WASHINGTON – Iraqi intelligence agents were in touch with Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden (search) in the mid-1990s to plan how to oppose the Saudi ruling family, FOX News has confirmed.
A newly disclosed document obtained by Americans in Iraq — a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times — shows that bin Laden was in Sudan when he communicated with the Iraqis as part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the House of Saud (search). Bin Laden was based in Sudan from 1992 to 1996 before the government kicked him out and he fled to Afghanistan.
Fox News has confirmed that intelligence officials at the highest levels believe this document is credible.
It's described as an internal report by Iraqi intelligence that details efforts to get cooperation from several Saudi opposition groups in destabilizing Saudi Arabia and attacking foreign elements in the kingdom. Those opposition groups include bin Laden's organization, Al Qaeda, before it had become a full-fledged terrorist organization.
The document mentions that possible joint collaboration was being set up on attacks approved by Saddam Hussein's son, Uday.
The document states that bin Laden was "approached by our side" and bin Laden "requested joint operations against foreign forces based in Saudi Arabia."
Iraq's answer to that request is not laid out in the document, but it states that "cooperation between Iraqi intelligence and bin Laden's group should be "allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement." It also says Iraq agreed to rebroadcast anti-Saudi propaganda.
Last week, the panel probing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks concluded that contacts between Baghdad and bin Laden didn't demonstrate "a collaborative relationship" between the two. The White House has argued that while there may not be any direct ties between the two and Sept. 11, there is considerable evidence of a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda.
But Steve Hayes, author of the book, "The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration With Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America," said the document discovery is huge.
"What this document does is spell out a relationship that dates back years, really," Hayes said. It "further expands our knowledge on the nature of that relationship and the willingness of both parties, or perhaps the eagerness of both parties to work together. In this particular context it was to work against the Saudis, but certainly if they're willing to work against the Saudis, it's not a stretch to think that they're willing to cooperate in attacks against the United States."
The document was apparently obtained from the Iraqi National Congress (search) as just part of the wealth of information gathered after the fall of Saddam's regime. The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency paid the Iraqi National Congress for documents and other information until recently, when the group and its leader, Ahmad Chalabi, fell out of favor in Washington.
The task force studying the document concluded that it "appeared authentic," and that it "corroborates and expands on previous reporting" about contacts between Iraqi intelligence and bin Laden in Sudan, the Times reported.
Fox News' Bret Baier contributed to this report.