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[] U.S. Uses Iraq Insurgent's Own Video to Mock Him - New York Times


U.S. Uses Iraq Insurgent's Own Video to Mock Him

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Published: May 5, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 4 ? The videotape released last week by the terrorist
leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi showed him firing long bursts from a machine
gun, his forearms sprouting from beneath black fatigues, as he exuded the
very picture of a strong jihadist leader.

In an outtake reportedly taken from a videotape made by Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader needed some help firing a machine gun.

But in clips the American military released on Thursday and described as
captured outtakes from the same video, Mr. Zarqawi, head of the Council of
Holy Warriors, cut a different figure.

In one scene, Mr. Zarqawi, the most wanted terrorist in Iraq, appears
flummoxed by how to discharge the machine gun in fully automatic mode. Off
camera, one aide is heard ordering another, "Go help the sheik." A man
walks over and fiddles with the weapon so Mr. Zarqawi can fire it in bursts.

Another sequence shows Mr. Zarqawi handing the weapon off to other aides
and striding away, revealing white jogging shoes beneath his black
guerrilla attire. One insurgent later appears to grab the machine gun
absent-mindedly by its scalding-hot barrel and drop it.

In an effort to turn Mr. Zarqawi's own propaganda against him by mocking
him as an uninspiring poseur, the American military released the selected
outtakes at a news briefing in Baghdad. A senior military spokesman said
that American troops had discovered the tape among a trove of information
captured last month in Yusufiya, a town just south of Baghdad regarded as
sympathetic to the insurgency.

Documents found in that raid also laid out a plan to "cleanse" Shiites from
Sunni-dominated areas in Iraq and to provoke sectarian warfare, according
to the American military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch.

Intelligence and military officials in Washington said that Mr. Zarqawi,
who was once thought to be roaming western and northern Iraq, was tracked
to Yusufiya after tips indicated that his men had been behind the downing
of an Apache helicopter near there in April. During an early morning raid
on a suspected safe house in the town just south of Baghdad on April 16,
soldiers killed five occupants and captured five more in a fierce gunfight.
The officials said they were later told by Iraqis captured in the raid that
Mr. Zarqawi was only blocks away at the time.

General Lynch added that in several raids in the area, soldiers killed at
least 31 foreign fighters, possibly destined to become suicide bombers.

The video outtakes and the plans to drive out Shiites, among other
documents, were found in the house, General Lynch said, confirming an
account first reported in Army Times.

Mr. Zarqawi, a Sunni, long ago declared war on Shiites, whom he considers
apostates. The captured documents disclosed at the carefully orchestrated
news briefing described a plan to "reduce the attacks on Sunni areas" and
instead "be dedicated to cleansing them, calmly, of spies and Shias,"
according to the American military's translation.

The goal, they said, is to "move the battle to the Shia depths and cut off
the paths from them by any means necessary to put pressure on them to leave
their areas."

The captured documents further suggested a strategy, perhaps temporary, of
shifting the terrorist group's firepower away from attacks on American
forces in Sunni regions to attacks in the capital. "We will leave or reduce
our operations against them in our areas for the near future, and will
perform our work against them in the areas of Baghdad itself, as well as
the surrounding areas," the military's translation said.

General Lynch said that even as Mr. Zarqawi was "zooming in on Baghdad,
we're zooming in on Zarqawi, and it's focused now in Yusufiya, in the areas
around Baghdad."

"Zarqawi's center of gravity for his operations are in Baghdad," the
general said. "We believe it's only a matter of time until Zarqawi is taken
down. It's not if, but when."

But the military has made such predictions before, only to have Mr. Zarqawi
slip away from them. Moreover, officials' view of Mr. Zarqawi as the main
architect of violence in Iraq is more convenient than the possibility that
an overwhelming amount of the mayhem is committed not by foreign jihadists
but by Iraqi-born Sunni Arabs.

Questioned on Thursday about how much insurgent activity is actually
directed by Mr. Zarqawi, General Lynch acknowledged that "there's no pure
science here."

"So for me to give you some mathematical formula that says this many belong
to Zarqawi, and this many belong to the Iraqi rejectionists, and this many
belong to the Saddamists, I can't do," he said.


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