09 February 2004
Memo on Terrorists' Strategy in Iraq "Revealing," Powell
Intercepted document seeks external help in fomenting violence
By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Security Affairs Writer
Washington -- Secretary of State Colin Powell has described a
memo recently intercepted in Iraq as "very revealing" of
the strategy of terrorists in trying to undercut coalition efforts
During a February 9 press availability in Washington with the
Dutch foreign affairs minister, Powell said the memo, first revealed
in the New York Times, indicates that the terrorists in Iraq "haven't
It shows they are trying to get more terrorists into the country,
he said, and create additional terrorist organizations in order
to defeat the mission to turn sovereignty over to the Iraq people
in June. "But they will not succeed," Powell declared.
During a February 9 press conference in Baghdad, the U.S. military
official in charge of coalition ground forces in Iraq said the
document, which seeks external help in fomenting sectarian violence,
was intercepted in the hands of a courier inside Iraq who planned
to take it to alleged al-Qaeda operatives outside the country.
U.S. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director for coalition
forces, told reporters the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)
takes seriously the threat of outsiders trying to spark a civil
war in Iraq as called for in the 17-page memo.
Kimmitt said those who have read the translated memo are convinced
that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is its author. Al-Zarqawi is a Jordanian
thought to be in Iraq but suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda
forces outside the country. The U.S. is offering a $5 million reward
for his capture.
CPA spokesman Dan Senor told reporters at the same press conference
that the memo underlines the fact that "the terrorists understand
the stakes in Iraq" and that their failure to defeat the coalition
in Iraq "will be a major setback for their overall terror
war." It also reveals that the terrorists are under increasing
pressure as a result of the buildup of indigenous Iraqi security
forces, now numbering over 150,000.
Many of the questions that Kimmitt and Senor answered were prompted
by the front page February 9 New York Times article headlined "U.S.
Says Files Seek Qaeda Aid in Iraq Conflict." The article says
the memo suggests that it is becoming increasingly difficult to
find supporters in Iraq to oppose the coalition but takes credit
for some 25 recent attacks -- all of which Kimmitt says have the
fingerprints of al-Qaeda and foreign fighters.
"What is clear to us is that this author takes great pride
in the fact that he has carried out small, individual, spectacular
types of attacks [but] that they haven't had the effect that he
wanted, which is to destroy coalition resolve, prevent the stand
up of an effective Iraqi security apparatus, and prevent the uniting
of Iraq: north, south and center. He is disappointed...in his lack
of success," Kimmitt said.
The memo also reflects the author's concern about Iraqis providing
useful intelligence information to the coalition. He has reason
to be concerned, Kimmitt said, "because the amount of intelligence
that we're getting from the average Iraqi on the street is getting
greater...every day as they continue to renounce any kind of terrorist
presence inside this country." The coalition is determined
to pursue intelligence that will bring foreign fighters to justice,
Senor said the strategy of the terrorists appears to be to promote "sectarian
warfare in an effort to provoke bloodshed and tear this country
apart." They are also fixated on the looming June 30 deadline
for the CPA to hand over sovereignty, he said, "because they
recognize that as we politically empower the Iraqi people" they
will be isolated and it will be more difficult for them to operate.
The memo, uncovered in a raid in Baghdad in January, was in the
hands of an unidentified courier who was said to be taking it to
Afghanistan. Kimmitt said efforts are under way to try to declassify