'No link between Saddam and al-Qaeda'

A detailed Pentagon study confirms there was no direct link between late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda network, debunking a claim President George W Bush's administration used to justify invading Iraq.

Coming five years after the start of the war in Iraq, the study of 600,000 official Iraqi documents and thousands of hours of interrogations of former Saddam Hussein colleagues "found no smoking gun (ie direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al-Qaeda," said the study, quoted in US media.

The US administration appeared to bury the release of the study, making it available only at individual request and by mail - instead of posting it on the internet or handing it out to reporters.

Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and top aides have insisted there were links between Saddam and al-Qaeda, citing the alleged ties as a rationale for going to war in Iraq.

[Agence France-Presse

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