The other big news story of the day is the trial in Jordan of a group of terrorists who are accused of attempting to unleash a chemical weapons attack in that country. The Associated Press reports:
Islamic militants planned to detonate an explosion that would have sent a cloud of toxic chemicals across Jordan, causing death, blindness and sickness, a chemical expert testified in a military court Wednesday.
Col. Najeh al-Azam was giving evidence in the trial of 13 men who are alleged to have planned what would have been the world’s first chemical attack by the al-Qaida terror group. The accused include al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq, Abu-Musab Al-Zarqawi, and three other fugitives who are being tried in absentia.
A televised confession by the terrorist allegedly responsible for carrying out the operation included information that closely tracks the testimony about Zarqawi and his operations in Iraq that Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003.
In Herat, [Afghanistan],” Jayousi told Jordanian TV, “I began training under Abu Musab [al Zarqawi] which involved high-level instruction in explosives and poisons. Then I promised my loyalty to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I agreed to work for him — no questions asked. When Afghanistan fell, I again met up with al-Zarqawi in Iraq.”
“There in Iraq,” said Jayousi, “I was told by Abu Musab to travel to Jordan with Muwaffaq Udwan. We were to get ready for a military action in Jordan.”
“When I arrived in Jordan, I met with another person with ties to Abu Musab by the name of Haytham Omar Ibrahim — a Syrian — who secured our safe houses,” said Jayousi.
“Next Muwaffiq and I began reconnaissance on the targets,” said Jayousi. “Then we began to gather chemicals needed to make explosives. . . . amassing almost 20 tons, which was sufficient for all our plans in Jordan. Then I began manufacturing.”
So, after the fall of Afghanistan at the end of 2001, Zarqawi and other al Qaeda veterans made their way to Iraq, where, secure under the wing of Saddam Hussein, they plotted chemical weapons attacks on countries friendly to the U.S., as well as the murder (successfully carried out) of an American diplomat. And yet, to this day it remains an article of faith on the left that Saddam’s Iraq was a kite-flyer’s paradise with no connection to international terrorism, no relations with al Qaeda, and, of course, no chemical weapons. Maybe the current trial will reveal where the chemicals assembled for the attack on Jordan came from; maybe it won’t. But we don’t need any new information to understand that Saddam’s regime protected and supported the deadliest of al Qaeda’s terrorists.