Zarqawi, al Qaeda Threaten Iraq, Military Spokesman Says
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 10, 2006 A senior military spokesman in Baghdad today dismissed as untrue a U.S. newspaper article claiming the U.S. military launched a propaganda campaign to exaggerate terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's significance in Iraq to turn Iraqis against him and sway American public opinion.
"A recent article citing a military briefing from 2004 has called into question the threat that Abu Musab Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq pose to Iraq, dismissing it as 'propaganda' - nothing could be further from the truth," Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said in a written statement rebutting today's Washington Post story.
Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq have openly declared war on the democratic process in Iraq and are responsible for the overwhelming majority of suicide attacks against the Iraqi people, Lynch said.
In addition, statements made by Zarqawi over the past year attest to the threat and the indiscriminate nature of his attacks, he said.
"He has called for foreign fighters to come to Iraq and join the jihad; stated that in order to kill infidels it is acceptable to kill women and children in the attacks; declared 'all-out' war against the Shiia and told other religious and tribal groups to join his anti-government cause or face attacks; and has called for increased attacks during Ramadan in order to secure victory and to establish a Muslim nation in Iraq," Lynch said.
The general went on to say that Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq might represent a relatively small portion of the overall insurgency, but their impact has been ruthlessly devastating.
"The terrorists and foreign fighters that he recruits, trains and equips carry out more than 90 percent of the insidious suicide attacks against the men, women and children of Iraq - attacks that have killed or injured thousands of Iraqis in the last year alone," he said.
Lynch cited a letter from Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to Zarqawi, which clearly outlines al Qaeda's goal of becoming the dominant influencing power throughout the Middle East, as proof of their intent.
"Make no mistake, (Zarqawi) and al Qaeda in Iraq are real threats to the citizens, security and stability of Iraq, and we continue to conduct aggressive operations to eliminate the threat they pose not only to Iraq, but also to the rest of the region," Lynch said.