Terrorists Join Saddam Allies against U.S. in Iraq Fighting

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 21, 2003 | Go to article overview
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Terrorists Join Saddam Allies against U.S. in Iraq Fighting


Byline: Rowan Scarborough, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The United States declared yesterday that it is now fighting a two-front war in Iraq, one against Saddam Hussein loyalists who target American troops, the other against terrorists who are killing civilians.

"We have a security problem here," L. Paul Bremer III, the top U.S. administrator for Iraq, told CBS yesterday. "The security problem now has got a terrorist dimension, which is new."

Mr. Bremer spoke the day after a massive truck bomb exploded outside the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing at least 21 persons. Two weeks ago, terrorists had used a similar tactic against the Jordanian Embassy.

U.S. officials said the Middle East and Afghanistan have become a battleground between fundamentalist extremists and the United States and its moderate-Muslim allies.

The sources, who asked not to be named, said about 2,000 foreign fighters, some of whom could be considered international terrorists, are in Iraq, with more on the way.

Until now, the terror attacks have been limited to Baghdad and the so-called Sunni Triangle north of the capital. But intelligence reports say Iranian agents are trying to convince the Shi'ites in the south, a relatively peaceful area, to rebel and begin attacking coalition forces.

"You can't cut the flow unless you kill them," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, a military analyst. "Anybody who thinks you can shut down the border doesn't understand the problem."

Mr. Bremer said, "It is a very difficult country to guard the borders. If you look at the map you can see why. They have desert in the south [and] southwest, marshes to the southeast and mountains around the rest of the country."

While terror attacks occur, Saddam loyalists have targeted vital oil and water lines to disrupt the U.S.-led reconstruction and make life for the average Iraqi as difficult as possible. Small bands of guerrillas also are continuing to plant homemade explosives in the path of U.S. military convoys and take potshots with rocket-propelled grenades. The assaults have killed nearly 60 American troops since President Bush declared an end to major combat activity on May. 1.

The United States believes there are about 5,000 to 10,000 of these fighters, many of whom would not resist the U.S.-led coalition if more jobs became available. Leaders from the deposed Ba'ath Party are paying hundreds of dollars to young Iraqis to attack Americans.

The attacks have forced the United States into a simultaneous counterterror, counterguerrilla campaign for which commanders must constantly adjust.

U.S. soldiers early today raided a farmhouse in Abbarah, Iraq, acting on an informer's tip that Saddam was hiding there. Five men were detained, but the deposed dictator was not among them. It was not known immediately whether the tip was false or late. The men in the house were being questioned.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday that Mr.

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Terrorists Join Saddam Allies against U.S. in Iraq Fighting
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