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9/10/03 - AL-QAIDA THREAT TO IRAQ - 2003-09-11

Five months after their liberation from Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq are working with the United States and other countries to build a free and prosperous Iraq. President George W. Bush says that "a collection of killers" is determined to prevent this:

"Some of the attackers are members of the old Saddam regime, who fled the battlefield and now fight in the shadows. Some of the attackers are foreign terrorists who have come to Iraq to pursue their war on America and other free nations. We cannot be certain to what extent these groups work together. We do know they have a common goal -- reclaiming Iraq for tyranny."

The al-Qaida terrorist network makes no secret of its vision for Iraq and the Middle East. In a new book titled "The Future of Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula After the Fall of Baghdad," al-Qaida calls for the imposition of a Taleban-style tyranny in Iraq and the murder of all who oppose it. The book expresses the concern that if Iraqis enjoy freedom and prosperity they might be "reluctant to die in martyrdom" -- in other words, kill themselves in murder missions ordered by fanatical leaders.

In a broadcast carried by Al-Arabiya television, al-Qaida mouthpiece Abd al-Rahman al-Najdi threatened new attacks on Americans in Iraq, the Middle East, and in other countries. The number of foreign terrorists now in Iraq is difficult to determine. Estimates range up to several thousand. More than two hundred have been captured by coalition forces.

Abu Musab Zarqawi, al-Qaida's operations planner, is reported to be in Iraq organizing terrorist attacks. Zarqawi and other al-Qaida leaders including Saif Adel, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, and Osama bin Laden's son, Saad bin Laden, are believed to enjoy safe haven across the border in Iran.

Al-Qaida declares that in Iraq today, "we have a clash of two visions of the world and the future of mankind." But al-Qaida's vision has long since been rejected by the people of Iraq. As President Bush said, “for them, there will be no going back to the days of the dictator.”