AC: "...religious fervor and hatred gone berserk"

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Length: 3:55

ANDERSON COOPER: Well, Iran, of course, has become a major player in Iraq. And, in Iraq tonight, there's been more bloodshed, more sectarian violence.

The Bush administration will not say it's a civil war. But today, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan weighed in on the possibility. Listen.


KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: If they can address the needs and common interests of all Iraqis, the promise of peace and prosperity is still within reach. But if current patterns of alienation and violence persist much longer, there is a great danger that the Iraqi state will break down, possibly in the midst of the full-scale civil war.


COOPER: Michael Ware joins from Baghdad now with more on Annan's comments and the possibility of civil war.

What do you think, Michael? Based on what you have been seeing on the ground, do you think Annan is right?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're very, very close to it, if we're not already there, Anderson. I think now it's just a matter of semantics.

I mean, yesterday morning, there was 14 more tortured and executed bodies that were found on the streets of the capital. That, in Baghdad terms, is a low day. That's a good day. It brought the week's total to 198 bodies found. That's up from 150, all attributed to the sectarian violence. That doesn't account for the bodies that are found by the families and removed independently.

That's also not accounting for conflicts in the numbers between Iraqi government authorities and U.S. military authorities. I mean, people are dying here in droves. They're being hauled from their homes, hauled from the streets, shot in drive-bys. They're being beheaded, and they're being tortured, all in the name of sectarian violence -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah, why the torture? I mean, when you read about how some of these people were kidnapped, and then how their bodies were found, I mean, people with power-drilled -- you know, their heads were power-drilled in. I mean, why torture people like that?

WARE: It's not just their heads. They're finding drill marks throughout their bodies, suggesting that they're starting down and working their way up.

It seems that these people are experiencing an excruciating death, almost beyond imagination. It's brought me to ask some members of some of these militias about the torturers. Can you imagine who these men are? They must have a cell or a bloodied room somewhere, where all they do is bring in victim after victim, and just torture them to death.

Why? It's not to extract information. It's not for any military purpose. They are just torturing them for the sake of torturing them. This is about provocation. This is about religious fervor and hatred gone berserk.

So, they're just torturing them to send a signal to other members of their sect. It's just pure, bloodied provocation -- Anderson.

COOPER: And it's Shia vs. Sunni, Sunni vs. Shia. I mean, it goes -- they're -- both sides torturing one another?

WARE: Absolutely. It goes both ways. And, at the end of the day, in the very, very beginning of all of this, you have to give the credit, ultimately, to one man that not only the U.S. forces could not stop, but who, by default, they created. And that's the now dead leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Zarqawi laid this out more than two years ago. In a captured letter to Osama bin Laden, we saw it for the first time. He said: Let's provoke the Shia. Let's go out there and antagonize them. Let's butcher them. Let's force them to rise up against the Sunni. It is only this that will awake the sleeping giant, the Sunni beast. And then we will rise up in the great holy war.

It's all down to Zarqawi -- Anderson.

COOPER: And his bloody legacy continues.

Michael Ware, appreciate it. Stay safe, Michael.