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Terrorists Won't Quit After Dec. 15 Iraq Voting, Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2005 – Al Qaeda's top leader in Iraq likely will try to stop Iraq's Dec. 15 election of a permanent government, and failing that, terrorists will continue their campaign of violence to try to unseat the new government, a senior U.S. military officer told reporters at a Baghdad news conference today.

"No one should believe that on the 15th of December, when there's a safe and secure election, the insurgents will go home," Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, said.

Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda affiliated forces in Iraq and remnant Saddam Hussein regime supporters will remain active, Lynch said.

Bolstered security that protected more than 6,000 polling places for the successful Oct. 15 constitutional referendum seemed to discourage terrorist attacks that day. A similar protective screen will be in place for the Dec. 15 election, Lynch said, consisting of an inner ring of Iraqi police and an outer cordon of Iraqi military.

U.S. troops, Lynch said, will stand by in a reaction mode.

"Zarqawi knows that in the area around the elections there'll be intense security in those polling sites," Lynch said. "So he could make a decision to defer any acts of violence until after the elections."

But, Zarqawi is determined to discredit the new Iraqi government and derail the democratic process, Lynch said.

"And if he can't stop it by the elections he will continue," Lynch said. "He knows -- he's a thinking enemy -- that the security situation around the elections is going to be very tight."

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