YWT: New threats
HALA GORANI: Well, the chief of Iraq's al Qaeda wing is claiming in a purported audio recording that the insurgency is what drove U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from office. He also had some words for the U.S. president, George Bush.
Michael Ware is live from Baghdad with more.
I remember, Michael, a few days ago you said, "It wouldn't surprise me if, in one of these recordings, we heard those al Qaeda militants use the Donald Rumsfeld resignation in a propaganda tape." And here you go, you have it.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you're absolutely right, Hala. I mean, this was too good an opportunity with so much political upheaval in Washington for the insurgency and for al Qaeda not to try and capitalize upon it.
The first out of the blocks was an Iraqi Shia politician, backed by a very powerful militia. He said this was a sign of American defeat. Then we had the Sunni Islamic Army of Iraq say that this was a triumph, a victory for the insurgency.
Now we see al Qaeda's leader in Iraq take it further. He's actually taunting the U.S. administration, calling President Bush a lame duck and Secretary Rumsfeld a coward, saying to Secretary Rumsfeld, "We've not yet had enough of your blood. Come to the battlefield."
He says the day of victory for the Islamic state of Iraq has come sooner than expected and America has no choice now but to run. So this very much is by the numbers, as you point out -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. And another thing is, before 2003, it would take weeks, sometimes months before an al Qaeda tape or videotape would come out mentioning a news event. Here we're looking at 24 hours, churning those tapes out like a well-oiled P.R. machine.
WARE: Oh, absolutely. And we've seen this develop since the advent of the insurgency in 2003.
We've watched their levels of sophistication rise. Not only on the battlefield, but in terms of their information messages, from the very raw and clunky videotapes we first received in 2003, to the very slickly-produced productions we get now.
We've also seen them operating in real time, as you highlight. They're watching these elections very closely. The Islamic Army of Iraq referring in detail to Speaker-Elect Pelosi, and now we have al Qaeda in Iraq coming out and leaping on this.
Now, remember, this is a group that started as a handful of Jordanians in a camp in Harat in Afghanistan that became the notorious group led by Zarqawi, known as Tawhid wal-Jihad, became al Qaeda in Iraq, the Mujahideen Shura Council. Now we see them create the Islamic State of Iraq with its own caliph, and that's who he's saying, "I now have 12,000 fighters to give you."
So this, it's from here that this generational war that British intelligence talks about is going to come from -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Michael Ware, live in Baghdad.