President Bush insisted again yesterday that a Sunni insurgent group in Iraq is an integral part of Osama bin Laden's worldwide al-Qaeda network—-rebuffing several experts' claims to the contrary. Recent reports have suggested that Sunnis fighting under the "al-Qaeda in Iraq" banner are local insurgents with a weak connection to the eponymous parent organization.
The distinction is critical because it determines whether Iraq is truly, as the administration has asserted, essential to a global war on terror. "Some will tell you al-Qaeda in Iraq isn't really al-Qaeda," Bush told military personnel. "That's like watching a man in a bank with a mask and a gun and saying he's just there to cash a check. We are fighting bin Laden's al-Qaeda in Iraq."