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Panorama
Panorama in Parliament
House of Commons
Panorama reporter Jane Corbin has given evidence to the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee about al-Qaeda and Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

She was called before the committee in early June to give evidence about al-Qaeda and the war on terror.

Also giving evidence at the same hearing was Professor Paul Wilkinson, from the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews.

During the hearing Jane was asked for her opinion on the state of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, whether Osama bin Laden was still alive and active and future dangers from the terrorism.

No concrete evidence

Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden, alive and active?
Jane, who has made five documentaries for Panorama about the al-Qaeda network, was also specifically about the claimed link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

She said that feelers had been put out in the 1980s between Osama al-Qaeda, the Iraqis and indeed the Iranians as well as a number of extremist groups both belonging to Sunni and the Shia persuasion.

But Jane added: "I do not think anything came of it. I have never been able to find any concrete evidence of links between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime.

"The nature of Saddam's regime in that if he had these weapons, he would not wish to see control of them to an organisation like al-Qaeda which he had no control over."

Jane was also asked whether she thought Osama bin Laden was still alive and may have never even left Afghanistan.

No control

British troops told me very freely they were frightened by the way in which the scale of the looting threatened to overwhelm what had been a victorious entry in to the city

Jane Corbin
"I believe that he is alive and he is able to operate with some degree of success," she said, "I believe that he never left Afghanistan, that he is still in the southern or eastern portion of the country or perhaps just over the border in what are known as the tribal territories in Pakistan."

Finally Jane, who was in Basra just after Saddam Hussein's regime fell, was quizzed on the post-war situation in Iraq.

She said that in the early days the looting in Basra had directed at the regime, but the banks very rapidly also became a target and the British were unable to control it.

"British troops told me very freely they were frightened by the way in which the scale of the looting threatened to overwhelm what had been a victorious entry in to the city," said Jane.

"There were round 8,000 men from the Desert Rats and Basra is a city of getting on for two million people, absolutely vast, and also vast geographically, a huge, sprawling city and it was impossible for that number of British troops to effectively police the city."

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