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10/6/03 - TERRORISTS IN IRAQ - 2003-10-07

Confronting Saddam Hussein was an essential part of the global war on terrorism. Saddam Hussein’s regime used chemical weapons against Iran and against Iraqi Kurds. Saddam Hussein’s regime had links to terrorists. Now that the regime is gone, the people of Iraq can rebuild their country. Security has yet to be fully established. Terrorists have attacked coalition forces, United Nations personnel, and Iraqis. Some of the attacks are being carried out by remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Paul Bremer, administrator of the coalition’s provisional authority, says other attacks are being conducted by outside terrorists who have infiltrated the country:

“The terrorists fall into two categories. One [is] the Ansar al-Islam, which is an al-Qaida-oriented, linked group that has reconstituted and re-infiltrated after the war and has now got probably several hundred members in Iraq. And they’re a very dangerous terrorist group, and that’s a lot of terrorists. We also have, secondly, foreign terrorists, who are infiltrating in largely through the Syrian border.”

Mr. Bremer says that nineteen al-Qaida terrorists are among the two-hundred-forty-eight foreigners captured after infiltrating Iraq. One-hundred-twenty-three of these foreign terrorists are Syrians. Others are from Iran and Yemen.

Iraqis themselves are beginning to take responsibility for their country’s security. Iraqi police, border guards and civil defense personnel are working alongside coalition forces. And a new Iraqi army is being trained. The recruits in the first battalion have been screened to exclude high-ranking Baath party members or those suspected of participating in the crimes of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The recruits also reflect Iraq’s religious and ethnic diversity. Sixty-percent are Shiites, twenty-five percent Sunnis, ten-percent Iraqi Kurds, and five-percent from other groups.

The terrorists want the coalition to leave before a democratic Iraq emerges. But, says President George W. Bush, “They're mistaken. Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror. This nation [the U.S.] will complete our work, and we will win this essential victory”