logistical assistance, and financial aid from the government of Iraq.52
  • In April 2002, Saddam Hussein increased from $10,000 to $25,000 the money offered to families of Palestinian suicide/homicide bombers. The rules for rewarding suicide/homicide bombers are strict and insist that only someone who blows himself up with a belt of explosives gets the full payment. Payments are made on a strict scale, with different amounts for wounds, disablement, death as a “martyr” and $25,000 for a suicide bomber. Mahmoud Besharat, a representative on the West Bank who is handing out to families the money from Saddam, said, “You would have to ask President Saddam why he is being so generous. But he is a revolutionary and he wants this distinguished struggle, the intifada, to continue."53
  • Former Iraqi military officers have described a highly secret terrorist training facility in Iraq known as Salman Pak, where both Iraqis and non-Iraqi Arabs receive training on hijacking planes and trains, planting explosives in cities, sabotage, and assassinations."

  • Sep. 12, 2002 - A Decade of Deception and Defiance (63.5 KB)  

    Laurie Mylroie, PhD, Adjunct Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, stated in an Oct. 19, 2004 New York Sun article titled "Saddam's Terrorist Ties":

    "The report of the Iraq Survey Group presents further evidence of Iraq's involvement in hostile activities. It includes the most comprehensive account ["Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD" Sep. 30, 2004] of the Iraqi Intelligence Service ever published in open-source literature, depicting an organization that consisted of 'over twenty compartmentalized directorates.' Section M-14 included the 'Tiger Group' - 'primarily composed of suicide bombers.' It also supervised the 'Challenge Project,' a highly secretive enterprise involved with explosives, about which the Iraq Survey Group could learn little. Another section - M-21 - was formed in 1990 to create explosive devices for Iraqi intelligence. Its chemistry department developed explosive materials; its electronics department prepared timers and wiring; and its mechanical department produced igniters and designed the bombs.

    This picture shows the substantial, longstanding involvement of Iraq's intelligence services in terrorist training and support operations, including collaboration with Islamic militants. Its activities were infinitely more sophisticated than anything that was taught to the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan."

    Oct. 19, 2004 - Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD: Regime Strategic Intent: Key Findings (193 KB)  
    Laurie Mylroie, PhD 

    Richard B. Myers, MBA, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Sep. 18, 2002 stated the following in testimony before the US House Armed Services Committee:

    "The Iraqi regime has also allowed its country to be a haven for terrorists. Since the 1970s, organizations such as the Abu Nidal Organization, Palestinian Liberation Front and Mujahadeen-e-Khalq have found sanctuary within Iraq's borders. Over the past few months, with the demise of their safe haven in Afghanistan, some al Qaida operatives have relocated to Iraq. Baghdad's support for international terrorist organizations ranges from explicit and overt support to implicit and passive acquiescence."

    Sep. 18, 2002 - Richard B. Myers, MBA 

    Judith Yaphe, PhD, Senior Research Fellow and Middle East Project Director for the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, stated at a July 9, 2003 public hearing to the National Committee on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States:

    "Iraq under Saddam was a major state sponsor of international terrorism. They almost wrote the book, and I've read the books that have been written. Iraq under Saddam was an active sponsor of terrorist groups, providing safe haven, training, arms, logistical support -- requiring in exchange that the groups carry out operations ordered by Baghdad for Saddam's objectives. Terrorist groups were not permitted to have offices, recruitment, or training facilities, or freely use Iraqi territory under the regime's control without explicit permission from Saddam.

    Saddam used foreign terrorist groups and terrorism as instruments of foreign policy. Groups hosted by Saddam were denied protection. If he wanted to improve relations with a neighboring country and encourage to attack the same countries when Saddam wanted to pressure them. If they refused Saddam's requests, they were exiled. Now, conventional wisdom casts Saddam as a terrorist, a primary consumer of the terrorist tactics and methods, and an enemy of the United States. And that is all true. Conventional wisdom describes Iraq under Saddam as a primary state sponsor of international terrorism, and that is all true. If the mathematics is correct, then the conventional conclusion must be that Saddam and Iraq are responsible for acts of terrorism against the United States, going back to the 1993 Trade Towers attack to perhaps 9/11.

    He used terrorism to intimidate Iraqis at home and abroad, and he did that, as we all know, very well.

    And you know what's interesting, because we have seen Sabri al Banna, Abu Nidal, in and out of Iraq for several years. When he refused to cooperate with Baghdad on attacks against Syria, he was told to leave. He came back again later when he was found to be useful. He died last summer, almost a year ago, of four gunshot wounds to the head. The Iraqis describe this as suicide. I don't think so. I would imagine that Saddam decided to remove the evidence of his links to one of the most notorious of international terrorists at a time when the United States was increasing pressure on him to reveal weapons of mass destruction and accusing him of sponsoring al Qaeda.

    He sheltered the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, the Iranian anti-regime group which helped him in his fight against us. He supported their attacks against Iran when it was to his benefit, and on occasion, he would threaten to close them down when he wanted to get closer to Tehran for whatever reasons."

    July 9, 2003 - Judith Share Yaphe, PhD