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'Different Elements' Behind Attacks in Iraq, Secretary Says

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2003 – The attacks on U.S. and coalition forces are coming from a mixture of "different elements," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said during an interview with National Public Radio Aug. 18.

The secretary's comments came a day before a truck bomb exploded at the United Nations headquarters in Iraq Aug. 19, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 100.

During the interview for NPR's "Morning Edition," the secretary said that in some cases those responsible for the violence are the remnants of the Fedayeen loyalists and other Saddam Hussein supporters. But he also said that some attackers could be coming from the estimated 80,000 to 100,000 criminals released from prisons during the war with Iraq.

"They're out there and we know that some of the damage that's being done are by those types of people -- criminals, looters and the like," he said. "We also know that there are jihadists who came in from Syria for the most part, but also from some other countries that are in the country and are attacking the coalition and the Iraqi infrastructure. So you have a mixture of these different things, it makes it difficult to define them and to be precise about it."

The secretary said that the attacks make it difficult to defend against "any person who wants to ... attack at any time, at any place, using any technique."

"It's not possible to defend every place so as long as you've got Iraqis and others in the country who want to damage pipelines and that type of thing," he explained. "And the damage of course is done to the Iraqi people because it's the Iraqi people's pipelines, it's the energy that would go to the Iraqi cities. And ultimately the Iraqi people are going to have to continue to do what they are now doing more and more and that's come in and turn these people in."

Rumsfeld also said the insurgence of violence in Iraq is not being fueled by the U.S.-led occupation. "I think there are people who were in favor of Saddam Hussein from the beginning and they still are and I think they were Jihadists who were anti-U.S. from the beginning," he said.

The secretary rebuffed criticism about the Pentagon's plan for post-war Iraq, saying, "It is never possible to plan perfectly or to plan for everything -- as anyone who's ever done a budget in any organization knows, you're looking forward and you do your best."

The secretary said, however, that a lot of the post-war planning was for "things that eventually, fortunately didn't happen."

"There were plans for the burning of the oil fields and what we would do there - - we were prepared for that. There was planning for a major humanitarian crisis, which didn't exist. There was planning for major refugees and internally displaced people by the tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands, which didn't occur," he explained. "There was planning as to what would be done in the event that the dams were broken and flooding came in. So there was a good deal of planning."

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