Officials Hope $10 Million Bounty Will Help Capture Zarqawi
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 26, 2004 When the United States put $15 million each on the heads of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay Hussein, it took only about week for someone to turn them in.
That's precisely what coalition officials hope will happen with the $10 million bounty on the head of fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to Dan Senor, spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, Iraq.
On Feb. 12, the State Department announced that Secretary of State Colin Powell authorized the doubling of the reward for information on Zarqawi. At the time, Powell described Zarqawi as a "close associate" of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The reward was increased from $5 million to $10 million for information on Zarqawi's location.
"We have very credible intelligence and believe that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis," Senor told reporters at a Baghdad news conference today. "He's responsible for the deaths of Americans, in some cases before Operation Iraqi Freedom. We believe he has been operating inside Iraq for some time, based on a document we've obtained and other intelligence that corroborates it."
Senor said the coalition believes Zarqawi is carrying out a plan designed to wreak havoc inside Iraq in an effort to throw off the transition to a self- governing Iraqi democracy.
"This is in his battle plan, which was headed for senior al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan," Senor noted. "He regarded the handover of sovereignty to the self-governing Iraqi democracy as one of the biggest threats to his efforts. It would in fact require him to literally pick up and move somewhere else if the June 30 handover were successful."
The captured document was in the possession of a messenger affiliated with the Zarqawi network whom the coalition detained, he said.
"The document outlined quite clearly a battle plan for Iraq that, if you look at recent attacks, is consistent with the battle plan he (Zarqawi) laid out months ago," Senor noted. "Particularly the focus on trying to provoke sectarian warfare in this country and also the focus on the June 30 handover and the urgency that it required, according to Zarqawi.
"The document took credit for a number of attacks that have occurred in this country," Senor continued. "We had additional information that confirmed for us that this document was in fact authored by Zarqawi."
Senor said the coalition doesn't know how close it came to killing Zarqawi during the bombing of a terrorist safe house June 25. "We know that during the operation, a number of vehicles were at that location. Once the building went down, a number of vehicles drove away. It's the coalition's assessment that Zarqawi and some of his key leaders could have been in the vehicles. Only time will tell."
Zarqawi's plan also calls for pitting one community in Iraq against another by provoking one to engage in reprisals against another, Senor noted.
"Now there's a $10 million reward out for any information that would lead to our putting Mr. Zarqawi out of business," he said.
Anyone in Iraq who has information related to Zarqawi should get it to coalition or Iraqi government officials as soon as possible, Senor said. "In the case of Uday and Qusay Hussein, Saddam Hussein's sons, the information that led to the killing of them was the quickest-turnaround reward program in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice rewards program," he noted. He emphasized that the people who turned in Uday and Qusay were paid in about a week and were provided safe harbor.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Multinational Force Iraq, added to Senor's comments about capturing or killing Zarqawi. "He remains the No. 1 target inside this country," Kimmitt noted. "He's a very effective terrorist, as we've seen by the number of the attacks he has carried out. It's not just for the money, but it's also for what this country stands for and what this country will forward towards."
Kimmitt said the coalition needs all citizens in Iraq to understand they have a role in the hunt for Zarqawi. "Any piece of information, any intelligence that any citizen of this country has regarding the Zarqawi network or Zarqawi himself, we ask them to bring it forward to the Iraqi security forces or to the Iraqi government," the general said.
"We're committed to supporting the Iraqi security forces in the hunt for Zarqawi," Kimmitt noted. "We continue to strike known safe houses in the Fallujah area. We know he operates throughout the country. The sooner we can bring this man to justice -- the sooner we can kill or capture Zarqawi -- the sooner we can remove this scourge from the country of Iraq."