Hit & Run

Iraq and al Qaeda

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The AP reports:

The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks found "no credible evidence" of a link between Iraq and al-Qaida in attacks against the United States, contradicting President Bush's assertion that such a connection was among the reasons it was necessary to topple Saddam Hussein.

In a report based on research and interviews by the commission staff, the panel said that Osama bin Laden explored possible cooperation with Saddam even though he opposed the Iraqi leader's secular regime.

A senior Iraqi intelligence official reportedly met with bin Laden in 1994 in Sudan, the panel found, and bin Laden "is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded."

"There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship," the report said. "Two senior Bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al-Qaida and Iraq."

As recently as Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney asserted that Saddam had "long-established ties" with the terrorist network.

Read all about al Qaeda in the staff report here. (The Iraq paragraph is on page 5.)

Another interesting piece of info from the staff report:

Contrary to popular understanding, Bin Ladin did not fund al Qaeda through a personal fortune and network of businesses. Instead, al Qaeda relied primarily on a fundraising network developed over time. Bin Ladin never received a $300 million inheritance. From about 1970 until approximately 1994, he received about $1 million per year -- a significant sum, but hardly a $300 million fortune that could be used to fund a global jihad…"