Accessibility links

International Terrorists Pose Increasing Problem in Iraq, warns US Administrator

The U.S. civil administrator in Iraq says hundreds of international terrorists have entered the country. But Paul Bremer says he does not believe more American troops are needed.

Paul Bremer said a large number of international terrorists have crossed over into Iraq. "[There are] probably several hundred. And I think most Americans understand that it is better for us to fight and win this war than to have to fight it on the streets of the United States," he said.

Mr. Bremer told ABC's This Week program in an interview from Baghdad that, until now, most of the trouble in Iraq has been caused by remnants of the ousted government of Saddam Hussein. He said the security threat is shifting, and the terrorists pose an emerging problem. But he said he agrees with top American military commanders in the region that more U.S. soldiers are not necessary at this time. "It is not a question of more troops. It is a question of being effective with our intelligence and getting more Iraqis to help us," he said.

On NBC's Meet the Press, the Pentagon's top military officer acknowledged that U.S. forces are stretched thin at the current time with deployments in Iraq and elsewhere. But General Richard Myers said that if more troops are needed to secure Iraq, they will be sent. "We are stretched thin. But we have more troops to send. We have other ways to do that, and we can take those steps," he said.

Congress is expected to take up the matter when it returns next week from a month-long break. Senator John McCain is among those calling for a significant increase in money and military personnel to secure and rebuild Iraq. The Arizona Republican was also interviewed on Meet the Press. He said he believes tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops are needed and billions in American reconstruction aid. "The money has got to flow. We have got to get these oil pipeline repairs. We have got to get the water flowing. We have got to get the fundamental services," he said. "And, as importantly, we have got to turn the government of Iraq over to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible."

The top democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations committee agrees more troops and money are needed. Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware told Meet the Press that the Bush administration also needs to push for greater international involvement in Iraq. "And we have to lead the rest of the world into putting incredible resources into Iraq now to get it up and running," he said.

Senator Biden said the United States has good people on the ground in Iraq, but he said they do not have the necessary tools to get the job done. He said it is time for the president to go before the American people, explain the high stakes in Iraq, and win their support for a massive undertaking in terms of both money and U.S. personnel.