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GOP candidates' remarks on Iraq

Some analysts say leading GOP presidential candidates are making misleading statements about Al Qaeda and Iraq. The following statements were made in response to questions about the Iraq war during the May 15 Republican debate.

Arizona Senator John McCain

"You read Zarqawi, you read bin Laden, you read Al Qaeda, they'll tell you they want to follow us home."

McCain is warning that Iraqi terrorists will "follow us home" if the United States leaves Iraq prematurely; but by including Osama bin Laden among those who will "follow us home" he seems to be suggesting that the terrorist leader is overseeing attacks in Iraq. He is not. Analysts say he is hiding in remote areas near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and is not in direct control of the group known as Al Qaeda Iraq.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney

"They want to bring down the West, in particular us. And they're coming together as Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, with that intent."

Analysts dispute the notion that these groups are "coming together." There is little evidence of connections between them. Shia and Sunni are branches of Islam, not terrorist groups. Hezbollah and Hamas have specific agendas in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, respectively. And the Muslim Brotherhood has not endorsed Al Qaeda.

Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani

"These people do want to follow us here and they have followed us here. Fort Dix happened a week ago. That was a situation in which six Islamic terrorists, who were not directed by Al Qaeda but claimed to be inspired by them, were going to kill our military in cold blood at Fort Dix."

None of the six were from Iraq. Four of those arrested were from the former Yugoslavia. One was from Turkey and one was from Jordan. Most had been in the United States since the 1980s. One came when he was 2 years old. The complaint against the six men states that Al Qaeda propaganda was found on one of the men's computer.

PETER CANELLOS

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