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Press briefing with Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, spokesman, Multi-National Force - Iraq, July 2, 2007

Multi-National Force-Iraq

Briefing Slides [PDF]


GEN. BERGNER:  As the surge of forces has become a surge in operations, we are increasing the pressure on extremists, and we're doing that by applying more force in Baghdad and in the belt surrounding the city simultaneously.

  Our operations are focused most importantly on al Qaeda and al Qaeda affiliates.  Three days ago, coalition forces killed another significant al Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu 'Abd al-Rahman al-Masri.  He was an al Qaeda senior leader who had worked directly for Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the al Qaeda leader of Iraq.  He had facilitated communications throughout the region and had a long history in al Qaeda.

In the past few weeks, there have also been a number of other key al Qaeda in Iraq associates captured or killed by coalition forces.    These included Khalid and Khalil al-Turki, two senior al Qaeda in Iraq associates who ran a foreign fighter network.

In the north, Iraqi army and coalition forces continue successful operations in Mosul.  The graphic behind me represents just some of the recent results.  Kamal Jalil Bakr 'Uthman, also known as Said Hamza, was the al Qaeda in Iraq military emir of Mosul.  He planned, coordinated and facilitated suicide bombings, and he facilitated the movement of more than a hundred foreign fighters through safe houses in the area.

Aman Ahmad Taha Khazam al-Juhayshi was emir of Ansar al-Sunna in Mosul and has been involved with Ansar al-Sunna since 2003.  He had fled to Syria in 2005 to avoid capture by the coalition forces.  He returned to Iraq in January.

The Mosul terrorist network's leadership, as well as their facilitators and operational cell leaders, have been disrupted due to the teamwork of Iraqi and coalition forces.

I want to shift now to talk about another front of our efforts, which is in Diyala province.  We have now begun to assist the government of Iraq and the provincial government in storing -- in restoring the public distribution system, so that food deliveries can resume for the people of Baqubah.  The first shipment of 72 trucks arrived over the weekend and is coupled with other humanitarian assistance efforts to restore medical support and other services that have -- hijacked by extremists.

We are also operating against other extremist elements which are known as secret cells or special groups, who are destabilizing the security situation in Iraq.  These special groups are militia extremists funded, trained and armed by external sources, specifically, by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force operatives.  This morning and the rest of our weekly operational update will focus on coalition and Iraqi operations against these special groups, their support from Iranian Qods Force operatives and the involvement of other extremist organizations.

    The special groups have evolved over the past three years into what are largely rogue elements that use a cellular structure to operate independently.  Their cellular structure and interactions create a complex web of relationships, which have increasingly been fueled by external influences.  In the past few months, since the surge of forces began, Iraqi and coalition forces have conducted a range of operations against these special groups.  This chart shows 21 of the higher-level operatives that have been taken off the streets of Iraq since February of this year.  The majority are in detention. Three were killed when they took hostile action against coalition forces.

As you can see, they operated throughout Iraq.  They played key roles in the planning and execution of bombings, kidnappings, extortion, sectarian murders, illegal arms trafficking and other attacks against the Iraqi people, the police, the Iraqi army and coalition forces.  They also moved money into and around Iraq to fund their operations.

I want to point out just a few of these individuals for you, some of which we have with their pictures on this chart.

First, Abu Yaser al-Shibani (ph), who was captured on the 20th of April, is the brother of Abu Mustafa al-Shibani (ph), the leader of the Shibani (ph) explosively formed penetrator network.  Abu Shibani (ph) was the deputy, the key logistician and financier for this group in Iraq.

Abu Zaqi (ph) was captured in eastern Baghdad and was a key member of the Khazali Network, which was involved in attacks on the coalition forces.

Abu Zawah (ph) was a tactical planner for one of the special groups' operational cells.

Abu Musah (ph), prior to his capture, was a key conduit for mortars, explosively formed penetrators and IEDs to the special groups around Baghdad.

Azar Dalami (ph) was killed on the 19th of May and was a special groups commander.  He led the execution of the 20 January attack on the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala that killed five soldiers.  At the bottom of this chart are two men who had a particularly important leadership role and working relationship with external sources -- Ali Musa Daqduq and Kais Kazali.  Ali Musa Daqduq was captured in southern Iraq by coalition forces on March 20th of this year.  He was captured with false identity cards using a variety of aliases.  He initially claimed to be a deaf mute and contended that his real name was Hamad Mohamed Jabarah Alami (ph).  In fact, he is Lebanese-born and has served for the past 24 years in Lebanese Hezbollah.  He was in Iraq working as a surrogate for Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force operatives involved with special groups.

Here's what we learned about Ali Musa Daqduq:  He joined the Lebanese Hezbollah in 1983.

He served in numerous leadership positions.  He commanded a Hezbollah special operations unit.  He coordinated protection of Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.  And he led Hezbollah operations in large areas of Lebanon.

In 2005, he was directed by senior Lebanese Hezbollah leadership to go to Iran and work with the Qods Force to train Iraqi extremists. In May of 2006, he traveled to Tehran with Yusef Hashim (sp), a fellow Lebanese Hezbollah and head of their operations in Iraq.  There they met with the commander and the deputy commander of the Iranian Qods Force special external operations.  He was directed by Iranian Qods Force to make trips in and out of Iraq and report on the training and operations of the Iraqi special groups.

  In the year prior to his capture, Ali Musa Daqduq made four such trips to Iraq.  He monitored and reported on the training and arming of special groups in mortars and rockets, manufacturing and employment of improvised explosive devices, and kidnapping operations.  Most significantly, he was tasked to organize the special groups in ways that mirrored how Hezbollah was organized in Lebanon.

  He also helped Qods force in training Iraqis inside Iran.  Qods Force, along with Hezbollah instructors, train approximately 20 to 60 Iraqis at a time, sending them back to Iraq organized into these special groups.  They are being taught how to use EFPs, mortars, rockets, as well as intelligence, sniper and kidnapping operations.

In addition to training, the Qods Force also supplies the special groups with weapons and funding of 750,000 to 3 million U.S. dollars a month.  Without this support, these special groups would be hard pressed to conduct their operations in Iraq.

  When Ali Musa Daqduq was captured, he also had detailed documents that discussed tactics to attack Iraqi and coalition forces.  An example is shown on the screen behind me.  The document instructs the special groups on techniques to attack a convoy, where to fire the rockets and machine guns, which vehicles to engage, and how to coordinate the attack.

He also had a personal journal that shows his involvement with extremist operations in Iraq.  There are two sections from the diary that give you a sense of his operations.  First, he notes meeting with some special group extremists and their description of a failed attack on a British officer in southern Iraq.  Incidentally, the diary notes    that the attack failed when Iraqi soldiers intervened.  His diary also notes meeting with special group members who were targeting other Iraqis and coalition forces in the Diyala province using IEDs as well as small arms fire.

    Let me now turn to the second individual, Qais Khazali, who was captured with his brother Laith and Ali Musa Daqduq.  Qais Khazali was in charge of special groups throughout Iraq since June of 2006, and his brother Laith was a member of the special groups network.  Both men are Iraqis and their pictures are shown here.  Here is some of what we now know about Qais Khazali and his work with Iranian Qods Force operatives.

The Qods Force goal was to develop the Iraqi special groups into a network similar to the Lebanese Hezbollah.  Special groups would be unable to conduct their terrorist attacks in Iraq without Iranian- supplied weapons and other support.  Like Ali Musa Daqduq, Qais' main contact was Hadji Youssef, the deputy commander for Qods Force Department of External Special Operations.  Funding and training of the special groups started in 2004.  The Qods Force supplies special groups with EFPs, machine guns, rockets, sniper rifles, rocket- propelled grenades and IEDs.

Iraqi special groups are trained in one of three training camps inside Iran and are operated by the Qods Force and supported by Lebanese Hezbollah operatives.  When Qais was captured, we found an in-depth planning and lessons learned document.  It was about the attack the special groups coordinated against the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center on January 20th.  This 22-page document provides a unique window into the planning and execution of special group operations here in Iraq.

It's important to point out that both Ali Musa Daqduq and Qais Khazali state that senior leadership within the Qods Force knew of and supported planning for the eventual Karbala attack that killed five coalition soldiers.  Ali Musa Daqduq contends that the Iraqi special groups could not have conducted this complex operation without the support and direction of the Qods Force.  Daqduq and Khazali both confirm that Qais Khazali authorized the operation, and Azhar al- Dulaimi, who we killed in an operation earlier this year, executed the operation.

The document that we captured showed the following.  It showed that the group that attacked the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala had conducted extensive preparation and drills prior to the attack.  Qods Force had developed detailed information regarding our soldiers' activities, shift changes and fences, and this information was shared with the attackers.  They had American-looking uniforms, vehicles and identification cards that enabled the attackers to more    easily penetrate the Provincial Joint Coordination Center and achieve surprise.  (Inaudible) -- reported that the captured soldiers were killed when the attackers' dispersal from the site was interrupted.

       Finally when we captured Qais, we also recovered 11 separate documents that recorded attacks against coalition forces, attacks that were ordered by Qais himself.  Shown on the screen are two of these documents recording attacks conducted against coalition facilities in Basra.  These attacks are also confirmed by our own reporting.  In all, these documents recorded three attacks against the Basra palace, two targets in Amarah, one against an intelligence target in Basra, two against the Shatt al-Arab Hotel in Basra and an IED attack against a humvee.  Additionally one document recorded nine attacks against military vehicles in Rusafa.

  What we've learned from Ali Musa Daqduq, Qais Khazali and other special groups members in our custody expands our understanding of how Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force operatives are training, funding and arming the Iraqi special groups.  It shows how Iranian operatives are using Lebanese surrogates to create Hezbollah-like capabilities and it paints a picture of the level of effort in funding and arming extremist groups in Iraq.  We are continuing to work closely with the Iraqi security forces to target these special groups and continue our effort and focus on al Qaeda.  And we seek to interdict the flow of weapons, funding and training and curtail the external influences that are arming extremist groups in Iraq.

  That concludes our operational update for the week and I'll now turn to your questions.

  Q     Michael Gordon, New York Times.

  As I understand it, it had been previously reported that the Khazali brothers were involved in the Karbala raid and that they had received support from the Qods Force.  What's new here, as I understand it, is that you're asserting the Qods Force and the Iranians had specific knowledge of this attack in advance and helped guide it and support it, not merely train the force.

  But do you have any insight into the motivations of the Iranians? Was this an action that was -- the Qods Force took in response to the detention of Iranians here in Iraq, where they are trying to capture these American soldiers in the hope of trading them for the detained Iraqi officials?

  GEN. BERGNER:  Michael, I can't substantiate that proposition. What became clear in the information that we've received from these detainees and the rest of the structure that we have now interdicted    is that the Iranian Qods Force is using Lebanese Hezbollah essentially as a proxy, as a surrogate in Iraq.  The specific motivations behind those operations that I described, we're still learning more about.

  Q     But you're asserting essentially that the Qods Force directed and helped plan this attack in Karbala.

  GEN. BERGNER:  That is what we learned from Qais Khazali.

Yes, Ma'am.

  Q     I'm Tina Susman from the Los Angeles Times.

In the past when the Qods Forces come up in press briefings, the accusation's also been that they are acting at the behest of the Iranian government's supreme leader, to be specific.  Is that what you're saying now?  Who's running the Qods Force?

GEN. BERGNER:  Our intelligence reveals that senior leadership in Iran is aware of this activity.  We also understand that senior Iraqi leaders have expressed their concerns to the Iranian government in recent months about the activity that is -- that we have learned more about.


Q     (Off mike.)  Do you have any idea as to why the Qods Force would need to, if you will, subcontract to Hezbollah when they could be doing this themselves?

GEN. BERGNER:  Well, on one level this relationship provides them some -- a proxy, if you will, a surrogate to work on their behalf and do things that perhaps they didn't want to have to do themselves in terms of interacting directly with special groups.  Exactly -- I would also point out that Hezbollah brings a technical skill, a level of sophistication and some street credibility to their interaction with these special groups and secret cells.


Q     Just to understand exactly what you're saying, essentially what you're saying is that the U.S. is at war with Iran inside Iraq, that Iran  has been using (Hezbollah arm ?), because we know that the secret cell groups have been killing American soldiers every day, that, in fact, they may even be responsible at this point in the war for more deaths on a weekly basis than any Sunni group.

GEN. BERGNER:  That is not what I'm saying.  And what I am saying is that we have learned more about the IRGC Qods Force' efforts working with these secret cells, special groups, that is counter to what the government of Iran has committed to help work with the government of Iraq in addressing the security problems in this country.  And so I think the most clear and important message to take from this is there does not seem to be any follow through on the commitment that Iran has made to work with Iraq in addressing the security -- destabilizing security issues here in Iraq, and we have learned more about just how those things are going forward, which I    shared with you today.  And I think that's the message to take away from this.

Q     I mean -- and that's the political answer to that question because the reality we're talking about is Iranian weapons, Iranian- funded people are training these Shi'ite militias, and they're killing U.S. soldiers, and lots of them, and killing a lot of Iraqi soldiers. I mean, what's the reality that we're dealing with?  We can dance around issues as much as we like, but this is going to go out as the Iranian government is killing American soldiers.

GEN. BERGNER:  I think the reality of this is they're killing -- they're not only killing American forces, they're killing Iraqis, they're killing Iraqi security forces, and they are disrupting the stability in Iraq, and it's a concern for the government of Iraq, for the Iraqi forces and the Iraqi people, that they would expect their neighbor to play a more helpful and less damaging role in their country. Yes, sir.

Q     (Through interpreter.)  That Ali Daqduq and Kais Kazali have used documents and American humvees or vehicles -- were there any kind of investigations that say where they brought these vehicles and uniforms?

GEN. BERGNER:  Yeah, that is something that continues to be a focus of our intelligence operations and our investigation in terms of the sourcing and the provision of exactly what was used in that attack, and so we are continuing to develop our knowledge of exactly where they came from and exactly what was used.



Q     General, when you say, "senior leadership in Tehran is aware of the Qods Forces activity," are you talking about the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei?  And apart from Iraqi delegates coming back saying that they've pleaded their case, how can you possibly know that this is true, that the leadership does in fact know?

GEN. BERGNER:  Well, I'd just go back to what I said earlier, Michael, which is our intelligence reveals that senior leadership in Iran is aware of this activity, and we understand that senior Iraqi leaders have expressed their concerns to Iranians in recent months about this activity.

Q     Can you define "senior leadership," then?

GEN. BERGNER:  I think I'll leave it at that.

Q     Would you exclude the Supreme Leader?

GEN. BERGNER:  I'll leave it at senior leadership in Iran.

Q     Put it this way -- do you think it's possible he doesn't know?

GEN. BERGNER:  That would be hard to imagine.

John?  Q     We've know from intelligence briefings that have been given in Washington that this story you've told us today has been available for some time.  The delay in announcing it publicly, has that got something to do with the need to persuade the prime minister of Iraq (to announce ?) this information; that the prime minister of Iraq or others have been reluctant for this to be put in the public domain?

GEN. BERGNER:  The timing of our sharing of this information is specifically and directly a result of getting to a point in our intelligence operations and the exploitation of that intelligence sufficiently that we could share this information without compromising our ability to act on what we've learned.  And so until we have been able to conduct the operations that this intelligence leads us to and follow up on it, it would be imprudent of us to come out and share it sooner, and that is the reason that -- that's the timing for our discussion with you today.  We have gotten to that point in our intelligence collection.

There is still much more we're doing.  I don't want to mislead you into thinking that that's it.  But we're at a point now where we could share the information that I was able to provide to you today without compromising our ability to exploit it for operational reasons.

    Q     That raises the obvious follow-up.  How far are you down the road in breaking up these special groups now?  Do you feel that you're on top of them, that you've essentially disrupted them, or is there a long way to go?

  GEN. BERGNER:  They remain a serious concern and we have much work to do on that front.  I gave you some sense today in terms of the types of operations we've conducted and over what period of time, but they remain a very serious concern for us in the security environment here.

Yes, sir?

Q     Can you say anything more about the training camps in Iran, where they are?  Are they openly being trained, are these hidden locations, or what you know about the training camps for Iraqis?

GEN. BERGNER:  The interviews that we conducted revealed that there were three such camps that were known, that those camps were not too far from Tehran relative geographic area.  That they were relatively small.  Given the small number of people who trained there, you could imagine that they wouldn't take much infrastructure or they wouldn't be much noticed, because we talked about 20 to 60 Iraqis being trained at any of these at a given time.  And so that's kind of the best characterization I can give you in terms of the where and the scope.

Go ahead.  That's fine, go ahead.

Q     This is Gerry (sp) from AFP.  This is probably for the first when the whole Hezbollah angle is coming on record from the U.S. military.  And you said that a batch of 20 to 60 people are taken to Tehran training camps.  Now, who are these 20 to 60 people?  Are they largely from any group, like the Mahdi Militia or any particular group that you see more and more people going there?  Any identification of these people?  Do they belong to any known militia groups operating in Iraq?

GEN. BERGNER:  We understand that they come from militia groups, and they are generally the more extreme members of those militia groups.  Some of them have come from Jaish al-Mahdi.  Some have come from other militia groups as well.

Q     General, you mentioned one specific prominent Hezbollah operative.  How extensive are the Hezbollah activities inside Iraq on   behalf of the Qods Force?  And a specific question; how were the American-style uniforms obtained for the Karbala attack?

GEN. BERGNER:  The first answer to your question is, we're still gauging, getting our own sense of the level of effort that's involved here.   We think that it's best described as these -- this Hezbollah operative specifically that we captured, Daqduq, being used as a proxy.  So not as a network, not as a separate, stand-alone entity, but he was being used specifically as a proxy for Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force efforts.

  And in terms of the sourcing of uniforms and how they could have gotten those, still unclear, still working to investigate that and find out what the sourcing was, and specifically find out exactly which ones we're talking about.

As you know, we have a couple of uniforms out there, too, that look American-like.

Q     Well, was it the Qods Force that supplied the uniforms?

GEN. BERGNER:  We don't know.  We don't know.


Q     If Mr. Daqduq and others in detention have given you enough information to indicate the level of their contacts in Iran, it would be, I think, interesting to know the level of their contacts here in Iraq politically.  If some of these people were Mahdi Army -- some of the people used in these operations were Mahdi Army, do we have any knowledge at all as to whether Sadr -- Muqtada al-Sadr knew of these operations, at what level of the Mahdi Army this was authorized or approved?

GEN. BERGNER:  While some of these people may have come from or been affiliated with Jaish al-Mahdi at one point -- and these special groups were an outgrowth, perhaps, of relationships with Jaish al- Mahdi -- they have in fact broken away from Jaish al-Mahdi.

  And I mentioned in my discussion with you that they are cellular in nature.  They are not answering to a higher centralized control that -- with any of these militias that we're aware of.

  And so our sense is that the leadership there would like to see the violence that these groups are perpetrating stop as well.  And so while someone may have come from one of one of those groups, it's not clear that they are -- in fact it's clear that they are not under the control any longer of a militia.

  Q     Your reference to the militia would like them to stop -- you're referring to Mr. al-Sadr --

GEN. BERGNER:  That's right.  We believe that these are operating outside his control and that he shares our -- the concern in the seriousness that they represent and is trying to find ways to bring it into it. Yes, ma'am. 

Q     Back to Ali Musa Daqduq.  You said he was captured March 20th.  At what point did you determine his real identity?  How did you do that?

GEN. BERGNER:  It was a period of a few weeks after his detention, and he shared that with us and disclosed his true identity.

I would -- I think that's -- was that what your question was?

Q     Well, I was trying to find out how long -- are we talking about April, May?  I mean, how long have you known that you have this guy?

GEN. BERGNER:  (To staff.)  What was the date, Steve, we've detained him?

STAFF:  I think he was captured -- (off mike).

GEN. BERGNER:  Yeah.  So I think March 20th is what I said.

STAFF:  (Off mike.)


Q     But initially when he was captured, he had a false ID and he was claiming to be a deaf mute.


  Q     At what point --

GEN. BERGNER:  Well, I think the --

Q     How many weeks was it, or days?

GEN. BERGNER:  I think the point here is, someone with a Lebanese background is going to speak with a very specific Lebanese dialect. And so if you're concerned that your origin and your affiliation is going to become known, one way you might try to protect that would be not to speak, and that appears to be what his motivation was here.

  Q     Can you tell us a little bit about the raid in which they were captured?  Is that all we know about this -- that it was in Basra?

GEN. BERGNER:  Yeah.  It was an intelligence-driven operation in pursuit of those who were involved in/supporting special groups.  And we conducted the operation.  We found all three of them in the same operation.

Q     In what part of Basra?

GEN. BERGNER:  John, I can't give you an exact location.  I will look and see if I can get you one.  Michael.

      Q     General, given the nature of Iran's national interests in Iraq and given the events of the past six months and given the robustness of these organizations that they've established, what possible incentive could there be for General Qassem Suleimani to take his foot off the accelerator?  Why on earth would he back off now? And indeed wouldn't this be playing into the surge and the pressure from American domestic politics?  I mean, he'll be surging himself, as General Odierno said.

  GEN. BERGNER:  Well, I think the important question here is, you know, a reconciliation of intent.  The government of Iran has entered into dialogue with the government of Iraq.  They have committed, along with the other neighbors as part of the neighbors conference, to work with them to reduce the security problems, to help cooperate on a range of issues including security.  And so that is the stated intention of their government, and so we would hope that there's some reality to that stated intention.

Q     Clearly there's not, General.  I mean, there's been a rise in EFP attacks.  We've seen indeed post-Karbala and post the meeting between American and Iranian delegates that in fact there's been an upswing or certainly a spike and that there's absolutely no indications whatsoever that they're backing off.  And indeed why would they?  I mean, it's all playing to their favor.  The instability that they're creating suits them and attacking coalition forces suits them both regionally and in terms of putting pressure on you in DC.

GEN. BERGNER:  Yeah, well, I guess, I would point out to you something I mentioned earlier which is, they are killing Iraqis; they are killing Iraqi security forces, in addition to the threat that they are to the coalition force.  And so this is a threat for the government of Iraq as much as it is for the coalition force.

Yes, ma'am.

Q     General Bergner, if this is the threat that it is to Iraqi people, is it fair then to say that the Iraqi prime minister and the highest levels of the Iraqi government have raised this with the Iranians?

And also just to come back to the point, Ambassador Crocker, when he met with the Iranian government, laid all this out for them.  All this was known at the time.  And at that time we were told, let's see the reconciliation of intent, actions with words.  What we're hearing    today -- I just want to be clear in this -- are you saying that to date there has been no reconciliation of intent since that time? EFPs, I think, are more than double in the last few months.

And also were there any Badr Corps members implicated in this? And how far do the connections of these secret groups extend into the Iraqi government itself?  Because it's widely known that not everyone in the Iraqi government is independent of Iranian influence.

GEN. BERGNER:  Let me start with the very first part of this, which is, and I mentioned this earlier, that it's my understanding that senior members of the government of Iraq have conveyed to the government of Iran their concern about the activities of the Qods Force and special groups in the support that I described today.  So it is something that they are aware of, they're concerned about.

Your other question focused on demonstrable improvement or change.  We have not seen a demonstrable improvement or anything that could be accounted for a change in behavior on the part of the government of Iran in reducing these threats and reducing the levels of violence.

  Q     (Off mike.)

GEN. BERGNER:  And what -- what was your question, Laura?

Q     You mentioned that some of these people came from militia groups like Jaish al-Mahdi, but the Badr Corps seems to get a free ride in all of this.  All we know from the commanders on the ground, that they're just as heavily implicated.  So I just wondered how much you've traced those links and how far those links extend into the Iraqi government itself and all the people that are on the no-touch list, that kind of thing.

GEN. BERGNER:  I don't have anything to share with you there.  I don't think there is anything that -- I really don't have any other information a Badr --

Q     (Off mike) --

GEN. BERGNER:  No, it just means I can't address the question.  I really don't have the information for you, but I'll look into that and get back to you.


Q     I just had one quick question.  Has there been any -- what type of communications have there been between U.S. military, government and officials in Lebanon about the Hezbollah connection? Is that something you're talking about now?

GEN. BERGNER:  That's something that diplomatic channels will address, and my understanding is some of that information has already been conveyed.

Yes, sir.

Q     A question on another operation completely different in Diwaniyah.  We believe at 3:00 a.m. there was a U.S. air strike in Diwaniyah, and 10 to 12 civilians have been killed.  Any update on that?  Any reports of that operation?

GEN. BERGNER:  I don't have any details for you on that operation.  I will find out what you're referring to, and I'll get back to you.  Michael.

Q     Sorry.  Yeah, General, a Hezbollah spokesman in Beirut said he wouldn't dignify the American allegations with a response.  I would guess that that's not unanticipated.  I mean, how do you know that Ali Musa Daqduq is in fact who he says he is?  Have you corroborated that he is a senior operations leader?  And why on Earth would Hezbollah risk such exposure?

GEN. BERGNER:  Well, let me answer your question in this way. Extensive interviews with a range of people associated with these special groups; separate interviews between Qais Khazali, Laith Khazali and Ali Musa Daqduq; computer records recovered from two different computers associated with the detainees; written documents associated with the detainees' journals that documented exactly who was involved, what their origin was and exactly who they were associated with -- and so this is by no means a single source, word- of-mouth basis for this information.  It has been corroborated through multiple sources, both electronic, hard copy and personal interviews. So we feel very confident in the information.

Q     General, then the second part of that question flowing from that is, why on Earth would Sayyad Hassan Salah (ph) risk such exposure, sending a man to either Iran or to here?  Surely, one must know there's a great chance you'll be killed or captured at some point nearby, play your hand?

GEN. BERGNER:  That's a great question for him.

Q     (Off mike.)

GEN. BERGNER:  I can't help you with that one.

Okay.  Last question.


Q     (Off mike) -- reports from the journals are posted on the website?

GEN. BERGNER:  We will.

Q     (Off mike) -- website.

GEN. BERGNER:  Yeah, we will get you the --

Q     (Off mike) -- because you flashed through those pretty quickly.

GEN. BERGNER:  We will get you copies of all of that.  They should have them for you shortly.

Q     Thank you, General.  

GEN. BERGNER:  Okay. That's all I had for the group.

I would point out that on Wednesday, we will commemorate Independence Day of the United States of America.  And I'm told that some 600 American soldiers are going to re-enlist on that day here in Baghdad, and some number of others are going to be formally recognized as naturalized citizens of the United States, so I wish you well.  And we look forward to celebrating our nation's birthday this week.

Shukran jazilan.  Masalama.  END.


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