Sept. 11 commission dismisses Bush claims on Saddam help to al Qaeda
Contradicting claims by the Bush administration, the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks said Wednesday there was "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein helped Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda target the United States.
Bin Laden made overtures to Saddam for assistance, the commission said in the staff report, as he did with leaders in Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere as he sought to build an Islamic army.
While Saddam sent a senior Iraqi intelligence official to Sudan to meet with bin Laden in 1994, the commission said it had not turned up evidence of a "collaborative relationship."
The Bush administration has long claimed links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, and cited them as one reason for last year's war against Iraq.
On Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney stated in a speech that the Saddam "had long established ties with al-Qaeda."
The Iraq connection long suggested by Bush administration officials gained no currency in the report, The AP reported.
"Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded," the report said. "There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda also occurred" after bin Laden moved his operations to Afghanistan in 1996, "but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship," it said.
"Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al-Qaeda and Iraq," the report claimed. (Albawaba.com)
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