Bomb Kills 2 Soldiers; Coalition Campaign Targets Zarqawi
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2004 Two Task Force 1st Armored Division soldiers are dead and another is wounded after a roadside bomb attack in western Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 11.
The soldiers were conducting a mounted patrol in western Baghdad at about 9:30 p.m. when the attack occurred, according to a news release issued today by Combined Joint Task Force 7 officials.
The soldiers were evacuated to the 31st Combat Support Hospital for treatment. Two died of their wounds there, the release said, and no information was provided on the condition of the wounded soldier. Officials are withholding their names until their families are notified.
Meanwhile, coalition officials in Baghdad today said they're turning up the heat on convicted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. They've added him as a "wild card" to the coalition's deck of cards representing its most-wanted fugitives, and have boosted the bounty on his head to $10 million.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for CJTF 7, called Zarqawi "the most capable terrorist in Iraq today" in a briefing to reporters in Baghdad. Zarqawi has been convicted of terrorist crimes in absentia in his native Jordan, Kimmitt said. He also is a prime suspect in several terrorist attacks in Iraq, including the Aug. 29 mosque bombing in Najaf that killed religious leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim and the Aug. 19 bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, Kimmitt added.
His convictions in Jordan, a CJTF 7 news release reported today, are for his part in the October 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat and U.S. Agency for International Development representative Laurence Foley in Amman, Jordan, and the December 1999 "Millennium" plot to attack Western tourists in that country.
"Zarqawi will be brought to justice, or justice will be brought to him," the general said. "There is no safe place to hide. Terrorists would do well to turn themselves in, as we will continue to hunt them relentlessly until they're killed or captured."
Dan Senor, the Coalition Provisional Authority's senior spokesman, said the coalition is launching a public information campaign concerning Zarqawi that "will be as elaborate and as widespread as the public information campaigns launched with regard to Saddam Hussein and his sons, Uday and Qusay Hussein."
As part of the campaign, Senor said, coalition officials want to be sure "that every Iraqi is intimately familiar" with a 17-page letter that analysts have determined Zarqawi wrote, which lays out what Senor called a "blueprint for terror in Iraq." The letter, which officials believe was intended for the top leaders of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror group, came into the coalition's hands from a captured al Qaeda courier in January.
Senor said the campaign will highlight certain messages that come directly from the letter to show the Iraqi people in his own words what Zarqawi has in mind for them.
The coalition spokesman read aloud a passage from the letter, in which Zarqawi claims responsibility for terror attacks in Iraq: "We were involved in all the martyrdom operations in terms of overseeing, preparing and planning what took place in this country. I have completed 25 of these operations -- some of them against the Shiia and their leaders, the Americans and their military, the police, the military and the coalition forces."
Senor quoted other passages that detail plans to exploit ethnic rivalries in Iraq by perpetrating acts of violence against Shiias to prompt retaliation against the Sunnis and spark a sectarian civil war.
Bringing the Shiias into the battle is "the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us," is another part of Zarqawi's letter the coalition will highlight, Senor said. He added that in the letter, Zarqawi calls the Shiias "the most cowardly people God has created," and says that by killing their leaders, the terrorists will weaken them. The letter says suicide attacks and car bombs will be used against the Shiias.
Publicizing the letter, Senor said, will show the Iraqi people the details of Zarqawi's plan "to tear this country apart and turn it into an ethnic bloodbath."
In other news from Iraq, Kimmitt said no one was seriously hurt and only minor vehicle damage resulted when eight mortar rounds struck near a coalition forward operating base in Baghdad today. The first round was smoke, and Kimmitt described the others as "high-explosive" rounds. Three soldiers were slightly wounded and returned to duty after treatment, the general said.
He also confirmed reports that Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., 82nd Airborne Division commander, were uninjured in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on their convoy while they were visiting an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps battalion in Fallujah.