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American Forces Press Service

Fear of Free Iraq Fuels Terror Attacks, Kimmitt Says

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2004 - Terrorists are targeting Iraqi security forces not because they're working with the coalition, but rather because the security forces are bringing order and stability to Iraq, coalition officials said today at a Baghdad news conference.

"It has nothing to do with collaborating with the coalition, and everything to do with trying to build a new, free, democratic, sovereign and united Iraq," said Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7.

Kimmitt said innocent women and children are being targeted to terrorize the Iraqi people, in the hope that the country would revert to dictatorial control or become "an apocalyptic, extremist type of environment." He dismissed as "rhetoric" the notion that collaboration with the coalition is the reason attacks against Iraqis continue, and said a free Iraq is "what the terrorists fear more than anything else."

A school rebuilt by the coalition reportedly was the target of a recent attack, but Dan Senor, Coalition Provisional Authority senior spokesman, said the Iraqi people are keeping such attacks in perspective.

"We have conducted over 17,500 individual reconstruction projects since we arrived," he said, adding that represents "I over 100 reconstruction projects a day.

Senor cited 1,500 rebuilt schools, more than 240 hospitals as well as improvements in the country's electrical and water systems among those projects. "Are there individual attacks and individual acts of violence?" he asked. "Absolutely. Has it slowed down the reconstruction? Absolutely not."

The attacks are designed to slow down progress, Senor said, using al Qaeda operative Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi's words to make the point that a democratic Iraq will not tolerate terrorists in its midst. "If, God forbid, the government is successful and takes control of the country, we'll just have to pack up and go somewhere else again," Senor read from a letter from Zarqawi to al Qaeda leaders that the coalition intercepted.

He noted as "encouraging" the fact that Iraqis continue to sign up for security positions. "The number of Iraqis stepping forward increases day by day; it doesn't decrease, even after these attacks," Senor said. "Attacks against police stations (and) police chiefs (have) not resulted in a decrease in the number of Iraqis who step forward and say, 'I want to play a role in Iraqi security.' The numbers continue to increase.

"I think Iraqis recognize that these (attacks) are isolated incidents designed . to undermine this path to Iraqi sovereignty," he continued, adding that they continue to step up to security roles because they know the Iraqi people have the biggest stake in the outcome.

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