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COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING WITH
DANIEL SENOR, SENIOR ADVISOR, COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY, AND
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, COALITION OPERATIONS

LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ

DATE: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2004

MR. SENOR: We're joined this evening by -- General Kimmitt and I are joined this evening by Muslia Al-Khatib, the general secretary of the Iraqi Governing Council. He will have a statement to make and then I will have a statement to read on behalf of Ambassador Bremer. And then the three of us will take three or four questions.

Mr. Al-Khatib.

MR. AL-KHATIB: (Statement in Arabic; no translation provided.)

MR. SENOR: Ambassador Bremer issued the following statement earlier this evening.

"On behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority, I want to express my outrage at today's terrorist bombings in Irbil which constituted a cowardly attack on both innocent human beings as well as on the very principle of democratic pluralism in Iraq. I further wish to express my deepest sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives in today's bombings, as well as to those who were injured.

"We pledge to work with the Iraqi security forces to find, capture and bring to justice those responsible for these horrible acts and those who aided them. We are committed to winning the war on terror. Those responsible for today's attacks are seeking to halt Iraq's progress on the path to sovereignty and democracy.

"As we mourn today's victims, let us resolve to vigorously work to ensure that the terrorists fail and that the people of Iraq succeed in arriving at the better democratic future that is rightfully theirs."

We'll take a few questions. Yes.

Q Jill Carroll with ANSA. Do you have at the moment a reliable count of the dead and wounded? And also, we keep hearing that the (provisional?) governor was killed; various local leaders. Do you know who so far of the leaders have been killed?

GEN. KIMMITT: As of about 45 minutes ago, the report that we had includes 56 killed and approximately 200 wounded. We have the names of many of those that were reported to have been killed. We do have Sami Abdul-Rahman, the KDP deputy prime minister, and his two sons; Medi Koshna (ph), the deputy governor of Irbil; Sa'ad Abdullah (ph), the head of the KDB office in Irbil; Saqalun Abbas (ph), the military commander for the PUK peshmerga; Shuthaq Shara (ph), a PUK official. We understand that Adnan Mufti (ph), the head of the PUK office, is wounded, and his condition at this point is uncertain.

Dexter.

Q (Off mike.)

MR. SENOR: Turn on your mike.

Q I'm just wondering if there were any initial indications for you who you think may have done this. Maybe it was Ansar Islam, maybe the former regime guys. Any ideas at this point?

GEN. KIMMITT: We're not -- we have no group at this point that's claimed responsibility. It could be Ansar al-Islam. It could be al Qaeda. It could be any of a number of foreign terrorist groups operating or attempting to operate inside Iraq.

Q Just on the Ansar question, General, do you have a rough number how many Ansar people you think are in the country?

GEN. KIMMITT: No, we don't.

MR. SENOR: Yes.

Q There was a report on one of the wire stories, I think, that said the bombers or bomber, one of the bombers, had managed to make it through some of the levels of security outside at least one of these buildings. Do you know anything about that?

GEN. KIMMITT: We've heard the same reports as well. We can't confirm it. We do have a team up there that has started the investigation along with Iraqi security services. And that's one of the things we're going to be looking at, because it did -- as we understand, one of the bombs did explode inside the building.

Q Were they carried by individuals?

GEN. KIMMITT: We understand they were carried by individuals.

MR. SENOR: Yes.

Q (Inaudible) -- Associated Press. This is absolutely the first time that a suicide bomber has physically walked in without the aid of a car or anything. Does that signify a different level of terrorism in the country?

GEN. KIMMITT: What we've said is that the terrorists will use many, many different tactics, techniques and procedures. We would expect to see that they will use any attempt to kill coalition soldiers, kill innocent Iraqis. And this is just another manifestation of it.

MR. SENOR: Yes.

Q What do you make of the timing of the incidents? What do you read into the fact that -- I mean, it seems pretty remarkable that they both would happen at the same time and somebody was trying to send a clear signal. What was that signal? What do you think that says?

MR. SENOR: (Inaudible) -- ask the question again and he'll use the translation.

Q The timing of the incidents; both parties, these competing factions, both being hit at the same time. What do you read into the timing of these attacks?

MR. AL-KHATIB: Obviously they choose the symbol. Today is the day of Eid ah-Adha. A lot of Iraqi people are celebrating Eid ah-Adha. And to choose the day of Eid ah-Adha -- you know what the meaning of the Eid ah-Adha is? Eid ah-Adha means the Day of Sacrifice. And these are the sacrifice of the Iraqi people for the future of Iraq, for democracy and freedom and a better Iraq.

Q Further to that point, the fact that both attacks, two attacks on two different facilities, seemed to happen at roughly the same time, what do you read into that? What do you read into the timing? What was the significance of the simultaneity of the attacks?

MR. AL-KHATIB: Well, I read that terrorists, they prepare themselves well and they choose their targets well. And we are to be more aware in the future.

MR. SENOR: Yes.

Q Charles Clipper from the Financial Times. How is this going to affect the political process? And what is the CPA doing to minimize the consequences, the political consequences of this and the big picture?

MR. SENOR: Ambassador Bremer believes that the most important next step forward is to demonstrate resolve and move forward with our continued effort to empower the Iraqi people, both politically and economically, and with the tools to assume their own security responsibility; that empowering the Iraqi people will do more to isolate the terrorists than anything we do.

And so it is important that we're steadfast in moving forward with the political process. There are a number of things. That's one strategy, the dual-track effort.

The other track, of course, is the military strategy, which are the things that General Kimmitt has talked about. Certainly after Saddam Hussein's capture, we have been generating higher-quality intelligence which will assist us in pursuit of the terrorists. We are continuing to build up the Iraqi security forces.

Today there are more Iraqis in security positions than there are Americans guarding Iraq. Those numbers will continue to increase. And that reinforces the first point, which is the better intelligence. The more Iraqis we have working hand in hand with us in the front lines, the more information they provide, because they're more in touch with the culture and the language and the rhythm of daily life in this country. They have a better sense for who's a foreign fighter and who's not.

So we continue to work with the Iraqi security forces and bolstering them. And as I said earlier, we continue to show resilience. We continue to move the political process forward. We are focused like a laser beam on the June 30th handover of sovereignty.

And we've said before that as we move closer and closer to that date, there will be some from outside the country and from within the country that are going to try and undermine that process because the stakes are so high. And one of the ways they'll try to undermine it is to engage in terrorism. And we will seek to defeat it.

Q Would you say -- there was a major bombing yesterday in Mosul. There was an explosion yesterday in Baghdad. There have been several successful attacks on U.S. troops with IEDs in recent weeks. Would you say overall the security situation in Iraq is improving or deteriorating? And maybe explain why.

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, first of all, by one measure the situation is improving, by the number of daily attacks that we have against coalition forces. By another measure, the number of attacks that we see against Iraqi civilians, Iraqi governmental authorities, Iraqi security forces, those numbers are either stable or climbing.

But the real measure is how many people do we have on the ground from the Iraqi security services. The more Iraqi police that we have, the more Iraqis in the new Iraqi army, the more soldiers we have in the Iraqi civil defense corps, the border police, those are the ones that are bringing security to this country and form the foundation for security of this country for the future.

And so, as that measure of success, how many do we have fielded and how many are operational and how many are on the streets every day? By that measure, the security situation is improving tremendously.

MR. SENOR: I would just add -- and maybe Mr. Al-Khatib could speak to this -- the Iraqis understand this. The Iraqis seem to understand the importance of resilience and resolve in moving forward with all that we're doing, in addition to beefing up, bolstering the security forces.

Political leaders have been targeted before. Certainly Iraqi police chiefs and Iraqi policemen have been a target of choice for the terrorists. And yet recruitment for the Iraqi police force increases every single day. The trend is an upward trend.

Every single day we see this evidence, that Iraqis, despite the fact that the police services are being attacked, it does not deter them from wanting to play a role in the security of their country and the police force.

MR. AL-KHATIB: Yesterday 1,200 policemen were graduated in Jordan, and king of Jordan was there to make sure that -- to assure the Iraqi people that he's going to train more and more policemen in Jordan, and with our academies in Irbil and Sulimaniyah and Baghdad. So we are training a lot of policemen, and hopefully we will catch with the deadline.

GEN. KIMMITT: And the synergetic effect of not only having more Iraqis providing security; that's also more Iraqis that are providing us intelligence. Throughout all this, as we are gaining in the number of Iraqi security forces, they provide the intelligence for the coalition to conduct operations. And the coalition remains resolute in our commitment to kill or capture anti-Iraqi or anti-coalition elements. That's not changed.

Q One follow-up, respectfully. Is the measure how many security officers are on the streets or how much violence is occurring in terms of whether --

GEN. KIMMITT: There are a number of measures that we go with. We continue to see -- every day that we are in Iraq, we continue to see progress. We continue to see progress in restoring essential services. We continue to see progress in restoring the infrastructure, the economy. And every day that we are on the streets, working side by side with the Iraqis, we're one day closer to handing over sovereignty of this country to the people of Iraq.

MR. SENOR: Non-politically-motivated violent crime is actually way down, as I'm sure you've seen. The looting and the violence, the just straight criminal violence on the streets, is down. We estimate that in the last two months, violent crime in Baghdad is down almost 40 percent. According to the governor of Basra, crime in Basra is down approximately 70 percent.

If you match that up with the fact that when we arrived here, there were no Iraqi police on the streets, today there are over 60,000 Iraqi police on the streets. Certainly the presence of Iraqi police has had an effect in the decrease of violent crime.

That said, we're dealing also with another form of violence, which is terrorist violence. And we are doing the sorts of things that General Kimmitt has described in order to address that.

We'll take two more. Yes.

Q Apparently, according to reports, some of the bombers were Kurds or looked like Kurds, and so that's how they got in. What is the significance of Kurds being involved in this?

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, again, we're not really at this point prepared to comment, because we don't know all the facts. We've got to do the investigation. We've got to find out exactly what happened up there before we draw any conclusions from this incident.

MR. SENOR: We'll take one more, someone who hasn't asked one.

Q There's been reports of more internecine strife between Kurds and Arabs in Kirkuk area. I was just wondering what effect you think this bombing might have on the tense situation there?

MR. AL-KHATIB: To get bombing by terrorists is something, and people locally -- (inaudible) -- dispute between each other is something else, entirely different ball game we are talking about. I mean, when terrorists attack, everybody in Kirkuk or in Irbil or in Sulimaniyah will be together. But if they have something locally, that's another thing.

MR. SENOR: This was an attack on -- as Mr. Al-Khatib and others have said, this was an attack on all Iraqis, not one particular group of Iraqis.

Last one. Yes, sir, right there.

Q (In Arabic; no translation provided.)

MR. SENOR: I would refer you to the United Nations. I don't want to speak for them, but certainly they seem committed at this point to doing a thorough evaluation, a thorough assessment of the security situation. And they are committed, as they have said, to bringing an electoral team to look at the political process going forward and the viability of direct elections in a very short period of time. And how this incident or any incident affects those plans, I would suggest you contact them.

Thank you.

Q (Inaudible.) It would be very helpful for us and maybe for other broadcasters as well if the general secretary could just give a summary of those opening remarks in reaction to the suicide bombings in English; just a summary of your opening remarks about the suicide bombings in English, if you would.

MR. AL-KHATIB: Actually, it is in the same spirit of the statement of Ambassador Bremer. We are showing our resolve. We are showing that the Iraqi people will not be affected by this. Of course, we are losing our people. But our aims, our targets, our democracy and freedom and our aim to build a new Iraq is not going to be affected by all that.

On the contrary, our resolve will be more strong and we'll be more determined to go all the way to rebuild a new Iraq -- (inaudible) -- after the liberation of Baghdad.

MR. SENOR: Thank you.


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