(CNSNews.com) - With less than two weeks until the U.S. relinquishes political authority in Iraq, one retired American general fears terrorists are planning "a catastrophic event," one that "is going to make 9/11 look like kid's play."
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney spoke Wednesday at an event sponsored by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, an institution that claims "to focus on policies to best end terrorism."
McInerney reminded his audience that several nation-states could threaten the fragile democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq. He mentioned Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and Russia as examples.
"Iraq has become the battleground," he said. "The fundamentalists cannot afford to let us be successful to create freedoms in Iraq." According to McInerney, the future of Iraq is modeled under "the five freedoms," freedom of education, economy, information, individual and governance.
Jonathon Schanzer from The Washington Institute said the terrorist threat in Iraq involves "a number of overlapping and concentric circles representing different groups." Schanzer said it is critical for the U.S. to defeat militant Islam, but that "terrorism in Iraq is amorphous, and can no longer be neatly categorized."
Military analysts are especially worried about the tactics of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a top al Qaeda operative who recently was seen in a videotape decapitating American contractor Nicholas Berg.
"I would frankly not want to see Zarqawi on trial, I want to see him dead," said Stephen Hayes, a journalist for The Weekly Standard.
Military analysts agree that to ensure democracy and freedom in Iraq, the U.S. must persevere and break down the terrorist ties in the country.
"To back off from Iraq now will be a tragedy," said Hayes.
McInerney echoed those comments. "We are winning over there. Fifty-million people have been freed and freedom is starting to spread," he said. "It is not democracy right away, but it is freedom of information, freedom of education, freedom of economies, freedom of government and freedom of the individual."
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