Setting the Record Straight on Saddam Hussein and Terrorism

July 12 2016

On Friday, a speech by Donald Trump revived the old question of the Iraqi dictator’s support for terrorism. As Kyle Orton points out, in addition to his links to the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, murkier ties to al-Qaeda, and well-known policy of providing money to the families of suicide bombers, Saddam Hussein also harbored and abetted some of the most notorious Palestinian terrorists:

[The Palestinian] Sabri al-Banna, [better known as] Abu Nidal, had many paymasters and agendas in his career as the most infamous international terrorist before Osama bin Laden, but in preparation for that career and for long stretches of it he was sheltered by Saddam. . . .

Al-Banna departed Iraq to Assad’s Syria in 1979, but returned to Saddam’s realm in March 1982. . . . It was from Baghdad that al-Banna attempted to murder Shlomo Argov, Israel’s ambassador to London, sparking Israel’s invasion of Lebanon . . .

[In addition], Muhammad Zaydan (Abu Abbas) led the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) and directed the taking of hostages aboard the Achille Lauro on October 7, 1985. During the assault, the PLF shot and killed the wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer because he was a Jew, and threw his body overboard. When Italian authorities caught up with Zaydan they had to release him because he was traveling on an Iraqi diplomatic passport—despite being neither Iraqi nor a diplomat. Zaydan [then] moved to Saddam’s Iraq and remained there until he was captured five days after the fall of Saddam’s regime.

Read more at Syrian Intifada

More about: Al Qaeda, Donald Trump, First Lebanon War, Palestinian terror, Politics & Current Affairs, Saddam Hussein

Russia’s Alliance with Hizballah Is Growing Stronger

Tehran’s ongoing cooperation with Moscow has recently garnered public attention because of the Kremlin’s use of Iranian arms against Ukraine, but it extends much further, including to the Islamic Republic’s Lebanese proxy, Hizballah. Aurora Ortega and Matthew Levitt explain:

Over the last few years, Russia has quietly extended its reach into Lebanon, seeking to cultivate cultural, economic, and military ties in Beirut as part of a strategy to expand Russian influence in the Middle East, while sidelining the U.S. and elevating Moscow’s role as a peacemaker.

Russia’s alliance with Hizballah was born out of the conflict in Syria, where Russian and Hizballah forces fought side-by-side in an alliance with the Assad regime. For years, this alliance appeared strictly limited to military activity in Syria, but in 2018, Hizballah and Russia began to engage in unprecedented joint sanctions-evasion activities. . . . In November 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury exposed a convoluted trade-based oil-smuggling sanctions-evasion scheme directed by Hizballah and [Iran].

The enhanced level of collaboration between Russia and Hizballah is not limited to sanctions evasion. In March 2021, Hizballah sent a delegation to Moscow, on its second-ever “diplomatic” visit to the country. Unlike its first visit a decade prior, which was enveloped in secrecy with no media exposure, this visit was well publicized. During their three days in Moscow, Hizballah representatives met with various Russian officials, including the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. . . . Just three months after this visit to Moscow, Hizballah received the Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Rudakov in Beirut to discuss further collaboration on joint projects.

Read more at Royal United Services Institute

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Lebanon, Russia