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Around 30,000 terrorists operating in Iraq: Report

Major General Mohammed Abdullah al-Shahwani told Asharq Al-Awsat that he expected the armed attacks would decrease and end within a year.
PTI | By Associated Press, Cairo
PUBLISHED ON JAN 06, 2005 10:02 AM IST

Between 20,000 and 30,000 terrorists are operating throughout Iraq, led by Syria-based former regime leaders, Iraq's intelligence chief told a pan-Arab newspaper.

Major General Mohammed Abdullah al-Shahwani told Asharq Al-Awsat that he expected the armed attacks would decrease and end within a year.

"We officially call them terrorists," he said. "They are between 20,000 and 30,000 armed men operating all over Iraq, mainly in the Sunni areas where they receive moral support from about 2,00,000 people."

Al-Shahwani said the men, who are well organised and trained, include former Baath party members, some Islamic militant groups and former Army members who lost their jobs.

He said terrorist attacks would negatively affect the January 30 election because some people would not be able to reach polling stations.

"Whether these attacks would increase or decrease, this depends on the elections result, but our expectation, as a security organ, is that the attacks will recede and end in one year," Al-Shahwani said.

He did not elaborate.

He said the insurgents get good financial support from former leading Baathist Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed and Sabaawi al-Hassan, a half brother of Saddam Hussein, who he said are in Syria and are easily moving in and out of Iraq. Saddam's former deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is also working with insurgents, he said.

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