A French hostage who was released last week after four months in Iraq says his kidnappers grouped militants linked to al Qaeda and former members of ousted president Saddam Hussein's ruling party.
Journalist Christian Chesnot told Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in an interview published on Thursday the men who were guarding him and fellow French journalist Georges Malbrunot included "fundamentalists" and former Baath officials.
… "The group, as far as we understood, was made up of former Baathists, including the body guard of the personal secretary of Saddam Hussein," Chesnot was quoted as saying.
"In addition, there are also youths who told us they had been trained in Afghanistan on making explosives and who referred to (al Qaeda leader) Osama bin Laden as Sheikh Osama."
… The United States, whose army led the 2003 war that toppled Saddam, has repeatedly said ex-members of the largely secular Baath Party members were involved in the insurgency in Iraq and that they are working with militant groups — their former foes.