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Confusing al Qaeda and Iraq:
Are all Arabs alike?

The contention that Iraqi women suffer under Taliban or Saudi-like conditions has been fed by barrage of assertions that there is a connection between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. A New York Times/CBS poll in February 2003 showed that 42 percent of people in the U.S. thought that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 attacks, something the Bush administration has never supported with evidence.

Iraqi students wait for the start of class at the Eastern Secondary School in Baghdad on May 4, 2003. (This picture accompanied an article entitled "Iraqi women wary of push for Islamic rule," The Gainesville Sun, May 7, 2003.)

"Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal, his country's former intelligence chief, noted that bin
Laden views Saddam Hussein "as an apostate, an infidel, or someone who is not
worthy of being a fellow Muslim" and that bin Laden had offered in 1990 to raise
an army of thousands of mujaheddin fighters to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi
occupation." Steven Zunes, "Seven Fallacies of U.S. plans to Invade Iraq,"
August 2002 Foreign Policy in Focus policy report.


Many argue that the two are actually enemies. "Saddam's Baath party is just the
sort of secular Arab government that the ultra-religious al Qaeda organization would
be likely to oppose" noted the Associated Press on January 30, 2003. "Bin Laden's
beliefs sprung from the deeply conservative Wahhabi movement, which rejects smoking,
drinking, and socializing between men and women... "Bin Laden and his men considered
Saddam the killer of hundreds of Islamic militants," Gen. Hamid Gul, the former chief
of Pakistan's spy agency, ISI, told the Associated Press.
Associated Press, January 20, 2003.


"[U.S. Secretary of State Colin] Powell [contends] that bin Laden's recent audiotape,
in which he exhorted his followers to acts of terrorism if the U.S. invades Iraq, proves
a clear link between Saddam and al-Qaeda. That argument is laughable," writes
Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "In the audiotape, the religious
fanatic Osama does not attempt to conceal his contempt for the womanizing, secular
"Powell squanders credibility by linking Osama to Saddam",
Cynthia Tucker, February 25, 2003, Gainesville (FL) Sun.


"In a Qaeda house in Kabul [Afghanistan], there was a public statement from the
'Islamic Battalion, Kurdistan, Iraq,' dated Nov. 20, 1999, calling on 'the movement for
Islamic unity' to help the jihad against President Saddam Hussein."
New York Times, March 17, 2002, on documents found in Afghanistan after the U.S.