Are the primaries over already? You would think so the way John McCain and Barak Obama are going after each other.
In a series of back and forth comments on the topic of al Qaeda in Iraq, the two presumptive presidential nominees had no shortage of witty barbs for one another. And while I think both earned high marks for delivery and rhetoric, Mr. Barak’s final statement fell short in the area of true substance and accuracy.
His statement that “there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq” is not entirely accurate.
A 2007 White House Fact sheet on Iraq stated the following about Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, who founded Al Qaeda In Iraq and Pledged Allegiance To Osama Bin Laden: “In 2001, Zaraqawi left Afghanistan and eventually went to Iraq to set up operations with terrorist associates after Coalition forces destroyed his Afghan training camp.”
Now in his defense, the same fact sheet also states that it wasn’t until 2004 when “Zarqawi and his terrorist group formally joined al Qaeda, pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden, and promised to ‘follow his orders in jihad.’” And that “al Qaeda in Iraq is an organization founded by foreign terrorists, led largely by foreign terrorists…”
So maybe there was no official group known as “al Qaeda in Iraq” before the war. However, those who founded it were already running terrorist organizations in Iraq that were in existence well before the beginning of the war. They simply decided to become an al Qaeda franchise.