By Donna Miles
WASHINGTON, July 26, 2006 – Iraq is the front line in the war on terror and ultimately will serve as a "graveyard for terrorism," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told a joint session of Congress here today. Maliki repeatedly thanked the lawmakers for the United States' steadfast support for his country and assured them that Iraq will remain a solid ally in the terror war. "Iraq will never forget those who stood with her ... and who continue to stand with her in times of need," he said.
The prime minister compared the losses Iraq faces at the hands of Islamic extremists to those the U.S. experienced during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. "Thousands of lives were tragically lost on Sept. 11th, when these imposters of Islam reared their ugly head," he said. "Thousands more continue to die in Iraq today at the hands of the same terrorists who show complete disregard for human life."
The prime minister praised the U.S. and other coalition partners who ousted former dictator Saddam Hussein and now are helping Iraq overcome terrorists who aim to derail its new democracy. "Many around the world ... underestimated the resolve of Iraq's people and were sure that we would never reach this stage. Few believed in us," he said. "But you, the American people, did -- and we are grateful for this."
Terrorists continue to threaten Iraq, but Maliki insisted that the Iraqi people, with help from their friends abroad, will prevail against them. I "will not allow Iraq to become a launch pad for al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations," he said. "Trust that Iraq will be the graveyard for terrorism and terrorists, ... for the good of all humanity."
Maliki said the outcome of the terror war in Iraq will impact the rest of the free world. "Do not think that this is an Iraqi problem," he cautioned. "This terrorist front is a threat to every free nation in the world and their citizens," he said. "What is at stake is nothing less than our freedom and liberty. Confronting and dealing with this challenge is the responsibility of every liberal democracy that values its freedom."
He acknowledged that the road ahead will be bumpy, but said continued vigilance will ensure victory over terrorism. "The coming few days are difficult, and the challenges are considerable" he said. "Iraq and America both need each other to defeat the terror engulfing the free world," he said. "In partnership, we will be triumphant because we will never be slaves to terror, for God has made us free."
Following today's session with Congress, Maliki was slated to join President Bush in visiting servicemembers and their families at Fort Belvoir, Va.