The New York Post has more on the Albany arrests and the Iraq connection: “Mosquer and ‘commander.'” The Post reports:
The leader of an Albany mosque busted yesterday on terror charges tied to the purchase of a shoulder-fired missile was listed as “The Commander” in an address book carried by a terrorist in Iraq, The Post has learned.
A government official said U.S. troops who raided a terror training camp run by the Ansar al-Islam group in northern Iraq last summer discovered the address book among other documents.
It contained personal information about Yassin Aref, the 34-year-old Albany imam arrested yesterday along with another mosque leader, the official said.
“His name, address and telephone number in Albany were all in the book,” the official said. “His title [in the book] is ‘The Commander.'”
I’m sure the fact that the connection between the Albany two and Iraq is via Ansar al Islam will be used to discount its sigificance.
Stephen Hayes devotes chapter 11 of his book The Connection to Ansar al Islam. According to Hayes, detainees from both Iraqi intelligence and Ansar al Islam itself have indicated Saddam Hussein’s support of the group in the form of money and materiel.
Hayes also notes that the third-ranking offical in Ansar al Islam was an Iraqi intelligence agent who reported to the Mukbarrat officials and, according to one detainee, met personally with Saddam Hussein four or five times.
The connection between al Qaeda and Ansar al Islam is more or less undisputed. Hayes further notes that the organizational precursor to Ansar al Islam (Jund al Islam) was founded on Septmeber 1, 2001. Hayes writes: “Al Qaeda leaders anticipated being driven from Afghanistan after the [9/11] attacks and sought an alternative base of operations.”
In support of the connection between Ansar al Islam and Saddam Hussein, Hayes cites the groundbreaking New Yorker report by Jeffrey Goldberg as providing the first detailed information about Ansar al Islam: “The great terror.” Hayes first discussed the Goldberg report in his Weekly Standard article: “Why can’t the CIA keep up with the New Yorker?”
For more information on the connection, see also Jonathan Schanzer’s Weekly Standard article: “Saddam’s ambassador to al Qaeda.”