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Last Updated: Friday, 27 June, 2003, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
Iraq 'had no links to al-Qaeda'
Bin Laden supporters
Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda still have supporters
A United Nations committee says it has found no evidence of a connection between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terror network.

The UN terrorism committee has released a draft report on al-Qaeda and remnants of the Taleban from Afghanistan.

Nowhere does the document mention that Baghdad may have served as a support or safe-haven for supporters of Osama bin Laden.

In the run-up to the United States invasion of Iraq, US leaders had said Saddam Hussein's government had had contacts with al-Qaeda.

"Nothing has come to our notice that would indicate links," said Michael Chandler, the committee's chief investigator.

"That doesn't mean to say it doesn't exist. But from what we've seen the answer is no."

Lists

Mr Chandler said the committee first heard of alleged ties during a presentation by US Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Security Council in February.

However the US Government stood by its accusations.

Osama Bin Laden
The fate of Bin Laden remains unknown
Richard Grenell, a spokesman for the US mission at the UN, said: "We know that Iraq provided some training to al-Qaeda in chemical weapons development and we also know there were clear contacts between them that can be documented."

In his presentation to the security council in February, Mr Powell said the former Iraqi regime was allowing a senior al-Qaeda member to operate from Baghdad.

The UN committee also said that despite big successes in the US war on terror, recent attacks in Morocco and elsewhere showed that al-Qaeda followers "were still willing and able to strike at targets of their choosing".

The committee has drawn up lists of more than 150 individuals and one group associated with the Taleban, and 80 individuals and 91 groups linked to al-Qaeda.

The report urged UN member states to impose sanctions against them, include freezing their financial assets.




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