02 March 2004
Latest Bombings in Iraq Follow Terrorist Zarqawi's Script
Coalition Provisional Authority briefing, March 2
The execution of two nearly simultaneous suicide bombings in the
Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Karbala March 2 during Shia Islam's
Ashura holy days point to terrorist Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi as a "chief
suspect," a U.S. spokesman says.
Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of coalition operations
for the Combined Joint Task Force 7, in a press briefing with Coalition
Provisional Authority Adviser Daniel Senor, said "certainly
one of the chief suspects in this would be Zarqawi, just by the
methods ... [and] the techniques that have been used in the past:
... suicidal, spectacular, [and] symbolic." At least 143 were
killed in the attacks, with 430 or more wounded, Kimmitt said.
The Baghdad attacks occurred at the al-Kadhimiya mosque.
Senor said that in talking with members of the Iraqi Governing
Council (IGC) about the attacks in relation to a Zarqawi letter
about terrorist strategies, "two items in the letter ... jumped
out at them, which led them to believe that Mr. Zarqawi or affiliates
of Mr. Zarqawi or individuals of his ilk may have been involved
First, Senor said, is Zarqawi's "detailed strategy for provoking
sectarian warfare, ethnic warfare in this country." Secondly,
Senor said, "Zarqawi specifically references that the greatest
threat to al-Qaeda, its affiliates, [and] foreign terrorists coming
into this country is the path to Iraqi democracy." As Iraq
moves closer to democracy, Senor said, the Zarqawi letter says
the terrorists will lose their pretext and excuse to perpetrate
"And certainly when you have events like we've had over the
past few days, where the Iraqis take an enormous step forward in
their path towards a sovereign democracy, which is the drafting
and finalization of ... the interim constitution that will govern
affairs for them in a democracy -- that's a significant step forward,
and certainly the kind of event and the kind of progress that the
terrorists would seek to derail," Senor said.
"[Y]ou cannot ignore the significance of [Zarqawi's] letter
when you consider how clearly it lays out a plan and then you see
that plan being executed, and when we, at the same time, believe
in the authenticity of the letter and believe that its author is
Mr. Zarqawi," Senor said.
Since a three-day period of mourning has been declared in the
wake of the suicide bombings, Senor was asked whether the ceremony
planned for March 3 to sign the interim constitution would be delayed.
He said "the Governing Council has made no formal plans, as
a collective, to change tomorrow's [March 3] event. ... They have
indicated to me that they will make an announcement tomorrow [March
3] as for the plans for the signing ceremony."
In spite of these latest attacks Senor said, "the process
for handing sovereignty over to the Iraqi people is still on schedule.
... Implementation of that process, ... will not be delayed."