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June 17, 2004

SADDAM AND AL QAEDA -- THE BRITISH VIEW:

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."

It seems hard to argue with that.

UPDATE: Andrew McCarthy has more thoughts on Saddam, Al Qaeda, and the 9/11 Commission.