More Zarqawi PSY OPS tainted stories

The following stories were effectively manipulated by the US military's Zarqawi PSY OPS campaign, namely the fabricated letter provided to Dexter Filkins of the New York Times.

Copyright 2004 Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
March 3, 2004, Wednesday
18:43:04 Central European Time
SECTION: Politics
LENGTH: 351 words
HEADLINE: U.S. has intelligence tying al-Zarqawi to bombings, general says
DATELINE: Washington

The United States has intelligence linking Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to deadly suicide bombings targeting Shiite Moslems in Baghdad and Karbala, the top U.S. commander in the region said Wednesday. Al-Zarqawi, an al-Qaeda associate, has long been suspected by the United States of orchestrating suicide attacks in Iraq to try to spark a civil war between the country's Shiite and Sunni communities. "The level of organization and the desire to cause casualties among innocent worshippers is a clear hallmark of the Zarqawi network, and we have intelligence that ties Zarqawi to this attack," General John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, told the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee. Suicide bombers struck mosques in the two cities Tuesday, killing about 180 people on the holiest day of the calendar for Shiite Moslems. Abizaid also said the United States has information connecting al- Zarqawi with former officials of ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's intelligence apparatus. "We are concerned to see a terrorist group come into close coordination with former Iraqi intelligence service people because that creates an opportunity for the enemy of cooperation that can have a lot of danger," he said. The United States intercepted a letter last month believed to have been written by al-Zarqawi to senior al-Qaeda leadership seeking support for sparking a religious war in the country. It suggested launching attacks against the majority Shiites in the hopes they would retaliate against the Sunnis, Saddam's power base. The U.S. government has offered a 10-million-dollar reward for information leading to al-Zarqawi's capture or death. He is also suspected of plotting the 2002 assassination of an American diplomat in Jordan. Abizaid said attacks in Iraq by al-Zarqawi showed he and Osama bin Laden's network are the enemies of Islam. "They have killed more Muslims in the past month than anybody could ever imagine, for no vision other than to cause destruction and to cause civil war to take place in Iraq," he said.

Copyright 2004 Financial Times Information
All Rights Reserved
Global News Wire - Europe Intelligence Wire
Copyright 2004 Independent Newspapers (UK) Limited
The Independent
March 3, 2004
ACC-NO: A200403021F7-76A6-GNW

LENGTH: 558 words


BYLINE: Anne Penketh


US MILITARY authorities said yesterday that the devastating bombings in the holy city of Karbala and in Baghdad seemed to bear the hallmark of al-Qa'ida and the fingerprints of one man.

The spokesman for the allies in Baghdad, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, said a "prime suspect" in the attacks was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant who is believed to be based in Iraq.

Zarqawi has warned of attacks on the majority Shia population with the aim of provoking a Sunni-Shia civil war to wreck the US plans to pull out of Iraq on 30 June. He is already suspected of being behind several major attacks in Iraq.

Last month the Americansgave The New York Times what they said was a letter on a CD-Rom from Zarqawi to his al-Qa'ida superiors - possibly to Osama bin Laden.

The memo said that if the Americans did hand over power to Iraqi authorities on that date, the al-Qa'ida fighters in Iraq would lose their raison d'etre to wage war. According to the US military's interpretation of the memo, Zarqawi concluded that if this happened "they will literally have to pack up and go elsewhere" - a tacit admission of defeat for Bin Laden's organisation.

While it is still not known whether the memo is a fake, its predictions look as though it they are coming true.

Much of the 11-page memo is devoted to an al Qa'ida-style rant against the Shia, regarded by Bin Laden as little better than heretics. The writer says of the Iraqi Shias: "(They are) the insurmountable obstacle, the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy and the penetrating venom. The unhurried observer and the inquiring onlooker will realise that Shi'ism is the looming danger and the true challenge. They are the enemy. Beware of them. Fight them."

But the document also vows to target symbols of the Kurdish community and to accelerate attacks on US troops, policemen and "collaborators' - the Iraqis who work with the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The Shia are identified in the letter as"the key to change. I mean that targeting and hitting them in (their) religious, political and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies ... and bare the teeth of the hidden rancour working in their breasts".

It is then envisaged that the Sunnis would strike back. Zarqawi has a $ 10m (pounds 5.4m) bounty on his head after being singled out by the Americans as a key link between the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'ida. Before the war, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, accused Zarqawi of working on chemical weapons at his hideout in the mountains in collaboration with Saddam's regime.

However, the Government never endorsed the US charges of a link between al-Qa'ida and Saddam in the run-up to the war.

Following the fall of Saddam, the armed resistance to the US and British occupation was initially blamed on Iraqis still loyal to the ousted dictator.

But evidence is mounting of sustained co-operation between foreign Islamic fighters and home-grown militants in Iraq.

This week The Independent obtained a video disc, which is being distributed in Baghdad mosques, which boasts of attacks by non-Iraqis on targets inside Iraq. The video was produced by Jeish Ansar al-Sunna, a little-known group that claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing in Arbil last month that killed more than 100 people.

Copyright 2004 Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
March 2, 2004, Tuesday
17:32:52 Central European Time
SECTION: Politics

LENGTH: 200 words

HEADLINE: Iraq attacks killing 140 aimed at dividing Iraq, Cheney says

DATELINE: Washington

The bombings in Iraq on Tuesday that killed at least 140 people were designed to divide the country's religious community and were an act of desperation, Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday. The attacks appeared to be the work of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a suspected terrorist the United States blames for trying to spark a religious war between Iraq's Shiite and Sunni populations, Cheney said. "This looks very much like that kind of an attack," Cheney said in an interview on CNN. Al-Zarqawi has long been suspected by U.S. officials of being al- Qaeda's top agent in Iraq. U.S. officials in Iraq said last month they had intercepted a letter to senior al-Qaeda members believed to have been written by the Jordanian citizen. In the letter, al-Zarqawi advocated attacking the country's Shiites to spark a religious war that would bog down the U.S. occupation and thwart the effort to establish a democratic government. He believed attacks against the Shiites would prompt a retaliation against the minority Sunnis, who had served as ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's power base. The bombings in Karbala and Baghdad took place during the Shiite Ashura festival. dpa mm pr

CTV Television, Inc.
February 10, 2004, Tuesday 07:15:45 - 07:20:20 Eastern Time
LENGTH: 735 words

HEADLINE: Letter Reads Like Blueprint for Iraqi Civil War

ANCHOR: Beverly Thomson

GUEST: Patrick Basham, Cato Institute


GEN. MARK KIMMIT [US Military Spokesman]: Clearly, a plan
on the part of outsiders to come into this country and spark civil
war, create sectarian violence, try to expose fissures in the

THOMSON: US Brigadier Gen. Mark Kimmit on the 17-page letter
allegedly written by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. Officials say the
letter was headed to Afghanistan and possibly to Osama bin Laden.
In it, Al-Zarqawi calls for the creation of a civil war between
Iraq's Muslim sects, one that must happen before June 30. The
letter also claims responsibility for 25 suicide attacks inside
Iraq. And there is more unrest in the region this morning as a
deadly car bombing rips through a police station. Joining us now
from Washington to talk about this letter is Patrick Basham from
the Cato Institute.

And the contents, while chilling, I mean, it essentially incites
civil war in that country. Why would the US make the contents of
the letter public and really allow the message to potentially reach
those for whom it was intended in the first place?

BASHAM: They want to do a couple of things. First of all, they
want to remind the world, I think particularly domestic American
opinion, that al-Qaeda is part of the reason, a major part of the
reason, why the Iraq intervention took place, and that the United
States government is still fighting terrorism, that's still the
priority, and that this confirms in their view that strategy.

At the same time, they want to begin to educate the various groups
in Iraq that there are forces at work who don't have Iraq's best
interests in mind and that they should view what happens in that
country, in terms of the violence, in that context.

THOMSON: Okay. What about the man who the US says authored the
letter -- Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi? Let's talk about a bit about who
he is. And we understand it he's a Palestinian Jordanian and a
veteran of the Afghan-Soviet war. What can you tell us about him?

BASHAM: Well, he is someone with a very strong record as a
terrorist. He's been tried in absentia in Jordan and sentenced to
death. He's believed to be in Iraq right now. And he is not part
of al-Qaeda but he is affiliated, he is sympathetic with them. And
so, this isn't an al-Qaeda communication, but it's one that a
reasonable person could be led to believe is one that would
facilitate al-Qaeda activities, if not directly then certainly

THOMSON: And what about the possibility of civil war in Iraq? I
mean it's already such an unsettled country. And in the letter
they are encouraging attacks against the Shi'ite majority so that
they'll retaliate, and then there will be a war between the
Muslims. But then you've got the Arabs and the Kurds in the north.
I mean, how close is this country to civil war already? And how
much does this lend credence that the threat is even bigger than we

BASHAM: I think it lends a lot of credence. In my opinion, we
are fairly close to civil war in Iraq. The religious, the ethnic,
the tribal rivalries between the Shi'ites, the Sunnis, the Kurds,
et cetera are enormous. And we have all of this sort of material
ready to burn in that country anyway. And so, if this document is
valid and if al-Qaeda-type insurgents are able to put a match to
this dynamite we could really have problems. We could have
problems anyway. So this is bad news on top of bad news in Iraq.

THOMSON: So who's the enemy? I mean, when we talk about
insurgents, it is the insurgents that are loyal to Saddam Hussein
still? Or is it al-Qaeda operatives?

BASHAM: Well, this information indicates that al-Qaeda may be a
larger problem than we thought. But the major problem are the
remnants, which are considerable, of the Baathist regime. So you
are talking about part of the Sunni Muslim population that remains
loyal to Saddam Hussein and, most importantly, has no other option.
They've got nowhere to go, they are not going to be democratically
elected back into power when elections take place in Iraq. All
they can do is try to make the US as uncomfortable and unpopular as
possible in that country in the hope that the US leaves and they
are able to carve out some kind of niche for themselves in whatever
form Iraq takes after a US exit.

THOMSON: Patrick Basham in Washington, thank you.

BASHAM: My pleasure.

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Global News Wire - Europe Intelligence Wire
Copyright 2004 Independent Newspapers (UK) Limited
The Independent
February 12, 2004
ACC-NO: A2004021131-739F-GNW

LENGTH: 791 words




AS IRAQ reeled beneath savage and almost daily suicide bombings, US forces yesterday doubled the reward - from $ 5 million to $ 10 million - for the capture of Musab Zarqawi, an obscure and little- known associate of Osama bin Laden whom they claim is trying to provoke a civil war in Iraq.

Zarqawi, who is indeed inside Iraq, is trying to organise further bombing attacks on US troops and US-paid Iraqi police forces by using exclusively Iraqi Sunni Muslim insurgents. But, despite what Washington would like the world to believe, he has no senior leadership position in al-Qa'ida.

Although a letter that the Americans claim to have found in Iraq in which Zarqawi - real name Ahmed Fadil al-Khalaylah - allegedly calls for attacks against Iraq's majority Shia Muslim population, impeccably reliable sources close to al-Qa'ida say that bin Laden's organisation wants to concentrate on the occupiers, their "collaborators'' and foreigners in Iraq, not members of other Muslim communities.

America's new focus on Zarqawi came as a suicide car bomb killed 47 people at an army recruitment centre in Baghdad. Within 24 hours the death toll of Iraqis working with the US occupation forces has reached 100.

The new police and new army recruits are vital to Washington's plan to hand back power to Iraqis by 30 June. The suicide bomber came well-prepared, carrying a bomb with 300 to 500 pounds of plastic explosives mixed with artillery shells - to maximise the "kill effect" according to US Colonel Ralph Baker at the scene.

Ghassan Samir, one of the wounded, said: "We were standing in line waiting to start our shift in the new army and we saw a white car drive by us and then blow up. Many died. There were about 400 people in line." There was no claim of responsibility. As the US focused on Zarqawi, the sources revealed to The Independent that he was with bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2001 and that he participated in the final battles at Tora Bora, where he was slightly wounded . He has moved in and out of Iraq frequently since last summer, the sources claimed, and in August managed to cross into Jordan to visit his wife and children who live in the city of Zarqa. A blunder by Jordanian secret police allowed him to spend at least one night with his family before crossing back into Iraq.

Zarqawi is - as the Americans claimed - associated with the Ansar al- Islam movement in northern Iraq, just as the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, stated in his 5 February 2003 address to the UN Security Council, but America's claims that "foreign terrorists'' are behind the bloody attacks in Iraq - and that Zarqawi's presence there is proof of this - are way off the mark. Almost all the suicide bombers to have immolated themselves in the country are Iraqis. Zarqawi himself, though a Jordanian national, is from the Bani Hassan tribe which exists in Iraq as well as Jordan. For most Arabs, whose national borders were drawn by the

British and French after the First World War, tribe is more important than country. To all intents and purposes Zarqawi is an Iraqi.

At a time when they can find neither Bin Laden nor the Taliban's Mullah Omar, the American effort to promote Zarqawi as a "top-tier terrorist'' may well be an attempt to set up a wanted man who will be easier to find and arrest, or kill, than the other two. US forces say he has been involved in "terrorist plots'' in France, Jordan, Germany and Israel - along with those who set off four bombs targeting a Jewish synagogue and British consulate in Istanbul - although the al- Qa'ida sources scoff at this list. He has been accused of planning the murder of an American diplomat in Oman and associated with an alleged attempt to use the poison ricin in the London Tube. In fact, it is far more likely that Zarqawi was involved in last year's attack on the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad.

But any analysis of Zarqawi's case has to take into account President Bush's election campaign. Having found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and unable to crush the growing resistance movement to US occupation and faced with a steady haemorrhage of American blood in Iraq, Mr Bush badly needs to prove that the Saddam regime was involved with al-Qa'ida and thus with the international crimes against humanity of September 11, 2001. Hence the real importance of Zarqawi. Alas for Mr Bush, Zarqawi was in Afghanistan - not Iraq - in 2001.

Iraqis already had a tradition of suicide bombing; two Iraqi women blew themselves up next to a US checkpoint during last year's invasion and an Iraqi policeman drove a car bomb into US troops a few days earlier. Suicide is not an exclusive tactic of al-Qa'ida, however much the organisation and President Bush might like the world to believe that.

Copyright 2004 Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
February 12, 2004, Thursday
16:15:39 Central European Time
SECTION: Politics

LENGTH: 133 words

HEADLINE: U.S. ups reward for suspected terrorist al-Zarqawi

DATELINE: Washington

The United States doubled its reward to 10 million dollars for information leading to the arrest of a suspected terrorist blamed for numerous attacks in Iraq, the State Department said Thursday. Secretary of State Colin Powell raised the reward from 5 million dollars for the capture of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian native with close ties to al-Qaeda, department spokesman Richard Boucher said. U.S. authorities in Iraq have obtained a 17-page letter believed to have been written by al-Zarqawi to al-Qaeda leadership asking for support to start a religious war in the country, hoping to bog down the U.S.-led occupation there. In the memo, he claimed responsibility for 25 attacks in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi has also been implicated in the murder of a U.S. diplomat in Jordan. dpa mm ls

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
February 10, 2004 Tuesday
Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section A; Column 5; Foreign Desk; Pg. 10

LENGTH: 978 words

U.S. Aides Report Evidence Tying Al Qaeda to Attacks




Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian suspected of ties to Al Qaeda, is now thought likely to have played a role in at least three major car-bomb attacks in Iraq that have killed well over 100 people in the last six months, according to senior American officials.

Intelligence information, including some gathered in recent weeks, has provided "mounting evidence" to suggest that Mr. Zarqawi was involved in the bombings, including the attacks in August on a Shiite mosque in Najaf and the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, and the attack in November on an Italian police headquarters.

One official cautioned that the evidence stopped short of firm proof about involvement by Mr. Zarqawi. But the official said the intelligence had added significantly to concern about Mr. Zarqawi, who one official said was now "really viewed as the most adept terrorist operative in Iraq, in terms of foreigners planning terrorist activities."

The indication that Mr. Zarqawi played a role in the attacks adds evidence that he has been active in Iraq since the American invasion in March. An American official said Mr. Zarqawi had been "in and out" of Iraq since March, but "at last report" was operating inside Iraq. One of Mr. Zarqawi's top lieutenants, Hassan Ghul, a Pakistani, was arrested by Americans near the Iranian border last month, and has been interrogated by American military and intelligence officials.

The American officials who described Mr. Zarqawi's suspected role would do so only on condition of anonymity, and they declined to discuss the nature of the information pointing to a role by Mr. Zarqawi in the bombings. But the officials included some who have been skeptical in the past of the idea that foreign militants were playing a major role in the violence in Iraq.

"The fact that we got Hassan Ghul is new intelligence information," one senior American official said. "The fact that Zarqawi is a bad guy is something we've been saying for a long time, but we're learning more about him."

In a raid on a safe house in Baghdad on Jan. 23, American officials found an electronic copy of a document believed to have been written by Mr. Zarqawi. That document was a detailed proposal asking senior leaders of Al Qaeda for help in waging a "sectarian war" against Shiites in Iraq in the next six months. Parts of it were made available to The New York Times.

The writer of that document indicated that he had directed about 25 suicide bombings inside Iraq, "some of them against Shiites and their leaders, the Americans and their military, and the police, the military and the coalition forces." A senior United States intelligence official in Washington said Sunday that he knew of "no reason to believe the letter is bogus in any way."

In the period before the war, Bush administration officials argued that Mr. Zarqawi constituted the main link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government. At the United Nations in February, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell accused Iraq of harboring "a deadly terrorist network" headed by Mr. Zarqawi, whom he called "an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants."

At that time, Mr. Zarqawi was believed by American officials to be in the mountains near Iran with Ansar al-Islam, a group linked to Al Qaeda that is suspected of mounting attacks against Americans in Iraq. But little evidence has emerged to support the allegation of a prewar Qaeda connection in Iraq, and Mr. Powell conceded last month that the United States had found no "smoking gun" linking Mr. Hussein's government with Al Qaeda.

The largest of the three attacks that American officials now say may be linked to Mr. Zarqawi was the Aug. 29 explosion outside a mosque in Najaf, a city holy to Shiite Muslims, which killed more than 85 people, including Ayatollah Muhammad Baqr al-Hakim, one of Iraq's most important Shiite leaders.

The raid on the safe house in Baghdad used by associates of Mr. Zarqawi was said by one American official to have provided valuable new evidence. The items seized included a compact disc that contained the 17-page proposal to senior leaders of Al Qaeda as well as a seven-pound block of cyanide salt, which the officials said could have spread cyanide gas within an enclosed area.

"It's likely that he was involved in at least the three bombings," an American official said of Mr. Zarqawi. The car bomb attacks were three of the most deadly in Iraq since the American invasion last March. Besides the Najaf attack, they included the Aug. 19 bombing of the United Nations headquarters, which killed 23 people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top United Nations envoy in Iraq; and the Nov. 12 attack on the headquarters of Italy's paramilitary police in Nasiriya, which killed more than 30 people, including 19 Italians.

Last fall, American military, intelligence and law enforcement officials said they did not know whether the August bombings were part of a coordinated campaign. At the time, they said they were wrestling with several competing theories about who might be behind them, including the possibility that they were carried out by former members of the Iraqi military or paramilitary forces.

Investigators said at the time that they had not seen a common signature in the bombings, but that the attack at the United Nations headquarters and another on the Jordanian Embassy had used vehicles packed with explosives drawn from old Iraqi military stocks. American officials have not said publicly what kinds of explosives were used in the attacks in Najaf and Nasiriya.

On Monday, senior American officials were careful to describe Mr. Zarqawi as "an associate" of Al Qaeda rather than a member. American military officials say that at least 90 percent of the attacks on United States troops are thought to have been carried out by Iraqi Sunnis opposed to the occupation.

Copyright 2004 CanWest Interactive, a division of
CanWest Global Communications Corp.
All Rights Reserved
The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec)
February 10, 2004 Tuesday Final Edition
SECTION: News; Pg. A22

LENGTH: 330 words

HEADLINE: Al-Qa'ida letter casts doubt on U.S. claims: Recruiting Iraqis to fight U.S. said to be difficult




A letter seized from an Al-Qa'ida courier shows Osama bin Laden has made little headway in recruiting Iraqis for a holy war against the United States, raising questions about the U.S. contention Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.

The 17-page letter, cited as a key piece of intelligence that offered a rare window into foreign terrorist operations in Iraq, appealed to Al-Qa'ida leaders to help spark a civil war between Iraq's two main Muslim sects in an effort to "tear the country apart," U.S. officials said yesterday.

The letter was believed written by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian suspected of Al-Qa'ida links. Al-Zarqawi is the chief suspect in several recent bombings, and the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush cited his presence in Iraq as evidence of Iraq's terrorist connections even before the war.

Having found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the administration has been shifting the reason for going to war to the fight against global terrorism and to oust Saddam Hussein.

Military and coalition officials who rarely speak about intelligence information were quick to describe the letter as proof of a terrorist role in the Iraqi resistance.

White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said the letter, first reported yesterday by the New York Times, shows "Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism."

The letter, as quoted by the Times, acknowledges problems in recruiting Iraqis to join the fight against a U.S. force "growing stronger day after day."

"Many Iraqis would honour you as a guest and give you refuge, for you are a Muslim brother," it said. "However, they will not allow you to make their home a base for operations or a safe house."

That suggests Iraqis may be willing to support their homegrown insurgency but have little interest in backing foreign infiltrators. The letter's appeals for outside help raises questions whether Al-Qa'ida had a support network here before Saddam's downfall.

LOAD-DATE: February 10, 2004

Copyright 2004 National Post, All Rights Reserved
National Post (Canada)
March 4, 2004 Thursday National Edition
SECTION: World; Pg. A10

LENGTH: 861 words

HEADLINE: Massacre Al-Qaeda's work: U.S.: Top general says Saddam loyalists may have helped terrorists slaughter Shiites: 'Clear hallmark'

SOURCE: Bloomberg News, with files from Reuters

BYLINE: Todd Zeranski and Tony Capaccio


WASHINGTON - U.S. General John Abizaid, the commander of the Iraq occupation, said there is evidence Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an alleged al-Qaeda associate, was behind Tuesday's massacre of Shiites in Baghdad and Karbala and may have been assisted by loyalists of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.

"The level of organization and the desire to cause casualties among innocent worshippers is a clear hallmark of the Zarqawi network, and we have intelligence that ties Zarqawi to the attack," Gen. Abizaid said in testimony to the House Armed Services committee in Washington.

The attacks occurred almost at the same time in the capital, Baghdad, and the holy city of Karbala and took place during the Shiite holy day of Ashura. They involved at least four suicide bombers and explosives that were remotely detonated.

Mohammed Bahr-al-Ulloum, the president of the Iraqi Governing Council, told The Associated Press the death toll in yesterday's blasts has increased to 271, with 393 wounded. That sum would be almost double the toll of 143 cited by the United States yesterday.

Zarqawi has become the focus of U.S. concerns about attempts to foment a civil war in Iraq and wreck its future as a democracy while Iraqis attempt to revive the oil-driven economy. U.S. officials had portrayed Zarqawi as attempting to win al-Qaeda support for a wider insurgency.

The U.S. occupation authority last month released a letter it said was written by Zarqawi and destined for al-Qaeda that described a plan to provoke a war within four months between Sunni Muslims and the majority Shiites. The aim was to block the transfer of sovereign power to an Iraqi body set for June 30, according to the letter.

After the congressional briefing, Gen. Abizaid told reporters U.S. special forces soldiers conducted raids on Monday night that helped to thwart even more deadly attacks.

"There's no doubt we disrupted a plan that had even greater dimensions than we saw on the ground," he said. "Clearly, there was a plan for Basra that was disrupted and clearly there was a desire to bring in car bombs."

Police in the British-supervised southern city, Iraq's second-largest, took into custody four people suspected of preparing blasts there, including two women in a Shiite procession who were wearing belts with explosives, The Associated Press reported yesterday. Two men were arrested in connection with a car found to contain a bomb.

At least 41 people were killed in Quetta, Pakistan, in an attack on Shiite worshippers on Tuesday. There is no evidence so far that the assault was connected to the Iraqi bombings.

Gen. Abizaid, who heads U.S. Central Command, said Zarqawi, a Jordanian, has been seeking alliances with remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime.

"We also have intelligence that shows there is some linkage between Zarqawi and the former regime elements, specifically the Iraqi intelligence service," Gen. Abizaid said. "We are concerned to see terrorist groups come in close co-ordination with former Iraqi intelligence service people."

Fifteen people have been arrested in connection with the bombings, a coalition military spokesman in Baghdad said yesterday. Al-Qaeda has denied it was behind the attacks.

The U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said in Baghdad yesterday terrorism was increasingly coming from outside the country and border security was being tightened.

U.S. analysts, meanwhile, are expressing growing concern the country could be headed for civil war.

"Without basic security, Iraq will come apart, as our enemies both inside and outside Iraq understand all too well," said Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of the Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

University of Chicago scholar Robert Pape sees Iraqi events following a pattern set in other countries where a formerly dominant ethic minority lost its privileged position. He cited as examples the Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Maronite Christians in Lebanon.

"We've seen this process unfold in other situations and it often leads to awful things -- civil war, insurgencies and terrorism," he said.

As funeral processions filled the streets of Baghdad and Karbala yesterday, Shiite leaders called for calm and urged their followers not to be provoked into civil war.

Huge crowds of mourners marched through the holy city of Karbala chanting "God is Greatest" and bearing flower-laden coffins aloft through streets packed with Shiites. Thousands more, joined by Sunnis, converged on Baghdad's most sacred Shiite mosque to urge unity and reject sectarian strife.

Ayatollah Hadi al-Muddaresi, one of Iraq's foremost Shiite clerics, said the bombings were an attempt by Sunni extremists to foment civil war in Iraq, where the 60% Shiite majority was for decades suppressed under Saddam, a Sunni.

"We as Shiites refuse to be drawn into such a conflict," he said.

Some mourners in Baghdad said calls for restraint by their clerics had prevented them turning on Sunni Muslims.

"If only our clergy would give us the signal, we would wipe out the Sunnis from Iraq," said an angry Mutaz al-Shamri, a traditional garment trader near the mosque.

GRAPHIC: Black & White Photo: Faleh Kheiber, Reuters; Mourners carry coffins to a mass funeral in Karbala yesterday following Tuesday's attacks on Shiites in the holy city and in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. The Iraqi Governing Council said yesterday 271 people had been killed.

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CanWest Global Communications Corp.
All Rights Reserved
The Halifax Daily News (Nova Scotia)
April 7, 2004 Wednesday
SECTION: World News; Pg. 12

LENGTH: 303 words

HEADLINE: Tape urges Sunnis to fight Shiites


DATELINE: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

A man claiming to be a senior al-Qaida figure that the United States believes is operating in Iraq has released a tape calling for the country's Sunni Muslims to fight Shiites and claiming responsibility for high-profile attacks there.

The 33-minute audiotape appeared yesterday on a website known as a clearinghouse for militant Islamic messages. The speaker introduced himself as Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian also known as Ahmed al-Khalayleh who is thought to be a close associate of Osama bin Laden.

The tape's authenticity could not be verified.

Al-Zarqawi's whereabouts are unknown, but the website on which the tape appeared had a transcript heading that said al-Zarqawi was in Iraq.

The speaker on the tape claimed responsibility for a March 17 car bombing of a Baghdad hotel that killed seven people. The reference to the car bombing was an indication the tape was made recently.

The speaker also said that his group carried out the assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqr al-Hakim, the leader of Iraq's largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Al-Hakim was killed by a car bomb in Iraq on Aug. 29.

The speaker also threatened to kill Gen. John Abizaid, head of the Central Command; Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq; and their generals, soldiers and associates.

One theme of the tape echoed that of a letter U.S. authorities released earlier this year in which al-Zarqawi purportedly wrote to other al-Qaida leaders that the best way to undermine U.S. policy in Iraq was to turn the country's religious communities against each other.

On the tape, the speaker said Shiite Iraqis were not true Muslims and were the ears and the eyes of the Americans in Iraq. He called upon Sunni Muslims in Iraq to burn the earth under the occupiers' feet.

Copyright 2004 Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
April 7, 2004, Wednesday
21:07:58 Central European Time
SECTION: Politics

LENGTH: 343 words

HEADLINE: ROUNDUP: U.S. will robustly respond to insurgents, Rumsfeld saysEds: More quotes, details, background

DATELINE: Washington

The U.S. military will not allow insurgents to derail a democratic Iraq and will take "robust" action to prevent them from succeeding, U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday. "We will take robust military action as necessary to deal with the challenges to Iraq's transition to sovereignty," Rumsfeld said. U.S. forces in Iraq for days have been fighting against a Shiite militia under the leadership of a radical cleric, while Marines continued their crackdown on the Sunni populated city of Fallujah, where attacks occurred last week against American civilians. More than 30 U.S. soldiers have died during the four days of battles launched by Moqtada al-Sadr, a popular Shiite cleric who has vociferously opposed the U.S.-led occupation. Coalition forces shut down his newspaper, and an Iraqi judge issued an arrest warrant for him in connection to the murder of a rival cleric about a year ago. Rumsfeld said the U.S. military had expected an upsurge of attacks as the June 30 deadline for transferring sovereignty nears, citing Jordanian native Abu Masaab al-Zarqawi, who wrote a letter intercepted by the United States to al-Qaeda's seeking help in sparking a civil war before the transition took place. "As the date for Iraq's transition to self-governance approaches, those opposed to a free Iraq will grow increasingly desperate - and indeed, they are," Rumsfeld said. "What we're witnessing today in Iraq is a power-play between those who favour terrorism and a return to oppression, and those determined to have freedom and self- government." Rumsfeld would not rule out the possibility of sending more troops to Iraq, but said the military would take advantage of the greater numbers caused by the ongoing troop rotation. He said, however, some of the troops set to leave might have to stay a little longer. There are more than 130,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the insurgents in most cases were not well organized or well trained. dpa mm gj

Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section A; Column 1; Foreign Desk; Pg. 1; A REGION INFLAMED: SECURITY

LENGTH: 1340 words

HEADLINE: Other Attacks Averted in Iraq, A General Says

BYLINE: By DEXTER FILKINS and ERIC SCHMITT; Dexter Filkins reported from Baghdad for this article and Eric Schmitt from Washington. John F. Burns contributed reporting from Baghdad.



A senior American military commander said Wednesday that his men had foiled several terrorist attacks intended to accompany those that killed as many as 185 people in two cities here on Tuesday.

But a rising chorus of anti-American anger poured out among officials and Iraqi citizens, with leaders of Iraqi political parties demanding that their private militias play a greater role in policing the country.

In Washington, appearing before the House Armed Services Committee, the commander, Gen. John P. Abizaid, said raids by American Special Operations forces and efforts by the Iraqi police against militants associated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had thwarted a major attack in Basra and car bombs in Karbala and Baghdad, where suicide bombers struck during Shiite religious celebrations on Tuesday.

Mr. Zarqawi, a Jordanian, is suspected by American officials of involvement in several lethal terrorist attacks in Iraq. American officials said they had no hard evidence that he was behind the attacks on Tuesday, though General Abizaid said he suspected that he was. In January, American officials obtained a letter they say was from Mr. Zarqawi that outlined plans to provoke a ''sectarian war'' against the Shiites, who are in the majority in Iraq.

''I believe the plan was for even greater carnage,'' General Abizaid said. ''Joint actions between Americans and Iraqis prevented that from happening.'' The general is the head of the military's Central Command.

In Basra, the police chief, Mohammed al-Ali, told The Associated Press that officers had found a car packed with 550 pounds of explosives with a remote control detonator at a gas station near the path of a Shiite procession. A woman who apparently planned to set off explosives in Shiite mosques was arrested.

And in Kirkuk, in the north, the police defused a large bomb planted on the side of a road where Shiites had planned to march.

The details of the other planned attacks came as Shiite leaders demanded that their security forces be granted a larger role in policing the country. There are fears that these militias could work like private armies, raising the prospect of armed rivalry between religious or ethnic groups. Although the militias are prohibited by the interim constitution approved early Monday by Iraqi leaders, the language is vague enough that the militias might operate for months or even years.

Adil Abdul Mehdi, a senior leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the largest Shiite political parties, called for the deployment of its militia, the Badr Organization. Ahmad Chalabi, a leader of Iraqi National Congress, called on the United States to speed up the integration into Iraqi security forces of the ''thousands'' of armed Iraqis at his group's disposal.

Echoing the anger expressed by many Iraqis, Mr. Mehdi said he had lost confidence in the ability of American forces to protect the Shiites. His own forces, he said, could step into what he described as the security vacuum that the assaults had exposed.

''The Americans cannot protect us,'' said Mr. Mehdi, whose militiamen are thought to number in the thousands. ''We cannot live our lives like this. The policy has to change. This is a war.''

The attacks in Baghdad and Karbala came as pilgrims were celebrating Ashura, the holiest period in the Shiite calendar. Iraqi officials said the attacks had killed 185 people and wounded more than 400; American officials put the death toll lower.

In funeral processions on Wednesday, thousands of Iraqis shouted anti-American slogans and accused the United States of complicity in the attacks. Moderate politicians blamed the United States for failing to seal the country's borders; foreigners, they said, had a hand in the bombings.

Despite an American prohibition on private armies, many of the funerals in Karbala on Wednesday were presided over by Shiite militiamen, often toting automatic rifles. American soldiers, by agreement with Shiite authorities, stayed away.

''Down, down America!'' mourners chanted in Karbala. ''No, no Israel! No, no terrorists!''

The anger seemed to place added pressure on American officials, who are trying to maintain public order as they prepare to hand over sovereignty to the Iraqi people in less than four months.

An ashen-faced L. Paul Bremer III, the chief American administrator in Iraq, appeared before the press to read a short statement, in which he promised to send ''hundreds'' of vehicles to the Iraqi border police and to double their presence in ''selected areas.'' But Mr. Bremer seemed to have few immediate answers for the Iraqi people.

''Tuesday showed the dark vision of the evildoers,'' he said, his voice quavering with anger. ''They fight to ward off harmony and are happy to pave the road to power with the corpses of their innocent victims.''

American officials tried to deflect questions about Iraqi militias. The Americans have long resisted giving them an increased role, fearing that they could worsen ethnic and religious conflict. The Kurds and Shiites are believed to command tens of thousands of militiamen.

On Monday, a spokesman for the American administration in Baghdad reiterated the prohibition on private militias, saying there were now 200,000 Iraqis working as police officers, border guards and soldiers.

''The militia policy will not change,'' the spokesman, Dan Senor, said. ''No military or security organization independent of the central government should be free to operate.''

But in the recent wave of terrorist bombings, which have killed about 400 Iraqi civilians since Feb. 1, the Iraqi parties have resisted American pressure to disband their forces. Mr. Chalabi said his Iraqi National Congress could provide the government with immediate manpower. ''We can mobilize thousands of people very quickly,'' he said.

But some Iraqi leaders pointed out a contradiction. Adnan Pachachi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, said the attacks on Tuesday were in part a result of the demands by Iraqi political leaders like Mr. Mehdi that the Americans reduce their presence in urban areas.

''For months, people have been insisting that the Americans leave the cities,'' Mr. Pachachi said. ''And when they finally do that, people blame the Americans for not protecting them.''

The lowered American profile in some cities has coincided with attacks elsewhere. Two weeks ago, more than 30 insurgents shot their way into a Falluja police station, freed dozens of prisoners and killed 15 police officers. The Americans, with no permanent bases in the city, sent no troops to help.

In his statement on Wednesday, Mr. Bremer said it was ''increasingly apparent that a large part of this terrorism comes from outside the country.'' That was echoed by Iraqi officials and by officials in Washington.

Fifteen Iranians were detained in Iraq on suspicion of having a connection with Tuesday's attacks, but no details explaining why were given.

Senior American officials had pointed on Tuesday at Mr. Zarqawi as the main suspect in the attacks, a suspicion that General Abizaid amplified Wednesday.

''The level of organization and the desire to cause casualties among innocent worshipers is a clear hallmark of the Zarqawi network, and we have intelligence that ties Zarqawi to this attack,'' he said.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, General Abizaid added, ''I personally believe there is no doubt that Zarqawi is behind this.''

Despite Mr. Bremer's remarks about the role played by foreign fighters, a Washington official said there was ''still reason to believe that a lot of the attacks are being carried out by Baathist remnants.''

''Foreign fighters are responsible for some of these attacks, but certainly not all of them or even most of them,'' the official said.

A senior American official cautioned Tuesday that he knew of no direct evidence linking Mr. Zarqawi to Tuesday's attacks.

''That doesn't mean it's not what we expect to find,'' the official said. ''We just haven't seen proof yet.''

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The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia)
March 3, 2004 Wednesday Final Edition
SECTION: News; Pg. A5

LENGTH: 625 words

HEADLINE: U.S. stymied as violence expected to escalate closer to: Terrorists believed to be jockeying for position as handover date nears

SOURCE: Washington Post

BYLINE: Walter Pincus and Thomas E. Ricks


WASHINGTON -- U.S. forces in Iraq have been largely stymied in their efforts to thwart or identify those behind the suicide bombings that preceded Tuesday's devastating attacks, said officials, who predict the violence will escalate as the U.S. approaches a June 30 deadline for ending its occupation.

There is no "definitive" evidence of who was behind the bombings in Karbala and Baghdad, but the pattern "fits the modus operandi, the pattern and the writings of (Abu Musab) al-Zarqawi," a senior intelligence official Tuesday.

Zarqawi, a radical Jordanian-born Sunni, is seeking to lead his own terrorist network throughout the Middle East, U.S. officials believe. In a 17-page letter to al-Qaida leaders, seized by U.S. intelligence in January, Zarqawi wrote that he would reignite the traditional rivalry between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq "through martyrdom operations and car bombs."

But Zarqawi is far from the only source of terrorist attacks that have been taking place throughout Iraq. Military and intelligence officials have repeatedly said Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish radical Islamic terrorist organization driven from its former base in northern Iraq, is active in the Sunni Triangle. An offshoot Islamic fundamentalist group, calling itself Army of the Helpers of the Sunnah (AHS), recently claimed to have carried out dozens of attacks against U.S. and other coalition forces, including the November killing of seven Spanish intelligence officers.

"Signs have been growing" that there would be more violence as different religious, ethnic and political forces seek power as the time for transferring sovereignty grows nearer, one senior analyst said.

U.S. officials, led Tuesday by Vice-President Dick Cheney, pointed to Zarqawi as the possible mastermind of Tuesday's attacks, but they dampened the idea those attacks or others could threaten the hoped-for democracy in a united Iraq. Cheney, in an NBC interview, described the bombings as acts of desperation by outside terrorists who feel they will lose out when Iraqis take over sovereignty.

In his letter to al-Qaida leaders, Zarqawi said that Iraqis who joined the new coalition-recruited police force and army were "the eyes, ear, and hands of the occupier" and that he was determined to target them "strongly in the coming period before the situation is consolidated...."

Zarqawi also complained that the Iraqi-born mujahedeen fighters "prefer safety and returning to the arms of their wives" rather than martyrdom. He said he told them in recruiting sessions "that safety and victory are incompatible ... that the Islamic nation cannot live without the aroma of martyrdom."

While Tuesday's bombings and other violence have cast a shadow over the transfer of sovereignty, Brigadier-General Mark Kimmitt said "that as we come closer and closer to governance, there will be those people that will recognize that this is probably their last opportunity to try to drive a wedge between the people of Iraq and the coalition. We are fully prepared for that."

U.S. intelligence against the Saddam Hussein regime's Baathist fighters in the Sunni Triangle improved enormously in recent months but lagged against the suicide bombers, a senior Central Command official said in a January interview.

"A car bomb is a very secretive thing," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. U.S. intelligence knows very little about the operations of the bombing networks, he noted, and has been reduced to studying the ankles and other intact body parts of bombers in an effort to determine their nationality and ethnicity. The basic conclusion, he said, is that most suicide bombers are male adolescents of Arab origin. Beyond that, little is known about them.

Copyright 2004 Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
February 9, 2004, Monday
21:17:15 Central European Time
SECTION: Politics

LENGTH: 479 words

HEADLINE: ROUNDUP: Agent in Iraq sought al-Qaeda's help to spark religious warEds: wraps in previous stories, more quotes, details


An al-Qaeda operative in Iraq wrote the network's leadership seeking support to spark a religious war in the country with the hope that it would draw the United States into a prolonged conflict and eventually defeat the U.S.-led occupation. A U.S. official in Baghdad said Monday that the memo, which is believed to have been penned by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian long suspected by Washington of being a terrorist, was aimed at tearing the "country apart". The letter was consistent with other "efforts by foreign terrorists to ignite a sectarian war in this country and inflict bloodshed on this country by tearing it apart and pitting one ethnic group against another", said Daniel Senor, a senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority occupational forces. The memo said extremists have struggled at recruiting and advocates launching attacks on Iraq's Shiite majority, hoping it would spark a retaliation against the minority Sunnis and rally Sunni Arabs to the fight. "So the solution, and only God knows, is that we need to bring the (Shiite) into the battle," said the memo, which was viewed by The New York Times. The United States obtained the letter, which was stored on a compact disc, when an al-Qaeda courier was captured, U.S. officials said. The writer also expressed frustration over U.S. successes in Iraq and said the ethnic conflict needed to occur before the June 30 deadline for returning sovereignty to a provisional Iraqi government. "The Americans will continue to control from their bases, but the sons of this land will be the authority," the letter said. "This is the democracy. We will have no pretexts." U.S. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director for coalition operations, said the belief that al-Zarqawi, who is on the U.S. list of wanted terrorists, wrote the 17-page letter is "credible". While the letter is a sign of desperation, Kimmitt said, it is also something U.S. authorities are taking very seriously. He added that al-Zarqawi takes credit for about 25 suicide attacks, some of which have the fingerprints of al-Qaeda. Al-Zarqawi is believed to be behind some of the bloodiest attacks in Iraq since the invasion, including the August bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, the blast that killed Shiite leader Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, and a bombing at the U.S. administration building in January, Kimmitt said. In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the memo showed the insurgency has not given up. "They describe the weaknesses that they have in their efforts to undercut the coalition's efforts, but at the same time, it shows they haven't given up," Powell said. "They're trying to get more terrorists into Iraq, and they're trying to create more terrorist organizations to try to defeat our purposes," he said. "But they will not succeed." dpa ch gm mm ls

Copyright 2004 Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
February 9, 2004, Monday
18:49:15 Central European Time
SECTION: Politics

LENGTH: 254 words

HEADLINE: EXTRA: Powell: Al-Qaeda memo shows insurgents haven't given up

DATELINE: Washington

A memo found in Iraq seeking help from the al- Qaeda terrorist network in stirring up a religious war shows at least part of the insurgency in Iraq has not given up, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday. U.S. officials in Iraq have obtained a letter believed to be written by a Jordanian long suspected by Washington of being a terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The letter seeks support from al- Qaeda's leadership to spark a "sectarian war" in the country. "They describe the weaknesses that they have in their efforts to undercut the (U.S.-led) coalition's efforts, but at the same time, it shows they haven't given up," Powell said. Al-Zarqawi advocated drawing the United States into a religious war by launching attacks against the majority Shiite population. When the Shiites retaliate, the memo predicts, it would rally Sunni Arabs to the cause and pull the United States into a prolonged war. However, the document, which was found last month with the arrest of an al-Qaeda suspect in Iraq, said the extremists in the country were struggling to recruit and the American-led occupational forces were succeeding in establishing Iraqi security forces that would make it more difficult to give the appearance that the insurgents were fighting an occupation. Powell said the letter was "revealing". "They're trying to get more terrorists into Iraq, and they're trying to create more terrorist organizations to try to defeat our purposes," he said. "But they will not succeed." dpa mm ls

Copyright 2004 CTV Television, Inc.
CTV Television, Inc.
February 9, 2004, Monday 23:00:00 - 23:30:00 Eastern Time
LENGTH: 571 words

HEADLINE: Document the US claims is al-Qaeda's action plan of terror



LLOYD ROBERTSON: Good evening. After all the bombings, the
bloodshed and the questions of who's behind the violence in Iraq, tonight what
appears to be a smoking gun for an even darker plot. A document the US
claims is al-Qaeda's action plan of terror. Intercepted as it was being smuggled
to al-Qaeda leaders, it outlines efforts to bring about civil war in the country by
inflaming religious and ethnic tensions to make Iraq ungovernable and to make
Americans want to leave. The document was allegedly written by this man,
Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a shadowy character wanted by the US. As Alan Fryer
reports from CTV's Baghdad bureau, this seems to confirm what had long been
suspected. Alan.

ALAN FRYER [Reporter]: Well, Lloyd, that document, if authentic, and US
Officials insist it is, is nothing short of a recipe for civil war. The letter
expresses frustration that the 25 suicide bombings Zarqawi claims to have
directed have failed to drive the Americans out.

GENERAL MARK KIMMETT [US Army]: It doesn't give us any great
satisfaction. It doesn't tell us that there are going to be less and less attacks.
In fact it may inspire more and more spectacular attacks.

FRYER: That's because the 17 page document outlines a chilling new strategy
for al-Qaeda in Iraq to be carried out before the June 30th deadline for
transferring power to an interim Iraqi government.

DAN SENOR [Coalition Spokesman]: Their strategy is sectarian warfare in an
effort to provoke bloodshed and tear this country apart.

FRYER: Specifically, the letter recommends targeting Iraq's Shiites. It's been
done before. Mosques bombed, religious leaders killed, including a rumoured
assassination attempt two days ago against Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric,
Ayatollah al-Sistani. And in the north, al-Qaeda is being blamed for the twin
suicide bombings at the headquarters of the main Kurdish political parties that
killed more than a hundred people.

KIMMETT: That all of these have the fingerprints, as we have said month after
month, of hallmarks of al-Qaeda, fingerprints of al-Qaeda.

FRYER: The goal, many experts believe, to stoke tensions and provoke
reprisals between Arabs and Kurds in the north and particularly between Sunnis
and Shiites in the south.

WALTER PURDY [Terrorism Research Centre]: Going after Shiites is clearly
going to inflame the entire nation. The end result could be a civil war.

COLIN POWELL [US Secretary of State]: It certainly lends, I think, some
credence to what we said at the UN last year, that he was active in Iraq in
doing things that should have been known to the Iraqis.

FRYER: And while Powell insists Zarqawi's activities are proof of a link
between al-Qaeda and the former regime, the President's critics are already
pointing out it's a link forged not before the US invasion but after it and
because of it. Lloyd.

ROBERTSON: So, Alan, just how real is the possibility of civil war erupting in

FRYER: Well, Lloyd, many experts will tell you that because of all the ethnic
tensions that have surfaced since Saddam was toppled it is a very real
possibility, which may be one reason why the Americans have made that letter
public, in the hopes that Iraqis will direct their anger over such attacks at
foreign terrorists and not at each other.

ROBERTSON: Thank you Alan. CTV's Alan Fryer reporting tonight from

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Ottawa Citizen
February 10, 2004 Tuesday Final Edition
SECTION: News; Pg. A8

LENGTH: 528 words

HEADLINE: Al-Qaeda trying to incite Iraqi civil war: U.S.: Intercepted letter says Sunni-Shia conflict would 'tear the country apart'

SOURCE: The Times, London; with files from The Associated Press

BYLINE: Catherine Philp


BAGHDAD - U.S. officials said yesterday they have discovered a letter from a senior al-Qaeda suspect in Iraq calling for help from the organization to spark civil war between Sunni and Shia Muslims and "tear the country apart."

The officials were confirming a report carried in The New York Times about the alleged plan, which they said was outlined in a letter confiscated from an al-Qaeda suspect arrested recently as he entered the country.

Brig.-Gen. Mark Kimmit, the U.S. deputy chief of operations in Iraq, told reporters the author of the document was believed to be Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian al-Qaeda suspect thought to be active inside Iraq. Mr. Zarqawi was held up by the Bush administration in the run-up to war as evidence of a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. He featured prominently in U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations arguing the case for conflict.

If authenticated, the letter may represent the strongest evidence yet of al-Qaeda activity in postwar Iraq.

The letter, quoted by a correspondent who saw it while it was in military hands, paints not only the most detailed picture yet of the challenges of the insurgency, but also the alarming prospect of a battle in the planning between the country's two main rival sects. While boasting of his own involvement in 25 attacks, the author reports that religious extremists fighting the U.S. are failing to enlist much indigenous support and laments their failure to frighten their enemies into an early departure.

The solution, the memo concludes, is to launch a big attack on the Shia majority, prompting a counter-attack against the Sunni and provoking a sectarian war. Once attacked, the document argues, Sunnis would naturally rally to the side of the extremists. The plan should be launched before power is handed to Iraqis, which is scheduled to happen at the end of June.

"It is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us," the letter is quoted as saying. "If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis, who are fearful of destruction and death at the hands of the Shia."

A U.S. military source said the memo was discovered on a compact disc seized from Hassan Ghul, a suspected al-Qaeda courier captured on the border between Iran and the Kurdish north of Iraq. The name of Mr. Zarqawi apparently emerged under interrogation. U.S. officials said the detained man was carrying the CD to Afghanistan for delivery to people described as al-Qaeda's "inner circle."

The language used in the missive, however, appears to suggest that the author had not previously worked with al-Qaeda, perhaps undermining the Bush administration's claims about Mr. Zarqawi's links with the organization.

Meanwhile, a man wearing a belt of explosives blew himself up yesterday outside the home of two prominent tribal leaders in a city west of Baghdad, police said. Two U.S. soldiers were killed while disposing of explosives in northern Iraq.

Three Iraqi guards were seriously injured in the blast, which occurred in Ramadi near the compound of two tribal leaders.

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