The Command Post
Iraq
December 31, 2004
Al Qaeda : Democracy is Apostasy

From the AFP via ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Radical Islamist groups in Iraq said in an Internet statement Thursday they considered democracy “farcial and un-Islamic” and warned that no-one who took part in next month's polls would be safe.

Those who participate in this dirty farce will not be sheltered from the blows of the mujahedeen,” said a statement posted on an Islamist website signed by the Al Qaeda linked Ansar Al-Sunna, the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Army of the Mujahedeen.
[…]
Democracy is a word of Greek origin meaning the sovereignty of the people… this concept is considered apostasy, contrary to the doctrine of one God and Sharia (Islamic law),” the statement from the three groups said.

Democracy is a farce created by our enemies to confer what they call legitimacy on the new government which is subservient to the crusaders and executes their orders.

To try to ensure these elections succeed would be the greatest gift to America, the enemy of Islam and the tyrant of our time,” it added.

The group said democracy could lead to the adoption of laws considered un-Islamic, such as homosexual marriage. “By virtue of democracy, members of parliament become gods themselves.
[…]
Earlier Friday Iraq's electoral commission, charged with administering the country's January 30 polls, vigorously denied an al-Jazeera television report that its 700 members had resigned in the troubled northern city of Mosul fearing attacks.

Oil Refinery Ablaze

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) : A mortar or rocket strike has set fire to Baghdad's Dura oil refinery, according to an Interior Ministry official and the US military.

After an initial blaze, the fire was contained, a US military spokesperson said.

Two civilians were treated for smoke inhalation in what the US military called a probable rocket attack.

Earlier, an interior ministry official said Baghdad firemen were struggling to douse the fire.

The attack occurred at 10:00 pm local time, the official said.

December 30, 2004
Anaother Zarqawi Aide Taken

From the AFP via The Australian :

US-led forces in Iraq have captured a senior member of the al-Qaeda-linked network led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Iraqi Government said today.

Fadil Hussain Ahmed al-Kurdi was captured along with two other suspected insurgents, the Government said.

Kurdi, a 26-year-old Iraqi Kurd also known as Ridha, was the brother of Umar Baziyani, a Zarqawi lieutenant captured in May, it said.

Ridha was responsible for facilitating communications between al-Qaeda and the Zarqawi terror networks as well as coordinating the movement of terrorists in and out of Iraq,” a Government statement said.

Both Ridha and Umar Baziyani remain in detention and are being questioned by Iraqi and coalition forces.

The Government did not say when the arrests were made.

US forces said three weeks ago they had seized unidentified “trans-national terrorists” in Baghdad.
[…]
The Government said this week another senior member of Zarqawi's network was captured in Mosul.

Special Analysis: Bin Laden's Iraq Tapes

[by Dan Darling]

Reading through the rants of Osama bin Laden is not the way I imagine most people would want to spend the week before New Year's, but I figure somebody has to it, so why not yours truly?

And my is there a lot of a bile to sort through this time around, so I apologize in advance for the length of this post. All the same, I've been out of circulation for awhile so I hope to make it worth your while. This set of excerpts deals specifically with Bin Laden's taped message to the Iraqi people, and al-Qaeda's operations in Iraq.

The Iraqi Tape

Etc.

2 Lebanese Kidnapped

From News Ltd :

Armed men burst into a house in the upscale Baghdad neighbourhood of Mansour overnight and seized two Lebanese businessmen, police said.
25 Insurgents Killed in Mosul Clash

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

US troops backed by warplanes have battled insurgents in the Iraqi city of Mosul, killing about 25 guerrillas in fierce clashes after being attacked by suicide bombs and rocket-propelled grenades.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Paul Hastings said a suicide vehicle bomb exploded near a US military outpost in Mosul, and a second suicide attack targeted a US patrol responding to the first blast.

The patrol also had to negotiate several roadside bombs and when it reached the combat outpost, it came under attack from around 50 insurgents firing assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

Close air support was called in. Initial estimates are 25 enemy killed,” Lieutenant Hastings said.

He said 15 US troops were wounded in the clashes, none of whom had returned to active duty.

Witnesses said the first suicide attack was a bomb in a fuel truck that was detonated at a house in Mosul that has been occupied by US troops since last month, when insurgents overran several police stations in the city and looted them of weapons and equipment.

December 29, 2004
Australian Contingent Rotates In

From The Australian :

Another contingent of Australian soldiers has left for Iraq as part of the next rotation of a security detachment.

Elements of the Brisbane-based 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, the Darwin-based 2nd Cavalry Regiment and the Sydney-based 1st Military Police Battalion left today to take up their new role with the Australian Embassy Security Detachment (SECDET).

They will provide protection and support to the Australian Embassy in Baghdad.

The group, which will work under Operation Catalyst, was farewelled by family and friends at a ceremony at Brisbane's Enoggera Barracks.
[…]
The soldiers will form part of a security detachment of about 120 personnel, including Australian Light Armoured Vehicles and an explosive ordnance detachment, to provide protection and escort for Australian government personnel for six months.

The detachment will also be responsible for the protection of the Australian Army Training Team Iraq.

Ramsay Clark Joins Saddam Defence Team

From The Australian :

Former US attorney general Ramsey Clark is to join the defence team of Saddam Hussein, a spokesman for the toppled Iraqi president's lawyers said today.

Mr Clark, who held the office of attorney general under US president Lyndon B. Johnson, “is one of the members of the defence team of president Saddam Hussein,” Ziad Khassawneh said.

This honours and inspires us.
[…]
Mr Clark also said the US itself must be tried for the November assault on Fallujah, destruction of houses, torture in prisons and its role in the deaths of thousands of Iraqis in the war.

Ukraine to Pull Out Troops by Year End

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Ukraine will withdraw its 1,400-strong military contingent from Iraq by the end of next year, Defence Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Next April we will be sending only a reinforced battalion rather than a brigade and by the end of 2005 we will complete our pullout of the contingent,” Mr Kuzmuk's press service quoted him as saying.

The statement said a battalion would be made up of about 500 servicemen.

Ukraine's original contingent sent to Iraq was made up of some 1,600 servicemen. It has suffered nine dead and 30 injured.

The withdrawal is supported by all political forces in Ukraine.

Liberal Viktor Yushchenko, winner of this week's presidential election re-run of one that had been declared rigged, favoured the pullout as did his defeated rival, Viktor Yanukovich.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Claims Credit For Failed Assassination Attempt On Shiite Leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terrorist group, al-Qaida in Iraq formerly Tawhid and Jihad, has claimed credit for the failed assassination attempt on top Shiite leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim that killed 15 and wounded 50. The statement was posted to an internet website.

Yahoo/AP

The group of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility Tuesday for the assassination attempt against the leader of Iraq's largest Shiite Muslim party that killed and wounded dozens of people.

"On Monday morning, one of the lions of the martyrdom seekers brigades, belonging to the military wing of al-Qaida in Iraq launched an attack in order to wipe out one of the symbols of treason for the Americans," the statement said.

It added that "We tell you Hakim that if one arrow missed you we have many more arrows."

Tipped by: Chad at In The Bullpen (Crossposted to The Jawa Report). Chad has more to say on this.

Originally posted at Diggers Realm

Baghdad Blast kills 28

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A powerful blast has destroyed a house and killed 28 people in western Baghdad during a night-time police raid.

Seven police are among the dead.

Police say the house had been raided because it is a suspected base for foreign militants.

As police burst in, a blast tore through the building, destroying it and five nearby houses.

By dawn, US and Iraqi troops had sealed off the site.

Some locals say they believe the house had been used by foreign Arab fighters.

10,000 Prisoners Held

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Over 350 foreigners are among about 10,000 detainees being held in US-run prisons in Iraq, Iraq's Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin Over says.

US forces told us on December 23 that they are holding 353 foreign terrorists,” Mr Amin said.

He says they include: 61 Egyptians, 59 Saudis, 56 Syrians, 40 Jordanians, 35 Sudanese, 22 Iranians, 10 Tunisians, 10 Yemenis, eight Palestinians and five Lebanese, among others.

US military detainee operations spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnston refused to comment on the figures.

I will not confirm numbers of specific nationalities held among foreign fighters,” Lt Col Johnston said.

As a matter of policy, we only share those numbers with government officials.

8,000 Return to Fallujah

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

My guess is right about now 8,000 people have returned,” Brigadier General Erv Lessel told AFP.

He stressed that while some of those admitted had opted to stay in the city, most had left after viewing their homes.

So far, only residents of the central commercial district of Al-Andalus are being admitted while the rest of the city remains closed.

2 US Soldiers Killed in Roadside Blasts

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Roadside bombs have killed two United States soldiers and wounded five in two separate blasts in Iraq, the US military has said.

An attack on a US military patrol in Samarra, about 100 kilometres north of the capital, killed one soldier and wounded another overnight, it said in a statement.

A second soldier was killed and four wounded by another blast in Baghdad early on Monday morning, it said.

An improvised explosive device detonated at approximately 7:45am (local time) Monday, killing one soldier and wounding four others,” the statement said.

December 28, 2004
42 Die in Attacks
At least 43 people were killed as insurgents launched a string of attacks on the Iraqi security forces raising questions about their readiness to secure landmark elections next month.

The flurry of assaults followed the airing on Arabic television of a purported voice recording of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden naming fugitive Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his Iraqi “emir” and calling for a boycott of the January 30 poll.

Outgoing US Secretary of State Colin Powell warned the deadly insurgency would rage on, no matter what the outcome of the election.

Read more..

Attacks Kill At Least Six Iraqi Police Officers
Insurgents killed at least six Iraqi police officers and wounded five others Tuesday in five separate attacks in north-central Iraq, the U.S. military said.

Four of the attacks occurred near the town of Balad — about 50 miles south of Tikrit — killing five police officers and wounded three others, said Capt. Bill Coppernoll of the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division.

A fifth insurgent attack at a traffic checkpoint near Tikrit killed an Iraqi police officer and wounded two others, Coppernoll said.

Six miles south of Baquba Tuesday, a suicide car bomber targeted Iraqi national guard troops at a traffic circle as they were working on the aftermath of an earlier roadside bombing, the U.S. military said.

Read more…

December 27, 2004
New Bin Laden Tape Calls on Iraqis to Boycott Elections
The Arabic-language satellite television channel al-Jazeera said Monday it had received a new audiotape in which Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden appeared to call on Iraqis to boycott the upcoming elections.

Al-Jazeera had not yet broadcast the audiotape, but said the voice proclaimed Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq.

Read more..

Sunni Party Withdraws (Again)

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Iraq's top Sunni Muslim party is withdrawing from January 30 elections, saying persistent violence would keep people from voting in the Sunni north and west.

We are withdrawing,” Mohsen Abdel Hamid, head of the Iraqi Islamic Party, told a news conference on Monday.

We are not calling for a boycott but we said we would take part only if certain conditions had been met and they have not.

His party had threatened to boycott the election unless it was postponed by up to six months to ensure that voters across the country would be able to vote.

Violence in Sunni areas has raised fears that voters there will be too intimidated to cast their ballots.

The Iraqi Islamic Party had fielded a list of 275-candidates for the January 30 vote, which will choose a National Assembly to draft a constitution and appoint a government.

It was not clear if the party would appear on ballot papers.

Foreign Minister Hints at Election Delay "in some areas"

From Xinhua and the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Landmark elections planned for next month could be delayed in some parts of Iraq due to the fragile security situation, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said in an interview with Chinese state media.

Mr Zebari told Xinhua news agency that with security still a major concern, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) may decide to delay the elections scheduled for January 30.

Elections in dangerous regions like Mosul and around Baghdad may be delayed so that we can concentrate our security resources to destroy opponents' capacity to target and intimidate people,” Mr Zebari said.

Mr Zibari says the IEC will have the final say, but also stressed that there will be no significant changes to the pre-designed election schedule.

Preparations are continuous and everyone is committed,” he said.

We have security plans to defend the safety in most polling stations and lecture centres.

“Whatever situation we may face, we should not stop but move forward.
[…]
Mr Zebari says that despite this, “14 to 15 of the 18 provinces in Iraq are relatively safe”.

Mr Zebari has been targeted by militants with three abortive car bomb attempts discovered by his guards within a month.

It's dangerous,” he said. “It's no joke.”

“We are building our military, police and intelligence capabilities and trying to make the security situation tolerable.

Winds' Iraq Report : Dec. 27/04

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

TOP TOPICS

  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited troops in Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah over the weekend. The Secretary admitted that things looked 'bleak' in Iraq at the moment, but reiterated his confidence that the Coalition would prevail. Army Chief of Staff General Peter J. Schoomaker also visited troops in Iraq (link requires registration) and said that he felt the war there was going pretty well.
  • An insurgent web site shows what they claim to be footage of the attack on the U.S. base in Mosul. The insurgents claim the bomber snuck in through a hole in the fence during a guard change, which is a mix of good news and bad news; if true, at least the bomber wasn't able to get through the checkpoint, but why did the security fail to detect the hole in the wire?

Other Topics Today Include: Iraqi general says his troops will fight; economic difficulties in Iraq; elections report; Australians turn against the war; bad news of Abu Ghraib; the AP's 'lucky' photographer.

Read the Rest…

Terrorist Kills Self, Family in "Industrial Accident"

Updating a previous post, it seems the family killed by the bombing was that of the bomber. From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

An insurgent accidentally has killed himself and four members of his family in Iraq's southern city of Karbala.

Police say a bomb he was making exploded inside his house.

A woman was also wounded in the blast.

Reserved Seats for Sunnis Mooted

From the New York Times and AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The United States is talking to Iraqi leaders about ways to guarantee minority Sunni Muslims a minimum level of top posts in Iraq's future government, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

The newspaper said Washington is lobbying Iraq to secure the broad Sunni participation, regardless of the outcome of the January 30 election.

Citing an unnamed Western diplomat, the newspaper said US officials had already raised with an aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, the possibility of adding some top Sunnis to the 275-member legislature, even if they lose to non-Sunni candidates.

The diplomat said that some Shiite politicians fear even more instability if Sunni Arabs are shut out of power, The Times said.

A White House spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the report, saying Iraqi election authorities must decide the country's electoral process.

It is up to the Iraqi Elections Commission to determine the rules,” deputy spokesman Trent Duffy told reporters.

For his part, Abdul Hussein Al-Hindawi, the head of the Iraq Independent Electoral Commission, said such a move would trespass on the powers of the electoral board and the integrity of the elections.

It is a newspaper statement. It is not a reality. We know that the commission is the only authority in the country for elections,” Mr Hindawi told AFP.

“It is a newspaper statement. It is not a reality.” That about sums it up for the NYT for many people, not just in Iraq.

Mosul Bombing Video Released

From the AFP via The Australian :

Islamist group Ansar al-Sunna meanwhile posted footage on its website claiming to show a masked man identified as Abu Omar al-Mosuli hugging comrades before heading off to carry out the attack on the Mosul base, that killed 22, including 14 US military personnel.

Another scene in the video showed a plume of white smoke that looks like the explosion that shook the military base mess hall on Tuesday.

He infiltrated “through a breach in the perimeter fence … during a changing of the guard, following prolonged surveillance,” said the statement read by one militant.

13 Killed in Bombings, Shootings

Terrorists targeted a Politician, Truck Drivers, and random civilians. From the AFP via The Australian :

Seven members of the same family were killed when a bomb blast in the Shiite holy city of Karbala levelled their home yesterday, police said.

Just two family members survived – an elderly woman and a seven-year-old girl who was out of the house at the time, police spokesman Rahman Meshari said.

Earlier, two people were arrested in Karbala – one with 3000 mortar shells and the second with explosives detonators, said police in the city where a bomb killed 14 people a week ago.

A politician critical of Syria, a civil defence force officer and one of his assistants were gunned down in shootings in the Baghdad area.

Three masked gunmen opened fire on Mohammed Abdul-Hussein from the Democratic Party of the Iraqi Nation as he left home, the organisation's leader, Mithal Alussi, said.

Mr Alussi, who blamed the former ruling Baath party and Syrian intelligence agents for the killing, and his party was recently expelled from a wider political coalition after he visited Israel.

Further north, a father and son were killed in a roadside bombing in Baiji, police said. A Turkish truck driver was also killed by armed men as he passed through the city.

5 Executed in Ramadi

From The Australian :

Insurgents shot dead five men in the restive Iraqi city of Ramadi overnight and left their corpses in the street with a handwritten note identifying them as police, witnesses said.

Residents said they found the bodies this morning. Reuters television footage showed them lying in jeans and sweaters in the centre of the western city that is a hotbed of insurgent activity against the US-backed government.

“This is a group of infidel police officers who came from Diyala province to pursue and capture mujahideen,” read a lined piece of paper, secured to one of the bodies with a brick.

“We were able with God's help to hunt them down.”

At least one of the dead men had his hands tied behind his back. Residents said they heard them being shot during the night. The note named each of the dead men. It was not immediately possible to confirm if they were police officers.

Nine Dead, Forty Wounded in Car Blast
Nine people were killed and 40 others were wounded on Monday when a car bomb targeting top Shiite leader exploded in Iraq.

At least 40 people were wounded in the blast which occurred outside the offices of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri) in Baghdad.

The son of top Shiite leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim told reporters that his father escaped the assassination bid.

Read more…

December 26, 2004
Marines capture 2 Terrorist Leaders

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

US marines say they have captured two leaders of a militant group linked to Al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq's restive city of Ramadi.

They say the men, Saleh Arugayan Khalil, also known as Abu Obaida, and Bassem Mohammad Hazim, also known as Abu Khattab, were captured on December 8 and December 12.

The pair were picked up during sweeps of the mainly Sunni Muslim province west of the capital.

These individuals were cell leaders for a local Zarqawi-affiliated terrorist group that is operating in Ramadi and western Anbar province,” the marines said in a statement.

This group is responsible for intimidating, attacking and murdering innocent Iraqi civilians, police, security forces and business and political leaders throughout the Anbar province.
[…]
The marines say the men detained in Ramadi led a group that had kidnapped and killed 11 Iraqi National Guards in recent months as well as planting bombs and smuggling foreign militants into Iraq to fight US-led forces.

Information from local residents had helped the marines capture several members of the group, which the statement named as the hitherto unknown “Harun terrorist network”.

Many foreign fighters were also detained,” it said.

The detainees have provided information regarding the involvement of other individuals who are actively recruiting and smuggling foreign terrorists.

Slayings across Iraq

Including at least one “own goal”. From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

…five Iraqis have been killed and another five wounded when a makeshift bomb exploded on a road frequented by US convoys in the volatile bastion of Samarra.

The Death toll described in a previous post has now been revised to 3.

A doctor at a clinic in Khan al-Nus, north of Najaf, says three Iraqis died and two have been wounded when a car bomb exploded in the path of a US military convoy, which escaped unscathed.

In a clutch of targeted assassinations, an Iraqi working as an interpreter for the US military and his wife were shot dead by gunmen near the northern city of Mosul.

Just north of the capital, gunmen mowed down a local council member and his friend, while another man died when the bomb he was planting on the side of a road near Balad exploded prematurely.

Car Bomb Kills 5

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A car bomb killed five people on Saturday between the Iraqi Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala, sites of twin suicide car bombings a week ago, the chief of police in Najaf said.

Ghalib Al Jazairi said those killed were civilians but the bomb in the town of Khan Al Nus appeared to have been aimed at a US military convoy.

University Dean Slain by Gunmen

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Gunmen shot dead the dean of Baghdad University's School of Dentistry on Saturday, the latest victim of post-war violence that has forced thousands of professionals to flee the country.

Hassan Al Rubaiei was driving along the western bank of the Tigris when gunmen pulled alongside and sprayed his car with automatic gunfire, a police official said.

Mr Rubaiei's wife was injured in the attack.

The motive for the attack was unknown but violence has become a hallmark of academic life in Iraq with professors killed or threatened for their political views or administrative decisions.

The attacks have included professors who attempted to uphold the country's secular tradition and managers of universities and state companies who replaced former ruling Baath Party members.

December 25, 2004
Turkish Shipping Magnate Kidnapped

Updating a previous post, from Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Kidnappers have abducted a Turkish shipping magnate and three others in southern Iraq and demanded a $US25 million ransom, the Turkish private NTV television channel said on Saturday.

It said Kahraman Sadikoglu, one of Turkey's richest businessmen, had been seized in the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr alongside a boat captain and a driver, both Turks, and an unnamed bodyguard.
[…]
Mr Sadikoglu is head of Dubai-based International Marine Contractors which last year won a 92 million UAE dirham ($US25 million) contract to remove 19 sunken ships from Umm Qasr.

We brought food to this country, we enabled the delivery of food. We fed many hungry people. That is what we did. If this is a crime, then we are ready to be punished,” he said.

Turkish television said Mr Sadikoglu was preparing to bid in a new $90 million UN tender for retrieving more sunken ships.

His family contacted the Turkish Foreign Ministry saying the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of $US25 million.

The channel quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying the group had been abducted as they travelled from Iran to Iraq and that US authorities had been alerted and British forces in the area had set up roadblocks around Umm Qasr.

34 Arrested in Mosul : Car Bombing Thwarted

From the AFP via The Australian :

The US Army has arrested 34 people and thwarted a car bombing in the northern city of Mosul in the aftermath of this past week's suicide bombing at a packed US military base, the bloodiest attack ever on the US in Iraq.

Thirty-four were detained in Mosul and a car bomb was also discovered in Mosul,” said Sergeant Joseph Sanchez, a spokesman for the US contingent, Taskforce Olympia, assigned to Mosul and the Nineveh province.

In addition another four individuals were detained around the province.
[…]
The US military has appointed Brigadier General Richard Formica to investigate the suicide bombing of the military mess hall that killed 22 people - the deadliest attack ever against Americans in Iraq.

Brig-Gen Formica has previously investigated detainee abuse in Iraq.

The US military's second-in-command in Iraq, Lieutenant General Thomas Metz, ordered a special investigation of how an infiltrator managed to penetrate the heavily guarded US base in the northern city of Mosul and detonate his deadly charge.

An Al-Qaeda linked militant group, Ansar al-Sunna, claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

The top general for northern Iraq, Brigadier General Carter Ham, said it was likely the bomber was wearing an Iraqi army uniform when he blew himself up.

Fourteen US military personnel, four US civilian contractors, three Iraqi soldiers and one unidentified body were counted among the dead.

Governor : Najaf Bombers Arrested

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

An Iraqi regional governor said today authorities had arrested the insurgents responsible for last week's devastating suicide bombing in the Iraqi Shiite holy city of Najaf.

We have arrested the people behind the bombing of Najaf,” Governor Adnan Al Zurfi told Reuters. “Their names and identities will be announced in Baghdad in a week.

Official US Army Historian : No Adequate Plan for Post-War

From the Washington Post :

The U.S. military invaded Iraq without a formal plan for occupying and stabilizing the country and this high-level failure continues to undercut what has been a “mediocre” Army effort there, an Army historian and strategist has concluded.

There was no Phase IV plan” for occupying Iraq after the combat phase, writes Maj. Isaiah Wilson III, who served as an official historian of the campaign and later as a war planner in Iraq. While a variety of government offices had considered the possible situations that would follow a U.S. victory, Wilson writes, no one produced an actual document laying out a strategy to consolidate the victory after major combat operations ended.

Looking at the chaos that followed the defeat of the Saddam Hussein regime, a military officer's study says, “The United States, its Army and its coalition of the willing have been playing catch-up ever since.

While there may have been 'plans' at the national level, and even within various agencies within the war zone, none of these 'plans' operationalized the problem beyond regime collapse” — that is, laid out how U.S. forces would be moved and structured, Wilson writes in an essay that has been delivered at several academic conferences but not published. “There was no adequate operational plan for stability operations and support operations.

(Donning my professional hat here) Such an 'operationalized' plan would have required co-operation from the enemy of course. You can only plan so far, and “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy”. What he's saying in this draft is that with hindsight we should have done planning in more detail than we did, and given his credentials, he may well be right.

2 Turks Kidnapped

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A Turkish television channel has aired footage showing a Turkish businessman who said he had been kidnapped along with a worker in Iraq by a group of unidentified militants.

The black-and-white video broadcast by the NTV news channel shows a man identifying himself both in Turkish and English as Kahraman Sadikoglu, the owner of a shipping company doing business in the southern Iraqi cities of Basra and Umm Qasr.

Sitting next to him is another man whom Sadikoglu identifies as Captain Ahmet.

NTV said the second man was a Turkish national working as a sea captain for the businessman.

Mr Sadikoglu is heard saying that the video was shot on December 23 and adds: “We were caught by a group (of militants) four or five days ago on the grounds that we have done some wrong business in Iraq”.

He added that his captors were carrying out an investigation and expressed hope that he and the other hostage will be released at the end of the probe.

Death Toll Rises in Truck Blast

Updating a previous post, from the AFP via The Australian :

At least eight people, including the suicide bomber, were killed and 19 wounded when an explosives-rigged fuel tanker blew up on Christmas Eve in western Baghdad, police and an AFP correspondent said.

The correspondent saw five bodies being lifted from the rubble of houses destroyed when a fuel tanker ripped a fireball in the affluent Mansur district in Baghdad early this morning.

Earlier, one person had been confirmed dead, while police said the suicide bomber was also killed in the blast. The remains of the suicide bomber were not thought to be among the bodies pulled out of the wreckage.

Rescue workers were digging through the rubble in the residential district, home to both Muslims and Christians, on Christmas morning, from where homes had been levelled by the powerful blast.

My house was destroyed, five of my security guards were pulled out dead and two others are still buried under the ruins,” said Ahmad Mushraq, in shock, who had moved away from his home but had hired guards to watch the premises.
[…]
The rear of the tanker landed metres from the Libyan embassy, with flames knocking down the embassy's gates and smashing out windows on the front of the building.
[…]
At Yarmuk hospital the wounded, ranging from tiny girls to middle-aged men, lay in hospital beds, some with third degree burns, their faces puffed out black and their arms dangling listlessly.

Truck Blast Kills One
A gas tanker truck wired with explosives blew up in a west Baghdad neighborhood Friday, killing one person, wounding 19 and lighting up the night sky with a fireball, just hours after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld left the capital.

There were no members of the multinational forces among the casualties, said Capt. Brian Lucas, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

The butane truck was parked near the Libyan Embassy in the Mansour district, an upscale district where many foreigners live and embassies are located, police said. Residents said they could hear small-arms fire immediately after the blast.

Read more…

Rumsfeld in Iraq

A First Hand Account :

It made my day, and I'm pretty certain it made theirs too. It's Christmas Eve, though it didn't feel like it. There are some good decorations in the hospital, but we had no Christmas music in the OR today, and no snow on the ground. No nativity scenes or festive cheer in this part of the world. Then, after a routine for here but hardly routine day in the OR, my day was made. I'm referring to the interaction I witnessed and helped facilitate between a young injured soldier and a high ranking official. Here is how it happened:

I was reading foxnews.com at around noon when I told the anesthesiologist that “the Donald” was in town on a surprise visit. No, not Donald Trump, but Donald Rumsfeld. He laughed cynically and said no way would he come here. Well, at around 1600 I was in the OR and I was told that Rumsfeld was downstairs, and we could go down there if we wanted to. I was not in a position to leave, obviously.

Well, the timing worked out well, because I was taking my patient to the recovery room when we wheeled the stretcher through a mob of dignitaries, to include 3 and 4 star generals. I knew the Secretary was nearby, and it turns out he was in the ICU. The patient drew enough attention because of his bruised, banged up face that the 4 star came over to get his story from the surgeon. I was doing some charting by the bedside when Mr. Rumsfeld came over and heard the kid's story from the 4-star. Rumsfeld looked concerned and kind of kept his distance from the gruesome site. He said something like “bless his heart”, as if talking around him.

That is when I, without any thought, piped in with “Sir, you can talk to him, he's awake.” He told the soldier, named Rob, how proud he was of his service. The soldier was in a bit of disbelief, because he couldn't see with one eye patched and the other swollen shut. He said he wanted to talk to Rumsfeld. That's when I said “He's standing right to your left, Rob, that's his voice you hear. You can talk to him.” The kid was nervous at that point, but sputtered out how honored he was to talk to him. Mr. Rumsfeld replied, “No, it's an honor for me to talk to you.

Then remarkably, the young soldier, who had just lost his left hand and right eye from an explosion, came to the defense of the Secretary of Defense, stating “Mr. Rumsfeld, I want you to know, that you are doing a fantastic job. I know that you are taking a lot of heat for the problems with getting armor for vehicles. I want you to know that things are vastly improved. Our vehicles are great, and I have never searched through junk piles for scrap metal.

At this point, Rumsfeld looked choked up, and I had a lump in my throat and and watery eyes. It was moving. What makes a man who has been so close to death, and maimed for life, come to the defense of the Army's highest ranking official? Loyalty, I dare say. Did Rob think Mr. Rumsfeld was having a self-esteem problem? In his greatest hour of need, his thoughts went to the emotional needs of another. I found it quite amazing, and moving. The Secretary took out a coin and gave it to a bystander for him, as if he didn't know he could touch him. Finally, the soldier said, “Man, Donald Rumsfeld, I wish I could shake his hand.

Even at that, I felt Mr. Rumsfeld needed some prompting, so I picked up the kid's arm and looked at the Secretary, and he reached out and took the kid's hand. After the entourage left, I took the coin and placed it in the soldiers hand, for him to feel and hold. I said, “that's not one you'll get every day.” He was happy. I told the person caring for him to make certain that coin went with him to his room. I was assured that he would. I told Rob it was an honor to care for him, and then went on to do my next case. I'd like to see him tomorrow, but I heard he is flying out tonight.

We can alll be awkward in the presence of our betters, even if our name is Donald Rumsfeld.

December 24, 2004
First Trickle of Civilians Returns to Fallujah

From the BBC via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

It had been expected that at least 2,000 people might go back at least to look at their homes on this first day of the authorised return.

But, by all accounts, only a few hundred made it.

It was not in any case meant to be a mass return.

Only people from one of the city's 18 districts were allowed in, and that only after careful screening by Iraqi government and American forces.

And from the AFP via the ABC :

… a few hundred men returned to their homes in Fallujah, nervous about what they would find in the ghost town of rubble after six weeks of fighting between the US military and insurgents.

The men, some dressed in suits, others in leather jackets and tribal robes, showed their passports and tattered identity papers to US soldiers and Iraqi National Guard at a sand barrier checkpoint and then drove their cars inside.

The numbers were far smaller than the estimated 2,000 people who were expected to be the first ones to make their trip home after most fled the city of 300,000 on the advent of the US assault on the insurgent stronghold last month.

The marines estimated the turnout at only 200 to 300 people to the south-western district of al-Andalus, which had been selected to pioneer the return of civilians to the dangerous city.

AFP correspondents on the fringes of Fallujah heard huge explosions and saw plumes of smoke rising from the direction of the city as about 100 people, some of them women, lined up at a national guard checkpoint east of the city.

Azis refuses to Testify

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The former Iraqi deputy prime minister, Tareq Aziz, has told his lawyer he will not testify against his former leader, Saddam Hussein.

Iraqi attorney Badih Aref has had his first meeting with 68-year-old Mr Aziz, who is in US custody in Baghdad, awaiting trial for war crimes.
[…]
…Mr Aref says he will not take the stand against Saddam, because he says he has no evidence against him.

Hungary Completes Pullout

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Hungary has pulled out the last of its 300-strong military contingent from Iraq, after parliament refused to extend the transport unit's mission beyond 2004.

The Hungarian contingent had served in Iraq since July 2003.
[…]
The deployment has been unpopular in Hungary, and a motion by the Government in November to extend the troops' mission was voted down by the centre-right opposition in parliament.

By way of contrast, also from the ABC :

Australian troops in and around Iraq will have an opportunity to celebrate Christmas tomorrow, despite the increased threat of insurgent attack during the Christian holiday.

Air Commodore Greg Evans says everyone stationed there is missing home terribly.

But he says there will be some cheer with decorations, numerous Christmas puddings sent over and festivities planned even among small groups of troops in remote parts of the country.

It's a normal working day of course, we're working very long hours and seven days a week of course and all of that will have to continue,” he said.

But we are making every attempt to have a bit of a Christmas where we can. People have decorations up around the place and they're planning on a Christmas lunch where they can or a Christmas dinner.

At least the climate should be warm, if not as swelteringly hot as a proper Aussie Christmas should be.

3 Marines, 1 Soldier, 4 Iraqis Killed

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The marines were killed while conducting security operations in the restive western Al-Anbar province, home to the former insurgency stronghold of Fallujah, where a few hundred residents entered the war-battered city for the first time since a massive US-led offensive against rebels in November.

In Baghdad, a roadside bomb claimed the life of a US soldier and wounded two others, while mortar attacks killed three civilians and one policeman.

UPDATE : From the BBC via the ABC :

Three Marines have reportedly been killed in a battle for a building which was eventually destroyed by air power, after guerrillas had tried to set up a strong point in it.
French Hostage Speaks Out

From the AFP via The Australian :

One of two French journalists freed after a four-month hostage ordeal in Iraq has described their captivity as being “immersed in Planet (Osama) bin Laden”.

Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot had spent their first day back in France recounting details of their ordeal to the foreign intelligence agency, DGSE.

One of the lessons we drew from our captivity was that we were immersed in Planet Bin Laden, especially when we were in a cell of the Islamic Army in the north” of Iraq, Mr Malbrunot told France 2 public television.

We really understood that these kidnappers were driven not by an Iraqi agenda, but by an agenda of Islamic holy war.

Rumsfeld Makes Surprise Trip to Iraq
Landing under the cover of darkness, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived in northern Iraq early Friday for an unannounced Christmas Eve visit with U.S. troops at a base where 22 people died at the hands of a suicide bomber this week.

[…]

Rumsfeld landed before dawn at Camp Marez and visited a combat surgical hospital where victims of the bombing were treated. Many of the wounded have since been transferred to a U.S. military hospital in Germany.

Rumsfeld met with senior commanders and ate breakfast at nearby Camp Freedom, taking a few questions from the troops, according to Capt. Phil Ludbigson. He also expressed “his gratitude for their service to their country.”

Read more…

December 23, 2004
2 Adults, 2 Children Killed in Samarra

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

In the northern Iraqi city of Samarra four Iraqi civilians have been killed in two separate incidents.

A mortar round apparently intended for a US military base hit a house and killed a man and his child.

Another man and a child have died in shooting that followed a roadside bomb attack on a US patrol.

Suicide Bombing Kills 9

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Nine people have reportedly been killed and 13 wounded after a suicide bomber rammed a car into an Iraqi forces checkpoint south of Baghdad.

A National Guard officer at the scene says a suicide attacker drove his vehicle at high speed into the checkpoint, on the north-eastern entrance to the town of Latifiya.

Traffic was heavy at the time and the blast destroyed around five civilian cars.

He said National Guards and police manning the checkpoint, near the main road linking Baghdad to the south, as well as civilians were among the dead.

Car Bomb in Mahmudiyah

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A car bomb has exploded in a town south of Baghdad, reportedly leaving many people dead or wounded.

Medical officials say the blast has occurred in Mahmudiyah.

The local hospital director says there are many casualties, but no further details are immediately available.

UPDATE : From the ABC :

…a fuel tanker blown up in Mahmudiya, also south of Baghdad, has reportedly killed at least five people and wounded 20 others.

The blast ripped through a predominantly Shi'ite district in the mainly Sunni Muslim town, where there are numerous stores and homes.

Local hospital officials say the tanker was rigged with explosives, but the US says that is not confirmed.

More Arrests in "Triangle of Death"

From Reuters via The Australian :

US Marines have detained 43 suspects in a series of raids south of Baghdad, the latest in a sweep that has netted around 600 militants, the military said today.

Troops from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, backed by Iraqi security forces, rounded up 21 suspected insurgents around the town of Yusufiya, a rebellious stronghold about 40 km south-west of Baghdad.

In related searches in the nearby town of Haswah, Iraqi police and Marines detained 13 people.

Nine other suspects were seized in raids near the militant town of Mahmudiya, at the centre of what has been dubbed the “triangle of death”.

In the past five months, since Marines took over from Polish troops in the northern Babil province that runs south from Baghdad, more than 850 people have been detained, the statement said.

Of those, nearly 600 remain in prison.

US Soldier killed in Baghdad

From the AFP via The Australian :

A US soldier has been killed and two others wounded in a roadside bombing in western Baghdad.

A Task Force Baghdad soldier was killed and two others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated in western Baghdad at approximately 8 am on December 23,” the military said in a statement.

December 22, 2004
Suicide Bomb Evidence in Mosul
Investigators have found evidence of a suicide bomb, including a backpack and parts of a torso at the scene, ABC News reported. A report yesterday by a Richmond Times-Dispatch correspondent inside the tent suggested that rockets had been fired at the facility. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is aiding in the investigation, Cable News Network said.

Additionally, a 9pm to 5am curfew has been enacted in Mosul.

A Chaplain at Mosul

A quote:

If you've never smelled human brain matter it is something unforgettable.

Via Hugh Hewitt, Instapundit, and many others, the first-hand account of a Chaplain at Mosul :

The first report said that a mortar had just hit one of the nearby chow halls during the middle of lunch (I'm on GMT so my morning is actually the middle of the day). It's called a MASCAL or Mass Casualty event and it's where the rubber meets the road in military ministry. They said there were approximately 10 casualties. That was the extent of it so I kind of filed it away in the back of my mind and continued to sip my coffee. The next report wasn't so good. 10 dead and approximately 50 wounded. They were being transported to the Combat Surgical Hospital down the street. The Chaplain at the CSH is a good guy and I knew he'd be in need of help so I woke my assistant and we rushed to the hospital. I didn't expect what I saw….

As they say read the whole thing, one of the most moving accounts ever of the everyday horrors and everyday heroes of this or any other war.

Mosul Attack Updates
The U.S. military launched on Wednesday an investigation into the cause of a devastating blast in a mess tent at a base in northern Iraq which killed 22 people and injured 72 in one of the deadliest attacks on U.S. troops since the start of the war.

Initial reports said that a 122 mm rocket ripping through the ceiling of a tent, spraying shrapnel as U.S. soldiers sat down to lunch Tuesday in their Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, some 360 kilometers (225 miles) north of Baghdad.

  • Ansar al-Sunnah Army claims responsibility: In an Internet statement, the militant group Ansar al-Sunnah Army claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as a “martyrdom operation.”
December 21, 2004
French Hostages Released

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Two French journalists held hostage in Iraq for the past four months have been freed, sparking jubilation among relatives who called it “the most beautiful Christmas present ever.”

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin informed the French Senate “with deep joy” that the two, Christian Chesnot of Radio France Internationale and Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro newspaper, had been released.

The Iraqi insurgency group that had been holding the pair, the Islamic Army in Iraq, said it had freed the reporters because of France's stand against the US-led war in Iraq and its support for Palestinian statehood, Arabic television station Al Jazeera reported.

Breaking: Explosion @ Mosul Base; Multiple Casualties - Updated

Bloomberg:

An explosion at a U.S. military base in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul caused “multiple casualties,” the U.S. military said in an e-mailed statement.

The cause of the blast, which took place at noon local time, is under investigation, according to the statement, which didn't specify how many people have been killed or wounded.

More as it develops.

Update: At least 22 have been killed and 50 injured.

Insurgency Reading List

Dan Dupont of The Insider @ InsideDefense.com sent a link to this reading list of books the Pentagon is using to prep some troops for the insurgency. It's an amazing and electic list … your nightstand will be full for months.

Posted By Alan at 07:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Blair Visits Baghdad

From the AFP via The Australian :

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made a surprise trip to Baghdad, flying into the city for the very first time to discuss the country's crucial January elections with interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

Mr Blair touched down at a bright and chilly Baghdad airport on Tuesday from neighbouring Jordan under a total media blackout imposed for security reasons amid continued violence in Iraq.

Wearing a blue business suit, and - unlike the accompanying military and media - no flak jacket, Mr Blair was greeted by Lieutenant General John Kizsely, the senior British officer in Iraq, before being swiftly ushered into a Puma military helicopter.

The Puma, guarded at an open side door by a soldier manning a mounted machine gun, took off with an accompanying convoy of US Black Hawk helicopter gunships for a flight to Baghdad's sealed off international area, the Green Zone.

The main purpose event of the brief visit to the city was talks with Mr Allawi, to be followed by a joint press conference.

Mr Blair also received an update on the run-up to Iraq's January 30 national polls from Britain's ambassador in Baghdad, Edward Chaplin, US military commander General George Casey and from members of Iraq's Electoral Commission.

Election a "US Plot" says Saddam

From The Australian :

Ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein has urged his compatriots to unite against the US occupation and warned that upcoming elections were designed to divide the nation.

Saddam's Iraqi lawyer Khalil al-Duleimi met Saddam for more than four hours in his prison cell last week, the first meeting the former dictator has had with legal counsel since he was captured a year ago.

Our representative in Iraq told us that the president warned the people of Iraq and the Arabs to beware of the American scheme aimed at splitting Iraq into sectarian and religious divisions and weakening the (Arab) nation,” said Bushra Khalil, a Lebanese member of the defence team.

The president sent recommendations to the Iraqi people to remain united and not fall in the trap of America's slogans,” she said. “He said Kurds, Arabs, Shi'ites, Sunnis and Christians are all Iraqis who all have to stand united against the American plot.

Ziad al-Khasawneh, who heads Saddam's legal team, said the lawyers had “passed on a message from Iraq's leader to his people and he has all the right to address his subjects in any way he sees fit”.

More Mass Graves Found as Reconstruction Gets underway

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Dogs digging for bones on a barren patch of earth in northern Iraq have alerted villagers to a mass grave that may contain as many as 50 bodies, a local official said.

We found some bones,” said Abdullah Mohammed, who heads a unit dealing with displaced people in the city of Kirkuk.

After that, we began excavating and we discovered that it's a mass grave.

The grave is in the village of Tuz Zawa, about 10 kilometres west of Kirkuk, an ethnically mixed city in the oilfields about 250 km north of Baghdad.

Mr Mohammed says villagers pulled about 20 bodies from the site yesterday (local time) before it was sealed off by the Iraqi National Guard.
[…]
Villagers in Tuz Zawa believe the bodies found are those of Kurds killed during Saddam's time.

An offensive known as 'Anfal' (spoils of war) staged by Iraq's former rulers against the Kurds in the late 1980s, killed an estimated 100,000 people and drove out hundreds of thousands.
[…]
The discovery of the latest grave comes a week after investigators began excavating a site near the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya thought to contain as many as 500 bodies.

That grave was discovered when construction workers came across bones, skulls and other human remains as they broke ground on the start of a new building project.

More Oil Pipeline Sabotage

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Saboteurs have set a complex of oil pipelines ablaze in northern Iraq but exports on the line had already been halted by a separate attack at the weekend.

Officials say that a large explosion ripped through the Baiji complex on Monday night.

The complex includes the main pipeline to the northern export terminal at Turkey's Ceyhan port and domestic links from refineries in the oil city of Kirkuk to a nearby power plant.

An official from the North Oil Company says that the blaze could take a couple of days to extinguish.

Saboteurs blew up a section of the northern export pipeline, which can carry 500,000 barrels per day, for the second week in a row on Saturday, halting oil flows to Turkey.

Another domestic oil pipeline was hit near Baiji on the same day.

A wave of attacks has crippled refineries and caused severe fuel shortages and electricity outages, especially in Baghdad.

December 20, 2004
7 Killed in Bomb Attacks, Shootings

From the AFP via The Australian :

Four men, three of them believed to be foreigners, have been killed in a roadside ambush north of Baghdad, an Iraqi police officer said.

Elsewhere, three Iraqis, including a woman, were killed in a string of attacks, police said.

Four men driving in a sports utility vehicle, which are often used by foreign contractors, were hit by a roadside bomb and gunfire in Ashaki, south of the Sunni hotspot of Samarra, Lieutenant Colonel Hamid Mohamed said.

The bodies were picked up by other cars in the dead men's convoy, he said.

The US military said it had no information on the incident.
[…]
Earlier, an Iraqi truck driver leaving a US military base near Yethrub, north of Baghdad, was shot dead, police officer Lieutenant Colonel Ali Abdullah said.

An Iraqi translator for the US military was also shot dead by unknown gunmen near Salman Pak, Major Hamed Abdullah of the Salman Pak police.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi woman was killed and three civilians wounded when a roadside bomb exploded on the road between the restive cities of Samarra and Fallujah, police Lieutenant Colonel Mahmoud Mohamed said.

UK Armed Forces Recruitment Problems

From News.com :

Senior British army commanders believe popular opposition to the war in Iraq has worsened existing problems in recruiting young people for the armed forces.

The anti-war movement is exacerbating our recruitment problems,” one senior source told the The Observer newspaper.

The effects have been particularly noticeable in Scotland, but are spreading to the north of England and we're beginning to see it as well in the west,” according to the source who was not named.
[…]
Other sources have reported parents refusing to sign consent forms for junior soldiers to sign up, the newspaper said.

In some cases, local officials who have strong anti-war sentiments are also refusing permission for recruitment officers to put up stands at certain venues, it added.

New figures reveal that the number of recruits joining Scotland's six regiments has fallen sharply this year, it said.

Iraqi Police Detain 50 Suspects in Najaf Attack
Iraqi authorities detained 50 suspects in connection with an explosion in the Shiite holy city of Najaf that killed at least 54 people and wounded 142, and thousands of mourners attended funerals for the victims on Monday.

Najaf police chief Ghalib al-Jazaari said those arrested included “elements” who had allegedly confessed to having links with the intelligence services of neighboring Syria and Iran.

Read more…

Good News from Iraq: December 20/04

Note: Also available at the “Opinion Journal” and Chrenkoff. Thank you to James Taranto and Joe Katzman for their support for this project, and to all of you bloggers and readers who in various ways have kept it going for 17 installments now. You can be sure that “Good news from Iraq” will be returning early in the new year.

The newest member of the international democratic leaders club, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, recently had some words of encouragement and advice for the Iraqi people on their hard road to a better future: “They must go to polls. They must take this opportunity, elect their people to parliament, and have a government of their own, and have peace… The major lesson in Afghanistan was that the Afghan people wanted change, from the tyranny of terrorism. The Iraqi people also will gain nothing if they allow these people to come from outside and destroy their lives.”

We will know soon enough to what extent the Iraqis as a whole have listened to this advice, but as of six weeks from the poll the indications are that the “silent majority” is keen for the election to mark a clean break from the past and a beginning of a new Iraq. It's not just in the political sphere that the Iraqis, with the assistance of the Coalition forces, governments and organizations, are trying to make progress. In the economy, reconstruction, infrastructure, health and education, cultural life and security, work continues everyday, often under dangerous and difficult circumstances and just as often considered not newsworthy enough to compete with the insurgency and the growing pains of a country just starting to lift itself up after three decades spent under the boot of a bloodthirsty megalomaniac. Below are some of these stories of the past two weeks.

Winds Monday Iraq Report: Dec 20/04

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

TOP TOPICS

Other Topics Today Include: a bomb targets Al-Sistani's aides; armored HMMWVs revisited; 3d ID heads back to Iraq; concerns over the coming elections; the UN pledges additional support to elections; election advisors to stay home; another mass grave discovered.

Read the Rest…

December 19, 2004
Ex-President's Family Hit

From the AFP via News.com :

Gunmen killed the daughter and son-in-law of former Iraqi president Abdel Salam Aref and abucted his 20-year-old grandson Rafel from their Baghdad home, police said today.

The attack happened on Monday evening in the city's western Dakhliya neighbourhood, an officer said, asking not to be named.

The assailants left a statement proclaiming: “This is the fate reserved for traitors.”

Mr Aref was head of state from 1963 to his death in 1966. He was succeeded by his brother Abded Rahman, who was overthrown by Saddam Hussein's Baath party two years later.

Mr Aref's daughter Sanaa worked as a teacher while her husband was a doctor.

Student Killed by Roadside Bomb

From News.com :

Attackers detonated a bomb near a US military patrol in Mosul today but missed the patrol and hit a school bus, killing one teenage student and wounding six others, the US military said.

The bomb exploded as the patrol was travelling through an eastern district of the city, closely followed by a minibus carrying students to a nearby high school.

The blast hit an Iraqi school bus killing one and injuring six, all eighth graders,” the military said in a statement.

A photographer for Reuters saw several badly wounded teenagers being treated at a local hospital for blast wounds.

No US soldiers were wounded in the attack, but one of the assailants was killed, the statement said.

Suicide Bombing Kills 30 in Najaf
A car bomb blast during a funeral ceremony Sunday in the Shiite holy city of Najaf killed 30 people and injured 65, a hospital official said.

The blast rocked an area near central Najaf's Maidan Square, close to the revered Imam Ali shrine compound, as a large crowd of people gathered to watch a funeral procession for a tribal sheik pass by.

Youssef Munim, head of the statistics department at Najaf's al-Hakim Hospital, said 30 people were killed by the explosion and 65 were wounded.

Read more…

Suicide Bombing Kills 13
A suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle outside Karbala's main bus station Sunday, killing 13 people and wounding 30, a hospital official said.

Police spokesman Rahman Mashawi said the blast happened at 1:30 p.m. outside an entrance to the crowded station in downtown Karbala, a predominantly Shiite city 50 miles south of Baghdad.

“This is a terrorist attack carried out by terrorist groups in order to destabilize the security in the city,” Mashawi said.

Five cars erupted in flames after the blast, and about 10 passenger minibuses were destroyed. Police cordoned off the chaotic scene, as firefighters tried to put out the fires.

Read more…

U.S. firm's workers taken hostage
A security source in Baghdad confirmed to CNN Sunday that 10 Iraqi employees for Sandi Group were taken hostage.

This comes as Associated Press Television News released footage showing four masked militants holding 10 Iraqis hostage from the company.

The wire service reported that the insurgents said they would kill the people if the company doesn't leave Iraq.

The video showed nine blindfolded men and another was lying down. The militants, whose faces were covered with scarves, brandished machine guns.

The Sandi Group — which is headquartered in Washington — provides security, transportation, lodging and translation services in Iraq.

Read more…

Iraqis Detain 45 Entering from Iran
Iraqi police detained 45 men who illegally entered the country from neighboring Iran, and American troops said Sunday they captured eight Iraqis fleeing the scene of a roadside bombing.

[…]

The 45 detainees were captured Saturday at Mandali (search), on the Iranian border 60 miles east of Baghdad, police said. They had no identity documents but claimed to be Muslim pilgrims from Iran, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. They ranged in age from early 20s to 60s.

Read more…

Election Workers Ambushed - Three Dead
About 30 gunmen ambushed a car Sunday in central Baghdad carrying employees of the Iraqi organization running next month's elections, killing three of the workers while two escaped unhurt, an official from the election body said.

Adel al-Lami, a member of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, said the early morning attack took place in downtown Baghdad's Haifa Street, the scene of repeated clashes between security forces and insurgents.

Al-Lami said about 30 militants ambushed a car carrying five employees working for the commission's Baghdad office, hurling hand grenades at the vehicle and firing at it with machine-guns.

Read more…

December 18, 2004
Judges Question "Chemical Ali"
Iraqi judges on Saturday started interrogating Saddam Hussein's former defense minister and the notorious general known as Chemical Ali, who is accused of gassing thousands of Kurds in the 1980s, the lead judge said.

The investigative hearings for Sultan Hashim Ahmad , Saddam's last defense chief, and Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali mark the opening of the trial process — the first among 11 Saddam deputies who, along with Saddam himself, face prosecution for alleged crimes during the ousted dictator's three decade rule.

“Ali Hassan al-Majid and Sultan Hashim have been interrogated and their lawyers attended the investigative hearing,” said Raad al-Juhyi.

Read more…

December 17, 2004
Shooting Attack Kills Four in Mosul
Gunmen attacked a car in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Friday, killing four passengers, and witnesses said three of the victims were foreigners. The attack happened at the Yarmouk traffic intersection in Iraq's third-largest city, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

The bodies of the four victims, including one whose head was almost severed, were seen lying on the road alongside their burning car. Police Capt. Zeid Waseem said police received reports that three foreigners and their Iraqi driver had been killed.

Read more…

December 16, 2004
Italian NGO Worker Kidnapped

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

An Italian national working for a British non-governmental organisation in Iraq has reportedly been taken hostage.

Italian news agency ANSA has identified the hostage as a 52-year-old man from the Campania region near Rome, without providing details of the kidnapping.

Iraqi Senior Bureaucrat Slain

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A senior official in Iraq's Communications Ministry has been shot dead as he was driving to work in Baghdad, a source at the Ministry said.

Gunmen drew up alongside Kassim Imhawi's car and opened fire as he was travelling from his home in a western district of the capital, the source said.

Mr Imhawi was the director general of the Communications Ministry and regarded as one of the Minister's top aides.

Bush Warns Iran, Syria

From the AFP via The Australian :

US President George W. Bush has warned neighbouring Iran and Syria to stop “meddling” in Iraqi affairs as campaigning for the first post-Saddam Hussein elections in the country gets underway.
[…]
We will continue to make it clear, to both Syria and Iran, that — as will other nations in our coalition, including our friends the Italians — that meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq is not in their interest,” Mr Bush said in Washington after meeting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Death Toll Rises from Karbala Bombing

Updating a previous post, from the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The attack, which police said occurred as people were gathered for a funeral, raised fears of an upsurge of sectarian violence in the run-up to the January 30 elections.

According to our latest information, 10 people were killed and 40 others wounded,” said hospital director Hassan Nasrallah.

Initial information after the attack said seven people had died.

However, Nasrallah said Sheikh Abdel Mehdi Karbalai, the local representative of Iraq's influential Shiite spiritual leader, the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, was out of danger after being injured in the blast.

Police said two guards were killed and eight others wounded in the explosion, adding that all the other casualties were civilians gathered for the funeral.

December 15, 2004
Spirit of America Blogger Challenge: Update & Appeal

As of noon Pacific Time time today (contest ends at midnight PDT), Winds of Change.NET has calculated that Spirit of America's Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge has raised $75,856.51 for the varius SoA funds. The various teams have raised $29,343.45, while a larger swarm of individual blogs has raised a collective total of $46,513.06.

If you're not in the Spirit of America Blogger Challenge yet, join Team Pajamahdeen and support blogging in the Mideast as a tool of freedom! It's not too late. If you're already in the challenge and want to support this important project (why it matters so), see our instructions at the end. And if you just want to contribute, you can donate right here:

We've seen what blogs can do. As a Command Post reader, you've seen it too. Join, or Donate, or even merge your individual blog or team with Team Pajamahdeen by sending a request to “support” over @spiritofamerica.net. The more focus and prominence we can bring to this vital project, the faster we can “let freedom ring!”

Several Dead in Bombing at Karbala Mosque
A bomb exploded at the gate to one of Shia Islam's holiest shrines on Wednesday, killing seven people and wounding 31 others, hospital officials said.

The bomb went off at 5:30 p.m. near the western gate of the Imam Hussein Shrine in Karbala, said Dr. Abdul-Abbas Al-Timimi, director of Al-Hussein hospital in the city.

Read more…

3 Polish Troops Killed in Helo Crash

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Three Polish soldiers have died in a helicopter crash in Iraq, a day after Poland announced it would cut troop numbers there by one-third.

Lieutenant-Colonel Artur Domanski, spokesman for the Polish-led multinational division in Iraq, said the soldiers died after a Polish-made Sokol helicopter made an emergency landing following what was most probably engine failure.

Everything points to an engine fault, but at the moment we have to keep all options open,” Lieutenant-Colonel Domanski said, adding four other soldiers were injured in the crash.

Polish helicopters have been shot at in the past, although with no fatalities, in the volatile south-central region where Poland sent its conntigent of 2,500 soldiers.
[…]
On Tuesday, Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski said the number of Polish troops in Iraq would be cut to 1,700 from February, coinciding with the transfer of the remaining forces to a safer region in the Arab state.

US Marine Killed

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The Marine was killed in action during military operations in the Al-Anbar province, which includes the flashpoint cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, the military said.

One Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was killed in action Tuesday while conducting security and stabilisation operations in the Al-Anbar province,” a military statement said.

No further details were given.

Over One Million Still Missing From Saddam's Reign

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Iraq has urged the international community to help it find more than 1 million people who have gone missing or disappeared over the past 25 years, mainly during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

It also pushed the plight of some 1.5 million Iraqis who have been displaced inside the war-weary country as the cold winter months draw in.

Officials from about 60 countries, including the United States, Britain and Japan, UN agencies and other advocacy groups met with Iraq's Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin and Justice Minister Malek Dohan Al Hassan in Geneva to discuss plans to improve the country's human rights situation.

One important issue we are [exploring] with the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross and we are looking for international support for it is the issue of missing persons, disappeared and mass graves,” the human rights minister, Mr Amin, told reporters.

We have more than 1 million missing persons and possibly disappeared people and we have found, up to now, 283 mass grave sites in Iraq,” he said.

The people included those who vanished during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the first Gulf War in 1990-1991 and last year's US-led invasion, said John Pace, the Amman-based head of the United Nations human rights office at the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq.

In addition, some 700 to 800 bodies needed to be identified every month in the Baghdad area alone, Mr Amin told a news conference, noting that the country had no DNA laboratories and a severe shortage of forensic experts.

As reported in a previous post, European Forensic experts have declined to help in Iraq, due to the possibility that their evidence might be used to convict Saddam Hussein of capital crimes.

Incidents of Torture by US Marines Made Public

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

US Marines fired a pistol in a mock execution involving four young Iraqi looters and shocked another Iraqi detainee with an electric transformer until he danced, a US Navy document shows.

The document dated June 16 detailed 10 substantiated incidents of detainee abuse in Iraq involving 24 Marines dating back to May 2003.
[…]
The June 16 document listed a series of previously unknown incidents of detainee abuse by Marines, as well as 10 cases that Navy investigators examined as possible abuse but deemed unsubstantiated.

It described an April 2004 incident at Al Mahmudiya in which Marines shocked an Iraqi detainee with an electric transformer, placing live electrical wires on the detainee's shoulder, noting that “the detainee danced as he was shocked”.

The Marine Corps said four Marines were convicted of charges including assault, cruelty, maltreatment and making a false official statement, with prison sentences ranging from 60 days to 15 months.

A fifth Marine was given administrative punishment.

The document also described incidents in June and July 2003 in Adiwaniyah.

It stated that Marines “ordered four juvenile Iraqi looters to kneel beside two shallow fighting holes and a pistol was discharged to conduct a mock execution”.

It did not give the age of the Iraqis.

Marines in the case also were accused of locking looters in an abandoned tank and spraying looters with a fire extinguisher.

Three Marines in the incident were convicted on charges including detainee abuse and dereliction of duty, with two being sentenced to 30 days hard labor and the third getting 14 days of restricted movement. All were reduced in rank.

Charges were withdrawn against a fourth Marine.

Iraqi Police Ambushed

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Insurgents have attacked an Iraqi police convoy travelling from the southern city of Basra to Baghdad killing at least four police officers, police sources said.

The police were ambushed near the town of Salman Pak, about 30 kilometres south-east of Baghdad and between four and 10 of them were killed, a senior source said.

A bus they were travelling in and two cars marked Basra police were destroyed, he said.

Iran/Iraq Friction

From the AFP via The Australian :

Iran has dismissed as “propaganda” a blistering attack by Iraqi Defence Minister Hazem Shaalan, who accused Tehran of being Baghdad's “most dangerous enemy” and a source of terrorism.

We are sure that he will backtrack on his statements as was the case in the past,” Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said.

It is propaganda for internal Iraqi consumption.

In Baghdad, Mr Shaalan charged that the “source of terrorism in Iraq is Iran”.

Iran is the most dangerous enemy of Iraq and all Arabs.
[…]
We are used to these kinds of accusations and the Iraqi government knows very well that Iran is doing its best to help establish security in Iraq,” Mr Ramezanzadeh said.

'Chemical Ali' To Be First Saddam Henchman Tried By Iraq

Reuters reports that Iraq's “Chemical Ali,” Ali Hassan al-Majid, one of Saddam Hussein's most feared deputies, will be the first leader of the former regime to be tried for war crimes.

Asked if the trial would go ahead next week, Shaalan said: “Yes, God willing.” But asked to repeat his response in English, he replied: “Next week, maybe, or in the middle of next month.”

Chemical Ali is accused of some of the worst crimes committed during Saddam's decades in power, including the gassing of the Kurds in northern Iraq in the late 1980s.

From California Yankee.

The Art of War

Artnet Magazine has had a reporter and artist, Steve Mumford, in Iraq for nearly 2 years.
His Baghdad Journal is a must read. From the latest of 16 articles :

This was the last tragic patrol that I accompanied in Baghdad. I'd spent three weeks with two battalions of the 1st Cav's 3rd Brigade, which has patrolled Baghdad since April. Although they're past their halfway mark, most soldiers I spoke to expected to have their tours extended as the security situation in Baghdad heats up before the elections.

Not every neighborhood in 3rd Brigade's area of operations is so grim. The brigade has spent some $300 million on projects throughout their area, upgrading sewer systems, electrical grids, schools, trash collection and roads, and working very closely with the ubiquitous neighborhood advisory councils, Iraq's big experiment in grass-roots democracy. The projects are often substantial and appreciated. In one neighborhood I saw many of the residents standing around a backhoe that was excavating a trench for the new sewer main. Around us were lakes of wastewater, and they were obviously happy and excited for the new system.
[…]
Click here to see an image of Lt. Brian Suits' platoon picking up Iraqi National Guardsmen for a mission. In civilian life, Suits is a conservative radio talk show host in Seattle. He has a wry sense of humor which cracks up the soldiers but usually leaves the Iraqis mystified.

A dark-skinned, burly man argues with Ford.

When I go outside my house the Americans tell me I can't leave — just like the terrorists.

Ford replies, “Am I telling you to go inside your house now? Of course three days ago I convinced my boss that I could sit right over there at that tea house and have chai. I was there for maybe two minutes when two grenades landed right here. . . . You know I hate the fact that I have to go knocking on peoples' doors, asking for IDs. What I envisioned was that my men and you would be picking up shovels, working on projects.

It's impossible to tell if Ford's words have had any effect, but his open demeanor and quick humor seem to have endeared him to some of the men and boys.

It's like 20 minutes of foreplay to get past all the initial blocks to conversation, the conspiracies and all that. Then you can start to talk,” he says.

As an artist, he's excellent, recording the war better than a mere camera could. As a reporter using words, there's none better, and few his equal.

December 14, 2004
Mass Grave Found in Northern Iraq

Reuters

Laborers digging on a construction site in northern Iraq uncovered human skulls and bones on Tuesday, which interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said were part of a mass grave believed to contain some 500 bodies.

Allawi told Iraq's National Council in Baghdad that the grave was found near the city of Sulaimaniya in the autonomous Kurdish region in the northeast of the country, where Saddam Hussein's forces carried out atrocities in the late 1980s.

[…]

Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights has sealed off the site, where its staff are working. The driver of a mechanical digger told Kurdish television about 900 bodies might be in the grave but it was too early to know how many were buried there.

Cross-posted:
Backcountry Conservative

Other blogging:
James Joyner

Zaqarwi's Senior Aide Killed, Two Headsman Captured

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A senior aide to Jordanian Al Qaeda ally Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed by Iraqi security forces, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said.

Mr Allawi, in a televised address to Iraq's National Council, said police had killed Hassan Ibrahim Farhan and seized two of his aides, but did not say when or where.

Mr Allawi said those captured were responsible for carrying out the beheadings of several hostages in Iraq.

79 Blocs Registered in Iraqi Election

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Seventy political parties, including a top Sunni Muslim group that had threatened to boycott Iraq's January 30 election, have registered lists for the poll, Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission said.

Nine coalition lists have also been registered,” commission spokesman Farid Ayar said, meaning that at least 79 blocs are at this point set to contest the election.

The Iraqi Islamic Party has presented a list consisting of 275 candidates, which suggests that they plan to participate,” Mr Ayar said.

Political parties and blocs have one day remaining to register their lists for the poll, in which Iraqis will elect a 275-seat National Assembly charged with drafting a constitution and appointing a new government.

The full lists, with candidates names, will be made public on December 20, Mr Ayar said.

For the election - Iraq's first fully democratic poll in decades - the country will be treated as a single district.

The electorate will vote for lists and seats in the assembly will be assigned to those lists depending on votes received.

Suicide Bomber Kills Iraqi Guardsman, Injures 12

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A member of the Iraqi National Guard has been killed and 12 people have been wounded in a suicide car bombing at an entrance to Baghdad's Green Zone.

The blast, which sent a large plume of smoke over the city, occurred at the same entrance where another suicide bomb killed seven Iraqis on Monday.

An officer, who did not give his name, said there were many wounded in today's blast.

The blast occurred at 8:20am (local time).

At least 12 wounded people were taken to Baghdad's Yarmuk Hospital, according to Dr Raad Abdul Jabbar.

Iraq Presses UN for More Election Help

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The Iraqi Government has pressed the United Nations to give it more help on the ground ahead of planned elections and rejected UN criticism of military assaults on insurgent-held areas.

Iraq's UN ambassador, Samir Shakir Sumaidaie, briefing the UN Security Council, says his Government is more concerned about attacks on the Iraqi people than by threats of an election boycott.

He predicted any boycott would not be heeded by “any sizeable segment of Iraq's population”.

While some Iraqi leaders have been criticised for failing to reach out aggressively to alienated factions, prompting some boycott threats, Mr Sumaidaie said Iraqis would “turn out in large numbers to participate in the first free elections of their lives”.

Any risk to the election and its credibility and inclusiveness is likely to come not so much from a boycott but from the campaign of violence and intimidation which is directed at the general population in order to thwart them,” he said.

The United Nations, under pressure from the Bush administration to do more to help prepare for January 30 elections, has raised its ceiling for international staff in Iraq to 59, six weeks ahead of the planned elections and expects to have 25 electoral workers in Iraq shortly as it helps lay the groundwork for the vote.
[…]
But Mr Sumaidaie said too much election help was conducted from outside Iraq, via video conferences, telephone calls and letters.

There is a dearth of UN workers, even in northern and southern Iraq, despite the relative peace and stability there,” he said.
[…]
UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the world body was not shying from its responsibilities but instead “looking very closely after the safety and security of our staff after the horrendous events of the bombing in Baghdad”.

2 Marines Killed in Anbar Province

According to the AFP, via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) . No more details to hand yet.

UPDATE : From Military.com :

Two Marines assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force were killed in action Monday “while conducting security and stabilization operations” in the vast Anbar province west of Baghdad, the military said in a statement Tuesday.
Iraqi President calls Dismantling of Saddam's Forces a Mistake

From the BBC via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Iraq's interim President Ghazi al-Yawar has accused the United States and Britain of making a huge mistake in dismantling the old security structures after toppling Saddam Hussein.
[…]
Mr al-Yawar says the decision to disband the forces has created a vacuum in Iraq.

His message is that the US made a critical mistake after the fall of Saddam by dismantling the Iraqi Army and existing security structures, and it is now the responsibility of the US and its allies to put that security apparatus back together.

It is not just a matter of improved funding and training of recruits, argues Mr al-Yawar, but also of rehabilitating many of those sacked in the purge of the defence and interior ministries.

Mr al-Yawar emphasised bringing back army and police officers with clean records would not only provide much needed experience and expertise but would go a long way in restoring the morale of the Iraq security system.

Well that worked well with the “Fallujah Brigade”. Not. The Good Guys were shot by the Bad Guys who then defected en mass.

14 Bodies Found in Mosul

From Reuters via The Australian :

The bodies of six young men, all shot in the head as if executed, were discovered in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul today, bringing the total of such corpses found to 14 in two days.

A Reuters correspondent in Iraq's third city saw the six lying in grass at the side of a main highway in western Mosul.

They wore civilian clothes and their identities were not clear.

A hospital official said eight similar bodies had been found in a cemetery in the west of the city yesterday.

New Mass Grave Found

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

…investigators have discovered a new mass grave in Iraq that may contain 500 bodies, Mr Allawi said.

Mr Allawi said the grave was discovered near the city of Sulaimaniya in the autonomous Kurdish region in the north-east of the country. He gave no further details.

Trials Of Saddam Aides To Begin Next Week

Reuters reports that trials of some of Saddam Hussein's aides will begin next week.

No word as yet on whether the entire US media infrastructure will be able to move from the Scott Peterson trial to Baghdad in time to cover the story …

Posted By Alan at 08:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Saddam Aides End Hunger Strike : Trials Set for Next Week

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The US Army said that eight of toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's jailed lieutenants who were earlier refusing food had now given up their protest.

All high-value criminals are once again eating. Those who didn't eat breakfast this morning requested a late breakfast … which was provided to them,” said Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson, a spokesman on detention operations in Iraq.
[…]
The former regime officials awaiting trial include former deputy premier Tareq Aziz, former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam's personal secretary Abed Hamid Mahmoud al-Tikriti and Saddam's first cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali” for his role in gassing the Kurds.
[…]
In a statement issued in Amman, Saddam's defence team said it feared the food protest could be “exploited as a pretext to get rid of the Iraqi leadership”.

In other words, the reaction to “I'm going on a hunger strike!” was “Great! Starving yourself to death? We'll sell tickets.”.

From Reuters via the ABC :

Trials of some of Saddam Hussein's aides will begin next week, Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said.

Speaking to Iraq's National Council, he did not name the lieutenants that would go on trial or say when Saddam himself would appear in court.

I will tell you clearly and specifically that next week, God willing, the trials of the symbols of the former regime will begin,” Mr Allawi said.

A cousin and former aide to Saddam Hussein has been arrested and will also face trial, Mr Allawi said.

He said Izzeddine al-Majid al-Tikriti, who was not on the United States list of 55 most wanted members of Saddam's regime, had been captured last week. He gave no further details.

Majid was accused by US authorities in July of funding and arming the anti-American insurgency in Iraq, a charge he denied.

December 13, 2004
McCain: 'No Confidence' in Rumsfeld

Senator John McCain said today that he has “no confidence” in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops.

Speaking to The Associated Press McCain said his comments were not a call for Rumsfeld's resignation:

Asked about his confidence in the secretary's leadership, McCain recalled fielding a similar question a couple weeks ago.

“I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence,” McCain said.

From California Yankee.

Suspected Sabotage Causes Nationwide Blackout

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Suspected sabotage shut down Iraq's main power station on Sunday (local time), bringing electricity generation to a halt nationwide, the country's Minister of Electricity, Ayham Al-Samarrai, said.

He said a fire resulting from a suspected act of sabotage stopped operations at a power station in Baiji, north of Baghdad, kicking off a chain reaction in other plants across the country.

The object of this act, which is under investigation, was to halt production,” the Minister said in a statement.

The Government managed to restore power to key facilities such as water pumping plants and hospitals in Baghdad and elsewhere, the Minister said.

Work to restore power to residential neighbourhood has begun and officials hope to fix the damage over the next few days.

21 Killed in Bus Accident

From The Australian :

Twenty-one Iraqis have been killed when a bus carrying gasoline exploded into a fireball after colliding with a car northeast of Baghdad.

There were no survivors, a hospital official said today.

The accident happened near Jalula, about 130 km (80 miles) from the capital, Dr Ahmed Fouad from the nearby Baqouba hospital, where the dead were taken, said.

Gasoline cans carried on the bus exploded when the collision occurred, killing the bus driver and 13 passengers plus seven people in the car, Dr Fouad said.

The gasoline explosion is responsible for the high rate of casualties.”

7 Confirmed Killed in Suicide Car Bombing

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A suicide car bomber has killed at least seven Iraqis at an entrance to Baghdad's Green Zone, a year to the day since United States forces captured Saddam Hussein.

Nineteen were wounded, four seriously, civilian hospital staff said.

The US military said no US soldiers were hurt in the bombing, which came after seven US Marines were killed in two separate incidents west of Baghdad.

We had stopped in the car when all we felt was a car explode next to us,” said one injured Iraqi civilian at the city's busy Yarmuk hospital, his face caked with blood.

A US officer said: “A suicide bomber hit checkpoint 12. It's pretty ugly.

From the AFP via The Australian :

Up to thirteen people have been killed in a suicide attack at the entrance to the highly fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, reports say.

The blast occurred when a vehicle that had been waiting in line to enter the zone at its western Harthiyah gate exploded as it drove up to the checkpoint at 9am (1700 AEDT), Iraqi police said.

Fifteen other cars were destroyed in the blast.

Reports on casualties were varied with the Associated Press reporting thirteen people had been killed and 15 injured while Agence France-Presse said six were killed and 19 were injured.

Air Strikes in Fallujah

From the AFP via The Australian :

US aircraft have attacked Iraqi city of Fallujah, a day after seven US marines were killed in al-Anbar province where the flashpoint city is located.

Air strikes were launched in eastern Fallujah and several large columns of black smoke could be seen rising from the area, a correspondent embedded with the marines in Fallujah reported.

Eight Marines Killed in Anbar
Eight U.S. Marines were killed in violence in Iraq's restive Anbar province, the military said Monday, a day after American warplanes pounded Fallujah with missiles as insurgents battled coalition forces in the city.

[…]

It was unknown if the eight Marine deaths were connected to the fighting in the volatile western Iraqi city of Fallujah. In a statement, the military said the seven Marines with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force died in two separate incidents while conducting “security and stabilization operations” in Anbar province, a vast region that comprises Fallujah and Ramadi.

The military had earlier reported another U.S. Marine death Sunday in Anbar.

Read more…

Winds Monday Iraq Report: Dec 13/04

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

Today also features a Monday Winds of War briefing, covering the rest of the global war on terror.

TOP TOPICS

Other Topics Today Include: Clashes in Falluajh & Anbar; Mosul; Army adaptations to Iraq; Zeyad returns; Iraq oil exports steady; will the U.S. be asked out; Hussein aides on hunger strike; France's mixed feelings on Iraq; Sergeant sentenced for mercy killing.

Read the Rest…

December 12, 2004
Abbas Apologizes To Kuwaitis

The Associated Press reports that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas apologized to Kuwaitis on Sunday for the Palestinians' support of Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait:

Asked by reporters about Palestinian support for Saddam's invasion, Abbas responded: “Yes, we apologize for what we have done.”

From California Yankee.

US Soldier Killed in Al Anbar Province

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A US soldier was killed on Saturday during an operation in Iraq's western Al Anbar province, which hosts the rebel hot spots of Fallujah and Ramadi.

Fighting erupted in Fallujah earlier on Saturday after days of relative calm following last month's blistering assault on the former rebel stronghold.

US Marines clashed with insurgents in both the north and south of the city, which was largely emptied of people before the November 8 offensive.

Eight coalition soldiers were also wounded on Saturday when insurgents attacked their convoy with mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The patrol was first hit by a car bomb and then came under concentrated fire.

The soldiers called in air support, which dropped a 500 pound bomb on the attackers, the US Army said in a statement.

The statement said the number of casualties among the attackers was unknown, adding that there were no reports of civilian casualties.

It said the soldiers were on their way to secure a cache of illegal weapons and munitions in western Mosul, adding that the wounds of the eight soldiers were not life-threatening.

Communists Submit List of Candidates

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The Communists, Iraq's oldest political party, have submitted a list of 257 candidates drawn from across ethnic and faith groups for the January elections.

Newspapers report the candidates are joined under the banner, Union of the People.

The Union of the People list includes personalities of all faiths and all communities,” party secretary Hamid Majid Mussa told the daily Al-Madaa.

He did not say who would head the new group.

Mr Mussa says that one of those on the list is Culture Minister Mufid al-Jazairi, who represents the communists in the interim Government.

Mr Mussa says negotiations to link the party with other non-religious ones and the Kurds in order to have a wider-based list have failed.

Each preferred to go it alone,” he said.

Senior Police Targetted

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Gunmen ambushed a group of senior police officers in northern Iraq on Saturday, killing two of them and wounding three.

A police source says two other high-ranking officers, a brigadier and a colonel, were gunned down in southern Baghdad.

Four employees of the Ministry of Education were wounded when the bus taking them to work in Baghdad was raked by gunfire.

Colonel Mohammed Abed says a fellow police colonel and another officer were killed in the ambush which left himself and two others wounded.

They blocked our way, shot us and took our cars,” he said.

In the northern city of Mosul a car bomb exploded near a US military convoy wounding at least two passersby, witnesses and the US army said.

December 11, 2004
A Last Request

Updating a previous post, from Silent Running :

Dear 1st Squad,

If you’re reading this, then I’ve died for our country. I just hope it wasn’t for nothing.

After the IED went off yesterday, I wanted to write this in case something happens to me. There are a few more letters that I’d like you to give my wife and family.

I’d like to have a military funeral, but, if you can work please make sure that Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” is played at the ceremony in addition to the bagpipes. If they won’t let it happen, that’s ok, thanks for trying……

I know that all the belongings I have here will go to Melissa, but there are a few more things I’d like for you guys to make sure she gets. I have a dog tag w/ our picture on it along w/ some pictures and an American flag in my left breast pocket. There is also a can that says “Son” on it that Melissa’s parents gave me that I’d like for them to have, and that angel stone should go to her grandma and grandpa Snow.

Now if I died w/ blue eyes (one blew that way and one blew the other way) and there’s nothing really left of me, that’s ok, I know you meant well.

Alright, enough with the dead guy’s last request, there’s a lot of thank you’s I wanna say to you fellas……

Specialist David Mahlenbrock was killed by an IED on December 3rd in Kirkuk, Iraq.

David's family and friends are asking radio stations to play Toby Keith's “American Soldier” on the 15th at 1pm EST with a dedication to Specialist David Mahlenbrock.

BLACKFIVE has links for funeral and donation information and You can send condolences to David's family at:

Inglesby-Givnish Funeral Home
600 E. Main St.
Maple Shade, NJ 08052

Where do we find such men?

British Jounalists Union Denies Any Responsibility for UK Deaths

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Britain's National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has rejected allegations by Britain's top military officer that media reports are partly to blame for recent fatal attacks on British soldiers in Iraq.

Chief of Defence Staff General Michael Walker has said that news reports about the redeployment of the Black Watch regiment within Iraq made it “easier” for insurgents to stage attacks

The NUJ says that claim is absurd.

When generals turn round and start blaming reporters for their own mistakes, it is a sign they aren't doing their own jobs properly,” union spokesman Tim Gopsill said.
[…]
Gen Walker told BBC TV that constant media speculation about the regiment's redeployment, which was made at the request of the United States, helped rebels plan attacks from the start of the mission.

I think that the contribution towards the initial attacks against the Black Watch was certainly enhanced by, if you like, a media picture that was being laid across a number of channels in all sorts of places,” he said.

A series of roadside bombs were planted along the route used by the regiment as it travelled from the southern city of Basra to Camp Dogwood, and the camp came under attack within hours of the troops' arrival.

Certainly, the attacks against the Black Watch happened at that stage,” Gen Walker said.

And I'm certain, too, that the media coverage would have made it easier for anybody who wanted to conduct those attacks to do so.”

Mr Gopsill says that the military has “no right” to criticise reporters, who are themselves working in conditions of extreme danger.

The military do well out of journalism. They get coverage of our boys in action and they have a considerable degree of control on the battlefield and control over what is put out by reporters embedded with units,” he said.

They have got no right to complain.”
[…]
It wasn't the press that whipped it up. It was debated in parliament,” he said.

2 Truck Drivers Released

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Kidnappers have released two truck drivers, one from Bangladesh and the other from Sri Lanka, after holding them hostage in Iraq for more than a month.

The two have appeared briefly before reporters at the Sri Lankan embassy in Baghdad and looked relatively well, smiling and waving to television cameras.

Bangladeshi Abul Kashem, 44, and Sri Lankan Dinesh Rajaratnam, 37, had been seized on October 28 while transporting supplies to Iraq from Kuwait.

Ramadi Hospital Used as Ambush Firing Position

From Reuters via The Australian :

Soldiers from the 1st Marine Division … were ambushed by insurgents operating in and near the Ramadi General Hospital and Medical College,” the military said. A statement said the attack took place yesterday.

Some of the muzzle flashes of insurgent firing positions were observed as originating from windows within the hospital.

The military said rebel fighters had turned off all the lights in the hospital and surrounding buildings as the soldiers approached, before unleashing rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire as soon as the lights were turned back on.

Soldiers pushed through the ambush, returning defensive fire, some of which was aimed at insurgents in the hospital,” the statement said.

It said no US soldiers were wounded or killed in the fighting, but did not give any information about insurgent casualties. The US military's account could not be confirmed.
[…]
The Marines said they would return to speak with staff at Ramadi's hospital to assess the damage caused in yesterday's firefight and investigate the incident.

In a separate incident in the city, the 1st Marine Division said it had destroyed a large weapons cache discovered in a suburb of Ramadi late yesterday.

Car Bomb Kills One in Mosul

From The Australian :

A car bomb exploded as a US military convoy passed by today in the northern city of Mosul, killing an Iraqi civilian, eyewitnesses said.

No American soldiers were killed or wounded, the US military said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Hastings said the blast occurred in eastern Mosul at 10am (6pm AEDT) as a convoy of Humvees was patrolling the area.

December 10, 2004
Bush Meets Iraqi Pro-Democracy Bloggers

From the blog of Andrew Sullivan :

OMAR AND ALI: The bad news is that Omar and Ali, the intrepid Iraqi bloggers, couldn't make our coffee date this afternoon. The good news is that they blew me off for the president of the United States. I think Wolfowitz got them into the Oval Office. Yay.

Omar and Ali run Iraq The Model and are amongst the founding members of the Iraq Pro-Democracy Party , as reported in a previous post.

US Soldier Found Guilty of Murder

Updating a previous post, from the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A court martial has found a US soldier guilty of murdering an unarmed Iraqi civilian.

Staff Sergeant Johnny Horne was convicted of the unpremeditated murder of the Iraqi civilian in August.

The murder of Kassim Hassan took place when US soldiers spotted a garbage truck apparently dropping homemade bombs in Sadr City.

The soldiers started shooting at the truck, which caught fire, and a severely wounded Hassan fell to the ground.

When the judge asked Horne what his intention was when he shot the man, he replied: “I wanted to end his suffering, it was my opinion that he could not be helped.”

A pre-trial agreement limits sentencing to 120 months or 10 years.

Without the agreement, the charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Al Sadr Left Out of Shi'ite Political Alliance

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims have announced a broadly-based alliance ahead of next month's key elections, which is backed by their highest religious leader but excludes radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The United Iraqi Alliance groups the Dawa Party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.

But Sadr, whose militia battled US-led forces in Baghdad and Najaf before calling a truce, is not on the 228-strong list backed by Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani.

It contains parties and political currents as well as independent figures of different confessions and ethnic groups and takes into consideration the demographic and geographic balance in Iraq,” Dawa's Ali Adib said.

The list also contains Sunnis, Yazidis, and Faili (Shiite) Kurds.

Marine 'Hostage" Charged with Desertion

Updating a previous post, from the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A US Marine corporal who mysteriously disappeared from a base in Iraq and later claimed he was held hostage by insurgents has been charged with desertion following a five month investigation.

Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, a Lebanese-born Arabic translator, disappeared from the Marine base near Fallujah on June 21 only to surface 19 days later in Lebanon where he turned himself over to the US authorities.

During his absence, Al Jazeera television aired a videotape that purported to show Hassoun as a captive of Islamic militants.

The US Marines has charged Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun with desertion following a five month investigation into his disappearance from a US military camp in Iraq in June,” the Marines said in a statement.

Charges of desertion, wrongful disposition of military property and two violations of larceny were lodged against Hassoun, 24, after the Navy Criminal Investigative Services completed its probe of his disappearance.

Besides the desertion charge, Hassoun was also accused of theft of his 9-mm service pistol and a government vehicle.

An investigation will consider whether the evidence supports referring the charges to trial by a military court.

December 09, 2004
Kerry To Visit Iraq

The Boston Globe reports that Senator Kerry will visit Iraq:

“He's going because he wants to thank the troops from Massachusetts,” said Kerry spokeswoman April Boyd. ''While he's there, he'll also be meeting with military commanders, embassy officials, and Iraqi government leaders. The purpose will be to discuss the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism.”

From California Yankee.

Japan Extends Troop Deployment

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Japan has extended its troop deployment to Iraq for another year despite public unease about the mission which broke the country's post-World War II taboo against using its military in an overseas war zone.
[…]
It is Japan's responsibility to help Iraqis rebuild their nation,” Mr Koizumi told a news conference in Tokyo.

Japan had sent peacekeepers to Cambodia and East Timor but its 550 troops in the southern Iraqi city of Samawa are the first it has deployed since 1945 to a country where there is active fighting.

Powell Seeks Help in Afghanistan, Iraq from NATO

From Reuters via the BBC :

US Secretary of State Colin Powell is pushing European nations to commit more forces to Iraq at a NATO meeting with foreign ministers in Brussels.
[…]
Mr Powell, who will soon stand down as secretary of state, is also expected to ask for more troops for Afghanistan.

The US has offered to place two provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) under NATO command in the country as long as European Nato allies supply two more such teams, each consisting of a few hundred soldiers and civilian workers.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer opened Thursday's meeting calling for “a fair burden-sharing among allies”.

A US official said “a number of countries” were expected to come forward offering training officers and protection troops to the mission in Iraq.

I would expect three, four or five countries to make new pledges,” he told Reuters.

But Germany's Mr Fischer reiterated that it would not be among them.

Our position is clear and that is we shall not be sending any troops to Iraq,” he said, adding that it was already training Iraqi military personnel outside Iraq.
[…]
France, Belgium and Spain have so far said they will not contribute to the Iraqi mission.

On Wednesday Mr Powell said: “I know that some of the president's key decisions these last four years have been controversial in Europe, especially decisions that were made about Iraq.

“Whatever our differences about the past and about Iraq, we are now looking forward. We're reaching out to Europe and we hope that Europe will reach out to us.”

4 Spec Ops Soldiers Punished for Prisoner Abuse

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Four US troops serving on a special operations task force have been disciplined for abusing prisoners in Iraq, including unauthorised use of Taser electric-shock weapons, the Pentagon has said.

The task force's activities became known on Tuesday with the release of a June document showing that its members punched and abused prisoners in front of Defence Intelligence Agency agents and then threatened the agents to try to keep them quiet.

Chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita told a Pentagon briefing that four members of the task force were given administrative punishments by the military for excessive use of force involving the unauthorised use of Taser weapons.

All four were reassigned to other responsibilities and two were removed from the unit, Mr Di Rita added.

Mr Di Rita added that the commander of the task force already had initiated an investigation of potential detainee abuse within the unit even before the DIA letter was written.

Although it sounds like the abuse itself is fairly minor, threatening people from the DIA is not just serious, but a really, really, really Bad Idea. They don't scare easily, and do play by the book. They also do stuff even SpecOps people blanch at - so I'm told.

South Korean President Pays Surprise Visit to Iraq

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has made a surprise visit to Iraq to meet his country's troops, telling them to focus on their reconstruction work.

South Korea has 3,600 troops based in the northern Iraqi region of Irbil, the largest contingent in the country after those of allies Britain and the United States.
[…]
I have been hearing everyone was well and doing well and so I didn't worry too much but I wanted to see with my own eyes,” Mr Roh said.

Television pictures released after Mr Roh had left Irbil showed him greeting soldiers, who cheered and raised cans of soft drink.

He joined about 600 soldiers for breakfast and visited a hospital set up by the troops before returning to his presidential plane in Kuwait after two hours.

The purpose [of the trip] is clear; to encourage the Zaitun troops,” Mr Roh's chief press secretary said.

The contingent, which is named after the Arabic word for olive, has a humanitarian and reconstruction mission rather than a combat role.

Officials say that there are about 100 medics and 400 engineers.

Military sources say there is also a strong detachment of special forces troops to protect the rest.

Troops Grill Rumsfeld Over Equipment

From the BBC :

US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld faced a grilling when he visited troops about to face combat in Iraq.

Mr Rumsfeld was at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, to deliver a pep-talk to soldiers about the significance of the task ahead of them.

But he faced tough questions from soldiers anxious about their equipment and how long they will stay.

Pentagon staff said troops regularly quiz senior officers, adding that it was a way of boosting morale.

One soldier said troops were forced to root through rubbish to reinforce their armoured vehicles.

Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmour our vehicles?” Army Spc Thomas Wilson asked.

His question brought cheers from some 2,000 fellow soldiers - mostly Reserve and National Guard troops - assembled in an aircraft hangar for the question-and-answer session that followed Mr Rumsfeld's speech.

Mr Rumsfeld paused, before asking him to repeat the question, AP news agency reported.

Spc Wilson did so, adding, “we do not have proper armoured vehicles to carry with us”.

You go to war with the army you have,” Mr Rumsfeld replied, saying vehicle armour manufacturers were being exhorted to crank up production.
[…]
Mr Rumsfeld denied the charge from another soldier that active-duty troops were prioritised above Reserve and National Guard soldiers to receive the best military equipment.

Another soldier asked how long the army would continue to use its powers to extend tours of duty - the so-called stop-loss policy which is currently estimated to be keeping some 7,000 soldiers in Iraq beyond their expected return date.

Mr Rumsfeld said this was simply a fact of life for soldiers at time of war.

It's basically a sound principle, it's nothing new, it's been well understood” by soldiers, he said.

My guess is it will continue to be used as little as possible, but that it will continue to be used.”

US, Iraq Fund Fallujah Reconstruction

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

US Navy officials say more than $A158 million has been committed by the US and Iraqi governments for reconstruction in Iraq's Al-Anbar province, which includes the battered city of Fallujah.

They say over half of the money is to come from the Iraqi Government during the remainder of fiscal year 2004 and in 2005.

Money continues being added,” US navy Commander Steven Stefani said.

The fighting, which continues in pockets in Fallujah's south, drove most of the city's 250,000 people from their houses.

Commander Stefani says an estimated one in three homes has been damaged “to the point where people should not move into them”.

Other Navy officials estimate that between five and 10 per cent of Fallujah's buildings have been destroyed in the fighting, which left blocks of burned-out shop fronts and gutted homes.

Estimates on the total number of buildings in the city vary greatly from around 21,000 to 50,000.

Marine civil affairs units are making damage assessments throughout the city and progress has been made in restoring some key infrastructure like water and power.

December 08, 2004
5 Civilians, Cop Killed

From Reuters via The Australian :

Three Iraqis were killed today when a suicide car bomber attacked a US convoy in the northern city of Samarra, a local police official said.

In a separate incident, an Iraqi policeman was killed when insurgents opened fire on US soldiers in the town that the Iraqi interim government said it had seized from guerrillas after a major offensive in early October.

There were no immediate reports of US casualties.

In another restive Sunni Muslim town, Ramadi, two Iraqis were killed in shooting after a suicide bomber had attacked a US military checkpoint, witnesses and a hospital official said.

An official at Ramadi hospital said the two dead Iraqis were civilians. There was no immediate word from the US military on the fighting there.
[…]
At dawn today, insurgents carried out a car bomb attack on a US patrol in southern Baghdad. It was not immediately clear if there were US casualties.

Witnesses said several Iraqis were wounded.

Saddam Loyalists Directing Ops from Syria

From the Washington Post via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Iraqi insurgents are being directed to a greater degree than previously suspected by loyalists of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein living in Syria, according to a Washington Post report.

A handful of senior Iraqi Baathists are collecting money from private sources in Saudi Arabia and Europe for the Iraqi insurgents and are managing some of their operations from Syria, the newspaper quoted intelligence sources as saying.

The intelligence officials said their suspicions were based on information gathered during recent fighting in the Sunni Triangle.

They say a US military summary of operations in the Fallujah said a global positioning receiver found in a bomb factory there “contained waypoints originating in western Syria”.

Former Marine Testifies in Canada

From the AFP via the ABC :

A former US Marine said his unit killed more than 30 innocent Iraqi civilians in just two days, in graphic testimony to a Canadian tribunal probing an asylum claim by a US Army deserter.

Former Marine Sergeant Jimmy Massey appeared as a witness to bolster claims by fugitive paratrooper Jeremy Hinzman that he walked out on the 82nd Airborne Division to avoid being ordered to commit war crimes in Iraq.

Mr Hinzman, 26, claims he would face persecution if sent home to the United States, in a politically charged case which could set a precedent for at least two other US deserters seeking asylum in Canada.

Mr Massey (who according to The Mountaineer received a medical discharge from his position as a recruiter in the US after suffering Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is best known for his interviews in French publications and IslamOnLine :

Massey cited instructions of commanders disregarding lives of Iraq civilians as one of many reasons still driving him nuts.

Throw candies in the school courtyard, and open fire on children rushing to snatch them. Crush them,” he recalled officers as saying during drills.

And from an interview with antiwar activist Paul Rockwell in the Sacramento Bee :

Q: You mention machine guns. What can you tell me about cluster bombs, or depleted uranium?

A: Depleted uranium. I know what it does. It's basically like leaving plutonium rods around. I'm 32 years old. I have 80 percent of my lung capacity. I ache all the time. I don't feel like a healthy 32-year-old.
[…]
A: I had one of my Marines in my battalion who lost his leg from an ICBM.
[…]
A: They are used everywhere. Now if you talked to a Marine artillery officer, he would give you the runaround, the politically correct answer. But for an average grunt, they're everywhere.

Q: Including inside the towns and cities?

A: Yes, if you were going into a city, you knew there were going to be ICBMs

The former Sergeant may have been getting confused between ICMs (Improved Conventional Munitions) and ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles). Twice. And the quote about machine-gunning children may have been a garbled version of the satirical cadence song popularised in An Officer and a Gentleman.

US Soldier, 4 ING Killed : US Combat Toll hits 1000

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The insurgent war against US forces and their Iraqi proteges has claimed another American life, taking the US combat death toll to 1,000 since last year's invasion.

At least four Iraqi National Guard troopers were also killed in two incidents, one in the capital and another further south.
[…]
Insurgents have bombed two churches in the Iraqi city of Mosul, fuelling fears of ethnic and sectarian unrest ahead of an election next month.

No one was killed or injured in the bombings in Mosul; smoke billowed from one of the northern city's Armenian churches and one of its oldest Chaldean churches was ablaze and a wall shattered.

The attackers were not identified.
[…]
There were two or three families in the church,” one frightened worshipper from Mosul's ancient Tahira Chaldean church told Reuters after the attack on the white stone building, some of which is said to date back to the 7th century.

Gunmen came in, took the guard's weapon and a couple of mobile phones. Then they made everybody leave the church. After that there was an explosion that did a lot of damage,” said the man, who asked not to be named for fear of intimidation.
[…]
The unidentified soldier killed on Tuesday was on patrol in Baghdad when guerrillas opened fire with rifles.

Earlier in the day, the Pentagon had issued a revised combat casualty toll of 999 and the death thus took the toll since the invasion on March 20 last year to 1,000.

A further 275 US troops have died in accidents or other incidents not classified as being killed in action.

A total of 9,765 US troops have been wounded.

Car Bomb Blast Rocks Baghdad
Terrorists detonated a car bomb in southern Baghdad early Wednesday, causing an unspecified number of casualties, witnesses said.

The bomb exploded as a U.S. military convoy was passing in the Dora area of southern Baghdad, witnesses said, adding that Iraqi civilians were injured.

“There was a car bomb but we have no further information as yet,” an Iraqi police official said on condition of anonymity.

It was not immediately clear if any American forces were injured in the attack, which happened at around 6:30 a.m.

Read more…

December 07, 2004
Saddam Trial Delayed

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Jailed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is now expected to go on trial in the first half of next year.

The Transport Minister in the interim Iraqi Government has told the AFP news agency that the trial will start soon after the January 30 election.

Iraqi officials had previously the trial would open before the poll.

Dutch Arrest Alleged Saddam Accomplice

From The Australian :

Dutch police have arrested a 62-year-old chemicals dealer suspected of involvement in war crimes and genocide committed by the regime of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the Dutch national prosecutor's office said today.

The suspect, a chemicals dealer, is suspected of supplying the ingredients for chemical weapons to the regime of Saddam Hussein,” said Wim de Bruin of the national prosecutor's office.

The man, identified as Frans van Anraat by the media, is the first Dutch national to be investigated on suspicion of complicity in genocide, Mr De Bruin said.

According to the Dutch authorities Mr Van Anraat supplied “thousands of tonnes of base materials for chemical weapons between 1984 and 1988”.

Court Martial for US Tank Commander

From The Australian :

A US army tank company commander accused of murdering a member of a militia led by a radical Shiite cleric in Iraq will be court martialled on the charges, the Army said today.

Following the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury investigation, 1st Armoured Division commander Major General Martin Dempsey decided to go ahead with the court martial of Captain Rogelio Maynulet, division spokesman Major Michael Indovina said in a statement.

The murder charge stems from a May 21 incident near Kufa in Iraq when Capt Maynulet was leading his tank company on a patrol.

They came across a BMW sedan believed to be carrying militiamen loyal to Shi'ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr and a chase ensued.

US soldiers fired at the vehicle, wounding both the driver and passenger.

During the hearing, a fellow officer testified that Capt Maynulet told him a medic said the driver, who had a severe head wound, was beyond hope and that he shot him out of compassion.

The killing was caught on video by a US drone surveillance aircraft, and the footage was played back during the so-called Article 32 hearings after the public and press were removed from the courtroom.

The hearing officer said the footage was being kept classified because it could reveal the Army's capabilities in Iraq.

6 US Troops Killed in Anbar Province

From The Australian :

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force said three US soldiers were killed on Sunday and two Marines were killed on Friday in fighting in western Anbar province, a region that includes the battleground cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.
[…]
Another US Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force died today in what the military described as “a non-hostile motor vehicle accident in Anbar province”.
December 06, 2004
Musharraf: Iraq war has made world 'less safe'

CNN.com reports the Pakistani president as saying that the Iraq war has made world “less safe.” No word as yet on his view of what rampant Islamic fundamentalism in his nation is doing for same condition …

Clashes on Baghdad Street

From The Australian :

US troops fought a running gunbattle with insurgents along Baghdad's busy Haifa Street today, sending passers-by scurrying for cover and forcing stores to close down.

The fighting broke out after armed rebels appeared on the street, saying they were hunting for Iraqis collaborating with the occupation forces.

Witnesses said they shot and killed a man they claimed was working for the Americans on Tahrir Square. Rebels were also seen on Mathaf Square, just three blocks from the heavily fortified Green Zone that houses Iraq's interim government and the US Embassy.

The US military had no immediate comment, but witnesses said US troops supported by armoured vehicles attacked the gunmen.
[…]
Earlier Monday, three insurgents were killed and four wounded in clashes early Monday with U.S. forces in Haditha, 220km northwest of Baghdad in the volatile Anbar province, according to Dr. Bassem Izaldeen, of Haditha Hospital.

Australia Asked to train Iraqi Intelligence Agency

From the Khaleej Times :

Australia, which is already training the new Iraqi police and military forces, has been asked to help train Iraq’s intelligence and security officers, the government said on Monday.

Defence Minister Robert Hill, who has just returned from a fourth visit to Iraq, said he had been asked by Iraqi national security adviser Qassim Da’ud to extend the military training programme to the intelligence community

Minister Da’ud wants to train a group of new young leaders, possibly within Australia, in the field of intelligence and security, in order to subject them to alternative cultures and a new way of law enforcement that is different to the brutal techniques used by the Saddam Hussein regime,” Hill said in a statement.

Minister Da’ud said one of Iraq’s big challenges was to develop a new psychology within the intelligence and security units after three decades of dictatorship.”

The request came at the International Institute of Strategic Studies Gulf summit in Bahrain, which discussed progress in Iraq.

ICRC Ordered From Fallujah

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The Iraqi Red Crescent (IRC) says it has left Fallujah on US military orders after the aid agency was told the former insurgent stronghold was not safe.

Multinational forces asked the IRC to withdraw from Fallujah for security reasons and until further notice,” the organisation's spokeswoman Ferdus Al Ibadi told AFP.

Ms Ibadi, speaking in Baghdad, had said earlier that the agency left of its own free will, but she said she was only informed after the IRC left the city that it had been told to do so by US marines.
[…]
The US military said the IRC had requested a military escort out of the city and that it had secured the organisation's headquarters immediately afterwards.

All military-age males in the IRC building were properly vetted and approximately eight were detained,” US Marine Major M Naomi Hawkins said.

The US military had since Thursday been interviewing military-age males who came to the IRC for food aid as well as testing them for gun powder, a potential sign of insurgent activity, an AFP correspondent said.

The Marines confirmed that they had cordoned off the building on Thursday when they began vetting males.

Suicide Bomb Hits Kurds

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Up to 17 Kurdish militiamen have been killed in a suicide car bombing in Iraq's main northern city of Mosul, exacerbating fears that a rising tide of violence could derail Iraqi elections in January.
[…]
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) chief in Mosul, Saad Pira, told AFP that 17 peshmergas fighters were killed and more than 40 wounded when a suicide car bomber rammed their convoy as they were travelling through the Karama neighbourhood of Mosul.

An Opel car slammed into the convoy and exploded against the minibuses, two of which were totally gutted by fire,” he said. The attack took place near the PUK headquarters in Karama.

Good News from Iraq, vol. 16

Note: Also available at the “Opinion Journal” and Chrenkoff. As always, many thanks to James Taranto and Joe Katzman, and to all the others who support the series.

It takes a lot to get a man of God annoyed and Louis Sako, the Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, is a very frustrated man these days. “It is not all death and destruction,” says the Archbishop:

“Much is positive in Iraq today… Universities are operating, schools are open, people go out onto the streets normally… Where there's a kidnapping or a homicide the news gets out immediately, and this causes fear among the people… Those who commit such violence are resisting against Iraqis who want to build their country.”

It's not just the terrorists who, according to His Eminence, are creating problems for Iraq:

“[January] will be a starting point for a new Iraq… [Yet] Western newspapers and broadcasters are simply peddling propaganda and misinformation… Iraqis are happy to be having elections and are looking forward to them because they will be useful for national unity… Perhaps not everything will go exactly to plan, but, with time, things will improve. Finally Iraqis will be given the chance to choose. Why is there so much noise and debate coming out from the West when before, under Saddam, there were no free elections, but no one said a thing?”

Lastly, the Archbishop has this wish for the international bystanders:

“Europe is absent, it's not out there; the United States is on its own… [Europe] must help the Iraqi government to control its borders to prevent the entry of foreign terrorists, [but] also provide economic help to encourage a new form of culture which is open to coexistence, the acceptance of others, respect for the human person and for other cultures… Europe must understand that there is no time to waste on marginal or selfish interests: The entire world needs peace.”

Archbishop Sako's frustration is increasingly shared by other Iraqis, who can hardly recognize their country from the foreign media coverage. Westerners, too, both military and civilians, upon their return are often finding to their surprise and concern they had lived and worked in a different country to that their loved ones, friends and neighbors back home saw every night on the news. “Our” Iraq is a place of violence, uncertainty, and frustration; “their” Iraq all that, too, but also so much more: work and renewal, hope and enthusiasm, new opportunities and new possibilities. Here are the last two weeks' worth of stories you might have missed while watching “our” Iraq on the news:

  • href="http://windsofchange.net/archives/005979.php#society">Society
  • Economy
  • href="http://windsofchange.net/archives/005979.php#reconstruction">Reconstruction
  • Humanitarian Aid
  • The Coalition Troops
  • href="http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/005981.php#security">Diplomacy and security

Winds Monday Iraq Report: Dec 6/04

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

TOP TOPICS

Other Topics Today Include: a country drive in Iraq; possible gains on the battlefield; working to increase oil production; trying to boost Sunni support for the elections; could the new government invite the Coalition out; French journalists still alive; body in Fallujah not Hassan; an Iraq history lesson.

Read the Rest…

December 05, 2004
Gunmen Kill 17
Gunmen firing from two cars killed 17 Iraqis as they were heading to work Sunday at a U.S. military facility in the northern city of Tikrit while separate attacks killed four Iraqi security personnel in nearby towns.

Capt. Bill Coppernoll, spokesman for the Tikrit-based U.S. 1st Infantry Division, said insurgents fired from two cars at several buses carrying Iraqis working for coalition forces that had stopped in northern Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad.

Coppernoll said 17 Iraqis were killed and 13 wounded in the attack at around 8:30 a.m

Read more….

December 04, 2004
Operation Plymouth Rock Officially Ended

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Operation Plymouth Rock was launched on November 23 by some 5,000 US marines, British troops and Iraqi forces, aimed at flushing out rebels who were thought to have fled Fallujah.

The operation was wound up on Wednesday, the US military said.

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force said it had rounded up 204 suspected militants and discovered 11 arms caches during the operation, causing “serious damage to insurgent activity”.

Marines were particularly pleased with the role played by Iraqi national guards, who led several operations during the sweep, despite “a concerted campaign of intimidation and terror that has cost dozens of national guards their lives”.

The US military said that “while Plymouth Rock is finished, the pursuit of insurgents south of Baghdad continues”.

Each and every day we are learning more and more about those participating in insurgent activity, and we are tracking them down one by one,” said Colonel Ron Johnson.

No quick fix is envisioned. The solution lies in patience, persistence and sustained presence,” he said.

6 Civilans, 2 US Soldiers Killed in Separate Attacks

From the AFP via The Australian :

In northern Iraq, six people were killed in Mosul, the country's third-largest city. Five of them died when mortar rounds, followed by automatic arms fire, targeted the provincial government offices there.

Two US soldiers were killed in two separate convoy attacks near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and in Baghdad, the military said.

Mixed Messages From Egyptian Cleric

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Egypt's highest authority in Sunni Islam has legitimised the “resistance” in Iraq on Friday and called on Iraqis to unite in order to return stability to the war-wracked country, state media has reported.

The Iraqi resistance has the right to defend its land, its fatherland and its right to independence,” Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, resident imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar mosque, was quoted as saying by the Mena news agency.

He also called on “all Iraqi communities to unite so as to make a serious commitment to restore stability in Iraq,” Mena said.

December 03, 2004
Ukrainians Call for Iraq Troop Withdrawal
The Ukrainian parliament in a 257-0 vote on Friday called on outgoing President Leonid Kuchma to withdraw the nation's 1,600 peacekeepers from Iraq, where they make up the fourth-largest contingent.

The vote was nonbinding and analysts said that Kuchma can ignore it.

“Due to the sharp deterioration of the situation in Iraq, the parliament addresses the president with the proposal on withdrawal of troops from Iraq,” the resolution said.

Andriy Lysenko, the head of the Defense Ministry press service, said that the military “answers fully to the president of Ukraine, and in case he signs the document, the armed forces will execute his order.”

“So far, we do not have such an order,” Lysenko said.

Read more…

Terrorists Kill 30 at Police Station, Mosque
Insurgents launched two major attacks Friday against a Shiite mosque and a police station in Baghdad, killing 30 people, including at least 16 police officers, the deadliest insurgent attacks in weeks.

Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Sunni rebel group, Al Qaeda in Iraq, claimed responsibility for the police station attack. The claim, which appeared on an Islamic Web site, could not immediately be verified.

“The destructive effect that such operations has on the morale of the enemy inside and on its countries and people abroad is clear,” the claim said.

The attacks occurred in the western Amil district and in the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Azamiyah, where police said a car bomb exploded at a Shiite mosque called Hameed al-Najar, killing 14 people and wounding 19.

Read more…

December 02, 2004
Mortar Barrage Strikes Central Baghdad
The heavily fortified Green Zone (search) in Iraq was pummeled by mortar rounds Thursday, underscoring the vulnerability of even the country's most protected areas.

Witnesses said at least two of five mortars hit inside the heavily fortified area.

[…]

A few minutes after the mortars hit the compound that holds Iraq's interim administration, the American Embassy and other diplomatic missions, more shells landed on the other side of the Tigris River (search), sending U.S. soldiers and Iraqis running for cover.

Read more..

The Apache Aerial Ambulance

Via Blackfive comes yet another story you won't see on MSM.

For two Apache Longbow pilots, the night of Oct. 16 was just a regular night flying a reconnaissance mission around southern Baghdad. A distorted cry for help came across the emergency radio shattering the chatter of all other communications. They recognized the call sign, they recognized the area and a few minutes later, they were in route to perform what would become a heroic rescue.
[…]
Carrying two wounded back over the treacherous 100 meters to his waiting Apache, Welch said the time seemed to slow down to an absolute crawl as they inched their way back, working carefully not to further injure Mr. Crow.

We had to move kind of slow,” he explained. “I swear it probably took us like ten minutes to get back but it seemed like we were out there for hours, I was never so relieved to see JT and my bird sitting there.”

Four personnel, two seats in the Apache. Self-extraction was a maneuver the pilots had been told about in flight school. A maneuver considered dangerous enough that no practical application was given, just the verbal “Here’s how you do it”

Hanging from a pilots flight vest is a nylon strap attached to a carabineer. On each side of the Apache, hand holds are bolted on, primarily to assist maintenance crews as they work on the birds. They also have another purpose, to be used in the event of a self extraction. The general idea being a pilot attaches to the side of the helicopter with the nylon strap wrapped through the hand holds connecting the nylon strap with the carabineer, and then flies off to a safe location….

Read the whole thing.

Ba'ath Country Retreat Raided : 15 Arrested

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Hundreds of US and British troops have raided homes of insurgent suspects in an area that was once a favoured country retreat of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party elite.

Scottish soldiers from the Black Watch regiment and a force from the US 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) have cordoned off several kilometres of the west bank of the Euphrates river.

The soldiers are scouring villas and farms for Sunni Muslim militants and hidden stocks of weapons.

A report with the US Marines saw them position tanks across a main intersection to form one end of the cordon.

The British troops, who include marine commandos, are using Warrior armoured vehicles to seal their area of search.

American high-speed riverboats went into action when a group of men tried to escape the area by water.

The military says that US and Iraqi troops rounded up 15 suspected militants during the operation, raising to 210 the number detained in the past eight days of raids.
[…]
Separately, an insurgent attempting to plant a roadside bomb along a highway through the area was killed when one of the two mortar rounds he was using exploded prematurely.

A suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle in the same area, killing himself and wounding seven civilians.

71 US Troops killed so far at Fallujah

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Seventy-one US troops were killed in the offensive led by US Marines to take control of the Iraqi city Fallujah from insurgents, the US military has said.
[…]
The Fallujah offensive caused more than half of the total US military fatalities in Iraq in November, the second-deadliest month of the 20-month war.

According to Pentagon figures released on Wednesday, 134 US troops died in Iraq in November, one shy of the previous worst month, April 2004.

Lieutenant Col Steve Boylan, a US military spokesman in Baghdad, said 71 US troops were killed in Fallujah during the offensive launched on November 8.

The previous official tally was 51, given by Marine Corps Lieutenant General John Sattler on November 18.

December 01, 2004
More Troops To Iraq

The Associated Press reports that elements of the 82nd Airborne will be sent to Iraq and the tours for some units already in Iraq will be extended to provide security for Iraq's January election.

The United States now has about 138,000 troops in Iraq. According to Reuters these moves will temporarily boost U.S. troop strength in Iraq to about 150,000.

From California Yankee.

Iraq's Health Care System in Tatters : NGO report

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

War in Iraq has caused a public health disaster that has left the country's medical system in tatters and increased the risk of disease and death, according to a report by Britain-based charity Medact.

Medact, which examines the impact of war on health, says cases of vaccine-preventable diseases are rising, and relief and reconstruction work had been mismanaged.

“The health of the Iraqi people has deteriorated since the 2003 invasion,” Gill Reeve, the deputy director of Medact, said.

“Immediate action is needed to halt this health disaster.”

The report is based on interviews in Jordan with Iraqi civilians, relief organisations and health professionals who worked in Iraq.

It calls for Britain to set up an independent commission to investigate civilian casualties and to provide emergency relief and a better health system.
[…]
Maintaining adequate care is a real problem,” Mike Rowson, the executive director of Medact, said.

Iraqis increasingly rely on self-diagnosis and traditional healing and buy prescription medicines in the marketplace.

The UN, traditionally responsible for coordinating humanitarian crisis responses, has been marginalised while US assistance has been characterised by damaging political in-fighting,” the report said.

Mr Rowson says that a lot of money has been pledged for reconstruction but very little has been distributed to rebuild the Iraqi health system.

The political situation is key to making health improvements in Iraq,” he said.

As reported on TCP in October last year,

Six months ago the public health system was an empty shell. During the 1990's Saddam cut spending on public health by over 90 percent with predictable results for the lives of his citizens.
  • Today we have increased public health spending to over 26 times what it was under Saddam.
    * Today all 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics are open.
    * Today doctors' salaries are at least eight times what they were under Saddam.
    * Pharmaceutical distribution has gone from essentially nothing to 700 tons in May to a current total of 12,000 tons.
    * Since liberation we have administered over 22 million vaccination doses to Iraq's children.
Washington Post Recycles Abu Ghraib "News"

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A confidential US Army report published in December 2003 warned of abuse of Iraqi detainees by the CIA and other US military forces, the Washington Post reports.

The Army report was published more than a month before mistreatment at the Abu Ghraib prison was uncovered.

The confidential report by retired Colonel Stuart A Herrington, obtained by the Post, warned that arrest and detention practices used by CIA and other soldiers could “technically” be illegal.
[…]
The report shows that US military officials in Iraq knew of prisoner abuse at least a month before they learned of the Abu Ghraib acts in January 2004, the article said.

From an MSNBC report, as featured in a Command Post Article in May last year (with emphasis added) :

1. (U) On 19 January 2004, Lieutenant General (LTG) Ricardo S. Sanchez, Commander, Combined Joint Task Force Seven (CJTF-7) requested that the Commander, US Central Command, appoint an Investigating Officer (IO) in the grade of Major General (MG) or above to investigate the conduct of operations within the 800th Military Police (MP) Brigade. LTG Sanchez requested an investigation of detention and internment operations by the Brigade from 1 November 2003 to present. LTG Sanchez cited recent reports of detainee abuse, escapes from confinement facilities, and accountability lapses, which indicated systemic problems within the brigade and suggested a lack of clear standards, proficiency, and leadership. LTG Sanchez requested a comprehensive and all-encompassing inquiry to make findings and recommendations concerning the fitness and performance of the 800th MP Brigade.

The first action taken against Military personnel involved was reported on February 23 on TCP, and the crimes were committed in November, which we also reported.

November - Crimes.
December - Report. (Which the WaPo now has a copy of)
January - Investigation
February - Arrests

The Cort Martial transcript should have details of the contents of this “new” report, if the WaPo reporters had investigated it.

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