tv Declassified CNN July 3, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
because i assume that my father is dead, and the reason that he would be dead is because he had killed my wife. as a former fbi agent and chairman of the house intelligence committee, i had oversight of all 16 of our nation's intelligence agencies. my name is mike rogers. i had access to classified information gathered by our operatives. people who risked everything for the united states and our families. you don't know their faces or their names. you don't know the real stories from the people who lived the fear and the pressure. until now. >> zarqawi was hitler-like. his plan was to kill as many people that did not see life the way he saw it.
>> zarqawi was taking advantage of tensions on the ground and taking the candle to that pocket of gas. >> you could watch the country going aflame. we needed to get zarqawi. but he was good at evading capture. >> he could essentially remain invisible. zarqawi made it clear we could lose in iraq. ♪ ♪ ♪
my fellow citizens, at this hour, american and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger. >> every politician wants us to go crush an army they give us their flag, and we can all go home and everybody is wonderful, like a world war ii victory. that ain't going to happen. ♪ >> in the battle of iraq, the united states and our allies have prevailed. >> the united states and allies invaded iraq in the spring of 2003 and there was a set of
assumptions that proved to be wrong. one that we would be accepted as liberators, and, two, that there would be the ability to turn the keys over to a follow-on government after saddam hussein was thrown out of office. >> we got him. >> saddam being captured, all of a sudden you had all this like sense of relief. okay. maybe you have these top ten guys, the army is going to capitulate. they'll give you their banners and we can all go home. forget it. >> that strategy was a failed strategy and we didn't know it. >> after saddam was captured, i think the plan had been to leave. to give the keys to a replacement government, but there was no replacement government. the looting that occurred right after the fall of baghdad showed that there was almost no ability to govern. so had we left, i think we would have appeared extraordinarily irresponsible, as though we had
knocked something over and set it on fire and then driven it out. those iraqis who actually thought life would get demonstrably better were very disappointed because it actually got worse. in 120-degree heat, no electricity, no garbage pickup, no sewage, little law and order. so they became restless. >> we created a huge vacuum by disbanding saddam's regime elements. when we disbanded the iraqi army, we put a bunch of people, mostly sunni, out on to the streets with nothing to do. they had a personal dignity that we took from them. when we took it from them and didn't give it back to them, we sent them home, no paycheck. now they're not being able to take care of their families. that vacuum was created, and it was immediately filled. and zarqawi was the guy who was going to fill it. and he came in like a bat out of hell. >> abu musab al zarqawi started to build a network with the sunnis who were frightened by
their loss of political position inside the country. >> people at the end of the day are the same the world over. they want to matter. in zarqawi's case, he found people who thought they could matter. applied their time and talent. therefore, he got much more support for what should have been a terror organization and it now became much more like an insurgency. >> we are not satisfied of america at all. we are islam. we want our government to be islamic. they said we would bring you freedom. the freedom, we don't want it. >> you have to look at it and go, why did we do that? nobody thought these second, third, fourth order effects of telling an entire army, go home. what the hell are they going to do? and the middle east is not some
great vacation spot. >> zarqawi rose to where he did because he took advantage of the hopes, dreams, aspirations of a group of people who felt they'd been disenfranchised. a largely sunni population felt their interest had been pushed aside for others. >> if you look at what abu musab al zarqawi and electral qaeda o it was far more extreme than the average iraqi was interested in. >> no, no, usa. >> what was the counternarrative if a young person frustrated with the situation comes and says, i think i'll join al qaeda. the mother or father says, don't do that. and they start to point and say, well, join the government, but the government was not credible because it was shia dominated and became increasingly so. there was not a narrative to which a person could have an either/or. so you were asking a tremendous amount of mature self-restraint
not to join the insurgency when they've got really no reinforcing counternarrative. >> god will take our revenge from them. and he's given them an order to go. >> suddenly you have the rise of this al qaeda in iraq leader who can propagate extraordinary violence. and what he was trying to do is create a civil war between sunni and shia. >> zarqawi didn't have the forces to take the united states and the coalition, you know, on directly. he, therefore, needed to create murder, mayhem, chaos, by using the assets that he had. and there was then this tension between sunni and shia and he could exacerbate it in the sense that it wasn't just him the united states needed to worry about but the chaos and confluct that ensued between multiple parties already on the ground. >> at least 60 people killed. 220 wounded.
many taken to hospitals in the center of baghdad. very possibly this was a sectarian attack. >> zarqawi was kind of hitler-like. an individual who was incredibly brutal. a dictator with a plan. and his plan was to kill as many people that did not see life the way he saw it and to try to change the face and the nature of the middle east. and, frankly, the islamic world. >> zarqawi was taking advantage of tensions on the ground between the sunni and shia for hundreds if not thousands of years. essentially taking a candle to that pocket of gas. >> horrific violence that was occurring across the country. there were people being killed every day in baghdad by the score. there were these big suicide bombings, car bombings, 14 a day and some periods during iraq. >> it was a chaotic scene, a dangerous place to be, both for uniformed military and for the innocent civilians caught in
that trap. >> zarqawi became the symbol of the ability to fight head on head against america. he absolutely hated the west. he hated the united states and hated what we represented. >> he was the person that suddenly made it clear we could lose in iraq. >> zarqawi absolutely needed to be killed. he needed to be killed. (ehit every mark.es) ♪ thread every needle. turn every ride, into a thrill ride.
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abu musab al zarqawi was the guy who made us finally believe we could lose in iraq. i thought it was going to be tough, but i thought we'd lose. six or eight months later i thought we could lose. >> zarqawi absolutely needed to be killed. he needed to be killed. the only way that you were going to defeat somebody like him was to understand who he was personally. we started to paint this picture of who we actually needed to focus on capturing. >> zarqawi was a young tough out of jordan. industrial town of zarqa. he'd been in prison and came out as a hardened extremist. >> zarqawi initially was not al qaeda. in many ways, he was more
extreme than many of the senior al qaeda and made them uncomfortable. >> on the other hand very successful in iraq which had become the biggest battlefield between al qaeda and the west. and, therefore, they didn't have much choice other than to back him. >> al qaeda was so successful in iraq that bin laden at a distance could only confer upon him the right to be the amir of that region and to create what we have called al qaeda in iraq, aqi. >> abu musab al zarqawi was a good organizer and good leader. he'd travel around the country and visit local leaders of sunni groups who were potential supporters of al qaeda and deal with them. he was very reasonable, charismatic leader in a small environment. he could solve damn near any problem you give him because he was that kind of person. >> i remember once we listened to a radio program he had done, and he talked to a bunch of his forces around the nation and basically gave credit to the heroes of samara and whatnot. the kind of thing a corporate
leader would do saying, sales did a great job this week. supply chain is doing wonderfully. it was good leadership. >> zarqawi motivated thousands of his followers to commit their lives to the cause. and troops across the coalition were suffering on a daily basis because of improvised explosive devices, insurgent attacks. >> he was walking the walk. he wasn't just some bin laden in a cave kind of thing spewing hatred to the west. he was the field commander for al qaeda fighting america. >> i was placed in command of joint special operations command in october of 2003.
jsoc was an organization put together to do the nation's most sensitive missions. >> i was the senior intelligence officer working for stan mcchrystal while he was the commander of joyce special operations command. >> i was transitioning into deputy director at the national security agency. very engaged in the hunt for zarqawi. >> i immediately went on a tour ofs forces that were deployed and it became clear that our effort in iraq was going to have to increase significantly. as soon as i entered the country, it was evident the insurgency growing, which turpd out to be abu musab al zarqawi was much stronger than people appreciated, and we were likely in for a long fight. so my mission was to be focused against that enemy. >> where was this transition from saddam to zarqawi? the most visible sign of that transition was in march of 2004, which is what's called first
fallujah. the battle of first fallujah. it was insurgency. and zarqawi was leading it. >> fallujah exploded when four contractors were ambushed. killed. their bodies were burned and mutilated. one of them was my old operations sergeant in the rangers. the bodies were hung famously from the traffic bridge, and there were people dancing in the streets. there were young children holding pieces of american bodies almost like y'd wave around a lollipop. the first thing you feel is just rage. you feel frustration. you want to get in and solve the problem. >> they want to kill innocent life. to try to get us to quit. we're not going to. and our military commanders will take whatever action is necessary to secure fallujah on behalf of the iraqi people.
>> this fight starts. the first thing that happens is we're going to go in and get control of fallujah. and very quickly, it boils down into a fight, and then to a siege. >> they were fighting zarqawi and al qaeda. we realized this guy is for real. >> u.s. troops are attacking on several fronts. but they're under fire and the casualties are mounting. >> as an effort was made to recapture the city it was pushed initially and halted for political reasons. >> tonight there are reports that two of the three marine battalions surrounding fallujah have now pulled back from their front line positions. >> what happened was it created this standoff with coalition forces, a few iraqi forces on
the outside, and then al qaeda insurgents controlled by abu musab al zarqawi on the inside. >> you could watch the country going aflame. it was really during that period of iraq when the american military was stopped from going in and inside fallujah became an al qaeda safe haven. >> you had a sanctuary inside we new zarqawi was operating. and whenever a terrorist or insurgent organization controls ground, whenever they control an area, it gives them credibility that they wouldn't otherwise have. we needed to get zarqawi.
>> zarqawi became the leader of al qaeda in iraq in a way that was recognized from mosul to basra to al anbar. >> zarqawi became larger than bin laden. f many pieces in my life. so when my asthma symptoms kept coming back on my long-term control medicine. i talked to my doctor and found a missing piece in my asthma treatment with breo. once-daily breo prevents asthma symptoms. breo is for adults with asthma not well controlled on a long-term asthma control medicine, like an inhaled corticosteroid. breo won't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden breathing problems. breo opens up airways to help improve breathing for a full 24 hours. breo contains a type of medicine that increases the risk of death from asthma problems and may increase the risk of hospitalization in children and adolescents. breo is not for people whose asthma is well controlled on a long-term asthma control medicine, like an inhaled corticosteroid. once your asthma is well controlled,
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whenever a terrorist or insurgent organization controls ground like zarqawi in fallujah, it gives them credibility that they wouldn't otherwise have. he was clearly the leader we were tracking him. my force was going after him, and we were constantly trying to figure out where he was. >> zarqawi was a very clever man. quite intelligent. not simply about how he could create murder and mischief but how he could essentially remain invisible. >> we'd have reports the same day he was in mosul nor alchaim or in baghdad one day and in ramadi an hour before that. you say, there's no way. >> zarqawi was good at evading capture. he had good operational security. didn't use cell phones and whatnot that we could track effectively. he also would go from his traditional sort of black terrorist leader dress into western civilian clothes.
or into iraqi native garb. >> he actually came through checkpoints. think about how bold that is. you are the number one guy being hunted, and you're going to drive around in public. he came through checkpoints and got away. there was a sense that he was everywhere and nowhere. he was an absolute ghost on the battlefield. >> we say every american is out there looking for abu musab al zarqawi. that's technically true. but every american soldier doesn't know what he looks like when he's clean shaven. doesn't know what he's like when he's in western dress driving a sedan. if we were going to find zarqawi, we had to operate faster than zarqawi was operating. he was operating pretty damn fast on that battlefield. >> we begin tonight with torture outrage. arab tv networks plastering
photos all over the air waves of u.s. troops apparently abusing iraqi prisoners. we blurred out the images but we warn you some of them are disturbing. >> in the spring of 2004 is when i first heard about abu ghraib being a potential scandal. abu ghraib was a prison that saddam hussein operated with pretty horrific conditions. and the coalition was using it to hold detainees. to the average american soldier, what's you saw was mistreatment of iraqi prisoners by criminally ill-disciplined american guards. but if you step back from that and you look at it from the eyes of iraqis, i think it was very different. many iraqis said publishing these pictures is just another way to humiliate iraqis. and i think most americans didn't understand that. >> the military has brought criminal charges against six american soldiers and their commander has been suspended.
but the worst damage may be yet to come as the pictures spread throughout the arab world spreading anger n outrage. >> absolutely helped zarqawi, helped in recruiting. a lot of the foreigners we captured and asked them, why were they here? they said to avenge their brothers from abu ghraib. >> zarqawi was given a gift. he'd gotten credibility fighting the americans with the siege of fallujah. and then you had this moral component that says this is what's the americans do. they claim saddam hussein was bad, but they are just as bad. here's proof. >> was it a disaster? >> maybe it was worse than a disaster from my strategic level. it was just left to imagine it being much worse. >> nick berg was a young man who had come to iraq and was doing
contract work. he got captured and then got turned over to al qaeda. >> my father's name is michael. my mother's name is suzanne. >> we were responsible for hostage rescue. we track every american and allied person who was taken hostage with the potential to rescue them, if we could. we didn't know where nick berg was. and then one afternoon, one of my subordinate commanders came in and said you need to watch this. he put his laptop on my desk and hit play on a video. it was, of course, the al qaeda video that had captured nick berg standing in front of a series of black clad hooded al qaeda leaders. nick berg is in an orange jumpsuit. they pull out a large knife and they decapitate him. >> i wish, frankly, fixated on
the video in a morbid kind of way because i remember my fists were just clenched up. not only are you frustrated, you're angry. >> people were always second-guessing, who actually did the beheading? i'll sit here today and tell you i believe from the nuances, the body language, the different individuals, that's zarqawi was the individual who grabbed that young man by the stock of hair at the top of his head and cut his head off and stood there like, screw you, america. >> it really brought the war to a personal level as it got more and more brutal. ♪
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if we were going to find zarqawi, we had to operate faster than zarqawi was operating. he was operating pretty damn fast on that battlefield. >> zarqawi was a crisis. he had an advantage. on the ground. he understood the ground, and he was essentially taking local activities and turning them to deadly purpose. >> insurgencies in fallujah and najaf threaten to undermine stability. this april proved to be the bloodiest month ever in iraq with at least 126 americans
killed. >> very quickly, we realized that just going after enemy leaders won't defeat the enemy movement. you have to defeat the enemy's network. >> we have to reform how we do intelligence operations on this sort of modern battlefield. >> if you go back to when i was younger, intelligence would be collected by military units or civilian intelligence agencies, and then they would send this intelligence to the operational force. you'd go out and capture somebody. you'd come back and turn them over and that's sort of it. that's way too slow. all the things for which operators have risked their lives on was being wasted because we didn't have the capacity to digest it. it's difficult to change an army in combat. >> i wanted to break down every single wall that existed. i did not want operators that were operating out of ramadi not talking to operators operating out of mosul because the guys they were fighting, they are talking to each other. in order to defeat a network,
you have to be a network. so, guys, gals, let's get our shit together and open up the lines of communication when it came to intelligence. >> the single most important thing we can do is collaborate. we got the capabilities that we didn't have, and additional capacity that we could never produce inside my small force, and we leveraged that with conventional forces with intelligence organizations, with other parts of the government. >> mcchrystal, flynn, their pitch to the national security agency was, we don't want your material. we want you. we want you to join us so that your talent is making a difference in realtime. >> i first met mike flynn when he was a colonel. he came into my office and pushed on all fronts for a different relationship between the national security agency and special operations command. asking us to take risks with how we did our work, it would
essentially change the order of how we did what we did for 50 years prior. >> this is a frickin' battlefield. so don't come out here with u.s. policies that function well in washington, d.c., but have no function whatsoever on a battlefield. >> he was right, of course. he pushed us in all the right ways. he got us to a place we couldn't have gotten to alone. oftentimes people's ideas of nsa is a bunch of people in a basement somewhere cracking codes. in order to make a difference, you need to do it in the proximity of the operators who are going to use it. 17,500 or more times we took a person from an nsa organization and deployed them to an operational facility. >> we implemented this blending of operations and intelligence and exploitation of documents, media, all facets of intelligence and began to really
feel like, wow, we've got something different here with how we're bringing together our ops and intel team. >> every day we did an operations and intelligence video teleconference and it had about 76 locations. and at the heighth of the war, that video teleconference would have 7,500 to 9,000 participants. passing information, coming up with commonstrategies, informing each other. it's an information war. the person who knows first and learns fastest wins. >> during the hunt for zarqawi, stan mcchrystal caused the united states intelligence community to collaborate unlike any other time in their history. that transformation that he led actually still alive today and will never go away. >> it took us a while. we were able to operate at a speed that was different. >> by the summer of 2005, we'd been after zarqawi actively for about a year and a half.
and he was probably at the height of his power at that point. he controlled much of the western euphrates river valley. he was able to push violence almost anywhere in the country. and we hadn't been able, obviously, to get him. i was told i needed to fly down to the white house and meet with the president. and the narrow confines of the situation room with all of the national security council sitting there around the table and the president, he asked me very directly. he says, okay, what's are you doing, and are you going to get him? i told him what we had done, and i said, y we will get him. i can't tell you when, but we'll be successful in killing or capturing him. our task force had gotten better and better at what we do. able to do more raises, conduct intelligence better. one of the things that first happened was we captured a video across the internet of abu musab al zarqawi shooting weapons, and it was sort of a propaganda video. we captured the raw footage of
it. >> when al qaeda had finished producing it, they put it out as a propaganda video. it showed him in a very effective combat leader way shooting an american squad automatic weapon. we immediately released the outtakes. and it showed that when the weapon jammed, somebody else had to come and clear the jam for him. and as they walked away from the range and he handed the weapon to one of his terrorist comrades, that's person then handed it to another person who grabbed it barehanded by the hot barrel and burned their hand terribly. it really made them look like clowns. so what had been a very
impressive propaganda video became a clown show. that didn't capture him, but that just convinced me we were closer than ever. we were able to get the video before he released it and figure out where he had been in iraq. our effectiveness as an intelligence agency proved better than ever. we were hotter on the trail of abu musab al zarqawi than ever.
we implemented this blending of operations and intelligence. >> and obviously increasingly confident that we were hotter on the trail of abu musab al zarqawi than ever. in late april of 2006, our intelligence people, using unmanned aerial vehicles were watching a location. and they saw activity. >> and it was just not natural. it looked like a gathering of cars and people in a place where they shouldn't have been. >> one of our intelligence sergeants majors said, we need to go there right now. so the force flew to the objective and immediately did a raid on it. >> there was no fighting at that objective but they captured 12 iraqi men. this was a farming community,
but the people they captured were clearly not farmers. >> you're talking engineers, teachers, a cleric. we narrowed the 12 down to five. we bring the five up to balad for questioning and through interrogations we narrowed that down to the one guy. and that was abu alawi. >> we did not mistreat prisoners. the two interrogators, a male and female that worked with them, built a real relationship with him. they took him down to baghdad to let him meet other people. they let him watch his favorite movie one night which was "the exorcist." then finally after about 40 days they felt frustrated that he knew more than he was willing to tell. and so they said, okay, we are going to stop interrogating you. we're going to send you on in a regular detention system. of course, he didn't want to be
put in the regular detention system. so at a certain point, he simply said, i have something to tell you. >> and he started to tell us about this spiritual adviser named abbel rahman. >> the individual said he knew who the spiritual adviser was. the spiritual adviser would periodically go meet with zarqawi and conduct the kind of spiritual advice you might get from a mentor. >> one of the pieces of intel we got during our interrogations was when there was going to be a meeting with zarqawi, abdel rahman would physically move his entire family from whatever home they were living in to another house. >> so once we located the spiritual adviser, we watched him, put him under surveillance and day after day, we watched for this particular indicator. now this was a difficult time because the violence in baghdad
was high. it was just skyrocketing. and so every day we had this discussion, how long do you go? do you go day after day, the pressure rises to just go and get him before he might disappear. finally one day, we see this spiritual adviser move his family. >> we're like holy -- this is for real. then abdel rahman departs. we thought he was going to go out west toward ramadi and toward the euphrates river valley. we're thinking the whole time that's where zarqawi has been. and lo and behold, the guy doesn't drive west of baghdad. he goes north towards baqubah. >> he moved north in a sedan. suddenly this sedan on a divided highway moving through baghdad pulls off to the side of the road and the individual just gets out and the car drives off. within seconds, a truck called a
bongo truck, pulls up next to him and picks him up and he jumps in and they drive off. clearly a planned switch. we'd call that trade craft. it was pretty impressive. >> now abdel rahman is moving in another vehicle. we decided that we were going to follow every single vehicle. sore we' following both of them. >> he went north and went to a small town, and he went into a corner restaurant. a little shop/restaurant. he went in one door and a little while later comes out another door. and there are multiple pickup trucks parked outside, almost like out of a movie. multiple white pickup trucks all with similar markings. so from 10,000 feet, look the same. now we've watched him enough, people are starting to be confident they know how he walks and how he looks. and he gets in one of the vehicles. >> so we saw the vehicle. the next vehicle he gets in, and
we follow that one. >> he goes up to this area called hibhib, which is an area that looks like a very nice suburb. it's got a road and a small canal. behind that is a palm grove. and so we see the pickup truck come up, come into the driveway of one of the houses, and as it parks in the driveway, the individual gets out and an individual dressed in all black comes out of the house, walks to meet the car and greet him. >> and comes out to the edge of the driveway, looks right, looks left to make sure nobody was following abdel rahman to that site. he came kind of swaggering out in his all dressed in black. everybody, we were all standing there. we were like, holy -- that's zarqawi. everybody's hair was up in their neck. so now it's, let's make sure that everything that we do is done exacting and precise and
with absolute laser focus. >> we order a part of our force, which is down in baghdad, to conduct an air assault movement by helicopter to go up and capture him. capture to talk to hip him, i wanted to be able to interrogate him and we get word one of the helicopters for the raid force has broken, which is very abnormal. almost never happened. now we're worried because he's in the house but what if he leaves and behind the house is a palm grove. if he slips into the palm grove, it would be impossible to get him so the task force, i said what will we do? he said i'll bomb it. we can't get it fast enough. i was initially frustrated i wanted to capture him but i knew he was right so i said okay.
>> so two airplanes up in the sky at that moment refueling. when they come off of refueling, only one comes off so the commander then says okay, we can't wait for the other one. just take yourself and go in there. so he says you got to make sure that you are absolutely precise. don't miss. don't miss. >> and so you're waiting and waiting and waiting and finally get word, bombs away. and a few seconds later, you see a big explosion. >> when i bomb went off i hoped jesus i hope he's dead. i've seen people get up and walk away.
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encounter they have is an ambulance driven by some iraqi police, and they have zarqawi's body in the back. >> i believe they knew who he was. i believe they were taking him somewhere americans wouldn't get him but i can't prove that. they said we got them and our force said no, we got them and a moment guns were drawn and iraqis were backed down. >> five more minutes they would have gotten the body out of there and we would have never known. so our guys try to revive zarqawi and try to save his life and he was so imploded from the explosion that, you know, he was dead. >> we subsequently brought his body down to our headquarters and they lay him on a poncho. >> myself and stan stood over the top of him and we just sort of looked at each other. nobody is cheering over dead
bodies. this is -- that's him. >> he looked exactly like abu m usa b. he was not disfigured, just internally injured. >> now zarqawi met his end and this violent man will never murder again. zarqawi's death is a severe blow to ali qaeda. >> we lost people and he had killed an extraordinary number of innocent iraqis so there was a satisfaction that we had done away with something that was in my view inherently equal. >> we accomplished a major mission, but we knew we had a lot more to go because there was a lot more bad guys out there still. so it wasn't like we crushed his army and they all surrendered. this is not the kind of war ffa we're involved?
>> as some iraqi police celebrated the news, many others worn down by three long years of violence are hoping this could be a turning point. >> when zarqawi was removed by the battle field that was by no means the end of anything. that was the restart of the larger purpose. >> this thing is not over by far. i mean, it's great that we got him, but zarqawi created an army and created an army not just in ira iraq. >> he created a credible insurgency with terrorists tactics. something bigger than a terrorist organization. he created a movement. >> when i look at what we're facing now i see zarqawi all over this battle field. zarqawi is the father of the islamic state and that consists
of lebanon, jordan, parts of israel, syria, most of iraq, even the northern part of saudi arabia. zarqawi named it. so the modern day islamic state that we still will be dealing with years from now, he created i it. >> the terrorist group known as isil must be degraded and december ployed. >> he convinced people it was achievable. >> it's an ideology and belief system until we change the behavior of this radical form of islam, we're never going to defeat this crowd.
♪ ♪ as a former fbi agent and chairman of the house committee, i had all 16 of of our agencies. i had access to classified information gathered by our operatives. people who risked everything for the united states and our families. we don't know their names or the real stories from the people who lived the pressure and the fear until now. >> every military force on the
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