General Says Letter Reveals 'Terrified' Enemy in Iraq
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2004 A 17-page letter seized in the capture of an al Qaeda courier last month reveals an enemy "terrified" that Iraq is on the road to freedom and self-government, a coalition military official said at a Baghdad news conference today.
Analysts have concluded the letter was written by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- a suspect in numerous terrorist bombings in Iraq and long believed to have al Qaeda ties and was intended for the terror organization's top leadership, perhaps even for Osama bin Laden himself. The letter, coalition officials have said, seeks al Qaeda's help in instigating ethnic violence to derail progress toward a free and stable Iraq.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7, said the letter is evidence that Zarqawi's biggest fear is that the coalition's strategy in Iraq is working. Kimmitt and Dan Senor, the coalition's senior spokesman, first commented on the letter at a Feb. 9 Baghdad briefing.
"He is terrified of the coalition's will," Kimmitt said today. "He's terrified of the coalition's military capabilities. He is terrified of the fact that we are building (an) Iraqi security structure that prevents him from establishing a base inside this country. And he is terrified of a country that, rather than bowing to terrorism, is moving toward democracy."
The general said the letter confirms the coalition's current strategy is the correct one. "And as we continue to work the coalition and the people of Iraq together to hunting down Zarqawi and those of his ilk, that is the best strategy we have to ensure that we limit his capability to operate inside Iraq."
Senor said today the letter makes it clear Zarqawi is frustrated by the increasing difficulty he's having in trying to hide in Iraq. The country's geography, combined with an ever-dwindling number of Iraqis willing to help or harbor terrorists, are working against Zarqawi, Senor said.
Coalition administrator Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III is sharing the letter with key Iraqi leaders, Senor said, to generate some publicity to aid in intelligence gathering, and so Iraqi leaders will recognize efforts at creating ethnic strife for what they are, so they can protect against the ethnic warfare that is Zarqawi's aim.
"So if there is an attack against Shiia leadership, or there is an attack against a Shiia holy site, the various ethnic leaders won't be easily drawn into reprisals, because that's exactly what Zarqawi and al Qaeda are trying to provoke in this country," Senor said. "They're trying to tear this country apart with ethnic bloodshed."
Another reason for sharing the letter with Iraqi leaders, Senor said, is to emphasize what it means about the combined efforts of the coalition and the Iraqi people.
"It's important when we say the strategy of building up the Iraqi security services is working," he said. "It's important when the Iraqi Governing Council leaders say that the building up of Iraqi security forces is working.
"But nothing is more important," he emphasized, "than when the enemies of Iraq say that the building up of Iraqi security services is working."
Senor noted that more than 150,000 Iraqis work in security services and are protecting their country more than the number of Americans in Iraq. He said it's important for Iraqis to see that the efforts of the coalition and the Iraqi people are working.
Senor said the letter will be released in full in the near future. "We intend for every Iraqi to take a close look at it to see what the foreign terrorists who are coming to this country have planned for Iraq," he said, "and how we can protect against it together."