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Bush Says bin Laden Told Zarqawi to Attack US
President Uses Graduation Address to Declassify Intel
05/23/2007 7:15 PM ET
New London, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (C) walks past cadets during graduation ceremonies 23 May 2007 at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
Paul Richards/AFP/Getty
New London, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (C) walks past cadets during graduation ceremonies 23 May 2007 at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

I've often warned that if we fail in Iraq, the enemy will follow us home. Many ask: How do you know? Today, I'd like to share some information with you that attests to al Qaeda's intentions. According to our intelligence community, in January 2005, Osama bin Laden tasked the terrorist Zarqawi -- who was then al Qaeda's top leader in Iraq -- with forming a cell to conduct terrorist attacks outside of Iraq. Bin Laden emphasized that America should be Zarqawi's number one priority in terms of foreign attacks. Zarqawi welcomed this direction; he claimed that he had already come up with some good proposals.

To help Zarqawi in these efforts, our intelligence community reports that bin Laden then tasked one of his top terrorist operatives, Hamza Rabia, to send Zarqawi a briefing on al Qaeda's external operations, including information about operations against the American homeland. Our intelligence community reports that a senior al Qaeda leader, Abu Faraj al-Libi, went further and suggested that bin Laden actually send Rabia, himself, to Iraq to help plan external operations. Abu Faraj later speculated that if this effort proved successful, al Qaeda might one day prepare the majority of its external operations from Iraq.

In May of 2005, Abu Faraj was captured and taken into CIA custody. Several months later, in December 2005, Rabia was killed in Pakistan. Several months after that, in June of 2006, the terrorist Zarqawi was killed by American forces in Iraq. Successes like these are blows to al Qaeda. They're a testament to steps we have taken to strengthen our intelligence, work closely with partners overseas, and keep the pressure on the enemy by staying on the offense. (Applause.)

President Bush's Commencement Address at the United States Coast Guard Academy May 23, 2007

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