Baghdad Denies Nexus Between Iraqi Leadership & Al-Qaeda

Baghdad has rebutted US allegations that the Iraqi leadership has links to Al-Qaeda. In an interview with the Qatar TV channel Al-Jazeera, the Iraqi foreign ministry spokesman dubbed these allegations as "a failed attempt to find an excuse for attacking Iraq." Earlier, in his interview with the same TV channel, White House spokesman Richard Boucher stated the US had evidence of links between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. In particular, an audiotape of Osama bin Laden's address to the Iraqi people broadcast by the Al-Jazeera channel graphically testifies to the effect. The White House spokesman in particular singled out bin Laden's words that "it is irrelevant whether you are Socialists [i.e. the ruling party of Iraq, Baas] or not, it is important to wage a joint fight against the USA." At the same time, observers in the Iraqi capital see no reference in Osama bin Laden's address to links between his organisation and Iraq. The USA, bin Laden's address runs, "is waging a war against Islam and the Moslems. Therefore, the Moslems in general, and the Iraqi Moslems in particular must brace themselves for jihad." Iraq is bluntly denying any relation to the Al-Qaeda organisation. Baghdad acknowledges that two Kurdish fundamentalist groups Ansar al-Islam (Islam Believers) and Jund al-Islam (Islam Combatants) are operating in remote and difficult for access mountainous areas of Iraq in the Suleymania province. However, this does not mean they have links with the Iraqi authorities. From 1991, the Kurds-controlled northern areas of Iraq are no longer subject to Baghdad's authority. These territories make part of the so-called northern no-fly zone bombed daily by US and British planes. It was designed to "protect the Kurds from the Iraqi regime" on the part of Washington and London.

The Iraqi authorities note that if the US had really feared these terrorist groups, it could have long eliminated them. Baghdad is convinced that Washington preserves them as a possible excuse for attacking Iraq.

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