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American Forces Press Service

Coalition Shows Zarqawi Outtakes During Press Event

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, May 4, 2006 Coalition officials here today showed the "outtakes" of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's latest anti-coalition screed, and it became quickly apparent why they ended on the cutting-room floor, so to speak.

In one, Zarqawi -- the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq -- has trouble trying to operate an automatic weapon. An associate has to show him how to do it. Later in the same shot, an associate takes the weapon from Zarqawi by the barrel and burns his hand. In another, the feared terrorist is shown in a black uniform and bright blue "tenny pumps."

Coalition troops found the tape during a raid on a hideout for foreign fighters. "He is far from being a capable military leader," coalition spokesman Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said during a news conference today.

Zarqawi has the most to lose as Iraq forms its national unity government, the general said. Al Qaeda leaders understand that democracy in Iraq means failure for the extremist organization.

Zarqawi's al Qaeda mission is to destabilize any government in Iraq, to drive the coalition from the country, and to impose an extremist government and expand it across the region.

Lynch said the coalition has made good progress against foiling suicide bombings, the most deadly attacks in Iraq. "The suicide attacks are where the innocent men, women and children of Iraq are being killed or severely wounded," the general said.

About 90 percent of those launching suicide attacks are foreigners recruited and outfitted by Zarqawi. "We have planned and launched operations over the past couple of weeks to deny him that capability," Lynch said.

Over the past year, the coalition has cut the number of suicide attacks Zarqawi can launch. First, operations in the Euphrates River Valley disrupted the flow of foreign extremists from Syria, and now intelligence has allowed coalition forces to kill or capture a significant number of foreign fighters.

A year ago, Lynch said, there were on average 75 suicide attacks per month. Today there are less than 25 per month.

Lynch said coalition officials have targeted suicide bombers. "Since April 8, coalition forces have killed 31 foreign fighters," he said. "These are people that Zarqawi brought into Iraq to be suicide bombers who were killed before they could launch their attacks."

Suicide bombers most often come from Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Jordan. Most come into Iraq over the Syrian border. Lynch said that once captured, suicide attackers have often given coalition officials "actionable intelligence."

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