By voting in a referendum on a draft constitution, the Iraqi people dealt a severe blow to the terrorists. Iraqis, says President George W. Bush, "will decide the future of their country through peaceful elections, not violent insurgency":
"With each step the Iraqi people take, al-Qaida's vision for the region becomes more remote. As Iraqis prepared for this election, the world learned of a letter written by a leading terrorist explaining why Iraq is the central front in their war on civilization."
In that letter, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida's number two leader, told Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, that al-Qaida views Iraq as "the place for the greatest battle of our day." President Bush says that the letter establishes that al-Qaida sees domination over Iraq as "the first step towards their larger goal of Islamic radicalism across the broader Middle East."
The Zawahiri letter demonstrates that "al-Qaida intends to make Iraq a terrorist haven and a staging ground for attacks against other nations." But, says President Bush, "The letter makes equally clear that the terrorists have a problem":
"Their campaign of murder and mayhem is turning the people against them. The letter warns Zarqawi that, 'many of your Muslim admirers amongst the common folk are wondering about your attacks on the Shia'. Even al-Qaida recognizes that with every random bombing and every funeral of a child, the Muslim world sees the terrorists for what they really are: murderers at war with the Iraqi people."
The terrorists in Iraq "are driven by an ideology that exploits Islam to serve a violent political vision: the establishment of a totalitarian empire that denies political and religious freedom," says President Bush. "Simply by coming out to vote, the Iraqi people have shown that they want to live in freedom, and they will not accept a return to tyranny and terror."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.