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Commentary: Questionable Connection Between Iraq and the al Quaeda Terrorist Network

Weekend Edition Sunday: November 17, 2002

The Missing Link

DANIEL SCHORR:

The Bush administration has never been able to make a convincing case of the connection between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: Indeed, there were signs pointing to hostility between the Islamic extremists led by Osama bin Laden and the secular regime of Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden was said to have called Saddam `an apostate and an infidel.' But there are recent indications that the two have been finding common cause in the conflict with America at least for propaganda purposes. The bin Laden audiotape, now generally believed to be authentic, was delivered to the Al-Jazeera television network in Islamabad, Pakistan, during the tense week before the Friday deadline for the Iraqi response to the UN inspection resolution.

The speaker likened the suffering of the Iraqis to the plight of the Palestinians and said that the recent terrorist attacks were merely a reciprocal reaction to what Bush, the modern-day Pharaoh, did by murdering our children in Iraq. The speaker warned several countries by name against aiding the criminal gang in Washington and denounced Islamic countries allied with the tyrannical US government; this possibly a warning to Iraq's neighbors not to support an invasion.

This is as far as al-Qaeda has ever gone in embracing the cause of Iraq, making threats of terrorist attacks on the foes of Saddam Hussein. And the Iraqi government seemed to underscore that threat in its letter the next day to the United Nations, agreeing to deal with the UN demand to resume weapons inspection. The letter said that American aggression against Muslims and Arabs was the basic reason why the United States had to close embassies and restrict its interests in many parts of the world while reaping the hatred of the peoples of the world.

There may not have been a link between Iraq and the Islamic fundamentalists before, but at least for tactical purposes, there certainly seems to be one now. This is Daniel Schorr.

HANSEN: It's 18 minutes past the hour.

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