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Powell Claims Iraq Is Harboring Al Qaeda Terrorists, But Leaves Out Evidence Implicating US Allies; We Hear Responses From Baghdad, France and Cameroon

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At the United Nations Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell put forward new details in an attempt to connect Saddam Hussein with Al Qaeda.

Powell’s case centered on Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, who has trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Last May al-Zarqawi visited Baghdad for medical treatment and Powell claimed he accompanied by 24 other “Al Qaeda affiliates.”

And al-Zarqawi is among the leaders of the group Ansar al-Islam which is based in northern Iraq, a region not under Baghdad’s control. Ansar al-Islam has vowed to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s government but Powell alleged Hussein has backed the group.

The Financial Times reported that US officials have not drawn the conclusions expressed by Powell. “Before yesterday’s speech, one described the assertion of a link based on Mr. al-Zarqawi’s presence in Baghdad as an 'inferential leap.' … UK officials, whose conclusions are based on the same intelligence as that available to the CIA, remain unconvinced that links are more than circumstantial.”

The New York Times also reported that Powell withheld some critical details including the discovery by intelligence agencies that a member of the royal family in Qatar operated a safe house for Zarqawi. Qatar is seen as an important ally providing air bases and a command headquarters for the American military.

The Times reported that Qatari royal family member was Abdul Karim al-Thani provided Qatari passports and more than $1 million in a special bank account to finance the network.

Tape:

  • Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell addressing the U.N. Security Council, 2-5-03.

Guest:

  • As`ad AbuKhalil, author of ??Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New 'War on Terrorism' and the forthcoming ??The House of Bush and the House of Saud. He is a professor of political science at California State University at Stanislaus.

Tape:

  • Gen. Amir Saadi, Special advisor to Saddam Hussein, speaking late last night in Baghdad.

Guest:

  • Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now! correspondent in Baghdad.

Tape:

  • Dominique de Villepin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, speaking to the U.N. Security Council, 2-5-03.
  • Francois-Xavier Ngoubeyou, Cameroon Foreign Minister, speaking to the U.N. Security Council, 2-5-03.

Guests:

  • Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, specializing in Middle East and United Nations issues She is the author of the book ??Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis.
  • James Paul, Executive Director of the Global Policy Forum. He has also worked as a writer and consultant with projects for Human Rights Watch, Oxford University Press, Physicians for Human Rights, and many others. He was awarded the World Hunger Media Award in 1987 and he received a “Peacemaker” award from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in 1996. He is an editor of the ??Oxford Companion to Politics of the World and his most recent book is ??Humanity Comes of Age.

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