Bill Gertz, who is one of the better reporters on security issues despite working for the Washington Times has uncovered another document that links the Iraqi Intelligence Service to bin Laden.
I tend to take this with a grain of salt. It shows that the IIS knew of bin Laden (which they obviously would have), not that they were working directly with bin Laden.
Even so, if bin Laden did leave some ties with the Iraqis, it blows away the already tenous idea that the two groups would never have anything to do with each other. Yes, bin Laden described Saddam as an apostate, but that doesn’t mean that if Saddam Hussein offered bin Laden chemical or biological weapons he wouldn’t take them. It means that eventually bin Laden would have turned against Hussein, but that as long as their interests coincided it’s difficult to argue that they never would have worked together.
It’s similar to the relationship between Germany and Japan in World War II. Hitler believed in absolute Aryan purity, and considered the Japanese to be a “mongrel race.” At the same time, Hitler shipped war materiel to Japan via U-Boat, knowing that if Japan could keep America occupied it would help ensure a Nazi victory over Europe. There we had two ideologically opposed groups supporting each other due to temporary mutual interests.
Was there a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. The answer is probably yes, although it was more likely a low-level link rather than direct support between the two. In any event, Saddam Hussein had significant connections to worldwide terrorism that provided one of the many justifications for his removal.