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Official Backs Off al-Qaida, Iraq Claim

The Pentagon’s No. 2 official is backtracking from a public claim that associates of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden are trying to link up with Saddam Hussein loyalists to attack Americans. “We know it (Iraq) had a great deal to do with terrorism in general and with al-Qaida in particular, and we know a great many of bin Laden’s key lieutenants are now trying to organize in cooperation with old loyalists from the Saddam regime to attack in Iraq,” Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” But Wolfowitz — a key architect of U.S. policy in Iraq — said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press that he had misspoken. He said he was referring to only one man — bin Laden supporter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the few names that Bush administration officials previously have cited to assert pre-war links between al-Qaida and Iraq. Al-Zarqawi allegedly helped train Iraqis in the use of poisonous chemicals and once received medical care in Baghdad, U.S. officials have said. Full Story

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