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Iraqi Insurgents Have Become More Threatening

Insurgents in Iraq continue to attack coalition forces and Iraqi security -- and they are using more sophisticated tactics.

Since Coalition forces toppled Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, bombings in Iraq have become an everyday occurrence. Recently, the bombings have taken an even more sinister turn.

The insurgent attacks are more coordinated. In a recent 12-hour span, nearly 40 people were killed in a series of car bombings in Baghdad. The IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, the insurgents use are also more sophisticated than before. Charges are being shaped to put the force of the explosion where the insurgents want it -- typically, where it will do the most damage to convoys or Iraqi security facilities.

Despite U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's estimate that the insurgency is in its last throes, U.S. General John Abizaid says there has been no drop in the number of insurgents.

"In terms of foreign fighters, I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago. In terms of the overall strength of the insurgency, I'd say it's about the same as where it was," said the general at a congressional hearing.

General John Vines, head of coalition forces in Iraq, says the domestic insurgency is partly fueled by money.

"These insurgents don't have an ideology except violence and power. They have nothing to offer the Iraqi people. And so those who seek to regain power hire people for money to attack Iraqi security forces as well as the Coalition. And so, as little as $100 will buy an IED."

According to General Vines, it is the foreign Jihadists, or Zarqawi insurgency elements, that are behind much of the violence. This group consists of fighters crossing into Iraq from neighboring countries, like Syria.

Brigadier General John Custer, head of U.S. military intelligence in Iraq, describes how foreigners are recruited.

"Proselytized on the Internet, recruited on the Internet many times. Arriving to the sounds of the guns, they hear about the terrible atrocities perpetrated against the Iraqis in Iraq. They want to go and martyr themselves."

General Vines adds, "But there are facilitators, principally, we believe, in Syria, that assist them [foreign fighters] in getting to the border, and getting them across the border."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others have demanded that Syria stop the infiltration. "I would simply say to the Syrian government: 'Let's not have more words about what they are prepared to do about Iraq, let's have action'."

Hoshyar Zebari
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari commented also. "If there is a will, Syria has a very capable, professional security agencies that can stop, prevent, neutralize these people from coming."

Syrian military officials say they have taken steps to tighten border security, such as deploying more troops.

U.S. military officials say the key to ending the insurgency may be political, not military. They say if Iraqis can agree on a constitution that is acceptable to the minority Sunnis, support for the insurgents could dwindle quickly.