In the town of Kalar, about a hundred miles northeast of Baghdad, Kurdish villagers recently reported suspicious activity to the pesh merga.
That Kurdish militia has for years been waging a bloody battle with Ansar al-Islam, the terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and supported by Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It captured a courier carrying a message that demolishes the repeated claim of Bush critics that there was never a "clear link" between Saddam and Osama bin Laden.
The terrorist courier with a CD-ROM containing a 17-page document and other messages was Hassan Ghul, who confessed he was taking to Al Qaeda the Ansar document setting forth a strategy to start an Iraqi civil war, along with a plea for reinforcements. The Kurds turned him over to Americans for further interrogation, which is proving fruitful.
The Times reporter Dexter Filkins in Baghdad, backed up by Douglas Jehl in D.C., broke the story exclusively. Editors marked its significance by placing it on the front page above the fold. Although The Washington Post the next day buried it on Page 17 (and Newsweek may construe as bogus any Saddam-Osama connection) the messages' authenticity was best attested by the amazed U.S. official who told Reuters, "We couldn't make this up if we tried."
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