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Iraq Transition

U.S.: Outtakes show al-Zarqawi as poor gunman

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Iraq
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Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is seen as a less-than-accomplished gunman on a "complete" version of last week's Web video, according to a U.S. military commander.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch on Thursday showed excerpts of the full video, found in a raid in Yusufiya south of Baghdad, that depict al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, and his aides appearing all-thumbs with firearms.

In the version posted on the Web, al-Zarqawi spoke directly to viewers, mocking the United States and the Iraqi government and exhorting his supporters to fight the U.S.-led operation.

The video also showed the militant, dressed in black fighter's garb, standing in an open field and firing a machine gun. ( Watch experts point out Zarqawi's mistakes -- 2:37)

Lynch showed parts of the "complete video" that pictured the militant leader and what he called "supposedly competent" aides after al-Zarqawi was seen firing the machine gun.

Al-Zarqawi is seen walking toward a white pickup truck in "New Balance tennis shoes" with associates around him, called "his trusted advisers" by Lynch.

They "do things like grab the hot barrel of a machine gun and burn themselves," Lynch said, narrating the video to reporters.

In another portion, Lynch said, "Here's Zarqawi, the ultimate warrior, trying to shoot his machine gun.

"It's supposed to be automatic fire. He's shooting single shots one at a time. Something's wrong with his machine gun. He looks down, can't figure it out. He calls his friend to unblock the stoppage and get the weapon firing again."

CNN reviewed the tapes later.

After the shooting scene, al-Zarqawi heads toward a white truck and hands his gun to someone else, suggesting that the video might have been staged strictly for the camera.

At one point after the shooting scene, al-Zarqawi looks straight at the camera and says something, but the audio is muted.

At least one masked man behind him appears to be cheering him on.

Lynch said that what was seen on the Web last week was what al-Zarqawi "wanted the world to see."

"Look at me," he said al-Zarqawi was trying to impart, "I'm a capable leader of a capable organization and we are indeed declaring war against democracy in Iraq and we're going to establish an Islamic caliphate."

"What he didn't show you were the clips that I showed you," he said, adding, "it makes you wonder."

Lynch was asked how al-Zarqawi can be a "terror mastermind" if he can't handle a firearm.

"You'll probably need to defer that question to his followers," Lynch said, noting that they have allowed him to be established as a leader.

Lynch said the images he showed indicate that al-Zarqawi "tends to have a problem" with mastering his own weapons system and with finding capable and competent aides.

"Why he's their leader, I don't know."

When asked about the al-Zarqawi video, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said he hadn't seen the clips, but said the terrorist leader was "trying to engage in desperate attempts to derail the transition to democracy in Iraq. (Watch the video of al-Zarqawi released last week -- 2:57)

"Here's another al Qaeda leader that is under a lot of pressure," McClellan said. "Zarqawi and his terrorist allies were dealt a real blow in Iraq by the formation of a unity government that represents all of Iraq's communities.

"Now we know that they're determined and they want to continue to carry out attacks and that's why we're partnering with Iraqi security forces ... and we will continue to do so."

CNN Senior Editor for Arab Affairs Octavia Nasr contributed to this report.

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