TSR: More on the tape
WOLF BLITZER: Iraq's insurgents were closely watching the U.S. election results and today they responded with insults and some chilling new vows of violence.
Could they extend their reach to America and perhaps even all the way to the White House?
And joining us now, our correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Ware -- Michael, thanks very much.
Let's get right to this threat from the al Qaeda leader in Iraq, threatening the United States, taunting President Bush, ridiculing Donald Rumsfeld -- what's going on here?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing, Wolf, is what we all anticipated. We're seeing the insurgency leap upon the propaganda opportunity that the political upheaval of the mid-term elections and, of course, Secretary Rumsfeld's shocking resignation presented to them.
There's a rising tide of triumphalism here by the insurgent groups operating in the country, the powerful militias and now al Qaeda in Iraq.
First, we saw a politician backed by the anti-American rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr come out and describe all of this as a defeat for American policy.
We then saw the Islamic Army of Iraq come out and describe it as a victory for the insurgency.
Well, today in an audiotape released on the Internet, al Qaeda in Iraq's leader struck the latest rhetorical blow. He called President Bush a lame duck and then charged Secretary Rumsfeld with being a coward, saying al Qaeda has not yet had enough of your blood, and dared him to return to the battlefield. He coupled this taunt with an announcement that he has 12,000 fighters in Iraq that he is now giving to the recently formed Islamic State of Iraq, an al Qaeda-driven body which the organization hopes will be the basis of its international caliphate.
BLITZER: So when they threaten in this new tape to blow up the White House, is that a serious threat? Are these guys capable of really exporting terrorism beyond Iraq?
WARE: Well, we're certainly already seeing the signs of this and we have been for some time. What is happening here, Wolf, and as the National Intelligence Directorate and other agencies are beginning to accept, and are accepting, is that here in the boiling pot of Iraq, the next generation of al Qaeda is being born. Iraq is now serving much as Afghanistan did in the 1980s under the Soviet occupation. It's where the Jihadists went to blood themselves in battle, to form their organizations, and then the veterans went home and spread Jihad.
We're seeing that now in Iraq. So threats that they want to make about Europe or America -- particularly in the wake of September 11, the work of the Afghanistan generation -- has to be taken seriously.
BLITZER: Michael Ware, thanks very much for coming in.
WARE: My pleasure, Wolf.