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Washington, 9 March 2004 (RFE/RL) - The head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), says U.S.-led coalition troops in Iraq face increased attacks from insurgents.

CIA Director George Tenet told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington today that the militants are determined to disrupt the transfer of power to the Iraqi people.

Tenet said as the U.S. administration approaches the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis on 1 July, terrorists seek to intimidate those who are working to make this happen.

The CIA chief said the Al-Qaeda network headed by Osama bin Laden is trying to promote hatred of America in the Middle East. "The steady spread of Osama bin Laden's anti-American sentiment through the wider Sunni extremist movement and through the broad dissemination of Al-Qaeda's destructive expertise ensures that a serious threat will remain for the foreseeable future, with or without Al-Qaeda in the picture," he said.

Tenet said Islamist militants are attempting to inspire an extremist insurgency in Iraq in an effort to halt the long-term process of building democratic institutions.
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