The minister in charge of Iraqi police said Monday that al-Qaida was probably behind some suicide bombings in Iraq, and President Bush praised the capture of a senior member of Osama bin Laden's network.
"There is a presence of al-Qaida in this country. We've announced that directly and indirectly," Interior Minister Nouri Badran said.
"A lot of the suicide attacks have the fingerprints of the crimes committed by al-Qaida," he added. Asked if al-Qaida is operating in Iraq, he said: "Yes, it is."
But he provided no evidence to back his claim. There was no immediate comment from U.S. military commanders.
During a visit to Little Rock, Ark., on Monday, Bush said Hassan Ghul was captured in Iraq last week.
"He was a killer. He was moving money and messages around South Asia and the Middle East to other al-Qaida leaders. He was a part of this network of haters that we're dismantling," Bush said.
Iraq has witnessed a number of devastating suicide vehicle attacks since the ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime in April - attacks aimed at both coalition forces and their Iraqi allies.
A few non-Iraqi Arab and foreign fighters have been detained or killed in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad, but coalition forces have been reluctant to clearly say if they were part of or directly linked to al-Qaida.