From OpinionJournal we now have confirmation either that one of Saddam’s top officers was present at Al Queada’s 9/11 planning meeting in Kuala Lumpur or that someone with the same name was present at both meetings.
This matters because if Shakir was an officer in the Fedayeen, it would establish a direct link between Iraq and the al Qaeda operatives who planned 9/11. Shakir was present at the January 2000 al Qaeda “summit” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at which the 9/11 attacks were planned. The U.S. has never been sure whether he was there on behalf of the Iraqi regime or whether he was an Iraqi Islamicist who hooked up with al Qaeda on his own.
The reason to care goes beyond the prewar justification for toppling Saddam and relates directly to our current security. U.S. officials believe that American civilian Nicholas Berg was beheaded in Iraq recently by Abu Musab al-Zarkawi, who is closely linked to al Qaeda and was given high-level medical treatment and sanctuary by Saddam’s government. The Baathists killing U.S. soldiers are clearly working with al Qaeda now; Saddam’s files might show us how they linked up in the first place.