Spokesman: Iraq Attacks Show al-Qaida Remains a Threat
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2010 A wave of attacks in Iraq today demonstrates that al-Qaida in Iraq is still capable of operating and is desperate to regain lost momentum, the top spokesman for U.S. Forces Iraq told American Forces Press Service today.
“We haven’t seen these types of attacks since May 10,” Army Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza said in a telephone interview from Baghdad. “This shows there is still capability with al-Qaida here to conduct operations. It also shows their intent or desire to try to reinsert themselves, which they have had trouble doing in the past.”
Lanza also condemned the attacks, which heavily targeted police forces, as an attempt to intimidate Iraqi security forces and erode public confidence in them as well as the Iraqi government. He noted that last week’s attacks targeted traffic police, and the scope broadened today to police forces within Iraq’s provincial governments.
“I think there’s a desire by the terrorists and by those who would conduct these attacks to try to intimidate the police,” he said. “They have done a very good job asserting themselves into their jobs, so the police have become a target for the terrorists.”
This makes it more critical than ever that Iraqi security forces “maintain pressure on the network and sustain their vigilance in conducting operations against them,” Lanza said.
“There are still going to be challenges in the days ahead,” he said, emphasizing that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq to support Iraqi security forces even as the U.S. military mission officially changes to an “advise and assist” role under Operation New Dawn on Sept. 1.
“It is only the nature of our relationship that is changing with the Iraqi security forces, not our commitment to the Iraqi security forces,” he said. “We will continue to be here to support them. That is part of our mission here until December 2011.
“It is part of our desire to maintain a strategic partnership with them,” he continued. “More importantly, we want the Iraqis to succeed.”