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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenters: Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition
January 02, 2004
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

(Participating was Brig Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition Operations, and Daniel Senor, Senior Adviser, Coalition Provisional Authority.)

 

            MR. SENOR:  Good afternoon.  We apologize for the delay, working through a couple of technical issues.

 

            I'm just going to run through a few items, after which General Kimmitt will provide an opening statement, during which he will provide details on the joint Iraqi-coalition raid last evening on the Al-Tabul Mosque.

 

            As far as Ambassador Bremer's schedule is concerned, today Ambassador Bremer, along with the U.K. representative here, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, traveled to Erbil in northern Iraq to meet with Governing Council members Talabani and Barzani as the coalition continues to work with the Governing Council on the implementation of the November 15th agreement, the accelerated path to Iraqi sovereignty.

 

            Following that meeting, the two traveled to Kirkuk, where they met with the civilian coalition staff at the CPA field office in Kirkuk.

 

            Separately, in response to a number of your questions, I will be providing you weekly updates on the number of Iraqi security personnel recruited and trained, just will provide you a weekly update.

 

            What I could tell you today is that 100 members of the diplomatic -- Iraqi Diplomatic Protection Service will be graduating.  That is a new division of the Iraqi Facilities Protection Service.  It is designed to protect foreign embassies here.  And based on our communications with foreign missions in Iraq, they welcome the new Iraqi Diplomatic Protection Service as a welcome contrast to the security services provided to them by the former regime, which effectively consisted of Saddam Hussein's security intelligence services, such as the Mukhabarat.

 

            In addition, there will be 60 members of the new Iraqi correctional service graduating this week and another 200 members of the Iraqi correctional service graduating next week.

 

            Approximately 600 members of the new Iraqi army officer candidates departed for Jordan, where they will undergo 11 weeks of officer training.  They departed this week.  At the end of this month, more than 450 new Iraqi police officers will graduate from the Jordanian International Police Training Center, outside of Amman, as well.  And then finally, next week on January 6th, the 2nd Battalion of the new Iraqi army will graduate.  It will be open to the press.  If you are interested, please let us know.  The graduation ceremony will be presided over by the Iraqi Governing Council president, Adnan Pachachi.

 

            Just to update you, the 1st Battalion, as you know, has already been trained and deployed, is currently serving with the 4th Infantry Division. The 2nd Battalion will graduate next week, the 3rd Battalion has already begun training, and the 4th Battalion has already been recruited.  Our plan is on track to have graduated 27 battalions of the new Iraqi army by early fall.

 

            General Kimmitt.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Thank you.  Good afternoon.

 

            The area of operations remains stable.  Over the past week, there has been a daily average of 20 engagements against coalition military, one attack against Iraqi security forces, and slightly more than one attack per day against Iraqi civilians.

 

            The coalition remains offensively oriented in order to attack, kill or capture anti-coalition elements and enemies of the Iraqi people and to ensure the people of Iraq of our determination to ensure a safe and secure environment.  To that end, in the past 24 hours, the coalition conducted 1,571 patrols, 28 offensive operations, 15 raids, and captured 88 anti-coalition suspects.

 

            In the northern zone of operations, coalition forces discovered a black market fuel-distribution operation about 40 kilometers west of Mosul.  The site consisted of a 15,000-liter fuel tank and a pump and meter unit.  Our forces secured the site, and the Iraqi police service will conduct the investigation.

 

            In the north, a former senior Ba'ath party member turned in 31 AK-47s to the Talifar police station.  This individual has turned in weapons before to include 79 AK-47s.  Additionally, other former high-ranking members of the Ba'ath party plan to publicly denounce violence and turn in weapons during a ceremony this Monday.  A media advisory for the event will be forthcoming.

 

            In the north-central zone of operations, Task Force Iron Horse continues to conduct Operation Ivy Cyclone II in order to eliminate terrorists, foreign fighters and enemy lines of communications.  Over the past 24 hours, coalition forces conducted 189 patrols in the north-central zone of operations.  Four of the patrols were joint, conducted with the Iraqi police, the ICDC and the border guard, in order to continually improve the safety of the region.

 

            In a raid in east Tikrit, soldiers targeted an individual suspected of having involvement in anti-coalition activities. Soldiers were not able to capture the individual, but they did locate and confiscate significant bomb-making materials and an aircraft flight manual.  The owner of the house was not in the building at the time of the raid, but soldiers found a picture of him standing next to Uday Hussein.  The soldiers went to an adjacent house and captured a suspected Fedayeen cell leader without incident.

 

            In Baghdad, coalition forces conducted five offensive operations as part of Operation Iron Grip, and carried out 508 patrols and captured 42 personnel.  Elsewhere in Baghdad, individuals inside a white Opel fired small arms at ICDC personnel at the Al-Amil gas station.  The Civil Defense Corps soldiers returned fire, and Iraqi customers waiting for fuel also fired at the Opel.  The assailants broke contact, and a search of the area met with negative results.

 

            In the West, coalition soldiers conducted one offensive operation, 188 combat patrols, of which 17 were joint patrols, and captured eight enemy personnel.  Coalition soldiers captured a high- value target, Abu Muhammad, a key facilitator operating in the Al Anbar province.  He's believed to be responsible for moving foreign fighters and large sums of cash throughout the area.  He was caught trying to escape Iraq, along with three additional enemy personnel.

 

            In the central south zone of operations, the Karbala province continues to stabilize, following recent enemy attacks.  Coalition forces and Iraqi police remain in Karbala to assist with consequence management, and a joint operational planning group to assess operational threats and recommend measures to prevent future car bombs attacks has been stood up.

 

            Regarding the operation at the Al-Tabul Mosque, on 1 January, coalition forces, led off by Iraqi Civil Defense Corps personnel and the Iraqi police, conducted a cordon-and-search of the Al-Tabul Mosque.  The following equipment was seized from the mosque:  five sticks of high-explosive PE-4; three packages of TNT; one case of blasting caps; three bags of gunpowder; eight improvised grenades; a small roll of detonation cord; one case of 155-millimeter artillery primers; improved -- improvised explosive device materials, to include nine-volt batteries and unidentified propellants; 11 AK- 47s; two SKS rifles; two RPG launchers; a 60-millimeter mortar tube; various mortar sights; a 120-millimeter mortar bipod and base plate; an SA-7 missile trainer; 20 AK-47 magazines; 3,500 7.62 rounds; and additional items of intelligence value.

 

            Over the last several months, the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad has received numerous reports from local Iraqis that pointed to the Al-Tabul Mosque as being used for criminal and terrorist activities.  Led by Sheikh Mahti Sumadi, the Al-Tabul Mosque is believed to have been a hub of anti-coalition and anti-Iraqi activities, with various cells using the mosque as a meeting location and weapons cache.

 

            During this operation, 32 personnel were detained, and based on their dialect, several of the detainees were suspected to be foreign nationals.  Confirmation of the suspects' nationalities and any possible connections to foreign terrorist organizations has not yet been established.  Despite the clear use of this mosque for criminal, terrorist and anti-coalition activities, the greatest care was taken by coalition forces to uphold the sanctity of the mosque and to use the minimal amount of force necessary to conduct the operation.  There were no casualties during this operation.

 

            MR. SENOR:  We're happy to take your questions.  Yes?

 

            Q     Erhud Gandi from CNN.  When we went into the mosque this morning, the officials of the mosque took us in and showed us not just broken chairs and tables and doors, but they also showed us the holy book, Koran, pages torn, and they blamed the coalition forces for that.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We're aware that there were some allegations that coalition forces in fact tore open a Koran.  There is no evidence to support that.  And the coalition forces have been asked that specific question, and all deny taking any activities against some of the artifacts inside the mosque.  They repeated time after time after time that their clear rules of engagement was minimal force, minimal disruption to a holy mosque.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     Sir, can you tell us how many U.S. soldiers entered the mosque and how many people were involved in the operation?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We're not going to reveal the operational details, but I will tell you that the forces were led by Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and Iraqi Police Service primarily to ensure an understanding that this was not led or completely conducted by coalition forces. But we wanted to use, as much as possible, local Iraqi police service and ICDC to lead the operation.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And the operation was based on intelligence provided by Iraqis in the area.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     I wonder if you have any information about this helicopter crash in Fallujah today.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah.  We put out a press release earlier.  Let me go over the highlights.  A Kiowa helicopter assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division was engaged by enemy fire near Fallujah today at approximately 12:20.  We have one KIA and one injury.  The downed Kiowa's wingmen provided overwatch as paratroopers operating in the area secured the site.  And as one might expect, the names of the pilots are being withheld prior to notification of the next of kin.

 

            Q     Can you specify what the enemy fire was?  Was it RPG, gunfire?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  One of the last calls I made before I came in today was with the 82nd.  They are not yet certain what brought that down, but they are fairly convinced that it was enemy fire.  They're not yet certain what type of enemy fire it was.

 

            Q     What was the -- (off mike) -- personnel on board that helicopter?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Two personnel.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     (In Arabic.)

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  As to the timeliness of the graduation ceremony, I would refer that question to the Governing Council.  It was in coordination with them that we selected the date and planned for the ceremony.  But I would say there will be special commemorations for Iraqi Army Day.  It is a day -- a holiday, if you will, that predates the former regime.  It is a holiday that has a long national tradition in this country, and one that we have been told should be honored. And we fully support the Governing Council's interest in maintaining that tradition.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     My name is Aaron Shankter from the BBC in the U.S. Can you talk about the intelligence -- a little bit about the intelligence that you use when conducting raids?  I mean, obviously the mosque was a fairly successful one.  But I'm hearing more and more on the street people complaining about cousins and relatives being detained for reasons that they don't understand.  So, I wonder how you target what houses to go to, what places to find.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah.  As you might imagine, there are several ways that we receive intelligence to conduct our military operations. First, and probably the greatest amount of our intelligence is given from prior operations that have been run against anti-coalition forces.  Those detainees, obviously, are interrogated at various levels, to include in their final detention point.  We have a significant amount of intelligence, increasing daily, that is being provided by local Iraqi citizens who understand that these terrorists and these criminals are not acting in their best interest, and they volunteer that information for any number of reasons:  they want to keep their neighborhood safe; we do have a rewards program that compensates people for doing that.  And then, we have our own national and international assets that gather that intelligence as well.

 

            Q     Is there a way, though, to vet the neighbor's information so that you know they're not just having a vendetta or something against -

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  There are multiple confirmations of our intelligence before we start significant operations, in most cases.

 

            Q     Hi.  Ann Bernard from the Boston Globe.  At the mosque where the raid was conducted, people told us that there had been a planned meeting of the new Sunni Shura, which is a group that is hoping to create some political organization for religiously oriented Sunnis.  They said that Sheikh Mahti Sumaydi was one of the leaders of that group.  I'm curious if the coalition knew that there was a meeting going on, if that group is suspected of being involved in any activities against the coalition, or is that something of a coincidence.  If you could talk a little bit about that.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Before -- as you might imagine, before we conducted any operation into that mosque, because of the sensitivity of the religious monuments inside this country and the places of religious expression, we are very, very careful that we don't go in indiscriminately or without a significant amount of intelligence. That may have been one of the pieces of intelligence that caused this particular operation to go off.  I don't know.  But I think the results of what we found inside definitely demonstrated that this mosque was being used for purposes other than free religious expression.

 

            Q     And can I --

 

            MR. SENOR:  And I'd also add that this is a tactic -- co-locating weapons and co-locating organizers of violence and terrorist activity is a classic -- was a classic tactic of the Fedayeen Saddam and of terrorist organizations that operate around the world.  This is something we saw during the -- during Operation Iraqi Freedom, where they would collate -- co-locate arms and organizers of attacks in hospitals and mosques.  We've seen it elsewhere.

 

            As the general said, which -- as General Kimmitt said, we are -- the CJTF-7 is working on a thorough investigation as to who exactly was in there and what their ties were, whether or not they're foreign nationals, whether or not they were tied to organizations outside of Iraq.  But it is clear that if the early investigation bears out, it is consistent with the trend we've seen in this country under the former regime and elsewhere in the world.

 

            Q     Can I just ask -- but is the political organization that this sheikh belonged to, this larger Sunni council that was being formed -- he was only one of many leaders of this group.  Do you have any sense of that organization?  Is that a legitimate political organization that may have some members that are suspected?  Can you tell us who else was arrested and how many?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yeah, we do not have details yet on the nature of the political party that was meeting.  But if it was -- I can just tell you, without those details, that if this was just the organization of a political party with interests in Iraq to participate in the -- a new free and democratic Iraq, there would be no reason for us to engage against them.  So we have no details yet, but certainly we would not seek out a situation like that solely based on the possibility you presented.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     (In Arabic.)

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  As to the --

 

            Q     (In Arabic.)

 

            MR. SENOR:  Muqtada al-Sadr, right?

 

            STAFF:  Yeah.

 

            MR. SENOR:  He's naming the sheikh.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  No, I cannot confirm -- I can confirm that Muqtada al-Sadr was not captured as part of that raid.  However, we do have 32 additional personnel in detention as part of that raid.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Someone who hasn't asked a question.  Yes?

 

            Q     Yeah.  Ned Parker with AFP News Agency.  I was just wondering and -- how many mosques has the coalition actually raided in Iraq since May 1st and --

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, I don't have that exact number, but we'll get that answer to you.

 

            Q     But -- okay.  And then the other question:  I was just wondering if you could talk about Kirkuk at all, because there's been -- I think it's seven people killed in that city since Wednesday, that the -- there have been Kurdish demonstrations, and then on Wednesday it was an Arab and Turkmen demonstration.  It seems tensions are rising.  Last night two -- what -- it was -- I think it was -- yeah, two Kurds were killed, and an Arab was killed during the day.  And there was shooting at night as well.  It seems to be deteriorating. And there are plans to actually have, I think, foreign troops come and take that city over in April, in -- with the hand-over, when the 4th ID leaves.  I was just wondering, what are your views on Kirkuk?  Is that becoming more of a concern now?  Because that's the most serious violence there since the coalition had come.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Sure.  It's an issue that we are monitoring. However, early indications are that it is an isolated incident.

 

            We have been struck by the limited number of internecine, regional or interethnic attacks since liberation.  There has been a general sense of unity in this country, very few of the sorts of attacks that you're characterizing as sort of Kurdish versus Arab or Kurdish versus Turkmen.

 

            Certainly when you think about it in terms of -- in historical comparisons, in France, for instance, following the Second World War, there was 100,000 acts -- individual acts of retribution, French against collaborators, what they regarded as collaborators.  In Italy, in the fall of Mussolini, you had approximately 20,000 individual acts of retribution by Italians against their fascist co-citizens.

 

            So certainly by historical standards, we've seen nominal numbers in Iraq.  And this development you're pointing to we really think is just that -- nominal, just an exception, not part of a larger trend. But we will monitor it.

 

            Yes, Caroline?

 

            Q     Caroline Hawley, BBC.  Can you give any more information about the man called Abu Muhammad that you referred to, just how significant a player he was in bringing in -- moving cash and foreign fighters?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I don't have that information at this point. Certainly that's one of the things -- we had sufficient intelligence to bring him in.  He had been, we believe, working that trapline, that ratline, in that region.  One of the purposes of bringing him and interrogating him is to find just the level of an involvement that he had in those activities.  But we believe it was significant.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q      Matt Rosenberg from the Associated Press.  Do you have any details on this attack on this tanker convoy outside Ramadi today?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah.  Let's go to the next question.  I think I've got some in here.  I'll come back to you.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     (Inaudible name) -- from The Chicago Tribune.  The attack the other night at Nabil's Restaurant -- that seems to have been a booby-trapped car bomb, which would indicate significantly enhanced technical sophistication.  How much of a concern is there that this may indicate that they're moving to new tactics, clearly new targets?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah, it was sophisticated.  It was a significant explosion, if by no other means than the number of people that were killed.  But it was not unique.  This is very similar to the attacks we've had on various IPS -- Iraqi Police Service -- compounds throughout Iraq.  We remain very concerned.  We try to get as much intelligence as possible, gain as much intelligence as possible to go after those before these happen.  We didn't catch this one.

 

            Q     Just to clarify, so you've actually seen that type of explosive device before?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We have seen numerous occasions of using cars filled with explosives to come near a compound.  Some of them are actually driven by suicide bombers, some of them are just used as improvised explosive devices.  They hold a lot of explosives in them.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     (Name and affiliation off mike.)  Wondering what is the exact number of people captured in the raid at the mosque, if you have details.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Thirty-two personnel.

 

            Let me get back to the question.  You asked a question about the convoy.  We had that a task force 4th Infantry Division convoy was attacked with an improvised explosive device on the afternoon of January 1st as a convoy of vehicles traveled north on Highway 1 near Abeyache.  One soldier was injured as a result of the attack. One soldier sustained a leg fracture and was evacuated by air to the 21st Combat Support Hospital, and that soldier currently is in stable condition.

 

            Q     Nothing on an attack near Ramadi today?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We had one other IED attack near Baghdad.  This may be close enough that it could be that.  We had a patrol of the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne in Baghdad was attacked by an IED and possibly small-arms fire at approximately 12:30 local.  The IED blew the Humvee up and over on top at least one of the soldiers.  And we have some casualties associated with that.  But in terms of Ramadi, I don't have that.  We'll have our people check on that and get back to you.  We'll take that question.

 

            Q     Yeah, we had images of a flaming tanker and confirmation from the guys at CPIC there had been some kind of attack, but no details.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We'll follow up with you on that.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yeah?

 

            Q     You mentioned the four nationals that were also arrested at the mosque.  Could you give us -- can you tell us what their nationalities are, sir?

 

            And do you have any experience in the past that demonstrates that subjects of raids, relatives of raids, associates of raids have undertaken to desecrate their own religiously significant items, such as the Koran?  You  -- the suggestion seems to be made here that perhaps that's what happened.  Have you had any experience with people doing that in the past?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I have had no experience with coalition soldiers intentionally desecrating holy scriptures, holy items, as part of military operations.

 

            Next question, please.

 

            Q     Sir -- sir, what I asked was, have you had any experience in the past in which the subjects of raids, or their relatives or associates, have been known to desecrate their own religiously significant items?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I heard your question, and my answer was I have no experience that we have had any reports of any soldiers purposely desecrating religious items as part of raids, which is, I think, the implication of your question.

 

            Next question, please.

 

            Q     (In Arabic.)

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We've had a couple of attacks today.  I think the number that we reported for the last 24 hours was 20.  We typically don't release, as a matter of course, roll-ups on numbers of killed and wounded, except in specific cases when asked.

 

            MR. SENOR:  John?

 

            Q     General, anybody who is up in the small hours of the morning hears a great deal of combat air power over the city in the last few days.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah.

 

            Q     Last week we were hearing -- I think it was last week -- just before Christmas -- a great deal of artillery.  It's difficult for people who are not military people to figure out how you can use heavy artillery or combat air power against people who blow up restaurants or whatever.  Can you give us some hint as to what this is about?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, first of all, John, what we have is more than just people blowing up restaurants operating inside the city.  We have people firing weapons, we have people firing mortars.  We have numerous instances and intelligence against organizations that are trying to conduct attacks on Iraqi people and on coalition forces. Many of those operations that are running are in response to mortar rounds being fired, or locations that have been used as mortar firing points, or locations that are being used for meetings, and so on and so forth.  So those are the purposes of going after -- using air power to go against those targets.

 

            But it also sends a very clear message to anybody who thinks that they can run around Baghdad without worrying about the consequences of firing RPGs, firing mortars, so on and so forth, that there is a capability in the air that can quickly respond against anybody who would want to do harm to Iraqi citizens or coalition forces.

 

            Q     General, we don't have any number on the number of combat air operations conducted in any 24-hour or seven-day period.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  In fact, last night, General Dempsey left an RTQ, a response to that question, on how many combat aircraft had been used as part of Iron Grip.  I know we have copies right outside.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     Luke Baker from Reuters.  With the shooting down of the helicopter in Fallujah, I wonder, General, if you had any information about whether U.S. forces fired on the journalists' cars that went to the scene, and detained several people?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Here's the report that we have.  Paratroopers securing the Kiowa helicopter crash were fired upon by enemy personnel posing as media this afternoon at approximately 1400 hours.  The attack occurred in the 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade area. Charlie Company 1st Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment notified the 82nd Airborne Division's battle major with the information.  The five enemy personnel pulled up to the crash site driving black and dark blue Mercedes.  They were wearing black press jackets with "press" clearly written in English.  The enemy personnel fired upon U.S. forces with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Fortunately, no coalition forces were wounded.  One of the Mercedes was tracked to a nearby house and captured four enemy personnel who are now being questioned.

 

            Regarding the AP question, there was a fuel tanker convoy attacked today east of Ar Ramadi.  We currently know that there are three wounded in action.  One of those soldiers has returned to duty, and two have been transported to a military facility.  You are correct, the 5,000-gallon tanker is in flames, and the local fire department attended to the call and is currently on-site.

 

            Q     Do you have any idea what attacked it?  Was it an RPG, an IED?  We get conflicting reports.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Let me see what I have.            It was hit with an improvised explosive device, small arms fire, and a rocket-propelled grenade.

 

            Q     Also, just any -- were there other tankers in the convoy? Was it just a single tanker?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Don't know.  But we typically would not have a single tanker in a convoy.

 

            Q     Thanks.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Sure.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?  You had your hand raised.  No?

 

            Q     Just the last couple of attacks that have been mentioned, we're seeing, I think, more than just the usual IED explosions, we're seeing -- obviously, in the case of the journalists here, some sort of organized attack; with the case of the tanker, again, multiple weapons being used.  How would you characterize these type of attacks?  Is this a change in tactics on the part of the opposition?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We call those -- when we see a number of different weapon systems being employed, such as an IED followed by small arms, we typically call those complex attacks.  Those are attacks that take a little more coordination and a little more planning ahead of time.

 

            Even though the number of attacks has gone down, as we've said, since November, when we had about a high of about 50 per day, down to about the average of 20 per day now, we are seeing a small uptick in the capability of the enemy.  They are getting a little more complex.  And for what reason, we don't know, but they are getting a little more sophisticated of late.

 

            MR. SENOR:  We have time for one more.  Yes?

 

            Q     I'm just wondering; people involved with the -- or officers involved in the investigation of the New Year's Eve bombing, they've spoken of this as a different attack, in targeting of the restaurant. And they weren't necessarily clear on why so much.  I was wondering if you could elaborate on how the New Year's Eve attack -- is it different from what the enemy has done before?  And if so, how does it indicate a new trend, if it does?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, certainly this is the first large-scale attack we've seen on a purely civilian target of this kind.  I mean, we've seen attacks on police stations, we've seen attacks on coalition forces, we've seen attacks by IEDs that have gone against civilians, small numbers of civilians, but never something this -- sort of this large, but sort of typical for the rest of the region.  Now, the investigation is being conducted by the Iraqi Police Service, so I would ask you to go to them to sort of make the subjective assessment of what they're seeing here.  But this was a little more sophisticated and a little larger than we have seen and a little bit different than we've seen.

 

            Q     How is it different from the hotel -- (off mike) -- Palestine?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, we have always suggested that the reason they went after the Palestine was simply to draw headlines and to sort of make them spectacular attacks.  In this case, they were going after what would be, one could consider, a purely civilian target.  These were people out that evening, enjoying the New Year's Eve, civilians, primarily Iraqis, not primarily foreigners, and that's what made it a little bit different.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And certainly we believe that in addition to attacks against the coalition, we will see increasing attacks against all entities that are involved in the reconstruction of Iraq, in an effort to break the will of all those that are participating, whether they are Iraqi political leaders, whether they are international organizations, such as the U.N., NGOs, Iraqi law enforcement officials.  I mean, just look back to August 19th with the attack in the south, followed 10 days later by the attack on the U.N., followed about three weeks later with the attack on a member of the Iraqi Governing Council.  Since then, there have been a number of attacks on Iraqi law enforcement officials, on the deputy mayor of Baghdad.

 

            And as we move closer to implementation of the November 15th agreement, we expect to see -- I don't know about increasingly sophisticated attacks; that certainly seems to be what General Kimmitt referred to vis-a-vis the New Year's Eve attack.  But certainly, we don't expect to see a downturn in the number of attacks because the stakes are going to get higher and higher for those that are trying to undermine the new Iraq.  The stakes are going to get higher and higher for the foreign terrorists that are in the country, and for the insurgents that are trying to turn the clock back on Iraq.  And as they see the coalition handing over and more and more authority to the Iraqi people, and as the Iraqi people assume more and more authority in the day-to-day governing of their lives, culminating in achieving sovereignty this summer, they are going to try and undo that.

 

            Q     If I may follow up, what groups are you looking at, General, as most likely carrying out this attack?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, as we said, the Iraqi police service is conducting the investigation, so I'd refer that question to them.

 

            Q     A housekeeping question.  The attack on the pretended press at the Fallujah helicopter incident today makes urgent, I would say, for some of us accreditations that are visible and identifiable, both for motor vehicles and for individuals.  And I'm not sure where that process stands, but I think it's stalled for a lot of us.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Sure.  We had a meeting this morning with all the bureaus -- 10:00 a.m. -- regarding accreditation, regarding a filing center that we're setting up here, a 24/7 filing center that will be available.  Scott Sforza -- if you can just raise your hand -- standing back there -- is managing the process.  If you could just grab him, John, afterwards, he will make sure that that issue is attended to for you.  But it's something we're moving forward with quite quickly.  And I think most of the bureaus have provided applications for accreditation already, and we are in the midst of processing them.

 

            Q     I've got a follow-up on that.  Are you absolutely certain -

 

            MR. SENOR:  A follow-up on the administrative question?

 

            Q     -- you were fired on by people in -- wearing press markings?  Because --

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I am absolutely certain that I have a report, given by the 82nd Airborne Division, that says they were fired on by people with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, wearing clothes that had the word "press" visibly marked on them.

 

            Q     And the --

 

            Q     Would it be the first time this has happened?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I am unaware that this has happened before.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Thank you, everybody. 

 

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