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Bush On Al-Qaida In Iraq

President George W. Bush says that the al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist group is a "full member" of the al-Qaida terrorist network headed by Osama bin Laden. Mr. Bush says that while the leaders of the al-Qaida network have had tactical disagreements with the leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq, bin Laden and his deputies provide "strategic guidance to their Iraqi operatives":

"Our intelligence community reports that al-Qaida's senior leaders generally defer to their Iraqi-based commanders when it comes to internal operations, because distance and security concerns preclude day-to-day command authority. Our intelligence community concludes that -- quote -- 'Al-Qaida and its regional node in Iraq are united in their overarching strategy.' And they say that al-Qaida senior leaders and their operatives in Iraq -- quote -- 'see al-Qaida in Iraq as part of al-Qaida's decentralized chain of command, not as a separate group'."

Foreign citizens dominate the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq and make most of the terrorist group's operational decisions, says President Bush. In addition, he says, between eighty and ninety percent of suicide attacks in Iraq are carried out by foreign-born al-Qaida terrorists:

"The al-Qaida terrorists now blowing themselves up in Iraq are dedicated extremists who have made killing the innocent the calling of their lives. They are part of a network that has murdered men, women, and children in London and Madrid; slaughtered fellow Muslims in Istanbul and Casablanca, Riyadh, Jakarta, and elsewhere around the world. If we were not fighting these al-Qaida extremists and terrorists in Iraq, they would not be leading productive lives of service and charity. Most would be trying to kill Americans and other civilians elsewhere -- in Afghanistan, or other foreign capitals, or on the streets of our own cities."

Al-Qaida, says President Bush, wants to bring down Iraq's democracy so it can use Iraq as a terrorist safe haven. The United States, he says, is standing with the nearly twelve million Iraqis who voted for a future of peace, and is doing so both for the sake of Iraq's security and for the safety of American citizens.