Michael Ware


NR: "...displaying a keen understanding of domestic politics in America."

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Length: 2:38

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amidst a wave of guerilla attacks for the holy month of Ramadan, and a spiraling American death toll, one of Iraq's most significant insurgent groups has reiterated its willingness to negotiate with U.S. forces.

The renewed offer of dialogue comes from the Islamic Army of Iraq, a leading member of one of the most powerful factions within the insurgency. Using known Islamic army insurgent channels, questions were passed to the network's leadership.

Their response to CNN came in a professionally produced video which obscured the speaker's face. That speaker is purported to be Ibrahim al-Shimary, the group's official spokesman. While his identity cannot be confirmed, the voice is consistent with audio statements released previously on the Internet.

In the interview, the spokesman gives what is possibly the most articulate address to a Western audience to emerge from the Iraq war, displaying a keen understanding of domestic politics in America.

IBRAHIM AL-SHIMARY (through translator): We in the Islamic Army, as we have announced many times, do not reject the principle of negotiations with the Americans. But only if the Americans are serious.

WARE: In the wide-ranging question-and-answer, he canvases the group's relationship with al Qaeda, the state of the sectarian conflict, and one of the greatest motivations driving many Sunni insurgent groups: combating Iranian influence in Iraq, which he says amounts to a dual occupation of the country.

IBRAHIM AL-SHIMARY (through translator): America and Iran have occupied Iraq. America is the disease that caused the infection, which is the Iranian occupation. But now the infection has become even more dangerous than the disease.

WARE: Speaking directly to the American public, he urges people to question President Bush's record on Iraq, vowing the will of the insurgents is far from broken. A promise this war has a long way to go.

Michael Ware, CNN, Baghdad.