United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenters: Adviser to the CPA, Daniel Senor and Deputy Director of Coalition Operations, Gen. Mark Kimmitt
March 03, 2004 9:00 PM EDT
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

 

            MR. SENOR:  Good afternoon.  I just have a couple of quick administrative announcements, and General Kimmitt has an opening statement.  We'll be happy to take your questions afterwards.

 

            Shortly after this press conference, at 6:00 this evening, the current president of the Iraqi Governing Council is holding a press conference in this room -- [Mr.] Bahr Uloum at 6 p.m. in this room today.

 

            Secondly, at approximately 8:00 tonight, Ambassador Bremer will be in this room to make a statement.  The time right now is 8:15 p.m. Depending on his schedule, it's subject some minor change, so just keep in touch with Jared and Susan at the press center, or just monitor your e-mail.

 

            It won't be later than 8:45.  It'll be sometime between 8:15 and 8:45.  And that'll be Ambassador Bremer this evening.  And he will be speaking about the recent attacks.

 

            General Kimmitt.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Good afternoon.  Let me provide some updates and some clarifications on the bombings yesterday in Baghdad and Karbala.

 

            As noted yesterday, in Baghdad three explosions occurred in the vicinity of the Al-Kadhimiya mosque.  The Iraqi police service report that three suicide bombers detonated explosives in the vicinity of the mosque, two at the gates and one inside the mosque.  The Iraqi police service apprehended two persons, but both were later released.

 

            All persons are being treated in Ministry of Health facilities and coalition health facilities.

 

            In Karbala, the explosion in the city center, as well as multiple explosions three to four miles from the city center, were caused by three methods:  a suicide bomber in the city center, explosions along the road from pushcarts loaded with explosives, and possible mortar rounds fired from nearby.

 

            Fifteen personnel have been detained by the Iraqi police and coalition forces.  These personnel were pointed out to the Iraqi police services by witnesses in the crowd.  Five of the detainees speak Farsi, and the other 10 are believed to be Iraqi.  Nine of the detainees are in Iraqi police service custody.  The other six are in coalition custody.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And with that, we'll be happy to take your questions -- (pause) -- if there are questions.

 

            Yes, Jim?

 

            Q     We were hearing some reports about grenades being tossed off of a building.  Is there anything to that?  And also, in what circumstances were the Iranians or the 15 folks arrested?  What were they doing that led them to cause to be arrested?  Were they carrying any sort of incriminating, you know, bomb-making material?  Or had they been directing the attacks?  Or what was the circumstances? Thanks.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On the issue of the grenades being tossed from the buildings, Jim, we don't have anything on that.

 

            With regards to the persons picked up in Karbala, these were witnesses pointing at different people.  Some had been next to push carts.  But I don't think that there was anything specifically other than what the witnesses had told the Iraqi police service, which is "we think these people are involved in it," and that's one of the reasons they're being interrogated.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     (Off mike.)

 

            MR. SENOR:  Can you turn on the mike?

 

            Q     I wonder if you could shed some light on the other reported incidents where there weren't explosions, in Basra and elsewhere, where people were detained -- reportedly detained carrying either potential suicide bombers or were in the process of putting explosives on the road.

 

            And the second part of that was, yesterday there was a report that one of the persons arrested was a woman.  Could you comment on that as well, please?  Thank you.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah.  On the additional reports that we had, I think yesterday there was a question about a VBIED that might have been picked up.  I have a report last night that the 20th Armored Brigade, the night before, a vehicle had been driven to a vehicle checkpoint in Basra and a number of Iraqis exited the vehicle and ran away.  The vehicle was then classified as a VBIED, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.  The area was secured, and two controlled explosions took place to deal with the suspected car bomb, which resulted in the car bomb being revealed as a hoax.  There was nothing to that.

 

            We also had heard through the rumor mill that there were a number of women picked up.  That turned out to be false as well.  And so I think all these other reports that you may have heard, none of them have really borne out to be consequential.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Mark?

 

            Q     Thanks.  Two questions.  General, for you first of all. The 15 people detained, did that include the one suicide bomber whose belt did not explode?  And if so, was he one of those five Farsi speakers?

 

            And secondly, Dan, we've talked to a lot of people since the bombings.  A lot of them blame the Americans.  Some directly think the Americans are responsible.  Others point out that their country was not the forefront of terrorism before the Americans arrived; Sistani (sic) followed the Americans in, if he is indeed responsible for these, he wasn't here beforehand.    Can you --

 

            MR. SENOR:  Sistani?

 

            Q     Sorry, my -- (chuckles).  Sorry, Zarqawi.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Zarqawi.

 

            Q     My mistake.  Could you comment on that, please?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On the first report of one of the apprehended persons having an explosive belt, that was a report apparently in Baghdad; turned out not to be correct.  The two persons that were apprehended yesterday in Baghdad turned out not to have any explosives on them, so none of the persons in Karbala that we are aware of at this time were captured with actual explosive belts on them.

 

            MR. SENOR:  As for Iraq being the central front in the war on terror, according to the United States Department of State, Iraq was a -- the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein was a state-sponsor of terrorism going back some 20 years.  We have very good reason to believe that Mr. Zarqawi had presence in Iraq before the liberation. And finally, Mark, I would say that the Saddam Hussein regime that we removed, whose career we ended, imposed mass terror on this country. So I would recommend you spend some time with families of victims who wound up in the mass graves, or people who were victimized in the chemical attacks up in northern Iraq, or family of any individual who spent time in a torture chamber or one of Saddam Hussein's rape rooms, and ask them how they feel about the use of mass terror in this country by the former regime.

 

            And finally, I would say that what we are trying to do here in working with the Iraqi leadership in doing is building a sovereign democratic Iraq.  It would be one of a kind in the region and if we are successful it will send a very direct message to the terrorists. And they recognize this, and they recognize that the stakes are very high for them.  Nothing will defeat the terrorists and their cause more than our success in building a sovereign, democratic country here that improves the lives of its citizens.  And it will put an end to the scapegoating; it will put an end to the blame game; it will do more to turn back the cause of the terrorists than anything else we do, and this is clear in this document, the Zarqawi letter.  I mean, it's exactly what he says over and over and over, that once the Iraqis are successful in building their democracy -- his word not mine --   once the Iraqis are successful in building their democracy, the terrorists will lose their pretext; they will lose their excuse.  His words.  So the terrorists understand that, many Iraqis understand that.

 

            I agree that it's important to continue to get the message out; it's why we have made a very ambitious effort on the public information side to get the word out on the Zarqawi letter.  But it's something that most Iraqis understand, it's something we certainly understand and it's something the terrorists understand.

 

            Rajiv.

 

            Q     Three questions.  Two quick ones.  One, will Bremer be taking questions tonight at his statement?  Two, the 15 folks who have been arrested in Karbala, why only six in coalition custody?  Are you seeking to get the others, other nine, or have you judged, you know, those six to be, you know, more credible suspects than the others?

 

            And the third question, I suppose for both of you.  Shi'a leaders over the past day have said and have criticized U.S. security policy and have spoken a lot about the need for them to take greater responsibility or be allowed greater responsibility for security.  In particular, officials of SCIRI have talked about the need to allow the Badr organization to deploy to protect holy places.  Do these two bombings -- these two incidents yesterday, will they change the coalition's position in any way with regard to militia groups?  Will you reexamine that policy based on this?  Thank you.

 

            MR. SENOR:  First of all, the administrator pointed out -- Ambassador Bremer, with regard to his statement tonight, we currently don't have plans for him to take questions.  His schedule's very tight.  He's going to come in and deliver a statement and depart. That may change, time permitting, so we will try to get that information out to you as soon as we finalize the exact time.

 

            The militia policy will not change.  It is no longer simply our policy; it is now -- as you will see when the transitional administrative law is released later in this week, it is confirmed in the transitional administrative law that no military or security organization independent of the national government should be free to operate, and so we will be working in the months ahead to wind down those organizations.

 

            That said, those organizations -- many of them have played a key role in opposing Saddam Hussein.  They are organizations -- some of them -- with whom we have worked closely with both in this war and over the years, and we want to wind them down with a sense of dignity. We want to ensure that they have the employment opportunities that they may be losing by virtue of the fact that their organizations will be wound down, and some of them we may help move into retirement, based on the age.  So we want to do this in a gradual way, and as I said do it with dignity.

 

            And to your other point, Rajiv, about some of the Shi'a leaders' comments, we're obviously aware of them.  I would also point out that almost all of the Shi'a leaders who expressed concerns and criticisms also did point to Zarqawi and point to al Qaeda-type groups that they believed were involved in this.  And we recognize that this is a very difficult situation.  Ambassador Bremer tonight will be talking a little bit about some of the things we intend to do on the security front to address everybody's concerns.

 

            (To General Kimmitt.)  I don't know if you have anything to add to that.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, two things.  First of all, on the specific question about which detainees went to coalition custody, which went to IPS, it's my understanding that was more just a capacity down in the Karbala police department.  Some are being worked with the Iraqi police service, some are being done with -- interrogated by the coalition forces.

 

            And as to your question about those that would like to help provide security in this country, we would invite any member to join the Iraqi police service, to join the ICDC, to stand by the coalition. If they want an opportunity to strike back at the terrorists that committed these bombings in Baghdad, if they want an opportunity to strike back at the terrorists that committed the atrocities in Karbala, then they should join the Iraqi security forces and work side by side with the coalition because as soon as we have the intelligence, we are going to develop operations and we will kill or capture the persons that are responsible for these operations, that I can guarantee you.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Rajiv, I would just add, the number of Iraqis in security positions today in Iraq is well over 150,000; it's now getting close to 200,000.  Iraq is now technically our largest coalition partner; far more Iraqis in positions of security in this country today than there are Americans in positions of security.

 

            That said, it is important to look at what Iraqis on the street are saying, look at what Iraqi political leaders are saying, look at what Iraqi regional leaders are saying; they still want a role for the coalition here providing security in the near future, and certainly post-June 30th.  So on the one hand we are bolstering up, beefing up the Iraqi security forces; on the other hand, the American security forces will still have a role here.

 

            And we believe that if you have the Iraqis increasingly on the front lines, we will gather better intelligence.  As General Kimmitt has said, the Iraqis have a better sense for the local language, the local culture, the local rhythm of life; they are better at gathering intelligence and determining this one's a foreigner, this one's a domestic insurgent.  They can play a more valuable role on the very front line in fighting many of these fights, gathering intelligence and being the enforcers, if you will, while the Americans increasingly become the reinforcers.  That's the path where things are heading.  And I think it's consistent with some of the requests being made by some of the leaders you referred to.

 

            Q     Yes, they acknowledge that point.  The thing is, they say, look, you know, as you folks said yesterday, there's a sensitivity issue often involved in putting coalition forces right up against shrines and holy places, and it's taking time to build capacity for indigenous security forces.  So they're saying, you know, at some point it's all well and fine to have Iraqi police and Iraqi ICDC guarding these sites, but for the foreseeable future that capacity isn't there.  And they want the ability to be able to protect their sites themselves.  It seems to be happening in a de facto way.  I mean, if you go to Kadhimiya today, you know, I didn't see any Iraqi police for blocks around the shrine.  It was largely people with self- styled ID tags and guns patting people down.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, the fact remains is, prior to the beginning of the festivities that morning, yesterday morning, all persons involved in the security, to include the mosque officials, to include the Iraqi security forces and the coalition forces, believed they had sufficient security to provide a reasonable amount of crowd control, a reasonable amount of control of the entire situation.  And I think any Monday-morning quarterbacking on "there should have been more done" I think is relatively unhelpful and doesn't really go to the root of the problem, which is the fact that we had terrorists that were attacking yesterday innocent Iraqi civilians for the sole purpose of trying to drive a wedge between sectors of the society and between the coalition and the people of Iraq.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And Rajiv, finally -- and this is to preempt question number five -- (laughs), we are, obviously, encouraging members of these militias to come join our security forces, be it the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, the Iraqi army, the Iraqi police service, the border guard, the Facility Protection Services.  We encourage these individuals.  Many of them are very skilled and very well trained, and there is a role for them.  However, they have to serve in a role -- if they going to be a part of this effort, they have to serve in a role in which they are representing and fighting for one unified Iraq, not for any individual political party or any individual political movement.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Hi.  I was just wondering -- you're saying clearly you don't want to have al-Hawza (sp) and the Badr brigade and the other militia groups providing security, but clearly, this was a total failure here.  I mean, I was down in Karbala.  They were very enthusiastic, but they weren't very good about maintaining a cordon or searching people.  I saw pushcarts go right through the security cordons.  Do you not feel some responsibility to try to train or create some sort of quality for security around these places?  And I assume, being the Army, you-all look at after-action reports.  Are you going to do something to try to improve security here, and what are those steps?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah, we certainly take a look at every -- every time we have an incident of this type, whether it's the loss of a soldier, whether it's the downing of an aircraft or whether it's an incident such as this, we review our force protection procedures.  But I think that what you're suggesting is that in the future can we guarantee that 100 percent of the terrorists will be stopped 100 percent of the time?  I think that's an unnecessary metric, I think that's an unhelpful metric, and it's one that we're ultimately not going to be successful achieving.  And --

 

            Q     Do you see some room for improvement here?  And do you have some concrete steps that you'll be taking?  I'm not saying 100 percent, but just --

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Every time we have an incident, we review it, we see how we can prevent it in the future.  Every time this happens, we see opportunities for getting better in the future.  And we always want to have this as a constant improvement process.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And I would just add that there are multiple occasions where Iraqi security forces have performed independently with great success, and we see that increasing.  It's a trend that we have seen certainly over the last six to eight weeks in a number of operations.  While they don't get the same spotlight as the ones that don't go well, it's important to note.  The terrorists, as I said yesterday, only have to be successful once in a while, once in a long while, in order to make an impact.  The Iraqi security forces and the coalition security forces have to be successful every single time in order to prevent this effort to promote a sense of insecurity for moving forward.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  And frankly, that's a record that no country in this world has met yet.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     As you say, you've got close to 200,000 Iraqi security people now and you've got 100,000 American troops here.  And I think all these questions are raising a larger question, which is, on June 30th, aren't there some doubts in your mind now, after a day like yesterday, about the ability of the Iraqi government to take over and to stand on its own and to hold on in the face of what's going to be more and more attacks, clearly?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, first of all, June 30th -- July 1st is an important day for passing sovereignty to the people of Iraq.  It is another day for the soldiers of the coalition.  We will be here on July 1st, the same way we have been here since last May -- last March. And we don't see that date as a significant military date in terms of changing our tactics, techniques, procedures, nor our mission.  We fully expect to be operating on July 15th the same way we're going to be operating on June 15th.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yeah.  I would just add that Ambassador Bremer's portfolio will be headed over on June 30th.  His portfolio is increasingly focused on the political process.  On June 30th, the Iraqis will take over for their own political process.

 

            The situation doesn't necessarily change on the military side, and it doesn't change for much of the civilian reconstruction.  We are going to have one of the largest -- the largest U.S. embassy here in the world.  That is going to be involved in the USAID mission, and they'll be involved in managing the deployment of billions and billions of dollars.  The work of the coalition and the work of the United States government will certainly continue after June 30th.  The political process gets turned over.

 

            And I should add that we have felt all along that our strategy in combatting these terrorists is dual-track.  There's one, which is the military strategy, which General Kimmitt has spoken about quite a bit, but there's also the political strategy.  The more we politically and economically power -- empower the Iraqi people, the more we isolate the terrorists, the more difficult it becomes for the terrorists to capitalize on a sense of despair and a sense of hopelessness.

 

            And this was not only our view, as I said earlier.  It was the view of Mr. Zarqawi, who made this very clear:  that their job will be much harder -- the al Qaeda type groups' job will be much harder once Iraqis are on political control of their destiny.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yes?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Hassan Al-Hadiriqah (sp) from Rah (sp) newspaper.  Have you made all your procedures to stop the terrorist attacks and what happened in Kadhimiya and Karbala yesterday, since the citizens and the Iraqi people talk and [are] inquiring how to stop or how to react towards these attacks, and you always put the responsibility on Zarqawi?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I think your question is, are we reviewing our procedures, as we take this forward, to ensure that we can try to reduce the amount of these incidents happening in the future?

 

            As we said earlier, we are going to take a very, very hard look at these incidents.  We're going to see what the enemy has told us about himself this time, how we can exploit that information, one, to go after him, but two, to prevent these types of attacks from happening again in the future.  We will not be successful 100 percent of the time, but the information that we gain from these operations will certainly mitigate the risk of this happening again in the future.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?  The gentleman next to you, and then we'll come to you.

 

            Yes?  Go ahead.

 

            Q      (Through interpreter.)  An Marapa, (inaudible name) newspaper.  Our newspaper published the answer of General Sanchez regarding the question of intensifying the security procedures or processes in Baghdad, especially in Ashura.  So what were your precaution or procedures that have been taken really for as protecting these holy places, especially the Shi'a people have got these festivals during Ashura?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  The way that we set up the procedures for providing protection or security in the vicinities of the two holy sites was that we set an outer cordon established by the coalition forces.  That outer cordon was responsible for route reconnaissance, to detect in-place explosives, and they were prepared to respond to any emergencies and requests for assistance on the part of the security forces.  They also set up a number of checkpoints to ensure that no vehicle-borne car bombs could come through.

 

            There was a next -- there was an inner cordon that had been established by the Iraqi police and the Iraqi civil defense service. Their purpose was to limit vehicle traffic inside the shrine area to ensure traffic control, some level of crowd control outside of mosque.

 

            And then the third ring of the security was provided by the shrine security themself of the mosque.  They were doing the inspection of the personnels coming into the mosque and ensuring crowd control inside the mosque as well.

 

            So it was generally three rings of security primarily focused on preventing car bombs from coming into the middle of the crowd.

 

            Q     How big was it?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Excuse me?

 

            Q     The outer ring?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, it wouldn't be helpful since we use these procedures every time we do these type of operations.  Dexter, I think we want to keep that --

 

            MR. SENOR:  Right, yes?

 

            Q     There are reports that al Qaeda issued a statement denying having anything to do with these attacks in Kadhimiya and Karbala. Have you seen this and what do you think?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, I saw that statement that said al Qaeda denied doing it.  If you read further into the statement, it directly   blamed the Americans for firing the mortars and blowing up the bombs. I think if the first part of the statement is as ludicrous as the second part of the statement, I think it stands on its own.

 

            Q     Mr. Senor?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     Shobit (ph) for NHK.  Mr. Senor, just as a follow-up of a question about June 30, after June 30 the ultimate responsibility of security, will it leave the coalition forces and will it go to the Iraqis?  And if so, how will it be balanced with the fact that the American forces will stay here and that you promised that you would be -- keep on watching the situation?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1511, we still have authority for security or deployment of a multinational force here to handle security.  That could govern our role here post-June 30th, but we expect to reach an agreement with a sovereign, democratic government post-June 30th on the formal role here.  All the Iraqi political leaders we talked about with the -- talked on this issue to feel that there is a substantial role for the coalition, for the American forces post-June 30th.  And so we'll work something out post- June 30th, but under U.N. Resolution 1511 we are covered for the time being.

 

            Q     And -- sorry.  When is going to be the signing of this interim constitution going to take place?  And how much regrettable do you think it is that it has to be postponed due to this terrible terror?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Obviously the incident is the tragedy.  The fact that tens of Iraqis lost their lives is the tragedy.  The plan to hand over Iraqi sovereignty to a sovereign government that will governed by the transitional administrative law moves on.  The fact that we postponed, or the fact that the Iraqi Governing Council has decided to postpone the signing ceremony a few days does not affect in any way the plan to hand over sovereignty on June 30th and the plan for that government that takes over following June 30th to be governed by this interim constitution.

 

            So the plan's on track.  It's just simply out of respect for the deceased and their families the Governing Council has made a decision to postpone the signing for a few days during these days of mourning. My understanding is President Bahr Uloum will address this specific point when he holds his press conference shortly. And he'll give you all the exact details on the date and time.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Hi, is there any solid evidence you can talk about beyond talk of patterns of attacks and -- that links Mr. Zarqawi to this attack, or any other attacks that have happened in Iraq?  Also, beyond this letter, which I guess one imagines could be a case of exaggeration, or could even be a forgery, any solid evidence linking Mr. Zarqawi to any attack that's taken place in Iraq?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  That question was asked last night and answered last night.  With regards to specifically linking Zarqawi to this attack, we're developing that intelligence at this time.  We have to go through a series of interrogations obviously with the prisoners to find out what they know.  And we will start the forensic gathering -- the forensics gathering as well.  And it will take some time and we will do the investigation.  We will make the ultimate determination at the end of that investigation.   

 

            MR. SENOR:  Time for two more.

 

            Q     So is the answer no on that?  I'm just -- is there any solid evidence -- this attack or other attacks -- linking him to any of these attacks?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We certainly have solid evidence linking him to previous attacks in this country.  The 25 attacks that he talks about, there is certainly a body of evidence that would point to Zarqawi being the perpetrator of those crimes.  As regards yesterday, in both Karbala and Baghdad, we're developing that body of evidence right now.

 

            Q     Can you elaborate on the body of evidence?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  No.

 

            Q     For security reasons?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  For security reasons.  We're in the middle of an investigation; it just wouldn't be helpful at this point to disclose how we're developing that intelligence, how we're developing that evidence and the evidence that we found.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Kristine, go ahead.

 

            Q     Just a couple questions.  Has the FBI been called in on this and why not?  And --

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I would -- I'm sorry to disappoint you about answering your own question, but yes, the FBI has been called and the FBI plans to render assistance in this case, in both the Karbala and Baghdad incident.         

 

            Q     Okay.  And can I just follow up?  When you talked about an after-action report, you specifically said when there's a loss of a soldier or a soldier is injured in some way that starts an after-action report.  Yesterday no soldiers were injured or killed in this, so are you doing the level of -- degree of review that you do for an after-action report?  And if you are, then how is that shared with the Iraqi police and the mosque police in order that -- clearly, if the Iraqi police are looking for car bombs and not searching people, and the Shi'ite mosque people are just searching for people, you have somebody with a bomb who's gotten very close to the mosque, so how do you, you know, answer that gap, and do you do it through your after-action report, which is a very high-level inquiry looking at something?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, first of all, we do an after-action review, not a report.  We do investigation reports.  A review is -- for example, today at the joint coordination center that we have in Baghdad -- and we also have one in Karbala -- you can be assured that they have sat down and tried to review what happened yesterday so that today and future days of the Ashoura festivities they can try to preempt these activities from happening again.

 

            It's important to recognize that the Iraqi police and the Iraqi civil defense corps and the coalition forces all fall under the same chain of command.  They are working with, alongside, and for the coalition forces.  So we're certainly going to share the results of those reviews.  In fact, we're going to be gathering information from them.  As Dan has said a number of times, it's not just enough for us to do our own sterile review of this with Western eyes; it also helps very much to also have the Iraqis participate in that review process, to contribute to that review process so that as we go forward in the future we possibly can mitigate the risk of an incident like this happening again.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Last question right here.

 

            Q     Wait.  Could I just follow up?  Did you do that before? Because those Iraqi eyes I think would have been very good before. Did anybody raise the idea that maybe we should check for suicide bombers in the inner cordon before they get straight up to the mosque? Was there discussion about that kind of attack?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well certainly.  I know that -- for a fact that a number of wands were provided to the Iraqi police service and also to the ICDC -- not a huge number, but enough so they could probably do some spot checking.

 

            But it's very, very important to understand, if you wanted absolute security yesterday in either Baghdad or Karbala, you could have assured that and could have guaranteed it by cancelling the festivities.  It was the judgment of the commanders on the ground, in discussions and in coordination with everyone involved in these festivities, to put in a series of force protection measures that mitigated the risk to a reasonable level so that all could agree let's go forward with these.

 

            But it is very, very important for us to recognize that for us to have closed these festivities down for issues of security, unless we had an absolutely spot-on intelligence report demonstrating that something of this magnitude was going to happen, had we cancelled these festivities, the terrorists would have won.  And we will not let the terrorists win, and we cannot let the terrorists win.  That's why you see the Iraqi police service out on the beat today, that's why you see the coalition forces out today, that's why you see the ICDC out today, because we will not allow the terrorists to win, we will not be cowed.  We will continue to be on the offensive, to hunt down, to kill or capture these people that are trying their doggonedest to ensure that this country does not turn into a free, democratic, united and sovereign country.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Last question.  Right here, sir.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  You're saying the al Qaeda organization has a hand in these attacks.  What is the identity of the person apprehended in Karbala before he detonated the car bomb?  And what are the final results or what are the final numbers of the dead? We heard there's quite a big number of dangerously wounded people in hospitals.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  First, we never directly attributed these actions to al Qaeda.  They are a strong suspect, probably the prime suspect in facilitating these operations.

 

            Number two, I'm not aware of any car bomb that was detonated as part of these operations.  Suicide bombers in Baghdad, as well in Karbala, as well as some push carts that had some explosives.

 

            With regards to the number of casualties, I specifically decided not to publish any numbers this afternoon because, quite frankly, the numbers have varied so --

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Mr. General -- Mr. General, somebody was arrested before he detonated a car bomb in the governate of Karbala.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I'm not aware of that report.  Can you tell me where that report came from?  We certainly understand that in the governate near Al-Basra that there was a car bomb which had been suspected of being -- a vehicle that was suspected of being a car bomb   that was detonated by the 20th Armored.  But I'm not aware of any other car bomb that was ancillary to these events.

 

            MR. SENOR:  All right, thank you, everybody.

 

            Again, 6:00, Mr. Bahr Uloum.  And then later this evening, at around -- approximately 8:15 p.m. will be Ambassador Bremer.

 

(C) COPYRIGHT 2004, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1919 M ST. NW; SUITE 220; WASHINGTON, DC - 20036, USA.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.  UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.  FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.  NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.  FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.