Here is an excerpt from Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5, 2003 presentation to the U.N. National Security Council, in which he details the relationship between the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Secretary of State Colin Powell: Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda lieutenants.
Zarqawi, Palestinian born in Jordan, fought in the Afghan war more than a decade ago. Returning to Afghanistan in 2000, he oversaw a terrorist training camp. One of his specialties, and one of the specialties of this camp, is poisons.
When our coalition ousted the Taliban, the Zarqawi network helped establish another poison and explosive training center camp, and this camp is located in northeastern Iraq. . . .
Those helping to run this camp are Zarqawi lieutenants operating in northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein’s controlled Iraq. But Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization Ansar al-Islam that controls this corner of Iraq. In 2000, this agent offered al Qaeda safe haven in the region.
After we swept al Qaeda from Afghanistan, some of those members accepted this safe haven. They remain there today.
Zarqawi’s activities are not confined to this small corner of northeast Iraq. He traveled to Baghdad in May of 2002 for medical treatment, staying in the capital of Iraq for two months while he recuperated to fight another day.
During his stay, nearly two dozen extremists converged on Baghdad and established a base of operations there. These al Qaeda affiliates based in Baghdad now coordinate the movement of people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for his network, and they have now been operating freely in the capital for more than eight months.
Iraqi officials deny accusations of ties with al Qaeda. These denials are simply not credible. Last year, an al Qaeda associate bragged that the situation in Iraq was “good,” that Baghdad could be transited quickly.
We know these affiliates are connected to Zarqawi because they remain, even today, in regular contact with his direct subordinates. . . And they are involved in moving more than money and materiel. . . . From his terrorist network in Iraq, Zarqawi can direct his network in the Middle East and beyond. . . .
Now let me add one other fact. We asked a friendly security service to approach Baghdad about extraditing Zarqawi and providing information about him and his close associates. This service contacted Iraqi officials twice and we passed details that should have made it easy to find Zarqawi. The network remains in Baghdad. Zarqawi still remains at large, to come and go. . . .