A published report says a top al-Qaida operative in U.S. custody gave false information later used by the Bush administration to support its contention that Iraq trained al-Qaida militants to use illegal weapons.

The New York Times reports Sunday that newly declassified portions of a February 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency document says Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi misled debriefers in his claims about Iraq's work with al-Qaida members.

Mr. Libi, captured in Pakistan in 2001, told investigators Iraq trained the terrorist organization's militants to use biological and chemical weapons.

The newspaper says intelligence experts realized his claims about al-Qaida's ties to Iraq were lies months before the Bush administration used the information as part of its justification to topple Saddam Hussein.

The Times was given the report by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the leading Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He is strongly critical of the Bush administration for what he calls its misuse of prewar intelligence to justify the war in Iraq.