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Iraq Has No Ties to Al Qaeda, Paper Says

Mideast: Editorial denies U.S. allegations, adding that the Islamists are incompatible with nation's secular regime.

September 29, 2002|From Reuters

BAGHDAD — Iraq's most influential newspaper is denying U.S. accusations that Baghdad has links with the Al Qaeda terrorist network, saying Saturday that the allegations are a "stupid new American ploy."

The denial in Babel, the newspaper published by President Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, came after top U.S. officials including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney alleged links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, which Washington blames for the Sept. 11 attacks.

However, the Bush administration has not made public any evidence linking Hussein, whose ruling Baath Party is militantly secularist, to the radical Islamists of Al Qaeda.

"It is a stupid new American ploy," the front-page editorial in Babel said. "The ideology, structure and philosophy of our country do not meet with that of the Al Qaeda organization whatsoever.

"Bush's American propaganda campaign is trying to convince the Congress and the American public opinion that there is a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda after Bush failed to sell his allegation that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.

"The American people should know that such an organization like Al Qaeda is outlawed in Iraq," Babel said.

Rumsfeld said last week that senior Al Qaeda leaders have been in Baghdad "in recent periods." Cheney also accused Iraq of "exchanges" with Al Qaeda.

Any proof of such a link would give the Bush administration powerful ammunition in its bid to persuade the U.N. Security Council to approve a new draft resolution requiring Iraq to comply with weapons inspections or face the consequences.

It could also help Bush get a congressional resolution authorizing use of military force against Baghdad if needed.

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