Abu Ghraib Attacks Show Terrorists
Still Deadly, Bush Says

By Kathleen T. Rhem

Two separate attacks on Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison complex in recent days are a sign that the al Qaeda terrorist group still is deadly, President Bush said at the White House.

The attacks, which press reports indicate al Qaeda has claimed credit for mounting, are a sign that “that these people will kill. They kill innocent life. Their strategy hasn’t really changed,” Bush said in remarks following the second Cabinet meeting of his second term. “Their strategy has been one to kill as many innocent people as they possibly can, in the hopes that it shakes our confidence and shakes our will.”

An evening raid by 40 to 50 armed assailants April 2 wounded up to 44 American soldiers and 13 detainees. A second attack by a suicide bomber driving a tractor April 4 reportedly killed five civilians.

“We’re after them,” Bush said of terrorists in Iraq. “And equally importantly,” he added, “the Iraqi citizens are after them now.

“More and more citizens understand that these terrorists, like al Qaeda and (Jordanian terrorist network leader Abu Musab al-) Zarqawi, don’t have their interests at heart,” the president said. “They don’t believe in democracy, these killers. They believe in a society in which people aren’t going to be free to practice their religion or free to speak in the public square.”

He said the American people should “take heart” to know that Iraqis are now allies in defeating the terrorists in their country.

Bush said Iraqis taking to the polls in Jan. 30 national elections is proof that “the Iraqi citizens took toward complete defiance of the point of view of Zarqawi, who is an al Qaeda type.”

U.S. Forces Repel Terrorist Attack on Camp Abu Ghraib

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Soldiers and Marines successfully repelled a well-coordinated attack by 40-60 terrorists on Forward Operating Base Abu Ghraib April 2 at about 7 p.m. Abu Ghraib is a detention facility for 3,400 detainees as well as an Iraqi-run prison.

In an attempt to gain access to the prison, terrorists launched a simultaneous attack in multiple locations using indirect fires, rocket-propelled grenade fire, small arms fire and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. Just as the sun was setting, indirect fire from 81 mm and 120 mm mortars began impacting the operating base. This was followed by multiple RPG attacks and a large volume of small arms fire focused on two guard towers, one on the northwestern and the other on the southeastern corner on the operating base. Using the cover of the mortar fire and the intense fire on the guard towers, the terrorists launched a VBIED to penetrate the perimeter wall near the southeastern guard tower. Marines defending the base returned fire and the VBIED exploded before it reached the perimeter. Marines in the tower were forced to evacuate but were quickly reinforced by a quick reaction force.

The terrorists, using residential areas for cover and concealment, then conducted a ground assault towards the southeastern tower. With reinforcements from the quick reaction force, Marines and Soldiers halted the advance of the terrorists. Additionally, Apache helicopters and artillery fire began to engage the remnants of the attackers. The terrorists were forced to withdraw after suffering an estimated 50 casualties. The attack was over by 9 p.m.

US forces sustained seven wounded who were evacuated to a combat support hospital and sixteen minor injuries from shrapnel who have been returned to duty.

Additionally, thirteen detainees were also wounded from indirect fire, and all detainees remained accounted for.