NOT long before the invasion of Iraq, an intriguing comment was made about Saddam Hussein, suggesting that through his use of chemical weapons against the Marsh Arabs, mustard gas against the Kurds and through the slaughter of domestic opposition, Saddam was responsible for the deaths of more Muslims than anyone else on the globe.

Now, after last week's bombings in Jordan and continuing attacks in Iraq, it seems Saddam's record is no longer safe and Osama bin Laden may yet replace the former dictator for this title.

In the recent battles against al Qaida and its allies, one of the few objective successes has been the closure of potential training camps for those wanting to sign up for the slaughter of innocents. The favourite locations of Afghanistan and Libya have now been removed through the twin tracks of war and diplomacy, and such was the shortage of training opportunities, it has been suggested that the London bombers went white water rafting in Wales in order to plan their attack.

This situation has changed with the recent comments of the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, that the state of Israel should be "wiped off the map". The President might as well have issued a personalised invitation to every potential suicide bomber in the world - they will be most welcome to come and train in Iran.

Unsurprisingly, the comments of the Iranian President have been welcomed by the Palestinian terror organisation, the al-Aqsa Brigades, who have stated their "solidarity with the destruction of Israel as being God's will".

The plight of the Palestinian people over the past half century is at the heart of the recruiting call to every would-be suicide bomber. It doesn't take a co-religionist to look on the treatment of Palestinians and feel deep revulsion at the systematic dehumanisation of a people. Yet the failure of the world's superpowers to do anything about the situation has enabled al Qaida's recruiting sergeants to highlight the theological concept of the Umma - the universal brotherhood of all Muslims - and to manipulate this concept to trade on the misery of the Palestinian people in calling for a jihad against all of those who oppress them.

As if it weren't enough for the Iranian President to call for the end of Israel, even more worrying, his statement coincides with the Iranian government's efforts to begin uranium enrichment in their nuclear plants. If this happens then the prospect of a nation-state with nuclear capabilities being sympathetic to the core aim of al Qaida stops being a potential nightmare and looms as a pressing reality.

The best way to bring an end to the continuing global violence perpetuated by al Qaida is to cut the ground from its claim of acting on behalf of the oppressed. It is time to deal justly with the people of Palestine, if not for their sake over the past 50 years, then perhaps for our sake over the 50 to come.