- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2003

In what must be history's longest prelude, the United Nations' walkup to a blitz grinds on. Amid all the diplomatic billing and cooing, remember why Saddam Hussein must be dislodged, not just disarmed: He runs a one-stop-shop for international terrorists. His lethal largess already has helped maim and kill thousands of innocent civilians, including Americans. Here's how:
A September 11, 2001, connection?
According to Michael Ledeen's book, "The War Against the Terror Masters," September 11 ringleader Mohamed Atta flew from Virginia Beach, Va., to Prague, Czech Republic, on April 7, 2001. The next day, he met with an Iraqi diplomat named Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir Al-Ani in Prague. On April 9, Mr. Ledeen writes, Atta flew home to Florida. "Less than two weeks, later he opened an accountat the Sun Bank in Florida, and $100,000 was transferred into that account from an unknown money-changer in the Persian Gulf." That April 22, Czech officials expelled Mr. Al-Ani for "engaging in activities beyond his diplomatic duties," namely surveilling Radio Free Europe's Prague headquarters.
Collaboration with al Qaeda.
U.S. authorities say Abu Musab Zarqawi, a high-level Osama bin Laden associate, ran an Afghan camp that specialized in poisons and chemical weapons. With the Taliban under U.S. attack, he fled to Iran in fall 2001. Between May and July 2002, he had war-related leg wounds treated in Baghdad.
About two dozen Islamists reportedly joined him, including two top officers of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Zarqawi allegedly masterminded last October's assassination of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman, Jordan. Intelligence officials believe Saddam let Zarqawi fight with a group called Ansar al-Islam against northern Iraq's anti-Baghdad Kurds.
Ansar al-Islam apparently produces explosives and poisons such as ricin, which kills via circulatory collapse.
Refuge.
At gunpoint, Faisal Naji al-Balawi and Ayesh Ali al-Fridi diverted a London-bound Saudi Arabian Airlines jet from Jeddah to Baghdad on Oct. 14, 2000. Rather than extradite these hijackers to Riyadh, Saddam granted them political asylum. Veteran Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal died of possibly self-inflicted gunshot wounds last Aug. 16. He lived in Baghdad since 1999, "with the full knowledge and preparations of the Iraqi authorities," Nidal's Beirut-based colleagues told the Associated Press. (Iraqi officials claim he entered illegally.) Among other massacres, Nidal engineered the Dec. 27, 1986, grenade and machine-gun attacks on El Al ticket counters at Rome's and Vienna's airports. His minions injured 121 and killed 14 innocents, including five Americans.
Real estate.
The Arab Liberation Front, Palestine Liberation Front and Abu Nidal Organization maintain Baghdad offices, according to the State Department's "Patterns of Global Terrorism," published last May 21. Saddam also let Hamas open a Baghdad office in 1999. In 2000, Hamas led the parade of homicide bombings that still plague Israel.
Instruction.
As Secretary of State Colin Powell told the U.N. Feb. 5, "Baghdad trains Palestine Liberation Front members in small arms and explosives." One Iraqi defector, AP reports, said Saddam sent Iraqi experts to Afghanistan to teach al Qaeda members how to forge documents.
Al Qaeda detainees have indicated to American officials that Iraqi agents gave them chemical and biological weapons instruction between 1997 and 2000.
Resources.
On March 11, 2002, Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister, announced that "President Saddam Hussein has recently told the head of the Palestinian political office, Faroq al-Kaddoumi, his decision to raise the sum granted to each family of the martyrs of the Palestinian uprising to $25,000 instead of $10,000." At this writing, 28 homicide bombers subsequently injured at least 1,273 people and killed 225, including some eight Americans. Among them: Hannah Rogen, 90, blasted at a March 27, 2002, Passover Seder and Abigail Leitner, a 17-year-old Baptist visitor killed in a March 5 Haifa bus explosion.
Connect these dots, and Iraq's support for terrorists flows as clearly as the Tigris through Baghdad.
Even if Saddam complies with Team Blix or plausibly fakes it disarmament will not do. He could keep cooperating with Muslim extremists who target Israel, U.S. allies and America itself. Saddam can host, finance and deploy these mass murderers, even if his venomous laboratories are padlocked.
The U.N.'s cozy mood lighting cannot obscure what America, England and other intrepid nations must do to Saddam Hussein: Slam him, good and hard.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service.

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