- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 27, 2003

BAGHDAD — No additional U.S. troops are needed in Iraq, says the Iraqi National Congress, which is pushing for greater Iraqi sovereignty and control over the security forces now being built.

“It is absolutely not necessary for more American troops to come to Iraq,” said INC spokesman Entifah K. Qanbar at a news conference in the capital, Baghdad, yesterday. “We believe the matter of security is not a matter of security by American troops but by Iraqis taking security into their hands and tracking down terrorists themselves.”

The issue is sensitive because of the almost daily attacks on U.S. troops by Ba’ath Party remnants and those suspected of being anti-Western Muslim terrorists.

U.S. allies such as Germany and India are reluctant to send forces because they want a greater role for the United Nations in postwar Iraq.

The INC and some others in Iraq are calling for a greater role for the country’s people in the postwar setup.

“What we need is an Iraq security force as soon as possible,” Mr. Qanbar said.

He also advised the United States against dealing directly with the Mukhabarat, which was Saddam Hussein’s secret intelligence branch, as Washington is reported to be doing.

“I think this is a very dangerous area. The United States has little knowledge of those people. How can they manage and deal with them?” Mr. Qanbar asked.

He said the coalition forces should rely on trusted Iraqi groups, such as the INC, to deal with former Mukhabarat officials as well as to collect intelligence.

It is a theme that the INC has been striking for the past week. Last Wednesday, Ahmed Chalabi, the organization’s leader, announced that the group had warned the U.S.-led coalition about a plan, hatched Aug. 14, to attack a soft target in Baghdad.

The U.N. headquarters in Iraq was bombed Aug. 19.

Coalition and Iraqi security officials denied the INC’s contention last Thursday, and the group later softened that statement, saying the information had only been a general warning.

“This type of information comes every day,” Mr. Qanbar said yesterday. “There should be nobody to blame.”

He, however, reiterated Mr. Chalabi’s message that the coalition was failing to act on intelligence passed along by the INC.

The Washington Times this week published one of several written warnings of a pending attack that was received by Iraqi-American businessmen Rubar Sandi at a Baghdad office building five days before the attack on the U.N. compound.

Mr. Sandi said the warning had been passed on to U.S. officials.

Mr. Qanbar said yesterday that the names and addresses of Saddam loyalists were being provided regularly to the coalition, adding, “you should ask the coalition why” they were not being picked up.

U.S. military officials, however, are sensitive to single-source intelligence, and are aware that the names of innocent people may be provided to settle old political scores.

“We go to great lengths to verify intelligence … before we act on it,” said U.S. Army Col. Guy Shields at a Monday news conference.

That sensitivity is hard and only recently won. Responding to Baghdadis’ outrage at periodically sloppy raids that targeted the wrong people and resulted in the death and injury of innocents as well as the destruction of property, coalition forces commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez announced two weeks ago that his forces would now use more “precision” intelligence before conducting operations.

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