U.S. wants to help Iraq map al-Qaida network

The U.S. wants to help Iraq map the sophisticated al-Qaida network to reduce the high number of recent terrorist attacks in Iraq, a senior U.S. administration official said on Thursday.

The official made the remarks on Thursday during a background briefing on the U.S.-Iraq political and diplomatic joint coordination committee meeting and the U.S.-Iraq bilateral relationship under the strategic framework agreement. The U.S. and Iraq met on Thursday as part of the Strategic Framework Agreement to coordinate diplomatic and political issues.

The senior official responded to questions during the briefing, including one asking if the U.S. and Iraq were able to agree on any short-term remedies for recent terrorist attacks instigated by al-Qaida. The official said the U.S. wants to help reduce the increased number of suicide bombers in the last three months in Iraq by helping the Iraqis find, map and target members of the al-Qaida network.

"What we want to help the Iraqis do is have the information to be able to map the network, to get at its financing, and to be very precise in its targeting, because Iraqi forces are under threat and they're liable to make mistakes such as going at the threat in a symmetrical way, rounding up too many people, targeting the wrong person, which makes the whole problem worse," the official said. "So we are working this at the diplomatic level, our military-to-military ties, saying we face a real problem here, it's a mutual interest of ours to get after it."

The official said the U.S. did not want Iraq to make the same mistake it made in some years by going after an asymmetrical threat using symmetrical methods.

During the meeting between Iraq and the U.S., U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that the U.S. would help Iraq with the recent problem of terrorism through information and intelligence sharing. Kerry said in the long-term that the matter can only be addressed through a combination of security, intelligence, political outreach and economic outreach.

The official said that in the last two years there were an average of five to 10 suicide bombers per month in Iraq in 2011 and 2012. There were approximately 30 bombers per month in the last 90 days in Iraq, most of which may be coming from Syria.