This just in: Osama hates Saddam

Osama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaeda terror network and the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, thinks Saddam Hussein is an “infidel” and a “socialist,” and bin Laden wants to bring down the Iraqi government along with other “apostate regimes” in the Middle East. He said so himself in the videotaped message broadcast on the Al Jazeera network a few weeks ago.

So, why is the Bush administration still trying to use the tape to tie Saddam to Al Qaeda?

The answer is obvious: The pro-war faction desperately needs to link Saddam to bin Laden and other international terrorists if it’s going to sell a preemptive war with Iraq, and in the absence of real evidence, the pro-war guys are willing to make some up.

We’ve already seen satellite photos of an alleged Al Qaeda base in Iraq turn out to be a squalid compound of anti-Saddam militants. We’ve seen a paper touted to the United Nations as describing the details of Iraq’s treachery turn out to be the plagiarized work of an Israeli student. So, it should be no surprise that the administration’s attempt to use the bin Laden tape to prove the existence of a “nexus between terrorists and states developing weapons of mass destruction” has turned out be equally inaccurate.

Make no mistake: Bin Laden is a danger to the United States. In the course of his message, he calls for “true Muslims” to martyr themselves “in order to establish the rule of Allah on Earth.” He does not mince words, stating his intention to liberate countries including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan, which have been “enslaved by America.”

He also calls Saddam a socialist and an infidel and raises the questions of whether Muslims should wage a holy war to support Iraq as it battles the United States. Bin Laden’s answer is a grudging one: “It is not harmful … for the Muslims’ interests and the socialists’ interests to come along with each other during the war against the crusade, without changing our faith or declaration that socialists are infidels.” In other words, bin Laden is willing to help Saddam fight the American invaders, but only in service of his larger goal of establishing Islamic fundamentalist regimes in Iraq and elsewhere.

All of this is important for several reasons. To begin with, it shows the Bush administration’s continued disrespect for the truth. More importantly, it shows that the real danger is not Saddam, but bin Laden.

As a potential threat, Iraq is well-contained: Its military has been decimated, and its every move is monitored by U.N. inspectors and intelligence sources. It is now destroying its own missiles. Any attempt at military aggression would be squelched immediately, and there is absolutely no proof Saddam is involved with terror. Meanwhile, bin Laden is still at large and has repeatedly vowed to attack America and its allies and to install Muslim fundamentalist regimes like the Taliban all over the Middle East.

Bin Laden is truly an enemy to be reckoned with, and by ignoring him in favor of a pointless attack on Iraq, the Bush administration is playing right into his hands.