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8/17/03 - TERRORISTS TARGET IRAQ - 2003-08-18

With the help of the United States and its coalition allies, the Iraqi people are rebuilding a nation badly damaged by decades of Saddam Hussein's repression and corrupt misrule. A democratic Iraq is emerging. Terrorists are trying hard to prevent this. But as President George W. Bush said, the terrorists will fail:

"Coalition forces remain on the offensive against the Baath Party loyalists and foreign terrorists who are trying to prevent order and stability. More and more Iraqis are coming forward with specific information as to the whereabouts of these violent thugs, enabling us to carry out raids to round them up and seize stockpiles of weapons."

Diehards of the Saddam Hussein regime, especially the Saddam Fedayeen militias, are behind many of the terrorist attacks. They want coalition forces out of the way so that they can re-impose a Baathist party tyranny on the Iraqi people. Foreign terrorists linked to al-Qaida are also slipping back into Iraq. They include a Kurdish extremist group called Ansar al-Islam.

Organized in 2001, Ansar al-Islam seeks to impose a Taleban-style regime in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. It shelters and assists al-Qaida terrorists from Afghanistan, Jordan, and Morocco, as well as Palestinians. It has declared so-called "holy war" on Iraqi Kurds who reject its extremist ideology. Ansar al-Islam terrorists have murdered officials of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or P-U-K, and attempted to assassinate P-U-K leader Barham Sali.

Terrorists will have a harder time as Iraqi security improves. New Iraqi military and police forces are being recruited, trained, and equipped. Within two years, forty thousand Iraqi army recruits will have be trained and deployed. Fifty-eight of eighty-nine Iraqi cities have professional police forces. More than thirty thousand Iraqi police officers are now on patrol. More are on the way.

"Iraq is the nexus where many issues are coming together," says P-U-K leader Barham Sali. "Islam versus democracy, the West versus the axis of evil, Arab nationalism versus some different types of political culture." He says a democratic Iraq "will be a monumental blow to everything the terrorists stand for."