Donald Trump "is … confused" on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's record against terrorists — and "it's worth taking some time to set the record straight," The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes
"Donald Trump is right that Saddam Hussein killed some terrorists," Hayes, one of the magazine's senior writers said in his report. "But he was, for decades, among the world's leading supporters of terror, backing groups that included jihadist organizations that targeted the United States and its interests."
Trump praised Hussein's strong-arm approach to dealing with terrorists in a speech Tuesday in Raleigh, N.C. He said that had the United States been as tough on jihadists as Hussein, the Islamic State and other groups might not exist.
"Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, right?" he asked. "He was a bad guy. Really bad guy.
"But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so well. They didn’t read them rights. They didn’t talk.
"They were a terrorists, it was over.
"Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorists," the presumptive Republican nominee said. "You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq.
"It’s like Harvard, OK? So sad."
But Hayes quoted the conclusion of a study by the Pentagon in 2008 that was based on 600,000 documents U.S. forces found in Iraq after the war ended in 2003: "Evidence shows that Saddam's use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime."
"Saddam Hussein opposed terrorists who opposed him," Hayes said. "He supported and funded virtually all others — including jihadists who targeted the United States, its interests, and allies."
The extensive report cited a bevy of specifics, including Hussein's support of the Muslim Brotherhood as early as 1982 and his regime's support of Abdul Rahman Yasin, an Iraqi national who mixed the chemicals used in the first al-Qaida attack on the World Trade Center in 1992.
He returned to Baghdad after he was released by the United States.
"Reasonable people can differ on whether Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism constituted a threat great enough to go to war in an attempt to eliminate it," Hayes concluded. "But no reasonable person can cite Saddam Hussein as a model for an approach to handling jihadist terror.
"Donald Trump is not a reasonable person."
Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol posted this tweet touting the report:
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