Fox News Live, Weekend Edition

October 17, 2004


US Intelligence Studies Zarqawi’s Tracks in Iran



Rita Cosby: Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has pledged his unyielding support to Usama BinLaden. The wanted terrorist vowing allegiance to the Al Qaeda leader after his group settled a dispute with Usama; word of this agreement was posted on the Internet just a few hours ago along with statements calling on Muslims to “unify their ranks against the enemy during this month of Ramadan” –For more on this story we’re speaking with Alireza Jafarzadeh who is a Fox News foreign affair contri-butor, and also Van Hipp, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army.




Rita Cosby: Van, I got to ask you the timing of this is really interesting, what do you make of the fact that this is being released now?


Van Hipp: Two things Rita, first of all its Ramadan and our intel has told us for some time that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was going to step up the attacks right at the beginning of Ramadan and secondly he knows what is about to happen in Fallujah but that cordon around Fallujah now getting tighter by the hour with this shaping operation going on which really is a military operation to prepare the landscape for this major military offensive that we have been preparing for in Fallujah and the Prime Minister of Iraq, his own National Security advisor says that they have actionable intelligence that Zarqawi is in Fallujah. He knows that the major military offensive could take place in just a matter of days.


Rita Cosby: Alireza, I also wants to play the flip side and I think this is kind of scary, someone who is pretty tied in with intelligence told me right before the show, quote “the question sort of Zarqawi, this announcement, would not be occurring unless there is a major event about to occur that may be all of these parties want to sort of take credit for, that’s a bit of a scary premise. Could that be what is behind this too?




Alireza Jafarzadeh: This is certainly the case. I think the fundamentalist want to step up their efforts, using the month of Ramadan. There have been a number of foreign fighters who have been arrested in the past few days in Iraq; signaling that there has been a sharp rise in the activities of foreign fighters, especially those coming from Syria and Iran.


Rita Cosby: Exactly, speaking of Iran Alireza, these new reports that Zarqawi getting --this is something you and I have talked about before-- Zarqawi getting safe haven in Iran and from Iranian officials, what do you know on that Alireza?


Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well, Rita the most revealing thing is that, two days ago, the Iraqi Intelligence Minister, Mr. Shawhani held a press conference, talked to some media, and he said that some 18 members of his intelligence staff were assassinated, 10 of them directly by agents supported by Iran, and 8 others by Zarqawi whom he said he suspected that was funded and supported by Iran. So Iran’s fingerprints are all over. Two days ago, some 135 foreign fighters were arrested in Iraq who had come from Iran. In the southern part of Baghdad, the US military and the Iraqi police arrested a number of Syrian and Iranian foreign fighters in an area called the triangle of death.


Rita Cosby: Well, and of course the big focus guys is Zarqawi who seems to be feeding off all of these influences. Van, do you think that we are finally going to get him? It seems as though there is this concerted effort that we’ve seen in the last week or two and it seems like we are building up to a sort of a climax, so going in and finally getting this guy, do you think soon?



Van Hipp: Absolutely Rita, I think hopefully we’ve learned the lessons of April. We should’ve done this back in April. That this time there can be no peace negotiations. No pull back. And certainly no Fallujah Brigade, do you remember them? They disappeared, where is the Fallujah brigade this time. I think what we’re going to see is a major military offensive in the very near future and basically we are going to split Fallujah up like a pie. And we are going to take one piece of the pie at a time and completely clean it out. It’s a terrible situation Rita, even the old tribal leaders, the old families of Fallujah have had to flee recently. So we’ve got to go in there and we’ve got to completely clean that place out. It is the epicenter of all things bad in Iraq and that’s where Zarqawi has his base of operation and make no mistake about it he is Usama Bin Ladin’s point man in Iraq. He received his training in chemical weapons from Usama Bin Ladin himself in Al Qaeda terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. So this has got to be our top, top priority. How can we have those elections in January if we don’t clean out Fallujah.



Rita Cosby: Now I agree, Alireza, real quick; the other thing coming from the Prime Minister, the interim prime minister Ayad Alawi’s saying, “You have to hand over Zarqawi or else these strikes are going to continue.” Does it help having his backing, does that make any difference at this point?


Alireza Jafarzadeh: I think it does. Prime Minister Alawi has made it very clear that he is so focused on the role of the foreign fighter in Iraq. When Mr. Alawi was here in Washington just a couple weeks ago, he said the number one trouble that Iraq is facing is actually the foreign fighters coming from different countries, Jordan, Syria and Iran. I think he has righteously made it a priority not only on Zarqawi, but I think, cutting off all the resources of the foreign fighters. Because don’t forget, whether it is Fallujah or it’s down south in Najaf, Karbala, Basra, and other places, none of those insurgents and Islamic extremists are going to survive without the continued flow of foreign assistance.


Rita Cosby: Absolutely. Guys, thank you very much, it’s been very interesting. We will keep everybody posted.

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