Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eye On The Ball? While Bin Laden Urges Followers to Fight in Iraq, Clinton and Obama Deny That It Is A Key Terrorist Battleground

Osama bin Laden

25 Mar 2008 00:10 Africa/Lagos

Eye On The Ball? While Bin Laden Urges Followers to Fight in Iraq, Clinton and Obama Deny That It Is A Key Terrorist Battleground
WASHINGTON, March 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

The following was released today by the Republican National Committee:

Late Last Week, Osama Bin Laden Urged His Followers To Go To Iraq And Fight Alongside Their Fellow Terrorists:

Bin Laden Urged His Followers To Fight In Iraq, Which He Terms "The Nearest Field Of Jihad Today." "Bin Laden added that Palestinians who are unable to fight in the 'land of Al-Quds' a Muslim reference to Jerusalem should join the al-Qaida fight in Iraq. 'The nearest field of jihad today to support our people in Palestine is the Iraqi field,' he said." (Maamoun Youssef, "Purported New Osama Bin Laden Audio Urges Holy War To Liberate Palestinian Territories," The Associated Press, 3/20/08)

-- "[Bin Laden] Also Called On The People Of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan And Saudi Arabia To 'Help In Support Of Their Mujahedeen Brothers In Iraq, Which Is The Greatest Opportunity And The Biggest Task.'" (Maamoun Youssef, "Purported New Osama Bin Laden Audio Urges Holy War To Liberate Palestinian Territories," The Associated Press, 3/20/08)

Despite Bin Laden's Message, Obama Says Iraq Is Not The Central Front In The War On Terror, And That The U.S. Should Be On The "Right Battlefield" In Afghanistan:

Last Week, Obama Questioned The Extent Of The Threat Posed By al Qaeda In Iraq. Obama: "[President Bush] keeps on conflating al Qaeda with all that's going on inside of Iraq. In fact, Iraq is a majority Shia country that is violently opposed to al Qaeda. The Sunnis inside of Iraq are now opposed to al Qaeda. There's no doubt that al Qaeda would try to get another foothold in there. But to the extent that we've brought Sunnis in and got them to buy into the central government, we can start making some progress. ...So the notion that al Qaeda would run roughshod over Iraq is just not correct." (CNN's "Larry King Live," 3/20/08)

Obama Said "The Central Front In The War Against Terror Is Not Iraq, And It Never Was." Obama: "Above all, the war in Iraq has emboldened al Qaeda, whose recruitment has jumped and whose leadership enjoys a safe haven in Pakistan, a thousand miles from Iraq. The central front in the war against terror is not Iraq, and it never was." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks On Iraq, Fayetteville, NC, 3/19/08)

-- Obama: "As president, I want us to fight on the right battlefield. And what that means is getting out of Iraq and refocusing our attention on the war that can be won in Afghanistan." (Sen. Barack Obama, AFL-CIO Democrat Presidential Candidate Forum, Chicago, IL, 8/7/07)

Sen. Clinton Says Iraq Has Been A Distraction From Fighting The War On Terror In Afghanistan:

Sen. Clinton Said "Part Of The Reason That We Didn't Go After Bin Laden As Aggressively As We Should Have Is We Were Distracted By A War Of Choice." Sen. Clinton: "But I think one of the things that's been left out is Iraq. And part of the reason that we neglected Afghanistan, part of the reason that we didn't go after bin Laden as aggressively as we should have is we were distracted by a war of choice." (Sen. Hillary Clinton, ABC Democrat Presidential Candidate Debate, Manchester, NH, 1/5/08)

-- Sen. Clinton: "[W]e took our eye off the ball. I mean, we diverted resources and attention to Iraq and we didn't finish the job. That, to me, is one of the great missed opportunities and I don't understand why that happened, but it did." (CBS' "The Early Show," 9/11/06)

-- Sen. Clinton: "Then there is our work in Afghanistan, yet another casualty of the war in Iraq. When I first visited there in 2003, I was greeted by a soldier who said: 'Welcome to the forgotten frontlines in the war against terror.'" (Sen. Hillary Clinton, Remarks At The Temple For The Performing Arts, Des Moines, IA, 7/10/07)

Sen. Clinton Says She Would Redeploy Troops From Iraq To Afghanistan. Sen. Clinton: "Clinton has blamed the Bush administration for diverting troops to Iraq, and she has pledged to redeploy to Afghanistan the troops she would withdraw from Iraq." (Editorial, "Don't Forget Afghanistan," [New York] Newsday, 8/18/07)

Military Commanders Have Warned About The Threat Of al-Qaeda In Iraq And Its Ties To The International al-Qaeda Network:

Gen. David Petraeus, The Top Military Commander In Iraq, Said al-Qaeda Was "The Enemy Closest To The Sled" In That Country. Sky News' Adam Boulton: "I mean who is the enemy now as far as you are concerned?" Gen. Petraeus: "Well, the enemy closest to the sled, if you will, for us is still al-Qaeda - Iraq. Now that does include other Sunni insurgent groups such as Ansar al-Sunna. Certainly a lot of what used to be referred to as the Sunni resistance in many cases has actually turned against al-Qaeda because of the indiscriminate violence and because of an extremist ideology that Sunni Arabs in Iraq really can't embrace." (Gen. David Petraeus, Interview With Sky News, Baghdad, Iraq, 3/5/08)

-- Gen. Petraeus: "And again, the upper echelon, the top few percent of al-Qaeda - Iraq is, indeed, foreign and has links... direct links with al-Qaeda's senior leadership in the Afghan-Pakistan area. They indeed have sway, if you will, beyond just the borders of Iraq. [They] do talk to facilitators in Syria and in other countries in the Levant and source countries in North Africa and the Gulf states." (Gen. David Petraeus, Interview With Sky News, Baghdad, Iraq, 3/5/08)

Maj. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, Multi-National Force - Iraq Spokesman: "There has been significant progress against al-Qaeda over the last several years. And most recently, in the past year, we have made a significant effort to disrupt and put more pressure, not only on their networks, but geographically on places where they have sought to operate from: their safe havens and operating bases. And we continue to keep that pressure up because, as you heard from Ayman al-Zawahiri's statement this past weekend, this is an organization that is perpetuating and dependent upon a continued focus on violence." (Maj. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, Press Conference, 3/5/08)

Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, Commanding General Multinational Division, Baghdad And 1st Cavalry Division: "Now, I want to be absolutely clear that while we have seen significant progress during our tour here, we are very mindful that it is fragile and that there is very tough work ahead. al Qaeda is down, but it is by no means out. It remains a very dangerous enemy that maintains the ability to conduct attacks against the innocent, and we must continue to pursue them, to attack their networks even as they're trying to regenerate." (Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, Press Conference, 12/17/07)

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Source: Republican National Committee

CONTACT: Republican National Committee, +1-202-863-8614

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