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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Iraq says seized documents deal blow to al Qaeda

BAGHDAD, June 15 (Reuters) - Iraqi security forces have seized al Qaeda in Iraq documents giving key information about the militant group's network and the whereabouts of its leaders, the country's national security adviser said on Thursday.

"We believe this is the beginning of the end of al Qaeda in Iraq," Mowaffaq al-Rubaie told a televised news conference.

"We believe al Qaeda in Iraq was taken by surprise ... the government is on the attack now ... to destroy al Qaeda and to finish this terrorist organisation in Iraq."

He said some documents were found in an al Qaeda in Iraq hideout where its slain leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been, but did not make clear whether this was the same place where the Jordanian militant was killed last week.

Holding one of them in his hand, Rubaie added:

"I present to you a document that was found in one of Zarqawi's computers that reveals many dangerous things and gives details on strategy and plans of the al Qaeda terrorist organisation in Iraq."

Zarqawi, blamed for a campaign of beheadings and bombings that killed hundreds of people, died in a U.S. air strike north of Baghdad on June 7.

Iraqi and U.S. officials have hailed his death as a major blow to al Qaeda, while cautioning that it would not end violence.

Rubaie said the documents showed that al Qaeda's central strategy was to "divide, destroy and rule".

He added: "These documents have given us the edge over al Qaeda and (they) also gave us the whereabouts of their network, of their leaders, of their weapons and the way they lead the organisation and the whereabouts of their meetings."

Al Qaeda has vowed to fight on and its new leader in Iraq, little known Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, vowed in a Web statement earlier this week to avenge Zarqawi's death.
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