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U.S. General Links Al-Zarqawi To Iraq Suicide Bombings

Washington, 4 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The top U.S. commander in Iraq has said the United States has obtained intelligence linking Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to the 2 March suicide bombings aimed at Shi'ite Muslims in Baghdad and Karbala.

General John Abizaid, the head of U.S. Central Command, made the announcement today during a House of Representatives Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington.

"We have intelligence that ties al-Zarqawi to this attack. We also have intelligence that shows that there is some linkage between al-Zarqawi and the former regime elements, specifically the Iraqi intelligence service, and we are concerned to see a terrorist group come into close coordination with former Iraqi intelligence service people," Abizaid said.

Al-Zarqawi is a suspected associate of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. Washington believes Al-Qaeda was responsible for the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on America that killed some 3,000 people. The U.S. administration says al-Zarqawi is orchestrating attacks in Iraq in an effort to spark a civil war between the country's Shi'ite and Sunni communities.

Abizaid also said he expects more casualties in Iraq as extremists try to derail the 30 June transfer of authority to a new government.