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10/23/04 - ZARQAWI TERRORIST THREAT - 2004-10-25

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his terrorist group Jama'at al-Tawid wa'al-Jihad have reportedly declared allegiance to al-Qaida terrorist chief, Osama bin Laden. Jam'at al-Tawid issued a statement on its internet web site acknowledging ties between the terrorist groups. "The al-Qaida leadership understood our strategy in Iraq," the statement said.

Iraq's Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says terrorists understand that a transition to democracy in Iraq "will be an enormous blow for terrorists worldwide":

"Today we face a concentrated campaign by terrorists and by the enemies of all the values which we hold dear, a campaign to shake our resolve, and to prevent Iraq and Iraqis from gaining the freedom and democracy which we have dreamed of for more than the last thirty years."

U.S. officials have called attention to the close links between Zarqawi and al-Qaida. "This underscores once again why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror," said White House spokesman Trent Duffy. "It's also proof positive," he said, "of why the President's firm resolve to fight terrorists overseas, so we don't face them in America's neighborhoods, is the only clear way to prevail."

Zarqawi's terrorist group claims responsibility for a series of kidnappings and brutal murders in Iraq. Victims include American businessman Nicholas Berg and South Korean Kim Sun-il. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the U.S. is determined to bring Zarqawi to justice:

"This man is a wanted terrorist. He's a horrible criminal. He's appeared on videotapes beheading people. He's been responsible for the murders of many Iraqis and many Americans and many others."

Mr. Boucher says the aim of Jama'at al-Tawhid terrorists "is to foment civil war" and "hold back the progress of the Iraqi people."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Iraq and its allies are fighting insurgents and terrorists "who want to go back to the past, who want to go back to extermination pits," and who "want to go back to tyranny." Terrorists, said Mr. Powell, "will be dealt with."