Al Qaida targeting Kurds, Shi'ites who collaborate with U.S.

Thursday, February 12, 2004, 2004

BAGHDAD Al Qaida insurgents have launched a campaign against Kurds and Shi'ites in Iraq who are deemed to be assisting the U.S.-led coalition.

Over the past 24 hours, Islamic insurgents aligned with Al Qaida carried out two suicide car bombings in as many days in Shi'ite communities in the Baghdad area. The bombings killed at least 100 Shi'ites who had been waiting on line for army, police and government jobs.

On Wednesday, at least 47 people were killed in a car bombing outside an army recruitment center in a Shi'ite neighborhood in Baghdad, Middle East Newsline reported. U.S. officials said the strike was carried out by a single male suicide bomber.

It was the second such attack in as many days against non-coalition targets. On Tuesday, at least 55 people were killed in a suicide truck bombing of an Iraqi police station in Iskandariya, a Shi'ite-populated city about 40 kilometers south of Baghdad.

The bombings were said to be part of an Al Qaida strategy to target Kurds and Shi'ites believed to be cooperating with the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. The strategy was said to have been drafted by Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, a leading contractor for Al Qaida who wrote a 17-page memorandum on the need to foment a civil war in Iraq.

"One of the things they discuss in the letter is the desperate tactic of trying to get Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence," Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. "In other words, incite the Shi'a to attack the Sunni as a way to ensure that extremism continues, a different brand of extremism than the Ba'athist."

Officials said different allies of Al Qaida have targeted non-Sunni targets around Iraq. They said Ansar Al Islam, controlled by Al Zarqawi, is believed to have launched the twin suicide operations against Kurdish political parties in Kirkuk in which about 110 people were killed on Feb. 1. Ansar has warned Kurdish leaders Masoud Barazani and Jalal Talabani against cooperating with the United States, officials said. They said the Ansar message was said to have included threats of new suicide strikes against Kurdish targets.

"We are going to target and strike them in their military, political and religious depth," the memo was quoted as saying.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7, said Al Qaida and its allies intend to continue these attacks until civil war erupts in Iran. Kimmitt termed Al Zarqawi "the most capable terrorist in Iraq today."

The memo, which U.S. officials said would be released in its entirety, was said to have reflected Zarqawi's concern that the United States was attracting support for the interim government in Baghdad. The Zarqawi letter to Al Qaida complained that Iraqis were becoming increasingly wary of harboring foreign Muslim volunteers.

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