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C.I.A. Warning of Terror Risk to American Troops in Iraq

The C.I.A. has warned that terrorists based in Iraq are planning attacks against American and allied forces inside the country after any invasion, government counterterrorism officials say. The agency’s previously undisclosed assessment has circulated among senior Bush administration officials. It describes both the risks of terror attacks on American forces inside Iraq if an invasion occurs and the danger of similar attacks on troops already massing in the region. The assessment goes beyond the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s military forces, predicting for the first time that groups that the Bush administration has said are given haven by Mr. Hussein’s government may become engaged in the war, even if Iraq’s military is defeated and the government overthrown. The administration has said that terrorists operating inside Iraq are affiliated with Al Qaeda, and that they are either tolerated by the Baghdad government or are based in parts of the country where the government exercises little control. The conclusions are based on recently collected intelligence in the form of intercepted communications, “glimpses” of four to eight midlevel Qaeda operatives said to have been spotted in Iraq and an analysis of the organization’s prior tactics, according to administration officials. “The Al Qaeda network is intent on attacking U.S. interests throughout Iraq, as are other extremist Islamic groups,” said one official who has read the C.I.A. threat assessment. Full Story

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