The Iraqi despot was not, as some in the Bush administration suggested before the invasion, complicit in the al-Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But multiple independent and bipartisan reports before and after the war have established beyond any doubt that Hussein was deeply enmeshed with terrorist activity from the time he took power in the late 1970s until the eve of his last war. Among the thugs he hosted in Baghdad were the Palestinian terrorists Sabri Banna , or Abu Nidal, and Muhammad Zaidan (Abu Abbas); the latter was the leader of one of the most notorious terrorist attacks in history, the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro and murder of American Leon Klinghoffer.
The conspirator who mixed the chemicals for the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, in 1993, Abdul Yasin, found harbor in Baghdad, where he was paid a monthly stipend. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of al-Qaeda in Iraq, spent most of 2002 in the Iraqi capital and received medical treatment there. According to captured Iraqi documents, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al-Qaeda, was funded by Iraq beginning in the late 1970s, when he led an Egyptian terrorist group. And the 9/11 Commission, among others, reported that Iraqi officials met numerous times with al-Qaeda and may have offered Osama bin Laden haven in 1999.
Hussein eventually murdered Abu Nidal after a falling out in 2002. That may have been the only terrorist he dispatched.