There is also evidence that around this time [March 1997] Bin Ladin sent out a number of feelers to the Iraqi regime, offering some cooperation. None are reported to have received a significant response.According to one report, Saddam Hussein’s efforts at this time to rebuild relations with the Saudis and other Middle Eastern regimes led him to stay clear of Bin Ladin.74
In mid-1998, the situation reversed; it was Iraq that reportedly took the initiative. In March 1998, after Bin Ladin’s public fatwa against the United States, two al Qaeda members reportedly went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi intelligence. In July, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with Bin Ladin. Sources reported that one, or perhaps both, of these meetings was apparently arranged through Bin Ladin’s Egyptian deputy, Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis. In 1998, Iraq was under intensifying U.S. pressure, which culminated in a series of large air attacks in December.75
Similar meetings between Iraqi officials and Bin Ladin or his aides may have occurred in 1999 during a period of some reported strains with the Taliban. According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides’ hatred of the United States. But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a
collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.76
I think the keyword in the above information is "operational." As one reads the footnotes for chapter two, you get a better sense for what lead to this term being used:
74. Intelligence report, unsuccessful Bin Ladin probes for contact with Iraq, July 24, 1998; Intelligence report,Saddam Hussein’s efforts to repair relations with Saudi government, 2001.
75. Intelligence report, Iraq approach to Bin Ladin, Mar. 16, 1999.
76. CIA analytic report,“Ansar al-Islam:Al Qa’ida’s Ally in Northeastern Iraq,” CTC 2003-40011CX, Feb. 1,2003. See also DIA analytic report,“Special Analysis: Iraq’s Inconclusive Ties to Al-Qaida,” July 31, 2002; CIA analytic report,“Old School Ties,” Mar. 10, 2003. We have seen other intelligence reports at the CIA about 1999 contacts. They are consistent with the conclusions we provide in the text, and their reliability is uncertain. Although there have been suggestions of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda regarding chemical weapons and explosives training, the most detailed information alleging such ties came from an al Qaeda operative who recanted much of his original information.Intelligence report, interrogation of al Qaeda operative,Feb. 14,2004.Two senior Bin Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any such ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM and Zubaydah, 2003 (cited in CIA letter, response to Douglas Feith memorandum,“Requested Modifications to ‘Summary of Body of Intelligence Reporting on Iraq–al Qaida Contacts (1990–2003),’” Dec. 10,2003, p. 5).
The footnotes seem to imply that while there was one al Qaeda operative who was the source of "the most detailed information" there logically were other sources as well.