A fight the Iraqis must fight on their own for the soul of their country.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator for Iraq, said Saturday that military experts have drawn strong links between al-Qaida and other terrorist groups and the guerrilla attacks that have killed 59 U.S. soldiers since May 1 when President Bush declared the end of major combat operations.
Iraqi insurgents killed a U.S. soldier and injured three others late Friday night despite stepped-up efforts by American forces to find and disarm increasingly diverse resistance groups.
Bremer said four groups are behind most of the attacks: Baath Party loyalists, remnants of the irregular Saddam Fedayeen force, intelligence officers from the former regime and foreign fighters. A senior administration official in Washington added a fifth group: common criminals.
The foreign element, Bremer said, includes al-Qaida and Ansar al Islam, a militant Islamic group that U.S. and Kurdish forces attacked in northern Iraq during the war but is now believed to be restructuring.
"With regret, I say we did not kill all of them," Bremer said. "Some of them escaped to other countries and are now trickling back in."
Senior administration officials in Washington, speaking on the condition of anonymity because intelligence matters are classified, said the foreigners include Syrians, Saudi Arabians, Jordanians, Yemenis, Pakistanis and even a few Albanians.
Two things are most worrisome, one intelligence official said: Many of the foreign fighters appear to have been trained in terrorist or guerrilla tactics, and none of them appears intent on restoring Saddam to power. Most of the foreigners, in fact, are Islamic militants who cheered the fall of the secular Iraqi regime, the official said.
"The danger is that some of these guys want to make Iraq the next Afghanistan or Somalia or Chechnya, the next battleground between Islam and the infidels. Getting rid of Saddam and turning the electricity back on won't do anything to change that."