COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING
BRIEFERS: DANIEL SENOR, CPA SENIOR ADVISER;
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR OPERATIONS;
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
TIME: 10:38 A.M. EST
DATE: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2004
MR. SENOR: Good evening. We are joined this evening by Dr. Hamid Kifa'i, who is
the spokesman for the Iraqi Governing Council. He has an opening statement to
make, then I'll have a few words, and then we will be happy to take your
MR. AL-KIFA'I: (Through interpreter.) Once more the terrorists seek to bring
their -- (inaudible) -- to cause problems to the authority, and once more they
hurt the citizens who joined the army and the police. Yesterday, tens of martyrs
fell in Iskandariyah, and today on the Damascus road have been hurt.
Their goal is to destabilize Iraq, and to keep Iraq occupied, and keep fear in
the hearts of the people. But they will fail in making Iraqis (give up ?) as to
the determination of the Iraqis who want to form a democratic system that
respects people and take Iraqis to the level of developed countries and advanced
countries. They can perhaps inflict terror in the hearts of old men and women
and children, but they will not -- (word inaudible) -- Iraqis; Iraqis all are
moving towards freedom and liberty, and to hell with the evil ones -- for them
to go to hell.
(In English.) I have a statement in English.
The terrorists have resorted once again to targeting ordinary Iraqis trying to
get on with their lives. Yesterday, they murdered 55 gallant Iraqis at
Iskandariyah. Today they spread havoc in Baghdad, killing tens of Iraqis queuing
to process applications to join the new democratic Iraq institutions.
Their aim is clear; destabilize Iraq and impede the transfer of sovereignty to
Iraqis. They want to keep Iraq occupied and kill our hopes of establishing a
democratic system in the country. We say this to them: Let there be no doubt
that we are going ahead with our plans to regain sovereignty and establish
democracy. Our determination to proceed with our plan is undiminished. Our
people are united behind us. The U.N. and all peace-loving people are also with
us. And these acts of cowardice will not succeed.
MR. SENOR: Ambassador Bremer met with several members of the Governing Council
over the past 24 hours as part of the formal briefing of the Zarqawi memo.
During these meetings he also certainly today expressed his condolences and
deepest sympathies to the Iraqis for the past two tragedies that occurred over
the past 24 hours. And he reinforced the message that he's conveyed all along:
that we will stand with the Iraqi people as they face these cowardly terror
About an hour and a half ago, the coalition released -- formally released the
full 17-page Zarqawi memo. This is a blueprint for terror in Iraq. It outlines
very clearly that the blueprint calls for unleashing civil war, provoking one
ethnic group in Iraq against another ethnic group with the hope of tearing the
country apart. It talks about continued attacks against any individual working
with the coalition.
But the document also includes a blueprint for how this terror strategy will
fail. It is very clear it will fail if we continue to ramp up the number of
Iraqis serving in security services. It is very clear that the terrorist
strategy will fail if America continues to show its resolve the coalition has
demonstrated over the past 10 months. And the terrorist strategy will fail if we
hand over sovereignty to the Iraqi people on June 30th as outlined in the
November 15th political agreement.
The fact that that time period is referenced specifically underscores a trend we
have been seeing for some time: that the foreign terrorists coming into this
country, elements associated with al Qaeda, feel threatened by the prospect of a
sovereign, democratic Iraq. And that is all the more reason to continue to forge
ahead in handing over more and more authority to the Iraqi people, to continue
to train more and more Iraqis who are stepping forward to protect their own
The other encouraging detail in this memo is the frustration expressed by Mr.
Zarqawi, the frustration expressed by the fact that there are so few Iraqis
willing to cooperate, willing to sympathize with this terror strategy. He talks
about the number of sympathizers who will bring the terrorists into their homes
as being -- he characterizes them as being as rare as, quote, unquote, "red
sulfur," which we believe is quite telling.
The document is available in Arabic. We have English translations for the key
components, what's sort of the action plan in the document. And we are happy to
take your questions.
Q James Haida (sp) from the Times. Reading this, it seems that they're preparing
a major set of attacks in the run up to the handover of sovereignty. Are you
prepared for the wave of attacks they're talking about?
GEN. KIMMITT: We have predicted that, as we come closer and closer to governance
and as we come closer and closer to handing over sovereignty of this country to
the Iraqi people, there would be a spike in violence. We have been planning for
it, we're prepared for it, and the coalition activities up to this point have
demonstrated the number of attacks that we've prevented from happening. It has
demonstrated that we're fully capable of maintaining a safe and secure
environment in the main -- within the country of Iraq.
MR. SENOR: Just to follow up on that, this memo actually to some degree
validates many of the trends that we have been seeing, and it certainly
validates a lot of what we have saying for some time, which is the greatest
bulwark against a successful terror strategy in this country is the increase of
Iraqis -- increasing the number of Iraqis serving in security services and
handing over governmental authority to the Iraqi people, and we will continue to
do both those things. Clearly, according to Mr. Zarqawi, it is a -- it is one
path to defeating his effort in Iraq.
Q Christopher Dickey with Newsweek. Can you tell us a little bit more about how
this document was found? The New York Times has carried now two versions. One
says the Americans found it directly. William Safire says it was found by the
peshmerga. Who found this thing and how was it found?
GEN. KIMMITT: The important thing is that we have this document in our hands.
How it was found is not as important as the fact that we have it, we've reviewed
it, we understand what it is saying, and we can use it, as Mr. Senor said, to
understand the thought process behind the terrorists, so that we can use that in
future operations to kill or capture those that would create and conduct
anti-coalition and anti-Iraqi operations.
MR. SENOR: Yeah. For operational security reasons, and certainly issues related
to sources and methods and intelligence gathering, we cannot reveal at this time
all the details that were involved in the discovery of the memorandum. But as
General Kimmitt has said, it is important to have the opportunity to climb into
a mind of an individual who is planning, and we believe executing, a major
terror campaign inside Iraq.
Q Paul Martin from Washington Times and the Mirror. Could we ask, first of all,
what evidence there is that Zarqawi himself wrote the document? Is his signature
on the document? How do we know it's Zarqawi, is the first question.
Secondly, you mentioned the date of the 30th of June. What do you expect both
from the IGC side and your own side to change after the 30th of June in terms of
your security threats and responses?
GEN. KIMMITT: To answer the first question: we're satisfied that given the
initial conditions under which we obtained the document, and follow-on
intelligence that has been obtained since we picked up the document, that this
can be traced back to Zarqawi.
MR. SENOR: Mr. Zarqawi says in the memo, to your second, Paul -- Mr. Zarqawi
says in the memo that if the Iraqis assume effective control of their own
government, the terrorists, the al Qaeda elements, will lose their
quote-unquote, "pretext" to wage terror in this country -- and that he says they
will literally have to pack up and go somewhere else, find another battle.
We hope he's right, because that's the path we're on; we are on the path towards
handing over sovereignty and we are on the path towards defeating these
terrorists. The two are inextricably linked. Does that mean that we are going to
let our guard down following June 30th? Absolutely not. We will work side by
side with the Iraqi people, with the Iraqi security services, to ensure that the
situation remains secure following the June 30th hand over. Yes, William?
Q William -- (name inaudible) -- Fox News. Two questions. Number one, two bombs,
two days, 100 dead. Have you seen any reduction in the number of volunteers? And
number two, do you have any immediate plans to change the security arrangements
around these recruiting areas?
MR. SENOR: On the first question, we -- it's a little too early to determine --
24 hours -- it is a little too early to make any conclusions or try to analyze
any trend lines. I will say, our experience in the past, however, when there
have been attacks against Iraqi security services and against Iraqi political
leaders, it has not resulted in a decrease of the number of Iraqis who want to
step forward and play a part. In fact, what we have seen since we've launched
the security services, since we've launched the political process is a gradual
increase in the number of Iraqis stepping forward both to play a role in the
security services and to play a political leadership role in this country. And
that upward trend has never been thrown off by a terror attack.
(To Mr. al-Kifa'i) I don't know if you want to --
MR. AL-KIFA'I: I just want to say that these attacks are really a sign of
desperation by the terrorist groups. They are targeting Iraqi civilians, Iraqi
individuals, and they are killing innocent people. They are desperate, they are
failing, and they will not succeed.
As far as the Zarqawi document, I would like to say something in Arabic to our
Arab journalists here and Iraqi journalists.
(Speaks in Arabic, with English through an interpreter): Iraqis -- (inaudible)
-- not succeed in Iraq. Zarqawi is trying to -- (inaudible) -- Iraq. We have to
have one identity; are we Sunnis, Shi'as, Kurdish -- Kurds or Assyrians. We are
one nation. We are going to work for the democratic system in this country. No
one and no (attempt ?) will succeed to divide us, neither from Saddam Hussein or
from anyone or anyone using terrorism.
GEN. KIMMITT: (Note: The Iraqi translation channel overrides some of General
Kimmitt's words on this response, indicated as "inaudible.") With regard to the
question about force protection, every time that we have (an incident of this
sort ?), we review our force protection measures. The commanders -- (inaudible)
-- the people in charge on the ground have the authority to make (the security
(Inaudible) -- it is important to understand there were very few casualties
taken by the people behind the protective barriers that had been set up at both
Iskandariyah and at -- (inaudible) -- process that we have put into place to try
to harden up some of these sites. For example, yesterday in Iskandariyah, nobody
that was standing behind the (stanchions ?), behind the -- (inaudible word) --
barriers that had been established (was still ?) injured. (Inaudible) -- for the
most part -- (inaudible). But I would suspect that in the wake of both these --
(inaudible) -- in both these incidents, the commanders on the ground and the
people responsible on the ground will review those force protection procedures
-- (inaudible) -- minimize the chance -- (inaudible).
Q Thanks. Larry Kaplow with Cox Newspapers. I'd like to follow up on that point
again more generally. Some of the wounded today said they were very disappointed
that they were made to stand outside the protective barriers and were in the
street where they were vulnerable. And if you look at Assassins Gate, you see
how it now has been fortified to be more protective. If you could respond to
whether the coalition is doing enough to protect people who are coming forward
to volunteer for the coalition and security forces. And more generally, I don't
know if you saw a recent analysis by Kenneth Pollack that came out in January.
He criticized the Army and said that they're spending too much time protecting
the Army and not enough time protecting Iraqis.
Q The second one?
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, with regards to the issue about the people that are standing
outside the barriers, there are some prudent measures that can be taken to try
to reduce the risk of personnel that are queuing up in front of a set of
bastions -- in front of a set of barriers, and I think most of the commanders on
the ground are going to take a look at that for the future.
With regards to the second question, we have a responsibility to provide a safe
and secure environment within the country of Iraq. I don't think that our
commanders necessarily discriminate between those that are wearing uniforms and
those that aren't wearing uniforms, and I think the presence of coalition forces
everywhere in the major cities and throughout the country demonstrates that they
are not simply protecting one group of Iraqi citizens, but understand they have
a responsibility to provide a secure environment for the entire country.
MR. SENOR: Yeah. I would just add terrorism tragically is not limited to attacks
on the Iraqi army or the Iraqi police. Terrorism is not limited to attacks
within Iraq. Terrorism -- there's a worldwide terror war going on right now, and
it's hit everywhere from New York City to Casablanca to Riyadh to Istanbul to
It is -- the terror threat is inherently an asymmetrical war. The terrorists, in
order to promote terror, in order to promote insecurity, they can attempt
attacks over and over and over and over, and they only have to be successful
once in a while for their strategy to work. The protection against terrorism, if
you want to promote perfect, 100 percent security, that strategy has to be
effective 100 percent of the time. And so it's inherently an asymmetrical
battle. It's an asymmetrical fight.
There will be times where they break through. They won't break through every
single time, but they will break through from time to time. They did it today.
They did it yesterday. They've done it in other parts of the world over the --
certainly since 9/11 in multiple occasions. But the important point is to
continue to hunt down those who are organizing or harboring or supporting these
attacks and either capture them or kill them.
When we get information like we got today -- sorry, like we released today,
where you actually have a game plan -- you actually have a blueprint of a terror
strategy -- that is invaluable intelligence that we can use in pursuit of these
individuals. It will help reduce terrorist acts. Will it completely wipe them
out? Probably not. But will it help us reduce them? You bet, as Mr. Zarqawi
Q Gavin Mostrom (ph), CNN. You say that you're expecting a spike in violent
incidents in the lead up to the June 30 handover and that you are taking all the
necessary precautions. If that's the case, why at this very time are we seeing
the military essentially roll back to eight bases, for instance in Baghdad,
while you're expecting this spike to occur?
I've just got a second one, if I could quickly, on the detail in the Zarqawi
letter. He says he claims responsibility for many of the attacks in Iraq, but
not in northern Iraq. In the case of Irbil, what do you think are the theories
on whether that's the case? And if so, what are your other theories about who
might be responsible?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, let me take them backwards. First of all, with the issue of
the attack in Irbil, I think we have seen one group claim responsibility --
Jeddah al-Islam. We believe that that is a splinter group or an umbrella group
for the Ansar al-Islam. So it may well be that Zarqawi was not -- his group was
not responsible for it; it may have been the other group.
With regards to the first question about the coalition forces pulling back from
Baghdad, again, this seems to be misinterpreted time after time after time. The
U.S. and coalition forces are not pulling out of Baghdad. The sum total of the
forces that are providing security inside Baghdad are a combination of the
coalition forces and the Iraqi security forces, the Iraq Civil Defense Corps,
and the Iraqi police and the new Iraqi army, the Iraqi security forces. There is
a net amount of security that is provided by both those organizations.
The intent has been, for a long period of time, to establish and move to a
process called local control; which is as the Iraqis are capable of picking up
the security responsibility themselves, then it is appropriate for the coalition
to reduce their visibility. It's far more effective to have Iraqi security
forces walking the streets of Baghdad than to have coalition forces do that.
But that is not to suggest that the coalition forces are moving a thousand miles
away nor a hundred miles away, they're moving outside to the outskirts of
Baghdad. Much like a fireman -- where they have up to this point been like the
policemen walking up and down the streets, the Iraqi security forces are now
capable of providing that function. The coalition forces will move to the
outskirts of the city, like the firemen. Their response time may increase from
about five minutes to 15 minutes, but they will be inside their bases still
conducting some measure of patrol, but like a good fire department, come out
when necessary. The first responder, the first person on the scene will continue
to be, and appropriately be, the Iraqi security forces. It is their country
moving towards sovereignty and self- sufficiency. But while we're going through
that transition period, the coalition will stand by, ready to help, but
appropriately move to a less visible position, but nonetheless, still providing
the same measure of security. The net effect of security should be the same, and
more appropriately, with an Iraqi flag on the left shoulder rather than a
coalition flag on the left shoulder.
MR. SENOR: Brian, yes?
Q Yeah, on the scene in this country yesterday we encountered something that's
been encountered at all sorts of events around Iraq, where the reality of what's
happened is 100 percent polar opposite from what the perceptions of the people
on the ground are. It spread like wildfire, the belief that the Americans were
behind that. This has happened time and again. We go to an event and it seems
very clear to us and the evidence that you find is that a car bomb or terrorist
attack has happened, but somehow this word just spreads like wildfire around an
area, through the entire city, throughout the entire country.
How do you think this word is getting around? Why do you think it happens? And
why do you think people are so quick to believe that Americans are behind things
MR. AL-KIFA'I: Well, it is irresponsible of some media organizations to feed up
this rubbish to the people. You know, we all know that it was a car bomb. How
can the Americans, you know, fight themselves? How can they fire a missile at a
police station? You know, it is unbelievable -- it's laughable. But we want some
responsibility from the media in the future -- not to just to, you know, spread
all these rumors and untruths, because, you know, the law is going to -- we are
not going to leave this just like that, because any media organization that is
going to continue to spread incitements like these will be prosecuted. There's
no doubt about that, because all these sort of rumors and untruths will cause
problems, will incite violence. We all know it's not true, absolutely not true.
People will not believe it. But some media organizations are behind the spread
of these laughable stories.
I would also to talk about the Zarqawi document that is before us here.
Obviously, Zarqawi is betting on Iraqis fighting each other. But this is not
going to happen. Iraqis are one nation, be they Sunnis, Shi'a, Kurds, Turkmens
-- (word inaudible) -- Assyrians, we are all one nation. We are not going to
fall for these, you know, very pathetic arguments of Zarqawi. They have tried it
on Mohammed Bakir al-Hakim, he was killed. But nobody accused -- no sect accused
the other. In fact, people of Iraq were united when a Shi'a leader was
So to really bet on the Shi'a and Sunnis, Kurds and Arabs fighting each other is
not going to happen, it's not going to happen, because we are one nation; we
have never fought each other. We are united more than ever to establish a
democratic system in Iraq. All the Iraqi political forces are united in moving
forward and in applying the 15th of November agreement. So all this talk of
civil strife is not going to happen. And the terrorists will be disappointed.
Q With all due respect, sir, may I just follow up on that? The people on the
scene who believe this came in no contact with any media. I mean, we're talking
about, you know, right after the incident and this is before anybody could have
gone home and watched a television or picked up a newspaper, before any of us
really had a chance to really report it.
How is the information traveling around? Where are people getting their
information in Iraq? And why do you think that people are so quick to believe
one person in a crowd who whispers to them, the American did this? And then it
just spreads across the country like wildfire. What's behind this?
MR. AL-KIFA'I: Well, the people I meet do not believe all this. I have heard
some media organizations spreading these stories. But the people I meet, Iraqis,
know it's not the Americans, because Americans are our friends and allies.
They're not going to do it. It would be against their interests to do it. It's
only the terrorists who go and kill innocent people. So ordinary Iraqis do not
believe these stories, but obviously there are those who have less knowledge who
might fall for stories like this. But in the end, the media will be responsible.
If they incite violence, they will be prosecuted.
GEN. KIMMITT: Brian, one other reason for that might be because this is a
country that for 35 years did not allow free speech, did not allow a free press,
did not permit the people to know the truth. In fact, what we have seen is it
takes time for people to understand what a free press is capable of. It takes
time for people in this country to learn to trust the people we have in the
front row here. And it will take some time before rather than jumping to
conclusions and jumping to wild assertions and assumptions, that perhaps the
best way to find out what actually happened is to depend on a free press -- go
look at the television, go read the newspapers, depend on the journalists such
as we have in the front rows here who can be relied upon to give the truth of
what actually happened on the ground.
MR. SENOR: Tom, you had your hand up.
Q Tom Lassiter, Knight Ridder. I was wondering if you could speak some about the
terrorist network as you understand it and specifically as you could speak about
it in Iraq. You know, we have these different events -- are these the results
of, you know, one person slips over the border, does it; or is there a
preexisting network of safe houses, that sort of thing? And I'm asking
specifically about Ansar, whether or not it has, you know, come back in the
country, gone south and set up a network.
My second question would be, at times after these events, it sounds like al
Qaeda and Ansar, that these two organizations are, you know, their names are
used almost interchangeably. And I was wondering if you could make the
distinction there. Thanks.
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, with regards to the first issue about are they slipping over
across the border or is there some level of presence: we have stated from this
podium that we believe that al Qaeda is in this country and we've known for
quite a while that Ansar al-Islam is in this country as well. These types of
attacks can't happen without some level of support base -- some level of
logistical support within the country. The size, the character, the location, of
course -- that is something that our intelligence analysts are working every day
to find out.
With regards to your second question about using AI and AQ interchangeably,
there are subtle differences between what we believe to be the motivations of
each of those groups. Now, their larger objectives may be very similar in many
cases, but there are some distinctions between the two that we probably won't
want to talk about here. But there are ways to identify by types of methods, by
motivations, by targets, whether it might be an AQ-type target or an AI-type
Q If -- if I could, how -- how far through the country do you believe that Ansar
specifically has spread?
GEN. KIMMITT: No, I don't think we want to talk about that in here.
MR. SENOR: I'd just add, when you look at incidents like the terror attacks of
the past 24 hours and you read a document like this, you can't help but wonder
whether or not Mr. Zarqawi and his associates have their fingerprints all over
these sorts of attacks. It is precisely these kinds of attacks that he talks
about in his memo. It's precisely his frustration with the individuals that are
being killed today and yesterday that he talks about in his memo. He's
frustrated with the ramp-up of Iraqi security services. He talks about the need
to kill these Iraqis who are stepping forward and cooperating and playing a role
in the security of their own country. And today and yesterday these sorts of
Q Shu Beqtu (sp) from NHK TV. I'd like to address my question to Dr. Hamid and
to you, Mr. Senor. Apparently you agree to the fact that when the occupation
ends the terrorists will lose the pretext to fight against. In the other hand,
do you acknowledge that, by the fact that this occupation is here, the Iraqi
people are in more danger?
MR. AL-KIFA'I: No, I don't think so, because the terrorists are going -- you
know, they plant bombs in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, in the United States, in
Africa. It's not the occupation. The occupation is going to end. We have an
agreement with the Americans. And by the 30th of June we'll have our sovereignty
back. And so, the terrorists, who are mostly foreigners, have nothing to do with
the sovereignty. It's in their interest the occupation continues. So it is
really not because of the occupation, it is because they want to spread havoc,
they are anti-human, they are anti-democratic, and they just want to, you know,
destabilize our country. It has nothing to do with the occupation, and they go
around spreading havoc, not only in Iraq, in other countries. It is an
international problem that has got to be solved on an international basis.
Q So -- (off mike) -- how can you say that if the occupation ends there could be
more security --
GEN. KIMMITT: Okay, we need to put on your microphone.
Q So I don't -- I'm puzzled. How can you say on one hand that if the occupation
ends there could be more security in this country; on the other hand, if the
terrorists have nothing to do with the reason --
MR. AL-KIFA'I: You see --
Q -- (inaudible) -- the occupation?
MR. AL-KIFA'I: You see, the terrorists have attacked Iraqis, ordinary Iraqis.
And yesterday and today, only Iraqis died. So they are against Iraqi
individuals, Iraqi civilians. It's nothing to do with the occupation.
You know, Iraqis are capable, quite capable of dealing with the occupation,
dealing with the Americans. We have had a dialogue with the Americans over the
last year or so. So we don't want advice from across the borders. We don't want
Mr. Zarqawi's advice. We are quite capable of dealing with our country's
affairs. We are going to deal with them. They are not going to succeed, because
killing innocent people is not going to solve any problem.
MR. SENOR: I would just add you really should read this document closely. He
answers your question -- Mr. Zarqawi answers your question. He says that we have
a plan, and our plan is working. And one of the reasons it's working for us is
because it is defeating the ability for the terrorists to operate in this
We have a plan to build up a modern, effective, sovereign democratic government
in this country. We are on the path to doing it, with the deadline of June 30th.
He references that time, and he references the plan. And as we move forward in
this plan, as we move forward in handing over governmental authority to the
Iraqi people, as we move forward in handing over sovereignty, it makes it
increasingly difficult for the terrorists to operate, and it makes it
increasingly unlikely that any Iraqis will be left in this country who support
Q Yeah, so by the fact that you occupy this country, do you acknowledge that you
put the people more in danger?
MR. SENOR: We are -- what we are doing is handing over sovereignty to the Iraqi
people. Every day we're handing over more and more governmental authority to the
Iraqi people. The Iraqi people have more authority over their daily lives today
than they did nine months ago, and they'll have more authority over their daily
lives six months from now.
Q Don Teague with NBC News. Despite the fact the author says this isn't a call
to arms, the document certainly reads like one. And I'm curious if you're
concerned that releasing this to the world will have the opposite effect of
bringing more people from outside the country in, exposing them to this message.
GEN. KIMMITT: No, we believe that by handing this document out to everybody in
Iraq and everybody in the world, the plans of the terrorists are laid out for
everyone to see. What they need to understand is that when everybody in Iraq,
both coalition and Iraqi citizens, read this document, they'll fully understand
what the terrorists are up to.
The greatest concern that the terrorists should have and do have is that you
have a united front against terrorism here in the country of Iraq. If you can't
give them the support base and you won't give them the support base, they cannot
operate in this country. If every Iraqi citizen recognizes that these people
that are coming into their towns looking for help, claiming to be fellow Muslims
here to help them out, are -- in fact have a terrorist intent, they will turn
those people in, over to the Iraqi security services, over to the coalition
forces. And it will be a very clear sign to the terrorists that this is a
country and that this is a coalition that is united, working together to keep
terrorism out of this country. That's why we believe it's important to give this
document out for everybody to see how false the promises are of the terrorists.
MR. SENOR: I would just add, by maximizing exposure of this document, more and
more Iraqis will be aware of what the terrorists' strategy is in Iraq, and it
will be that much easier for them to play a role in helping to defeat that
Yes? In the back, right there.
Q Hi. Jeff -- (last name inaudible) -- The New York Times. Is there evidence
that these two latest attacks were organized by Zarqawi?
GEN. KIMMITT: We don't have conclusive evidence from today. We have some
preliminary evidence from yesterday. And I would just say that al Qaeda
fingerprints are all over the Iskandariyah bombing.
MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name inaudible.) My question is to Mr. Hamid al-Kifa'i.
A great number of Iraqi parties they said that the security issue should be left
to Iraqis. And this is what Zarqawi is saying, that Iraqi security will be more
respected and to deal with terrorists. Is it an error that -- the delay for
providing that the Iraqis --
MR. AL-KIFA'I: (Through interpreter.) The Governing Council from the beginning
stated that giving security to the Iraqis is a solution to stability and to Iraq
security. This did not occur because there are obstacles. The fact that there is
a lack of police forces and security forces for nine months until now. We are
building these systems now. The number of police forces is increasing
continuously, and their equipment and systems are moving upward and their
abilities are moving upward.
Now the Iraqi police are coordinating with the coalition forces. And if you
follow up the Iraqi press, you find out that the number of terrorist attacks
that were stopped by the police forces or prevented by the police forces before
they happened, a great number.
Yes, there are difficulties. Yes, there is a lack of certain security. That is
because of some terrorist attacks by non-Iraqis. We know that suicidal attacks
are not part of the culture of Iraqis and that Iraqis have no relations to do
Security -- in spite of all the problems that happened in the last two days, the
security situation is improving constantly. The evidence of this is that
terrorists are moving toward gatherings, civil gatherings. In Irbil, they
utilized the Eid ul-Adha event to kill innocent people, and yesterday and today
they used an opportunity to target civilian groups. That's because they have
given up to be able to do any effort that has military value. The work is
improving and the coordination between the coalition and Iraqi security forces.
Police forces are moving fast and they have plans to deal with the security
situation and to follow on to the terrorists.
MR. SENOR: I would just add, too, violent crime, actually street crime, looting
crime is down in Iraq. Actually, the decline coincides with the ramping up of
the Iraqi police force. We have recruited and trained or are in the process of
training over 70,000 Iraqi police officers. When Ambassador Bremer arrived here
in the spring, there was not one single Iraqi police officer on the street.
Today we have over 70,000 in service, and certainly it's not coincidental that
in the last two months we've seen a 39 percent decline in the crime rate in
Baghdad. The governor of Basra tells us that they have experienced a 70 percent
decline in the crime rate there.
We still have other major problems: terrorist violence, which is the sort of
violence we experienced over here in the last 24 hours; the violence organized
by elements of the former regime. But General Kimmitt and his colleague are busy
hunting down these remnants of the former regime. They've hunted down the
overwhelming majority of the deck of cards.
Now, sometimes new cards emerge, like Mr. Zarqawi. Call him the wild card. So
now there's a wild card or the al Qaeda card or whatever you may want to call
him. He now emerges, and he has laid out a blueprint for terror in Iraq, and so
we have to hunt him down. And as we continue to pursue these individuals, as we
continue to ramp up Iraqi security forces, as we continue to hand over authority
to the Iraqi people, you will see the description that he uses for the number of
Iraqis that are willing to cooperate with his efforts, that they're as rare as
red sulfur, you will see his description continue to be illustrative of the
situation he is finding in terms of the support he can garner in this country
for his efforts.
We have time for two more questions. Rajiv?
Q What connections, if any, do you folks currently believe exist between Zarqawi
and members of the former Ba'athist government? It's interesting to note here
that in the translated copies there isn't much reference to any of that. And
just wondering, you know, what you believe any of the current connections are;
we don't need to go into the stuff in the past.
And secondly, just getting back to the decisions on releasing this, one point
you made was to sort of deprive them of any support, but at the same time, this
document says that -- you know, that the people who support them are as rare as
red sulfur. So what do you want Iraqis to do, from reading this? What can they
do in response to this? Is this more just sort of an effort to get them to sort
of tolerate what's been happening here?
GEN. KIMMITT: On the first question, we have not seen significant evidence
suggesting that there is a linkage between the former regime elements and the
With regard to your second point, about what can be done, I think that that
answer is quite simple. We've got to understand, and everybody in this country
has got to understand that the best way to fight the terrorism is in a united
front, with everybody vigilant towards the terrorist activities, with a trust
that is gained -- a trust and confidence between the Iraqi people, the
coalition, the Iraqi police services, the Iraqi security services, so that
everybody stays vigilant towards anything that seems unusual in their
neighborhoods, anything that seems unusual around their houses.
We run operations based on actionable intelligence. Intelligence is the coin of
the realm in terms of our precision operations. The more intelligence we get,
the more intelligence we derive from any number of sources -- coalition sources
and Iraqi sources -- we take that intelligence and we turn it into operations,
those operations which go out to kill or capture people like Zarqawi and the
terrorists that you see out creating this kind of damage.
The more intelligence that we can get from the people of Iraq, the more
intelligence we can get from our own forces, the more intelligence we can get
from the Iraqi security forces, the more that can translate into improvement. So
that's what the people of Iraq can do, which is continue to trust, continue to
confide in the coalition forces and their own security services to provide us
that information so that we can turn that information into action and we can
turn that action into a more secure environment for the people of Iraq.
MR. SENOR: One more. Dexter, yes?
Q Just getting back to the former regime guys, are you saying basically you've
neutralized them? I mean, you've got most of the "deck of cards." Are they no
longer a factor in this?
GEN. KIMMITT: They certainly are a factor, Dexter. The fact remains, is when you
see the three S's -- suicide, spectacular, and symbolic, those types of attacks
-- one has a tendency to take a look at the foreign fighters. But the fact
remains is while we see a lot of these large spectacular attacks, we still see a
number of smaller attacks going on on a day-by-day basis, whether they're small
roadside explosives, whether they're small-arms attacks by a few fighters out
We don't believe that at this point we have completely eliminated the FRE
threat. We've seen in many areas, such as the 4th ID area, where the great work
that's done by the 4th Infantry Division soldiers has reduced the problems that
have been ascribed to the former regime elements in cities such as Samarra and
Baqubah. But to suggest that we have eliminated this threat, that's certainly
not the case.
MR. SENOR: Thanks, everybody.