Deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein did let al-Qaida operate out of Iraq, Downing Street insisted today.
A US report yesterday said there was no conclusive evidence of a link between the former Iraqi dictator and Osama bin Laden's terrorist group.
But Downing Street said Saddam had created "a permissive environment" for terrorists and al-Qaida operatives were in the country during his time in office.
No 10 said it was not claiming a direct link but a spokeswoman said: "The prime minister has always said Saddam created a permissive environment for terrorism and we know that the people affiliated to al-Qaida operated in Iraq during the regime.
"The prime minister always made it clear that Saddam's was a rogue state which threatened the security of the region and the world."