By Ken Gude
Donald Trump’s dangerous ignorance was exposed again on Tuesday night when he praised Saddam Hussein for being tough on terrorists. The truth is that Saddam was a state sponsor of terrorism who paid $35 million to the families of suicide bombers and provided sanctuary to numerous terrorists, including one who bombed two U.S. airliners. However one views the Iraq War, Saddam’s reign of terror must be condemned by anyone seeking the presidency.
Trump has previously attempted to minimize the horrors of Saddam’s regime, claiming in October 2015 that his repeated use of chemical weapons that killed tens of thousands was merely “throw[ing] a little gas.” Trump’s latest comments, however, have sparked more outrage than his earlier pro-Saddam statements. In a speech Tuesday night, Trump said that “[Saddam] killed terrorists. He did that so good.” No, he didn’t.
Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a designated State Sponsor of Terrorism from 1990–2003. Iraqi intelligence agents were directly implicated in the assassination attempt on former President George H.W. Bush in 1993. Iraq gave sanctuary to numerous terrorists and terrorist groups, including the head of the May 15 Organization, who attacked two Pan Am airliners during the 1980s. Beginning in 2000, Hussein began a program pay the families of suicide bombers, ultimately distributing $35 million during the Palestinian uprising that saw 117 suicide attacks kill nearly 500 people.
The Iraq War was a horrific mistake that has took tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives, cost trillions of dollars, and has destabilized the entire region. None of that changes the fact that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a state sponsor of terrorism that supported terrorist groups across the Middle East. With model’s like Saddam, it is truly frightening what America would look like under a President Donald Trump.
Ken Gude is a Senior Fellow with the National Security Team at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.