Washington, 18 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has said there is no evidence that deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was involved in the 11 September 2001 attacks. Bush did, however, repeat his belief that Hussein had ties to Al-Qaeda, the group widely regarded as responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington.
Bush also said Vice President Dick Cheney was right about suspicions of a link between Iraq and Al-Qaida. The U.S. president cited the case of Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a leader of an Islamic group in northern Iraq called Ansar al-Islam believed to have links to Al-Qaeda.
"We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the 11 September [attacks]. Now, what the vice president said was is that he had been involved with Al-Qaeda, and al-Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda operative, was in Baghdad, he's the guy who ordered the killing of a U.S. diplomat, he's a man still running loose, involved with Ansar al-Islam, there's no question that Saddam Hussein had Al-Qaeda ties," Bush said.
Bush's comments come after a recent opinion poll in the U.S. found that nearly 70 percent of those asked believed Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 11 September 2001 attacks.