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Cheney links Iraq, al-Qaida, talks of WMD

By wire services
Published January 23, 2004

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney revived two controversial assertions about the war in Iraq on Thursday, declaring there is "overwhelming evidence" that Saddam Hussein had a relationship with al-Qaida and that two trailers discovered after the war are proof of Iraq's biological weapons programs.

The vice president stood by positions that others in the administration have largely abandoned in recent months, as preliminary analysis of the trailers has been called into question and new evidence - including a document found with Hussein when he was captured - cast doubt on theories that Iraq and al-Qaida collaborated.

Terror suspect sues U.S. over deportation

Lawyers acting for Maher Arar, who is suspected of belonging to al-Qaida, filed suit in federal court in New York against Attorney General John Ashcroft and two other top American officials, charging that they deported him to Syria despite knowing that Syria practices torture.

Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian software consultant who denies any involvement in the terrorist network, was arrested in 2002 during a brief stopover in the United States and expelled to Syria, where he says he was tortured.

The Center for Constitutional Rights sued John Ashcroft; Tom Ridge, the homeland security chief; and FBI director Robert Mueller III, seeking damages and an apology. The Justice Department stated it believes Arar is an al-Qaida member.

Iraq arms inspector may be replaced

WASHINGTON - Charles Duelfer, the former No. 2 U.N. weapons inspector for Iraq, is likely to be named soon to succeed David Kay as the leader of the U.S. team searching there for evidence of illicit weapons, the New York Times reports, quoting unnamed senior American officials.

No final decision has been made, the officials said, but they said Kay had made it clear that he would not stay in the post. Duelfer's likely nomination was first reported Wednesday by NBC News.

U.S., Saudis cooperate, saying charity backs terror

WASHINGTON - The U.S. and Saudi governments Thursday announced a joint effort to crack down on four branches of a huge Saudi-based charity, charging that its offices in Africa and Asia are being used to funnel money, arms and personnel to al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations.

U.S. officials said the action against the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation illustrates the increasing cooperation between Washington and Riyadh against al-Qaida.

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