Irbil Attacks About Fanaticism, Wolfowitz Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 1, 2004 The two suicide bombings in Irbil that news reports say killed 56 people and wounded 235, speak "volumes about what these extremists are all about," said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz here today.
Wolfowitz is visiting Iraq to see how the rotation of forces is going. He said that suicide bombers attacked the headquarters of two Kurdish political parties. The terrorists attacked precisely at a time when people were gathered to celebrate one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar the Eid al Adha.
The deputy secretary made his comments while touring an Iraqi police station. "(The extremists) are not about Islam, they're not about Muslims," Wolfowitz said. "They are about their own fanatical view of the world, and they will kill to try to advance it. But we are winning and they are losing."
Wolfowitz spent the day touring facilities and meeting with civilian and military leaders. He observed that he is encouraged by the first reports on how the handover is taking place among the military. He said the coalition is having a lot of intelligence successes, "some of it attributable to the documents that were found with Saddam Hussein, but I think more generally to a much greater degree of cooperation from Iraqis in the greater confidence they are having about their future."
He said that his visit to the Iraqi police station was in many ways "one of the most impressive visits." He said the motivation that Iraqi police leaders show is encouraging. The Iraqi police are working to become more professional. Roughly 2,000 police per month will be graduating from police academies, and there is an on-the-job training program under way to further their training when they reach the streets. Coalition police officials are working with the Iraqis to make sure the training goes well.
And being a policeman in Iraq is dangerous. "We had a reminder of that up in Mosul yesterday, where a suicide bomber attacked a police station," Wolfowitz said. "It's what these criminals do.
"They are going to target success wherever they find it," he continued, "and they are going to try to intimidate Iraqis to go back into hiding."
The deputy secretary also met with a group of Iraqi women. "I must say on the whole it is encouraging to see the spirit of vigorous debate along lines that weren't entirely predictable," he said. "It reinforces my strong belief that the United States has a big stake in making sure that Iraqi women have equal rights in the society and play an equal role in shaping its future. Their voice is a voice of moderation and a voice of democracy.
Wolfowitz said that in a quick tour he has been impressed by the progress being made especially in security. "There is still a lot of work to be done," he said. "We had very encouraging reports on the role of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. And one of the things that I'm determined to do is to make sure that we are able to move the supplemental funding as quickly as possible into the equipping of the police force and the defense corps."