When asked about recent media reports citing Saddam Hussein's denial to the FBI about links to al Qaeda Degn viewed these reports as part of an ongoing attempt to rewrite history saying these reports stand in stark contrast to what he saw and heard firsthand in Iraq. In fact, Degn said that to many of the detainees links between Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorist groups including al Qaeda was not even a point of contention but freely acknowledged. Many of the high value detainees took it as a given that their captors were aware of Iraq - al Qaeda links. Some even bragged about those links.
I interviewed plenty of Saddam's associates, as well as numerous members of Al Qaeda while at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere in 06 and spoke with many who were quite familiar with the inner workings of the Saddam regime while at the Ministry of Interior (MOI). Did they cooperate or have animosity towards each other? Well, this is a tough question to answer as it seemed that different individuals had a variety of feelings about the subject. Some detainees alleged that members of AQI (al Qaeda in Iraq) were in support of Saddam and began attaching the CF (coalition forces) for money, religious reasons, thrills, etc. On the other hand, there were those I spoke with who were opposed to Saddam and happy to see him removed. Still, the reasons for attacking the CF were much the same.
One thing many fail to understand is that Al Qaeda is not a unified group throughout the Middle East, or even regionally. Many small groups take the title of "Al Qaeda" to bolster their notoriety, to feel they are part of the larger effort against the US forces, or for other reasons.
As for how supporters of Saddam felt about AQI again it would depend on the individual. Many I spoke with claimed they were against the group probably because that is what they figured I wanted to hear. Some claimed Saddam was against the group because members of AQ were a bit too religious or threatening to his rule. While, other detainees claimed he used various groups as intermediaries to arrange arms and money transfers to the group in order to attack a common enemy Iran, as well as US interests in the region. Still, there were other hard core detainees, part of Saddam's core, or members of other groups such as former ANO members (Abu Nidal Organization) as a few alleged, that claimed they would associate with Saddam-ites as well as AQI from time to time as the need would arise.
Degn is currently the Director of the Intelligence Studies Program and a professor at American Military University whose testimony about events in Iraq has been cited by NPR, ABC News, the Washington Post and elsewhere. According to his American Military University bio.
He also worked as a Senior Policy/Intelligence Adviser to Deputy General Kamal and other top intelligence officials with the Iraq's Ministry of Interior. Degn, currently working on a book about his experiences in Iraq.
So folks it appears that were links to Saddam and Al Qaeda as well as many other terrorist groups. Please take the time to visit the various links in this blog post which will better educate you on this issue.
Hat Tip to Flopping Aces