Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
(born October 20, 1966) is alleged to be a senior associa
Osama bin Laden
and head of the
U.S. officials have accused of trying to train terrorists in the use of poison for possible attacks in Europe, running a terrorist haven in northern
Iraq - an area outside
Saddam Hussein's control even before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, organizing a bombing of a
Banghdad, Iraq hotel, and organizing an attack that killed an American aid executive in Jordan in 2002.
His primary claim to fame is that he and Mohamed Atta, the lead Sept. 11 attacker, who America claimed met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Prague five months before Sept. 11, were used by the George W. Bush administration as a pretext for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, bolstering support for the war by pumping up links between Iraq and terrorism. It was revealed by the New York Times on October 21, 2002 that Atta did not meet with Iraqi Intelligence in Prague.
Polls of the US public have shown that up to 80% have stated a belief that Saddam actually planned or caused the 9/11 attacks. The role of these two individuals thus takes on an almost mythic importance. However, the Bush administration consistently denies that it created this impression in the public:
In an interview in September 2003, Bush said "No, we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th... What the vice president said was is that he (Saddam) has been involved with al-Qaida.
"And al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida operative, was in Baghdad. He's the guy that ordered the killing of a U.S. diplomat. ... There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaida ties."
But bin Laden and Saddam did not get along even against a common prime enemy.
 One of the audio tapes purported to be of bin Laden called for the overthrow of Saddam and his "secular, socialist, infidel" government.
 Britian's defence intelligence staff asserted that any fledgling relationship foundered on ideological differences.
 CIA had great difficulty backing up Bush's claims.
 FBI investigators looking for a link said "we just don't think it's there."
Israel denied the Iraq and al- Qaeda connection (while asserting the connection between Iraq and Palestinian terrorism).