The Connection Between 9/11 and Iraq

This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, September 10, that has been edited for clarity.

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HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9-11.


SENATOR BOB GRAHAM, D-FLA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President knew or should have known that there was no relationship between 9-11. There was no relationship between Usama Been Forgotten and Saddam Hussein.


BRIT HUME, HOST: It's an applause line. And in that case, a laughter line for the Democrats in their presidential debates. There you heard it from Howard Dean (search), from Dennis Kucinich (search) and finally, there from Senator Bob Graham (search) of Florida, the flat out statement…definitive statement, no connection between 9-11 and Iraq.

Well, certainly the administration has never claimed a connection, but is it that clear that it is definite there was not? For more on this, we turn now to FOX News foreign affairs analyst, Mansoor Ijaz, who joins us now from Berlin; the man with the best sources we know of anybody on these kinds of issues.

Mansoor, welcome. And tell us, first of all, your sense about whether it is…whether it can be definitively stated as a fact that there was no…9-11 connection to Iraq.

MANSOOR IJAZ, FOX NEWS FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Brit, I'll first…I'll say to you that with regard to Howard Dean and Congressman Kucinich, you have to forgive them because they don't know any better. But I was surprised to hear Bob Graham say that since he sat in a senior position on the Senate Intelligence Committee during the course of these events.

The fact of the matter is that as early as 1994, but certainly proof positive as of 1998, the connection between Al Qaeda (search) and Saddam Hussein was very clear. In February and March of 1998, bin Laden's No. 2 guy visited Baghdad at the request of the intelligence services of Iraq.

And he was living in Khartoum at the time at the very moment that the Sudanese intelligence chief was begging the FBI in hand written notes that were carried back and forth to come to the Sudan and look at what the data was that they had, who they were dealing with, how bin Laden's people were moving around, which ones were moving where and what they were doing.

There is no and, if's, or but's about the fact that there was a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that early.

Now, the real question is what did they do in that two and a half weeks that they sat there and planned and plotted with each other?

We know that exactly six weeks after the meetings took place, a letter came from the FBI to the Sudanese saying we can't help you. We're not allowed to come and look at this stuff. And then six weeks after that, the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed and the Sudanese Embassy was cased.

So I would say that these people who make that kind of an argument have really no idea what the facts are. Nor do they understand what the mendacity of Saddam was to use al Qaeda for his benefit and his purposes in carrying out terrorist attacks in other parts of the world.

HUME: Well, certainly that makes pretty good circumstantial evidence on the attacks on those embassies. And it does suggest from what you have said that there have been contacts at a high level, important level, between al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. But what about something that would suggest a connection to 9-11, is there evidence there of any consequence?

IJAZ: Absolutely, and now let's take it a step further after the 1998 bombings. We then know there was a training camp called Salman Pak, which we've been able to identify the aircraft that they trained, the hijackers on. We've been able to identify other contacts between Iraqi intelligence services and directly with the 9-11 hijackers.

People would love to shove that evidence under the carpet, but the fact of the matter is that the meetings did take place, planning was going on. The Iraqi diplomatic pouch was the tool of choice to pass al Qaeda's messages around the world in different parts of the world.

There was…we know for a fact that the Philippines' embassy of Iraq in manila was used for purposes of planning what was then a thwarted effort to try and hijack airplanes across the Pacific. We know that the Pakistani…I mean, the Iraqi Embassy in Islamabad was used to facilitate contact between the Taliban, bin Laden's people, and Iraqi senior scientists to collaborate on chemical and biological weapons. I know that for a fact myself that that was going on.

So, there is just no way that anybody can convince me that there is no connection. We have not yet found the forensic tie. That may be true. But to say that there's no connection whatsoever, that is absolutely not true.

HUME: Why is it that the Bush administration, in your view, has not stressed this terrorist connection more? It did for a while, but since the appeal that was made for the U.N. resolutions back last fall, you haven't heard much from the administration on this connection from.

IJAZ: You know, Brit, that's sort of a tough question to answer in one sense. But let me give you my opinion about that. That is, the Bush administration has their hands full trying to solve the problems on the ground in Iraq right now.

They did the best that they could to and try to lay everything out. They tried to make the case to the American people. I think they made a darn good case. And when they executed what they needed to and the evidence was there. The fact is that we found evidence after the war was over that this was going on.

And so for me, it's very clear what was happening. If the Democrats don't want to accept that, they're not going to win office next time if they keep this up, because the American people are too smart to let this go on forever.

HUME: Mansoor, thank you. Always a pleasure to have you.

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