Saddam Hussein was actually terrible at killing terrorists

Hussein, it is true, killed a lot of people. The estimates run into the hundreds of thousands, and he murdered in a variety of appalling ways: He had his victims shot, gassed, blown up, beheaded and even torn apart by wild animals. And while all of his victims had excellent reasons for not liking life under the longtime Iraqi dictator, almost none were terrorists. On the contrary, terrorists in Iraq were mostly honored guests and worked at the regime’s behest.

Thousands of terrorists called Iraq home, and their organizations had the blood of Israelis, Turks, Iranians and Europeans from numerous countries on their hands. Among the killers were members of the Palestine Liberation Front, the Arab Liberation Front, the Kurdish PKK, the Iranian Mujahidin e-Khalq and the Abu Nidal Organization. Saddam promised to pay the families of suicide bombers who killed Israelis for their deeds. It is true that he despised jihadists and had nothing to do with al Qaeda, but that hardly diminishes his record. Not for nothing, Iraq was among the first batch of countries designated by Washington as state sponsors of terror in 1979.

Perhaps Trump has information that is not widely available, but only one case of a terrorist being killed in Iraq comes readily to mind: the death of Abu Nidal. Before Osama bin Laden came along, Nidal—also known as Sabry al Banna—was widely considered the most vicious terrorist alive. He worked, by turns, for the Syrians, the Libyans and the Iraqis, engineered notorious airport massacres in 1985 in Rome and Vienna, and ultimately was credited with some 900 deaths and injuries…

It also seems to have slipped by Trump that the Iraqi dictator often used his own intelligence service to stage terrorist attacks. The best known case got more than a little press because it involved an effort to kill a former American president. In April 1993, shortly after leaving office, George H.W. Bush visited Kuwait, the country his administration liberated from Iraqi occupation. Hussein sought retribution through a car bombing arranged by his intelligence service.