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Bush Says Saddam 'Had Terrorist Connections'

Washington, 17 June 2004 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has reiterated his administration's belief that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States because of what he called the ousted Iraqi leader's ties with terrorist organizations.

Bush made the comment today as an independent government commission investigating the 11 September 2001 attacks was holding its final public hearing.

The panel's investigators have said there was no collaborative relationship between Hussein's regime and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

But Bush said there were ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorists before the 11 September attacks that killed roughly 3,000 people.

"He [Saddam Hussein] was a threat because he was a sworn enemy to the United States of America, just like Al-Qaeda. Now, he was a threat because he had terrorist connections, not only Al-Qaeda connections but other connections to terrorist organizations," Bush said.

The Bush administration sought to justify the Iraq war, in part, based on Hussein's alleged ties with terrorists. It also argued that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction -- which have not been found -- and that he ruled his country by terror and intimidation.