PZN: " 'You have given power to...Iran.' "

Click photo to play
Length: 3:16

PAULA ZAHN: Now on to our "Top Story" of the day, what could be a dramatic new development: an offer from a major insurgent group to stop attacking U.S. troops in Iraq. It's all on an amazing new videotape you're about to see, exclusive information, only here on CNN, and it comes at a time when the death toll in Iraq has taken an alarming surge.

Let's go straight to Michael Ware, who joins us live from Baghdad.

Michael, what is behind this amazing surge in violence?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you need to bear in mind a number of things, Paula.

This is the holy month of Ramadan. So, we're seeing the fourth Ramadan offensive by the insurgents since the war began. This is a traditionally high period of insurgent attacks. Plus, al Qaeda's new leader launched a Ramadan campaign of his own. So, in many ways, this is to be expected, particularly as we see the ebb and flow of this war, as the insurgents adapt to new techniques, more lethal ways of attacking U.S. troops -- Paula.

ZAHN: And you got some, as we said, exclusive information from one of these insurgent leaders by asking him questions. He, in turn, supplied the answers on a videotape. What did he say about his effort to derail the U.S. military efforts in Iraq?

WARE: Well, what he was saying, essentially, is that the U.S. mission has not been working. He's saying that, by and large, you have given power in Iraq to a rival of both our organization and you, the United States, which is Iran. He said that this, in fact, has become one of the driving forces sustaining the insurgency.


IBRAHIM AL-SHIMARY: (through translator): America and Iran have occupied Iraq. America is the disease that caused the infection, which is the Iranian occupation.


WARE: But what he also says is that this faction of the insurgency, one of the most important for the attacks against U.S. forces, renews its longstanding offer to negotiate.

We have seen covert discussions under way between the insurgents and U.S. military. We have seen Ambassador Khalilzad acknowledge that these talks have been taking place. Here, again, the insurgents are saying, let's try again -- Paula.

ZAHN: What else did this insurgent leader have to say, specifically a message for the U.S.?

WARE: Well, that was the thing about these -- these statements, the answers to our questions. He was talking directly to Americans.

He talked about President Nixon and Watergate. He talked about President Bush's May 2003 "mission accomplished" statement. He said that you need to question -- he called upon the American people to question the president's record on Iraq.

What he also said was that the Iraq insurgents, not al Qaeda -- he said, we are different to them -- but the Iraq insurgents pose no threat to U.S. homeland security. They just want to free their country -- Paula.

ZAHN: Well, that's something that's strikingly different than -- than we hear back here from some of our politicians.

Michael Ware, in Baghdad, thanks so much.