Stephen Hayes claims in The Weekly Standard that Saddam Hussein trained “thousands of radical Islamic terrorists“and that:
Some 2,000 terrorists were trained at these Iraqi camps each year from 1999 to 2002, putting the total number at or above 8,000. Intelligence officials believe that some of these terrorists returned to Iraq and are responsible for attacks against Americans and Iraqis.
A word about military designations: If we were to say that there were not enough soldiers to hold the line and we had to employ sailors, everybody would understand what we meant as “soldier” and “sailor” are pretty much universal military terms. For a country to train “terrorists” would make sense as their use would presumably be to commit acts universally recognized as terrorism, i.e. blowing things up, assassinating people, taking hostages, etc. But when the use of that personnel changes, when one speaks of “some of these terrorists returned to Iraq”, one comes dangerously close to using “terrorist” as a legitimate military term, which it isn't.
The word “terrorist” has essentially meant the same thing as “bandit” did back around the time of World War I (i.e. the “bandit” Pancho Villa), it's a word universally understood to mean “bad guy”, “enemy”, “sneaky, underhanded villain”, etc., etc. What weapon or vehicles do such personnel use? (For instance, a cavalryman uses a horse, a sailor uses a ship, etc.) Well, Pancho Villa used a horse, the villains of the “Munich Massacre” in 1972 used regular infantry weapons, the villains of September 11th in the US used civilian airliners and the insurgents in Iraq use improvised roadside bombs. There's simply no such thing as someone having the military designation of “terrorist”. Once someone goes to Iraq and begins fighting American troops, he by definition becomes an “insurgent”.
As the number of Iraqi insurgents is now estimated to be 13,000 to 17,000, it doesn't seem terribly likely that the people allegedly trained before the Iraq War constitute all or even most of the opposition to the presence of US troops in Iraq, especially as only “some” returned.
The additional fact that the article doesn't identify a single person who can verify any of this is also very powerful evidence that the story is garbage.
The notion that it took until May 2005 to find any evidence of this and the further allegation that the Bush Administration decided to keep it a secret utterly beggars belief. The article itself points out that this information, if indeed it existed, would be of enormous propaganda value to the Bush Administration, as the statement “There was no connection between 9-11 and Iraq” is a favorite phrase used by the anti-war left.
We hear the excuse that our military exploitation group has 2 million documents in various media to examine. There are no Iraqis who can guide Americans through this vast pile? How long would it have taken a group of 50-100 Iraqis to have catalogued all of the items? I can't imagine it would have required more than a few months as 90% would most likely be worthless, i.e., home videos, supply requisitions, transfer paperwork, etc. And why are there no captured/turned insurgents who would know of this group of 8,000?
Sorry, but this story makes no sense at all. I nominate it as “fairy tale of the month”.
UPDATE: The allegation has been made that Jose Padilla had written out an al Qaeda application and that it constitutes some of the evidence being used against him. Al Qaeda is going to ask for paperwork? Huh? A covert, guerrilla/terrorist organization is going to collect paperwork in the first place? No one else has been caught by using any of the other applications? Padilla was the ONLY person who was caught by this method?
Sorry, not credible at ALL.