Donald Trump's Oblivious Praise for Saddam Hussein

The Topeka Capital-Journal, July 24, 2016 | Go to article overview

Donald Trump's Oblivious Praise for Saddam Hussein


In a massive, ever-expanding field of absurdities, Donald Trump's recent comments about Saddam Hussein and terror may have been the worst: "Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, right? He was a bad guy -- really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn't read them their rights. They didn't talk. They were terrorists. It was over."

It was amazing to hear the presidential nominee of a major American party spout falsehoods with such pugnacious self- confidence. If Trump had even a passing interest in the past few decades of Iraqi history, he would have known how ludicrous it was to insist that Saddam Hussein was some kind of ruthless terrorist hunter.

He would have known that the U.S. State Department designated Iraq a state sponsor of terrorism for providing material support to Hamas, the Palestine Liberation Front, the Abu Nidal Organization and many other radical groups. For example, after the first Intifada, Hussein frequently sent $25,000 "martyr" rewards to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers -- regardless of whether they hit military or civilian targets. He also subsidized regional terror organizations that were fighting against Turkey, Iran and his other rivals (such as an Iranian group called Mujahadeen e-Khalq and the Kurdish PKK).

Perhaps Trump has never heard of Abu Abbas. In 1985, Abbas and a few other members of the Palestine Liberation Front hijacked an Italian cruise ship called the Achille Lauro. After seizing control of the ship, they shot an elderly, wheelchair-bound Jewish passenger named Leon Klinghoffer and threw his body into the Mediterranean Sea. Even though the Italian authorities captured Abbas after the hijacking, they released him after finding that he possessed an Iraqi diplomatic passport.

Abu Nidal was another of Hussein's longtime partners in terror. Nidal's organization was responsible for simultaneous massacres at airports in Rome and Vienna (that left 18 people dead and 111 injured), the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 (22 dead, 150 injured), a mass shooting at the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul (22 dead) and a series of other terror attacks. But this gruesome record was no problem for Hussein, who routinely hired Nidal for assassinations, attacks on his enemies in Syria and the PLO, etc.

In the months leading up to the Iraq War, Hussein had Nidal executed in his Baghdad villa. But this had nothing to do with Nidal's decades of terrorist activity, of which Hussein was a reliable champion and sponsor. …

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