Cover image for The secret history of the Iraq war
The secret history of the Iraq war
Bodansky, Yossef.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : ReganBooks, [2004]

Physical Description:
570 pages ; 24 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS79.76 .B633 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
DS79.76 .B633 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DS79.76 .B633 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DS79.76 .B633 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



In the months leading up to March 2003, fresh from its swift and heady victory in Afghanistan, the Bush administration mobilized the United States armed forces to overthrow the government of Iraq. Eight months after the president declared an end to major combat operations, Saddam Hussein was captured in a farmhouse in Al-Dawr. And yet neither peace nor democracy has taken hold in Iraq; instead the country has plunged into terrorist insurgency and guerrilla warfare, with no end in sight.What went wrong?

In The Secret History of the Iraq War, bestselling author Yossef Bodansky offers an astonishing new account of the war and its aftermath--a war that was doomed from the start, he argues, by the massive and systemic failures of the American intelligence community. Drawing back the curtain of politicized debate, Bodansky--a longtime expert and director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare--reveals that nearly every aspect of America's conflict with Iraq has been misunderstood, in both the court of public opinion and the White House itself. Among his revelations:

The most authoritative account of Saddam Hussein's support for Islamic terrorist organizations--including extensive new reporting on his active cooperation with al-Qaeda in Iraq long after the fall of Baghdad
Extensive new information on Iraq's major chemical and biological weapons programs--including North Korea's role in building still-undetected secret storage facilities and Iraq's transfer of banned materials to Syria, Iran, and Libya
The first account of Saddam's plan for Iraq, Syria, and Iran to join Yasser Arafat's Palestinian forces to attack Israel, throw the region into turmoil, and upend the American campaign
The untold story of Russia's attempt to launch a coup against Saddam before the war--and how the CIA thwarted it by ensuring that Iraq was forewarned
Dramatic details about Saddam's final days on the run, including the untold story of a near miss with U.S. troops and the stunning revelation that Saddam was already in custody at the time of his capture--and was probably betrayed by members of his own Tikriti clan
The definitive account of the anti-U.S. resistance and uprising in Iraq, as the American invasion ignited an Islamic jihad and Iran-inspired intifada, threatening to plunge the region into irreversible chaos fueled by hatred and revenge
Revelations about the direct involvement of Osama bin Laden in the terrorism campaigns in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Middle East--including the major role played by Iran and HizbAllah in al-Qaeda's operations

Drawing upon an extraordinary wealth of previously untapped intelligence and regional sources, The Secret History of the Iraq War presents the most detailed, fascinating, and convincing account of the most controversial war of our times--and offers a sobering indictment of an intelligence system that failed the White House, the American military, and the people of the Middle East.

Author Notes

Yossef Bobansky has been the director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare for more than a decade, and has been a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bodansky, ex-director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare and author of Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America, offers many bold and contentious claims in this sprawling history of the Iraqi conflict up to Saddam?s capture. Saddam, he asserts, was deeply involved with al-Qaeda, and indeed dispatched a (never ?activated?) 500-man terrorist battalion to North America in 2002. Iraqi forces were awash in WMDs, which they planned to (but never did) launch at American soldiers, and which were finally spirited away to Syria or buried in the sand. And Syria and especially Iran, which now allegedly hosts al-Qaeda?s headquarters, have been busily fomenting turmoil in Iraq and terror throughout the region. Bodansky affirms the Bush Administration?s case for regime change and its larger ?axis-of-evil? worldview. But he deplores the invasion itself?Saddam could have been toppled by a coup instigated by Russia or the Arab states, he says?and despairs of the American nation-building project in Iraq, which he feels faces an unstoppable jihad by a coalition of Islamists, Baathists, Sunnis, Shiites, al-Qaeda and even many Kurds, supported by an increasingly anti-American populace. Bodansky offers a microscopically detailed portrait of the byzantine politics of the various Iraqi factions and their regional sponsors, along with a vigorous critique of the chaos, intelligence failures, political ignorance and military overkill that characterize the American occupation. Unfortunately, the book?s jumbled narrative, reliance on unnamable insiders and unverifiable intelligence reports make it difficult to assess its more controversial claims?especially those about Iraqi WMDs, which are typically made off-handedly with few evidentiary citations. The result is an intriguing, but less than compelling, analysis of the Iraqi quagmire. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.



Secret History of the Iraq War Chapter One Early Steps -- The Loss of Deterrence There is a unique, and exceptionally well-defended upper-class compound in the al-Jazair neighborhood of Baghdad. It is a retirement community, but its residents are no ordinary senior citizens. They include retirees from Iraqi intelligence, former senior security officials, and a host of terrorists, most of them Arabs, who have cooperated with Baghdad over the years. Since 2000, Sabri al-Banna -- better known as Abu Nidal -- had been one of the preeminent members of this community. Then, on the night of August 16, 2002, a few gunmen made their way through the well-protected gates and into a three-story house where they swiftly killed Abu Nidal and four of his aides. They then walked out without uttering a word. None of the guards or security personnel attempted to interfere with the assassination, because the assassins, like the guards themselves, worked for the Mukhabarat -- Iraq's internal security and intelligence service. Abu Nidal had been one of the world's most brutal terrorist leaders since rising to prominence in the 1960s. His people were involved not only in countless assassinations and bombings, but also in comprehensive support operations for diverse terrorist groups all over the world -- from Latin America to Northern Ireland to Japan. He was the mastermind of some of the most lethal terrorist strikes in history, and his organization was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians around the world. Over the years, Abu Nidal closely cooperated with any number of intelligence services, including those of the Soviet Union, Romania, North Korea, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, and Iraq. But in August 2002 the sixty-five-year-old murderer was old and infirm, bound to a wheelchair by heart disease and cancer. There seemed to be no logic to Baghdad's decision to assassinate Abu Nidal at the height of its crisis with America; at the very least, the assassination reminded friends and foes alike of the shelter and sponsorship the Iraqi government provided to the world's terrorist elite. Like all aspects of the war in Iraq, the undercurrents surrounding the assassination are far more important than the action itself. And like many other facets of this crisis, they still leave more questions than answers. Quite simply, Saddam Hussein, who personally authorized the assassination of his longtime personal friend, had little reason for doing so. The act was merely an attempt to please two close allies, Hosni Mubarak and Yasser Arafat, who were desperate to ensure that American forces entering Baghdad would not be able to interrogate Abu Nidal. Mubarak was anxious to conceal the fact that during the late 1990s Egyptian intelligence used Abu Nidal's name to run a series of covert assassinations and "black operations" against Egyptian al-Qaeda elements. Posing as Abu Nidal's terrorists, Egyptian intelligence operatives ruthlessly destroyed British and other intelligence networks standing in their way. They killed Egyptian Islamists Cairo knew to be spying for some of Egypt's closest allies and benefactors. At the same time, Egyptian intelligence was receiving comprehensive assistance from the CIA. Egypt had sworn that it was not involved in these black operations, since the United States considers them illegal and the CIA is not permitted to cooperate with any country performing them, even indirectly. Egypt also adamantly denied that Abu Nidal was being sheltered in Cairo at the time, although he was receiving medical care in return for his cooperation with Egyptian intelligence. Arafat was desperate to conceal the long-term cooperation between his Fatah movement and Abu Nidal's Black June organization. Ion Pacepa, the former chief of Romanian intelligence, disclosed that in the late 1970s Hanni al-Hassan, one of Arafat's closest confidants, took over Abu Nidal's Black June organization on Arafat's behalf so that Arafat could "have the last word in setting terrorist priorities" while enhancing his own image as a moderate. Arafat was anxious to hide his terrorist connections and maintain the charade that he was a peacemaker. Desperate to distance himself and the Palestinian Authority from the specter of terrorism (and thus exempt himself from the American war on terror), Arafat could not afford to allow Abu Nidal to reveal their quarter-century of close cooperation, during which Arafat was actually the dominant partner. But there was a darker facet to the Abu Nidal story. In the weeks prior to the assassination, Iraqi intelligence received warnings from the intelligence services of several Gulf States that Abu Nidal was trying to reach an agreement with Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), which the Arab world respects and dreads far more than the CIA. Unhappy with the medical treatment he was getting in Baghdad, Abu Nidal had offered to divulge secrets in exchange for superior medical treatment in England. When London was cool to the original offer, Abu Nidal professed that he could provide the latest information about Iraqi cooperation with international terrorism generally, and al-Qaeda in particular. Iraqi intelligence was reluctant to accept these reports because it knew the ailing Abu Nidal had few aides left, and most of these were actually working for Iraqi intelligence. After extended consideration, Saddam and the Mukhabarat high command concluded that the warnings had actually been a crude disinformation effort by the CIA or the SIS -- a sting aimed to manipulate Baghdad into exposing its growing cooperation with bin Laden, giving the administration an excuse to strike. The Iraqis, it turns out, were correct: the SIS was indeed trying to provoke the Iraqis into reckless actions, using its allies in the Gulf States as conduits for the flow of "chicken feed" to Baghdad. The assassination destroyed all remaining hopes in Washington and London for extracting information from Abu Nidal. Baghdad further capitalized on the event by delivering a message to the Western intelligence services. On August 21, Mukhabarat chief Taher Habush appeared in a rare press conference, showing grainy pictures of a blasted and thoroughly bandaged body he claimed was Abu Nidal's. Habush admitted that the longtime terrorist had been hiding in Baghdad, but alarmed at his recent discovery by police, he had committed suicide rather than face Iraqi authorities ... Secret History of the Iraq War . Copyright © by Yossef Bodansky. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Secret History of the Iraq War by Yossef Bodansky All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1 Early Steps--The Loss of Deterrencep. 13
2 The Gathering Stormp. 34
3 Casus Bellip. 51
4 Advance Preparationsp. 85
5 End Runp. 113
6 The Die Is Castp. 137
7 The Race to Baghdad, Part 1p. 163
8 The Race to Baghdad, Part 2p. 186
9 The Race to Baghdad, Part 3p. 213
10 The Real War Beginsp. 242
11 The Shiite Factor and the Launch of Jihadp. 266
12 The Ascent of Iran and the Return of Osama bin Ladenp. 292
13 Disastrous Diversionp. 314
14 Only the Beginningp. 338
15 Into the Cauldronp. 366
16 The Iran Factorp. 389
17 The Historic Transformationp. 416
18 Beyond the Ramadan Offensivep. 441
19 Endgamep. 468
Conclusionp. 492
Postscriptp. 517
Notes: The Historical Recordp. 531
Note on Sources and Methodsp. 539
Guide to Periodical Sourcesp. 547
Acknowledgmentsp. 555
Indexp. 558