Captives to CIA: No links between al Qaeda and Baghdad
Two of the highest-level leaders of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network in US custody have told the CIA in separate interrogations that the terrorist network did not work jointly with Saddam Hussein’s government, the New York Times reported, citing intelligence officials.
In its Monday edition, the daily reported that Abu Zubaydah, an al-Qaeda planner and recruiter until his capture in March 2002, told his interrogators last year that the notion of working with Saddam's government had been discussed among al Qaeda leaders, but that leader Osama bin Laden had rejected those proposals, according to an official who has read the CIA classified report on the interrogation. In his debriefing, Abu Zubaydah said bin Laden had vetoed the idea because he did not want to be beholden to Saddam, the official said.
Meanwhile, the Times added, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al Qaeda chief of operations until his capture on March 1, has also told interrogators that the network did not work with Hussein, officials said.
The Bush administration has not made these statements public, though it frequently emphasized intelligence reports that supported its assertions of ties between Baghdad and Al Qaeda as it made its case for war against Iraq and Saddam’s regime. Since the end of the war, the Bush administration has also been on the defensive as US-led forces in Iraq have yet to discover weapons of mass destruction, which Washington accused Iraq of hiding.
As of now, no conclusive evidence of joint operations by Iraq and Al Qaeda has been found, several intelligence officials said, nor have links been discovered between Baghdad and the September 11 attacks.
Currently, US lawmakers have launched investigations into whether the US administration distorted intelligence information in order to justify military action against Hussein’s regime. Critics have alleged that Bush and senior aides had exaggerated Saddam's arsenal in order to convince the US public to support the war. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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