LARA LOGAN: The election has dominated Iraqi TV, glossy campaign ads offering a better future. But today this shocking internet video released by al Qaeda showed a very different image of Iraq. Masked gunmen executing police recruits in broad daylight, mafia-style. One man tries to escape but is pursued and brutally shot before the gunmen returns to make sure the others are dead.
MICHAEL WARE: This has all the hallmarks of, on its face, a legitimate Zarqawi insurgent video.
LOGAN: What's their intent, do you think, when they release a video like that?
WARE: Firstly, it's to strike terror. But it also serves many other purposes, among them, as recruitment aids. This is an inspirational video.
LOGAN: Michael Ware is the only Western journalist in regular contact with insurgents, and in three years, they've given him hundreds of videos. That's how he can tell this video, showing two Iraqi women hostages, is more likely the work of groups seeking to exploit the current chaos in Iraq than members of an organized terrorist group. The women are seen here pleading for their lives moments before being executed.
WARE: This is essentially a snuff video, on one level, but by the same token this also works to intimidate or to establish a sense of power amongst those who have perpetrated this, for whatever reason.
LOGAN: Ware talks to different insurgent groups, from the religious extremists of al Qaeda to Iraqi nationalist fighters. He persuaded one of the leaders to do something insurgents rarely do: an on-camera interview.
WARE: This is a relatively senior commander and top-level strategist for one of the largest if not the most dominant Baathist insurgent organizations.
LOGAN: He is also a former top-ranking military officer in Saddam Hussein's army, but says he is not fighting to return Saddam to power.
INSURGENT (translator VO): Saddam is a man whose time is gone. But the country who gave birth to him will give birth to others like him, hundreds of thousands.
LOGAN: He revealed their strategy: to fight with both bullets and ballots.
INSURGENT (translator VO): As a resistance, we hope to participate in this political process.
LOGAN: He says he and his men will be voting on election day but they will not lay down their arms.
INSURGENT (translator VO): The resistance will finish when the occupation is finished. After that, the weapons will be dropped.
LOGAN: Ironically, this insurgent commander is exactly the type of military leader that the US once turned away but is now reaching out to, hoping to lure them back into the Iraqi army that's desperately short of experienced leaders.