The Command Post
Iraq
April 29, 2005
Possible Zarqawi Tape Vows Attacks on U.S. Forces

Seems our friend AZ is showing his teeth in a new audio tape (presumably him) vowing attacks on the United States. Newsday:

An audio tape purportedly by one of America's most-wanted insurgents in Iraq, Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, that was posted Friday threatens more attacks against U.S. forces there and warns against collaborating with Americans.

The authenticity of the 18-minute tape, posted on a Web site that is known for getting across messages from Islamic militant groups, could not be determined. The voice on the tape sounded similar to previous audiotapes attributed to the Jordanian-born militant.

The voice on the tape directly addressed President Bush.

“You, Bush, we will not rest until we avenge our dignity,” the voice said. “We will not rest while your army is here as long as there is a pulse in our veins.”

Yes, dignity. It's SOOOOOO dgnified, cutting off the heads of innocents, yes?

I digress.

Also, I find it interesting that the AP headline for this story reads
Possible Zarqawi Tape Vows Attacks on U.S., which, at least to me, strongly suggests attacks IN the United States. That is not, of course, what the tape seems to suggest.

Posted By Alan at 08:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Multiple Attacks Kill 14
Insurgents carried out a series of attacks in Baghdad (search) on Friday using car bombs and mortar rounds, killing at least 13 Iraqis and wounding 50, officials said. A car bomb killed another Iraqi soldier near the southern city of Basra .

[…]

The most serious of Friday's attacks involved four suicide car bombs in the Azamiyah section of central Baghdad, said police chief Brig. Khalid al-Hassan.

The first one hit an Iraqi army patrol, the second one hit a police patrol and the third and fourth ones struck in quick succession at separate barricades near the headquarters of the Interior Ministry's local special forces unit, said al-Hassan.

He said the two attacks killed a total of at least 13 Iraqis, including seven soldiers, one policeman and five civilians, and wounded 48 Iraqis, including 35 civilians and 13 soldiers.

Read more…

April 28, 2005
Akbar Sentenced to Death for Grenade Attack
A military jury sentenced Sergeant Hasan Akbar to death for the 2003 murders of two officers in a grenade attack at an Army camp in Kuwait.

The 15-person jury deliberated seven hours after hearing a barely audible and unsworn statement from Akbar, who said he was sorry.

The same jury took just two-and-a-half hours to convict him of two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted premeditated murder.

The sentence will be the subject of an automatic appeal. If Akbar is executed, it would be by lethal injection.

Read more…

Iraqi Parlimentarian Slain

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Gunmen shot dead a member of Iraq's Parliament outside her house in Baghdad on Wednesday, according Iraqi police.

They identified the victim as Lame'a abed Khadawi, a member of caretaker Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's political party.

The attack occurred in front of her home in eastern Baghdad.

She is believed to be the first person in the 275-member National Assembly to be killed.

April 27, 2005
Data from Zarqawi's Computer

The New York Post reports that Information from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's laptop computer revealed the Jordanian master terrorist has been expanding his jihad network outside Iraq and is emerging as al Qaeda's preeminent global military commander.

Denmark Extends its Commitment

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Denmark will keep its troops in Iraq for at least eight months after their current mandate expires at the beginning of June, the Foreign Ministry said.

It should be possible to reduce the number of Danish troops in Iraq gradually from the current 530 after parliamentary elections there in early 2006, the ministry said in a report on the Danish military role in Iraq.

The analysis … establishes the continued need for the Danish contribution to the security assignment in the south of Iraq,” Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said in a statement.
[…]
The Ministry report said the Danish troops' mission should change in the future to an emphasis on training Iraqi security forces and backing up the emerging civilian authorities.

April 26, 2005
More Than 130 Insurgents Detained In Iraq

The Associated Press reports that a series of raids across Iraq this week resulted in the detention of more than 130 suspected insurgents. Weapons and munitions were also seized.

From California Yankee.

Zaqarwi's Narrow Escape; Computer Captured

From the ABC (the US network) via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

US forces recently failed to capture Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq but found his laptop computer and seized some of his money, the American Broadcasting Corporation reports.

The most wanted man in Iraq eluded capture on February 20 as he headed to a meeting in the western city of Ramadi, ABC News quoted a senior US military official as saying.

Zarqawi's driver and a bodyguard were detained in the operation.
[…]
llowing a tip-off from inside the Zarqawi network about the meeting, members of the task force had troops in place and checkpoints around Ramadi, as well as Predator drones in the air monitoring the region, the report said.

The senior military official said just before the meeting, troops pulled a car over as it approached a checkpoint and at the same time a pick-up truck about one kilometre behind then quickly turned in the opposite direction.

The United States believe the militant leader was in the truck.

Zarqawi always has someone check the waters,” the official was quoted as saying.

US teams began a chase, but when the truck was pulled over Zarqawi was not inside.

The senior military official said they had since learned that Zarqawi jumped out when the vehicle passed beneath a bridge and hid there before running to a safe house in Ramadi.

The official said Zarqawi's computer and 80,000 euros ($US104,000) were found inside.

He described the find as “a seminal event”.

The computer had “a very big hard drive,” the official said, and recent pictures of Zarqawi.

The driver and a bodyguard were detained.

Soldiers Cleared Over Italian Hostage Rescue Fiasco

From Reuters via the ABC :

US investigators have found that American troops who shot dead an Italian agent at a Baghdad checkpoint on March 4 committed no wrongdoing and will not be disciplined, an Army official said.

Italy disagrees with key findings in the preliminary report by the US military investigators and has baulked at endorsing it, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

US troops fatally shot the Italian intelligence officer, Nicola Calipari, when they opened fire on a car heading for Baghdad airport in which he was escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, a hostage who had just been released.
[…]
The Army official said Italy was disputing two factual issues in the report: the speed of the car as it approached the checkpoint; and the nature of communications between the Italians and US forces in Iraq before the incident.

The soldiers were only complying with the standard operating procedures for those checkpoints, so therefore are not culpable to dereliction of duty [charges],” the Army official said.

Everybody feels terrible about it but given the climate and the security atmosphere, the security procedures at the checkpoint operations have to be run by the letter.

Zarqawi narrowly escapes

ABC News reports Zarqawi, leader of the Iraqi “insurgency”, narrowly escaped capture today leaving his computer in his escape vehicle which was captured.

Let's hope the Army has some good Digital Forensics people…

Aussies Arrive in Iraq

From Kyodo of Japan, via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A 43-member advance team of Australian security troops have arrived in Samawah in Iraq, where the main party will engage in activities to maintain public safety, including protecting Japan's Self-Defence Forces stationed there.

The 450-strong main contingent is scheduled to arrive in al-Muthanna Province in south-eastern Iraq in groups by mid-May amid criticism from local residents that Samawah seems to be treated as a testing ground for multinational forces in Iraq.

The nationality of the security troops in the area has changed from Dutch to British and now to Australian in the space of about six weeks after the Dutch troops withdrew from Iraq.
[…]
Numerous local residents have expressed frustration over the frequent changes of the security troops' nationalities, while some residents said, since the Australian troops have now arrived, they may just as well think about what the locals can gain from them.
[…]
Australia had already deployed 920 troops to Iraq and its vicinity, and the dispatch to al-Muthanna will bring the figure up to 1,370.

Possibly just returning the favour. There are many still alive who can remember when British, Dutch and Australian soldiers were “guarded” by Japanese forces, rather than the other way round.

The Japanese engineers are the ones building bridges now. Definitely an improvement.

4 More Detained Over Helo Downing

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

The US military says troops have detained four more men suspected of involvement in the downing of a civilian helicopter in Iraq last week.

A statement said US troops and Iraqi security forces detained the men after receiving tip-offs from local residents about Thursday's attack, which killed 11 people, including six US security guards.

The military says the latest arrests bring the total number detained to 10.

AP Cameraman Killed in Mosul

From the Washington Times :

A television cameraman working for The Associated Press was killed Saturday when gunfire broke out after an explosion in the northern city of Mosul. An AP photographer was wounded in the same incident.

AP identified the victims, both Iraqis, as Associated Press Television News cameraman Saleh Ibrahim and photographer Mohammed Ibrahim, no relation to the deceased. Saleh Ibrahim was in his early 30s and was a father of five.

The circumstances of the death and injury remained unclear.

April 25, 2005
Bombings Leave 23 Dead
A vehicle packed with explosives was driven into a crowd gathered in front of a popular ice cream shop in Baghdad's western al-Shoulah neighborhood Sunday, police Maj. Mousa Abdul Karim said. Minutes later, as police and residents rushed to help the victims, a second suicide car bomber plowed into the crowd. At least 23 people were killed and 41 wounded, officials at two hospitals said Monday in an update of the casualty numbers.

Read more…

Good News from Iraq, 25 April 2005

Note: Also available at the “Opinion Journal” and Chrenkoff. With thanks to James Taranto and Joe Katzman, and to all of you for your continuing support for this year-long now project.

Recently, British Broadcasting Corporation decided to conduct a little vox populi around Iraq:

“Two years after the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad, marking the fall of the city to US-led forces, BBC Arabic.com asked seven Iraqis for their thoughts on how life has changed for them since the conflict.”

The results were surprising, certainly for the BBC, whose attitude towards the liberation of Iraq has always been at best lukewarm. They were surprising for me too, not so much in what the seven Iraqis had to say, but that the BBC still chose to run the story.

Here's Saad, 32, sound engineer from Basra: “Iraqis are feeling better. They are breathing the air of freedom. They read, watch and say what they want. They travel, work and receive a living wage. They use mobile phones, satellite dishes and the internet, which they did not even know before… As for terrorism, we are now beginning to unite against it and to defeat it.”

Noura, 32, computer engineer from Baghdad and a Christian: “While we lost security after Saddam's fall, we gained our freedom and a chance to build a new society.”

Nada, 32, government worker from Mosul: “We never imagined that the Turkmen community would have a political party representing them in Iraq, but this is happening now.”

Kaban, 31, electrical engineer from Baghdad: “There have been many changes since the fall of Saddam's regime, but the most important change was that we feel free… However, those who say that security was better in the past are completely wrong. It is true we did not have suicide car bombings in Saddam's era, but our homes did not feel safe from the intrusion of Saddam's security men, who came in the middle of the night to kidnap, kill or rape.”

Waala, 25, schoolteacher from Baghdad: “The Sunnis in Iraq do not live in isolation from the political and social circles of life, as many people outside Iraq seem to believe. Nothing has affected our relationships with each other - we face the same problems. This applies to Sunnis or Shia, Christians or Muslims, Arabs or Kurds. Unfortunately, the refusal by some Sunnis to participate in the elections was the cause of some political isolation.”

Imad Mohammed, 25, university graduate from Baghdad: “I am no longer worried about losing my dignity or my life. And I am also getting a higher income, like most Iraqis.”

Yes, the sample is hardly representative, and the concerns also expressed by the seven interviewees are many, most notably the still precarious security situation. But the sense of new-found hope and optimism cannot be easily dismissed, particularly since it also seems to be reflected in other interviews, opinion polls, and changes on the ground. Here are some stories from the past fortnight that you might have missed.

Winds Iraq Report: Apr 25/05

Welcome and a pleasant ANZAC Day to you! 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

  • The terrorists launched a series of coordinated bombings in Baghdad and Tikrit Sunday, detonating two bombs near a Shiite mosque killing 15 and wounding almost 60. This attack followed a dual bombing at a police academy in Tikrit killing at least seven and wounding dozens.

Other Topics Today Include: Patrol Day; coverage of Madain; the terrorists change strategy; reconstruction highlights; will Hussein face the death penalty; Sunnis moving to democracy; Carnival of the Liberated; the Iraq War takes on the British elections; Hasan Akbar convicted…. but his mother pleads his case on Winds of Change.NET

Read the Rest…

April 24, 2005
Myers Challenges Editors to Tell Full Story in War Coverage

From Defencelink.mil :

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff encouraged newspaper editors today to tell America the full story of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s particularly important today … because the American people need to know the full story,” said Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, “because it is going to be their resolve that is so critical to our ability to confront the extremist threat.

Myers told the editors that he reads far more about the problems of servicemembers’ equipment and the latest insurgent attack than about “the thousands of amazing things our troops are accomplishing.” This concerns him, he said, because American resolve is key to success.

The chairman said that part of the problem lies with the military. He said commanders must be more responsive and give more access to reporters. “We’re working on that,” he told the editors.

But still, “a bomb blast is seen as more newsworthy than the steady progress of rebuilding communities and lives, remodeling schools and running vaccination programs and water purification plants.

Apologies for a link to a military site dealing with events of last week, but a Google News Search shows that a speech by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the US's media on their bias wasn't worth publishing.

Kudos to the honourable exceptions : the Pakistani PakTribune, the conservative MichNews, the Australian Big News Network, i-Newswire, the Military family Network, the Iraq War-supporting BlackAnthem.com, and the Christian Watchman Herald of Texas.

The observant will notice a few omissions. Not just “the usual suspects” such as the New York Times or Washington Post, but even the Washington Times and all of the small-town newspapers that usually run stories that most MSM don't want published.

Of the MSM, only the Indianapolis Star reported this. Their complete coverage is as follows:

Editors heard from President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and California Sen. Barbara Boxer.

That's it.

US General Relieved of Command

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The US Army has relieved Brigadier General Jani Karpinski of her command amid evidence of dereliction of duty in the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal.

However, it has exonerated Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top US commander in Iraq, of wrongdoing in the Abu Ghraib scandal.

A 10-member team began assessing any wrongdoing by top brass in Iraq in October.

It has found that Lt Gen Sanchez and three other senior officers had not committed dereliction of duty.

These four will not face criminal or administrative punishment.

But the investigation has found that “allegations of dereliction of duty were substantiated” in the case of Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski.
[…]
The official says that Brig Gen Karpinski will not face criminal charges but has received an official letter of reprimand from a senior Army general.

She has also been relieved of her command.

Brig Gen Karpinski had been suspended, but not officially removed, from her command and removed from active duty last year.

Tipoff leads to Arrest of Helo Shootdown Suspects

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The US military says it has detained six Iraqi men in connection with the shooting down of a commercial helicopter this week in which 11 people were killed, including six Americans.

The arrests were made on Saturday following tip offs from Iraqi civilians who led US forces to where the suspected attackers lived. It was not known where the men were seized.

The Iraqi citizen told the soldiers he knew where the blue pick-up truck the terrorists used during the attack was parked and led them to the site,” the US military's 3rd Infantry Division said in a statement.

When the soldiers got there, several other local residents confirmed the first tip and showed the soldiers where the terrorists lived.

Three men and bomb-making material were found in one house, and three others who in the process of making bombs were found in a second house, the military said. All six were detained for questioning.

April 23, 2005
Roadside Bombs Kills 9 Iraqi Soldiers, Wound at Least 20
A roadside bomb hit an Iraqi army convoy on the western outskirts of Baghdad on Saturday, killing nine soldiers and wounding 20 others, police said. A driver of a civilian car was also killed after the blast, as Iraqi soldiers opened fire randomly.

The attack took place at Abu Ghraib area, several kilometers away from the notorious prison of Abu Ghraib.

In a separate incident, insurgents detonated a roadside bomb in the northern city of Mosul as an Iraqi army convoy passed by,wounding three soldiers, while another roadside bomb hit a policecar and wounded two policemen.

April 22, 2005
Video Claims to Show Murder of Copter Crash Survivor
The Islamic Army in Iraq claimed responsibility for shooting down a helicopter Thursday and killing all 11 people onboard — one of them apparently slain in cold blood after surviving the crash.

Among the dead were six American employees of the security firm Blackwater USA, three Bulgarian crew members and two Fijian security guards.

In a video purportedly showing the aftermath of the helicopter's crash, a lone survivor is found lying in a ditch by insurgents.

The video zooms out, showing the man in the middle of the frame, and then the cameraman gives the order to shoot. The victim turns toward his killer and shots are fired, bullets strike him repeatedly, even after he falls to the ground.

“We are applying God's law,” a voice says in Arabic.

Before he is shot to death, the man tells insurgents, “My leg is broken,” but he is forced to stand.

Read more…

April 21, 2005
River Corpse Mystery

First there were reports that as many as 200 people were being held hostage in the mixed Sunni-Shia village of Madain.

Iraqi government security forces backed by US troops arrived in strength on Monday. They encountered no resistance and found no trace of hostages or hostage-takers. There followed articles that the hostage reports may have been exaggerated.

Yesterday there were reports that 50 bodies had been pulled from the river. This of course was thought to confirm the original hostage story.

The BBC reports that the story is even more complicated. The 50 plus bodies didn't show up all at once:

They said they had started to appear in the al-Suwayra stretch of the Tigris nearly two months earlier, on 27 February. On the first three days, 27 bodies were retrieved, while during and after the supposed hostage crisis only six corpses were pulled from the river.

But in the 26 days between 26 March and 20 April, there was a steady flow of cadavers. A total of 33 were retrieved during that period, an average of just over one a day.

The police statistics said that of 60 bodies 56 were men, two women and two children. Fifty-three had died of gunshot wounds, five had their throats cut and two were beheaded.

Only seven of the corpses were identified by relatives.

So the identity of the bulk of the victims is still not clear. It's not known whether the victims are all Shia Muslims, abducted and murdered by Sunni militants. The killing may not have been one-sided. We may never know.

From California Yankee.

Army Sergeant Hasan Akbar Found Guilty

Army Sergeant Hasan Akbar was convicted Thursday by a military jury of premeditated murder and attempted murder in the grenade and rifle attack in which he killed two of his comrades and wounded 14 others in Kuwait during the opening days of the Iraq war.

According to the Associated Press, Akbar faces a possible death penalty, which the 15-member jury will consider at a hearing that begins Monday.

From California Yankee.

Civilian Chopper Shot Down in Iraq; 11 Killed [Updated]
A commercial helicopter contracted by the U.S. Defense Department was shot down by missile fire Thursday north of the Iraqi capital, the Bulgarian Defense Ministry said. All nine people on board, including three Bulgarians, were killed, officials said.

“The helicopter was shot by missile fire around 2 p.m. local time,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement issued in Sofia, Bulgaria. The ministry did not provide the nationalities of the six others killed when the helicopter crashed.

Read more…

Update: The death toll is 11, wtih six Americans among the dead.

April 20, 2005
Oil-For-Food Investigators Resign In Protest

The Associated Press reports that two senior investigators with the committee probing corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program have resigned in protest, saying they believe a report that cleared Kofi Annan of meddling in the $64 billion operation was too soft on the secretary-general

From California Yankee.

Iraq Prime Minister Allawi Survives Assassination Attempt

Reuters reports that Iraq's prime minister Iyad Allawi escaped an assassination attempt on Wednesday night when a suicide bomber in a car attacked his convoy.

According to Reuters, Allawi was unhurt.

More Than 60 Bodies Found in Iraq
The bodies of more than 50 people have been recovered from the Tigris River and have been identified, President Jalal Talabani said Wednesday. The bodies were believed to have been those of hostages seized in the Madain region earlier this month.

In a separate discovery, another 19 Iraqis were shot to death and left lined up against a bloodstained wall in a soccer stadium in the town of Haditha , about 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, an Iraqi reporter and residents said.

At a news briefing, Talabani said more than 50 bodies were pulled from the Tigris.

Read more…

Car Bombs Leave Six Dead in Baghdad
Three homicide car bombs, including one targeting a U.S. convoy, and several shootings left at least six Iraqis dead in Baghdad on Wednesday, as a weeklong surge of violence by insurgents continued on the streets of the capital.

South of the city, one Iraqi policeman was killed and two were seriously wounded when their patrol was hit by a roadside bomb in the town of Mowailha , said police Capt. Muthana Al-Furati.

Read more...

April 18, 2005
Winds Iraq Report: Apr 18/05

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

  • Hashim Hussein Radhan al-Jabouri, nephew of King of Clubs - Izzat Ibrahim al Dourri, was captured North of Baghdad in March, although these are the first reports of his capture. Jabouri, a former intelligence services officer, has been using money supplied by his uncle from Syria to fund insurgent operations in Iraq.
  • A video shown on Al-Jazeera indicates Jeffrey Ake, who was contracted to manufacture and label water bottles and other liquid containers during the reconstruction of Iraq, has been taken hostage. Information about him and how his abduction has hit his Indiana home town can be found here.

Other Topics Today Include: Iraqi blog explosion, frontline photos, more photos, progress in Falujah, women-owned companies get contracts, reconstruction highlights, Iraqi government moves forward, British exit plan talks, Poland and Ukraine withdrawing, attacks on heels of Runsfeld visit, aid worker killed, 41 Kuwaitis found in grave, and more.


Read the Rest…

April 17, 2005
American activist dies in Iraq blast
A woman who founded a humanitarian group to aid civilian casualties in Iraq has died in a car bombing in Baghdad, officials said Sunday.

Marla Ruzicka, founder of Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, died Saturday in the blast, which also killed an Iraqi and another foreigner, officials said. She had been in Iraq conducting door-to-door surveys trying to determine the number of civilian casualties in the country.

Ruzicka, 28, founded CIVIC in 2003 to “mitigate the impact of the conflict and its aftermath on the people of Iraq by ensuring that timely and effective life-saving assistance is provided to those in need,” according to the group’s Web site.

Read more…

Iraqi Security Forces Free Hostages in Raid
Iraqi security forces raided a town in central Iraq and freed some 15 Shiite families being held hostage on Sunday, an official said, after Sunni militants threatened to kill dozens of captives unless all Shiites left the area.

The government said it was trying to resolve the standoff peacefully, while Shiite lawmakers called for action to stop “terrorist groups from promoting sectarian violence.”

Security forces, who had the town of Madain surrounded, began raiding sites Saturday in search of those abducted, said Qassim Dawoud (search), the minister in charge of national security.

Witnesses said road blocks were set up and no one was allowed to leave or enter the town of about 1,000 families some 15 miles southeast of Baghdad. But shops opened and the streets were calm.

Read more..

April 15, 2005
Will a Korean Connection Bring Down Kofi Annan?
Tongsu Park, a Korean national charged yesterday in New York for brokering corrupt oil-for-food contracts, has told the Joongang Ilbo that he is considering a deal with U.S. prosecutors to testify against corrupt U.N. officials, and that Kofi Annan is among those targeted for possible prosecution:
In a telephone interview from Japan, Mr. Park, 70, told the Joongang Ilbo that he had been offered a plea-bargain from the U.S. federal prosecution in return for testifying before a U.S. court. “I am seriously considering the offer,” Mr. Park said. “The prosecutors only accused me of acting as an unregistered agent, and have not pressed official charges against me yet.”

If convicted, he could face up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. Mr. Park claimed that the U.S. federal investigators' target is corrupt, high-ranking UN officials involved in the UN-led oil-for-food program for Iraq. He alleged that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is among the targets.

The federal complaint (HT: counterterrorism blog) alleges that Park conspired to violate 18 U.S.C. sec. 951, which requires agents of foreign governments to register their agency relationships with the Attorney General. According to the Joongang Ilbo story, Park admitted to having been paid by Saddam's governmnt for lobbying. It was not clear whether the lobbying to which Mr. Park referred consisted of the same activities described in the complaint. The complaint charges that Park received at least $4 million from the Iraqis for brokering oil-for-food deals, and for lobbying and bribing U.N. officials who shaped the program's terms at its inception. Park's partner—whom the New York Times names as Iraqi-American businessman Samir Vincent—later became a confidential government informant and implicated Park.

According to Paragraph 9 of the Complaint, Park was instrumental in Iraq's efforts to shape the oil-for-food program into a one that would be amenable to Iraqi skimming, manipulation, and misuse from its inception. One of Park's functions in this regard was conveying multimillion-dollar cash payments to high U.N. officials who could influence oil-for-food's terms. Iraqi agreement was a prerequisite to its cooperation with the program. The complaint alleges that between 1993 and 1995, Park and his partner lobbied senior U.N. officials to agree to terms favored by the Iraqi officials who employed Park, and that they also arranged meeting between Iraqi and U.N. officials to discuss the program's terms. The New York Times also reports:

The complaint also charges that Mr. Park met with a second, unnamed senior United Nations official and made a substantial investment in a company belonging to the official's son.

Park also allegedly worked with a former U.S. official to lobby for terms favored by Iraq. The Iraqi government's failure to pay Park and his partner the full agreed amount resulted in a series of letters and trips to Iraq, which in turn created a paper trail that helped the authorities to trace the scheme. It also led to a disagreement between Park and his partner that proved fruitful to federal prosecutors. U.S., British, and Bulgarian companies are also implicated.

In the oil-for-food scandal, the Iraqi government chose middlemen, such as Mr. Park, to sell Iraqi oil at discounted prices. The middlemen were expected to pay the Iraqi government “surcharges” for the right to conduct this trade, giving Saddam Hussein's regime access to extra funds he could use for arms, personal luxuries, foreign influence, and maintaining his machinery of state control. The middlemen then sold their Iraqi oil vouchers at a profit, using a portion of the proceeds to purchase food and humanitarian supplies. Agencies that were responsible for inspecting and delivering the food and supplies often failed to catch the delivery of spoiled food and medicine in practice. Some contractors completely failed to deliver goods after being paid for them. One of the inspection firms, the Swiss-based Cotecna, hired Kofi Annan's son Kojo, for which it paid him $300,000. The United Nations also received a substantial commission for administering the program.

A recent U.N. investigation found that a senior deputy to Kofi Annan ordered the shredding of several boxes of key oil-for-food audit reports. Annan claims to have been exonerated by the report, but several key U.N. officials, including Annan, have already been tarnished by the scandal, as the New York Times reports:

In its first interim report, on Feb. 4, the commission found that the former head of the program, Benon V. Sevan, had a “grave and continuing conflict of interest” in helping a friend obtain valuable Iraqi oil contracts and said a second United Nations official, Joseph Stephanides, had violated procurement rules. Both men have been suspended and are in the process of answering United Nations charges against them.

Questions have also been raised about the participation of Kojo Annan, son of the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan. The elder Mr. Annan was criticized in the most recent interim report on the grounds that he failed to perceive the appearance of a conflict of interest when Kojo Annan was employed by a contractor employed by the program.

This is not Mr. Park's first encounter (must-reading for Korea watchers) with U.S. authorities over allegations of corrupt lobbying (HT: Instapundit). Park figured prominently in the 1976 “Koreagate” scandal, which led to ethics charges against a congressman and findings that 186 others took bribes(!), and ultimately, to Park's indictment on “36 federal charges including bribery, failure to register as a lobbyist and making illegal political contributions.” The Joongang Ilbo reports that Park “was acquitted in return for his testimony,” which sounds like a slightly-off way to say that the charges were dismissed.
April 14, 2005
3 Indicted in U.N. Oil-for-Food Scandal
A Texas businessman is one of three people who were being indicted Thursday as part of the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food program, FOX News has confirmed.

David Chalmers , head of Texas-based Bayoil, which participated in oil deals through the program, is the American who will be indicted. A Bulgarian and a British citizen also will be slapped with charges involving an alleged scheme to pay millions of dollars in secret kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq as part of Oil-for-Food program, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

U.S. Attorney David N. Kelley scheduled a 10:30 a.m. EDT news conference Thursday with an FBI official to announce the unsealing of the indictment, which his office said also named two companies operated by the formally unidentified Texan.

Read more…

DVDs and CDs for the Troops

Virginia Postrel:

I received the following email from a Marine sergeant in Iraq: My name is SSGT Jerry Jeffrey and I'm a Marine currently in Iraq till Oct 05 and have approx 30 Marines that work for me. We really enjoy watching movies and listening to music to help combat the bordom during down time. We work 12-14 hour days and enjoy kicking back and relaxing to a good movie or cd. Please add our unit to your list to recieve dvd's, and cd's.THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

She has the mailing address for this troop, and you can get it by sending her a note. To prevent Virginia from getting more spam, I won't post it here. But stop by the Dynamist to get the addy if you're interested in sending something along.

Posted By Alan at 06:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Twin Car Bombings Kill 18 in Baghdad
A pair of car bombs exploded near government offices in the Iraqi capital on Thursday, killing 18 and wounding three dozen as insurgent attacks against the nation's nascent security forces left at least eight others dead.

The near-simultaneous explosions outside an Interior Ministry office in a southeastern Baghdad neighborhood killed 18 and wounded 36 others, said a ministry official, Cap. Ahmed Ismael . The morning blasts sent large plumes of smoke over the city.

Read more…

Reuters:

The bombs detonated in quick succession about 200 metres (yards) apart on a busy street packed with traffic. A Reuters cameraman said children were among the dead.

Other witnesses said some 15 cars were destroyed in the explosions and human debris was scattered over a wide area.

The blasts occurred near Iraqi police vehicles protecting an entrance to the Interior Ministry building. Reuters television pictures showed several policemen covered with blood.

April 13, 2005
Video Shows U.S. Hostage
A man believed to be an American contracter who was working in Baghdad was shown in a video broadcast on Al-Jazeera television Wednesday.

The U.S. Embassy said the man in the video appeared to be the same worker abducted on Monday from the Baghdad area. Embassy spokesman Bob Callahan said the man's name was Jeffrey Ake, but gave no further details.

A spokesman told FOX News that the identity documents, including an Indiana driver's license displayed on the video, do match the name of the individual they say was kidnapped. Even so, embassy officials still said they have received no claim of responsibility for the abduction or any demands independent of the video.

The tape showed a man sitting behind a wooden desk as three men pointed their guns toward him. He was holding what looked like a passport and a photo identification.

Read more..

More here:

An American hostage in Iraq urged the U.S. government in a video to negotiate with his captors to save his life, Al Jazeera television reported on Wednesday.

The video showed the man, apparently a contractor kidnapped on Monday, holding up his passport as armed masked insurgents stood by.

Al Jazeera said the hostage “urged the U.S. administration to open a dialogue with the Iraqi resistance … to save his life.”

He also called on U.S. forces to swiftly withdraw from Iraq, the Arabic television channel said.

Bombs Kill 12 Near Kirkuk
Police officers were dismantling what appeared to be a decoy roadside bomb near Kirkuk on Wednesday when another bomb exploded, killing 12 officers and injuring three others, police officials said.

Police Brig. Sarhat Qadir said the explosion 10 miles northwest of Kirkuk occurred as a group of police were trying to cordon off the area. He said officials believed the bomb being dismantled was a decoy to draw in more police before the second bomb exploded.

In Baghdad, insurgents hit an American fuel-supply convoy, leaving a tanker truck engulfed in flames that sent black smoke rising high over the city. Twin blasts targeted the convoy of two U.S. Humvees and a fuel tanker as it made its way through an eastern Baghdad neighborhood, witnesses at the scene said.

It wasn't immediately clear if there were any casualties. The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

Read more…

April 12, 2005
Poland to Pull Troops from Iraq at End of Year
Poland's government decided on Tuesday to withdraw its troops from Iraq at the end of 2005, making official an earlier proposal, Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski said.

“At the time of the expiry of the Security Council's mandate — meaning at the end of 2005 — the operations of the Polish stabilization mission should be finished,” Szmajdzinski told a news conference after a cabinet meeting.

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Car Bomb Kills Five
A car bomb targeting a U.S. convoy has killed at least five Iraqis and wounded three others in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Tuesday, police and hospital officials say.

There was no immediate word on American casualties.

Rumsfeld Visits Iraq
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, on another quick visit to Iraq, pressed the country's new leaders Tuesday to avoid delays in developing a constitutional government and defeating the insurgency.

“Anything that would delay that or disrupt that as a result of turbulence or incompetence or corruption in government would be unfortunate,” Rumsfeld said before he began a round of talks with Iraqi leaders.

The newly designated prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, told reporters after meeting Rumsfeld at his official residence that he realized the risk of setbacks in the political process.

Read more…

April 11, 2005
American Contractor Kidnapped Near Baghdad
An American contractor was kidnapped Monday in the Baghdad area, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said.

The spokesman said on condition of anonymity that the contractor was working on a reconstruction project. The contractor's family had been notified of the abduction, he said.

[Fox]

U.S., Iraqis Nab 65 Suspected Terrorists
Hundreds of U.S. and Iraqi forces on Monday launched their biggest Baghdad raid in recent weeks, moving on foot through a central neighborhood and rounding up dozens of suspected terrorists, the military said.

About 500 members of Iraq's police and army swept through buildings in the Rashid neighborhood along with a “couple hundred” American soldiers, detaining 65 suspected terrorists, said Lt. Col. Clifford Kent of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

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Good News from Iraq, 11 April 2005

Note: Also available from the “Opinion Journal” and Chrenkoff. Many thanks to James Taranto and Joe Katzman who continue to support the series, and to all readers and fellow bloggers for encouragement and help in spreading the word.

How much difference two years can make. Commenting on the news that Saddam Hussein's nemesis, leader of the people Saddam liked to gas, has now been elected President of Iraq, Mohammed Saleh, a 42-year old Kurd interviewed by the media on the streets of Kirkuk, had this to say: “Today Jalal Talabani made it to the seat of power, while Saddam Hussein is sitting in jail… Who would have thought.”

History is, of course, full of delicious ironies. Not the least that the authorities have permitted Iraq's Prisoner Number 1 to watch from his prison cell the swearing in of the new government. While Iraq's new leaders lack Saddam's 99.8 per cent electoral mandates, they certainly make up for it in unscripted enthusiasm and passion. Saddam, meanwhile, who for years inflicted on his captive television audience his rambling speeches and meaningless proceedings of Iraq's “parliament” is now on the receiving end, getting the taste of the real democracy in action.

But while the momentous political events once again monopolized the headlines for the past two weeks, a lot of other positive developments have been taking place across Iraq, mostly out of the media spotlight. Below a selection of some of these stories:

April 10, 2005
Winds Iraq Report: April 11/05

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

  • One of Saddam Hussein's oldest foes took his oath of office Thursday as the new Iraqi government begins to take form. Kurd Jalal Talabani is now the President of Iraq, while Shiite Ibrahim al-Jaafari becomes the country's Prime Minister, filling two of the primary positions of the new government.

Other Topics Today Include: an insurgent kidnapping; the fate of America's sole missing soldier; the war's first Medal of Honor; reconstruction highlights; Iraq's schools; looking back on the fall of Baghdad; forming Iraq's new government; Carnival of the Liberated; a Pakistani diplomat is kidnapped.

Read the Rest…

Talabani Predicts U.S. Exit in Two Years
The newly elected president of Iraq said Sunday he expects that U.S. troops will be gone from his country within two years.

Jalal Talabani told CNN two years should be enough time for Iraqi forces to rebuild and secure control of the country as well as take over the job currently being performed by some 140,000 U.S. troops.

“We are trying to build — as soon as possible — our military forces,” he told “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.”

“I think within two years, we can do it, and at the same time, we will remain in full consultation and coordination, cooperation with our American friends.”

Talabani said how long U.S. forces remain in Iraq will depend on a number of factors, including “the common desire of Iraqi people and American people.”

Read more…

Allawi to Join Iraqi Unity Coalition
raq's outgoing prime minister, Ayad Allawi, agreed yesterday to bring his secular parliamentary bloc into the new government - easing concerns that Shia conservatives would dominate the administration.

Mr Allawi had previously indicated that his bloc, which holds 40 out of 275 seats, would go into opposition against a ruling coalition headed by a cleric-backed Shia alliance.

Yesterday, however, his spokesman, Thaer al-Naqib, told news agencies that, in exchange for four cabinet posts, the bloc would join what will now be billed as a national unity government. “Ayad Allawi decided that his bloc will take part in the new government because he believes in making the political and democratic process in Iraq successful,” said Mr Naqib

.

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Iraq Kidnap Victim's Family Seeks Release
he family of a Pakistani embassy employee kidnapped in Baghdad appealed Sunday for his captors to release him, and al-Qaida's ally in Iraq claimed to have kidnapped and killed a senior police official.

The kidnappings came as Iraq's most feared terrorist organization issued an Internet statement rejecting any efforts by the new government to make peace.

Malik Mohammed Javed, a consular and community affairs employee at Pakistan's embassy, went missing in Baghdad on Saturday after leaving home to pray at a mosque, officials said.

The previously unknown Omar bin Khattab group claimed responsibility for his kidnapping and Javed called the embassy to say his abductors had not harmed him, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Read more…

Related: Pakistan urges release of official held in Iraq

Pakistani Diplomat Missing in Iraq
A Pakistani embassy official..went missing amid fears he had been kidnapped.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani said Malik Mohammed Javed was last seen late Saturday, leaving for prayers at a mosque near his home in Baghdad. In the Iraqi capital, embassy official Mohammed Bashir Alim said the mission had decided not to involve the police and was waiting for information on Javed, deputy of the Pakistani charge d'affaires.

Read more…

April 09, 2005
Damning Camera Footage Shows 4 Attacks

Updating a previous post, from CNN :

One official said at least four videos in the man's camera show roadside bomb attacks on U.S. troops.

All had been shot in a manner that suggested the cameraman had prior knowledge of the attacks and had scouted a shooting location in sight of the target.

Hat Tip : reader Baron Bodissey

15 Iraqi Soldiers Killed

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Militants have shot and killed 15 Iraqi soldiers south of Baghdad.

Police say the attack has occurred near the town of Latifiya, about 50 kilometres south-west of Baghdad on Friday.

They say the soldiers were being transported in a truck, which was pulled off the road by the gunmen.

Iraqis Stage Anti-American Rally
hanting “No! No to terrorism!” and “No! No to America,” tens of thousands of supporters of a radical Shiite cleric who led uprisings last year against U.S. troops called Saturday for American forces to withdraw from Iraq, staging a massive protest at the same square where — two years ago to the day — protesters pulled down a towering statue of Saddam Hussein.

Held in the shadow of the Sheraton and Palestine hotels — both of which have been home to foreign journalists and contractors — the protest reflected frustration with the U.S. government, which is slowly handing security responsibilities to Iraqi forces two years after taking control of Baghdad.

“This huge gathering shows that the Iraqi people have the strength and faith to protect their country and liberate it from the occupiers,” said protester 26-year-old Ahmed Abed, who sells spare car parts.

U.S. officials have said they won't set a timetable for withdrawal, promising to stay until Iraqi forces are able to secure the country.

Read more..

April 08, 2005
US Soldier Killed by IED near Kirkuk

From the AFP via The Australian :

The US military has said it is considering giving shorter tours of duty of six and nine months to troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan - if improving conditions allow commanders to scale down.
[…]
In other developments, the US military said a US soldier was killed by a homemade bomb near Kirkuk Friday.
New Iraqi Constitution by End of Year

From the AFP via The Australian :

Iraq's newly appointed premier has begun the process of building a cabinet he said must include efficient technocrats and nationalists with a “clean history,
[…]
Despite the weeks of delay and bickering in nominating Ibrahim al-Jaafari as premier, Washington expressed hope Iraq's political calendar providing for a permanent constitution and definitive elections by the end of 2005 would be respected.

Jaafari said Thursday after his appointment by new President Jalal Talabani and his two deputies that he would work to form a government within two weeks, although he theoretically has a month to do so.

The ministries need efficient technocrats, nationalists with a good and clean history and team players who are comfortable working within a diverse setting,” Jaafari told reporters.

He promised “to fight corruption and institute administrative reforms” after several members of his United Iraqi Alliance, parliament's largest bloc, accused the outgoing government of Iyad Allawi of breaking the law and hiring senior members of the banned Baath party of ousted leader Saddam Hussein.
[…]
Jaafari refused to go into details over the government line-up but one of his senior aides, Jawad al-Maliki, said a quarter of the 30 or so cabinet posts will go to women.

Maliki said the alliance will have the important ministries of finance, interior and oil.

He said the Kurdish coalition partners will retain the foreign ministry now headed by Hoshyar Zebari and “may get the planning ministry as a consolation for oil which they had been fighting to clinch.

The Sunni Arabs, who largely boycotted the elections but are being assiduously courted by both sides, will get at least six ministries, including defence, he said.

Talabani, who took the oath of office in an emotional ceremony on Thursday, defended the quota system and the divisions in the government along sectarian and ethnic lines, which has been assailed by many new MPs.

We are going through special circumstances that require national conciliation until we have a new constitution, but after that it will be purely electoral considerations that rule,” said the former Kurdish rebel leader.

11 Bodies Found near Ramadi

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The bodies of 11 Iraqis who were shot dead have been discovered near the western city of Ramadi.

Police and a hospital official say the victims had worked at an American military base. It is believed they were killed yesterday.

Their bodies have been found in the town of Muhammadiya, west of Ramadi…

Wounded CBS Journalist Arrested (Updated)

Updating a previous post, from the New York Times :

A cameraman carrying CBS press credentials was detained in Iraq earlier this week on suspicion of insurgent activity, the United States military said Friday.

The cameraman suffered minor injuries on Tuesday during a battle between American soldiers and suspected insurgents, the military said. He was standing next to a suspected insurgent who was killed during the shootout, the statement said.

At the time, the military issued a statement saying the cameraman was shot because his equipment was mistaken for a weapon.

But on Friday, the military said the cameraman was detained because there was probable cause to believe he posed “an imperative threat to coalition forces.

He is currently detained and will be processed as any other security detainee,” the statement said.

A spokeswoman for CBS News, Leigh Farris, said, “We're looking into the situation.

A spokesman for the military, Capt. Mark Walter, said the cameraman suffered minor wounds and was with “a number of people” involved in the shootout.

Captain Walter said the cameraman was detained immediately after the incident, partly because of statements from witnesses to the battle.

Officials are investigating the man's previous activities as well as “his alleged support of anti-Iraqi insurgency activities,” the statement said.

UPDATE : From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

CBS on Tuesday said the man was an Iraqi freelance reporter and cameraman employed by CBS News.
[…]
CBS refused to identify the man “for safety reasons.

The cameraman in question was referred to CBS News by our Iraqi fixer in Tikrit, who has had a trusted relationship with CBS News for two years.

From the AFP via The Australian :

The Pentagon said the cameraman was arrested and was being investigated as to whether or not he was “more than an observer” of insurgent activities, CBS News said.
[…]
The cameraman, who was treated at a military hospital, has worked for CBS News in Mosul for about three months.

CBS News said it was continuing its own investigation into the incident.

UPDATE: From CBSNews :

A soldier shot an Iraqi freelance reporter and cameraman employed by CBS News in northeastern Mosul while working. According to what the Pentagon told the CBS News bureau in Washington, Tuesday, Hussein was shot in the hip by a soldier who mistook his camera, which he was using at the time, for a weapon. Hussein is being treated and is expected to make a full recovery.

According to the Mudville Gazette a previous version's first line said :

A soldier shot an Iraqi freelance reporter and cameraman employed by CBS News, Abdul Amir Younis Hussein, in northeastern Mosul while working.

No evidence has been published that would confirm or deny speculation that this was the same CBS photographer whose “fortuitous” photos of election officials being executed in the street won a Pulitzer recently. For all we know, it could be purely coincidental; there may be dozens more CBS photographers embedded with Al Qaeda, not just one.

April 07, 2005
UK Soldier Cleared of Murder Charge

From the AFP via The Australian :

The first British soldier charged with murder over the country's military operations in Iraq has formally been cleared by a civilian court after prosecutors dropped the case.

Trooper Kevin Williams of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment walked away from the court in London with, his defence lawyer said, “his honour intact and his head held high”.

Trooper Williams, 22, had been accused of killing Hassan Abbad Said, a lawyer and father of nine, near the southern Iraqi city of Basra on August 3, 2003.

However, prosecutors said the original decision to charge the soldier had been reviewed in the light of new evidence.

US Soldier Killed in Ambush

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A US soldier was killed when insurgents ambushed a patrol in Baghdad with a roadside bomb and small arms fire early Wednesday, the US military said in a statement.

A Task Force Baghdad soldier was killed when his patrol hit an improvised explosive device and took small arms fire from anti-Iraqi forces,” the statement read.

US Wounds Journalist in Mosul

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

US forces shot and wounded a television cameraman at the site of a suicide bombing in the north-eastern Iraqi city of Mosul, mistaking him for an armed insurgent, the US military said.

Troops also shot and killed an insurgent who was waving an AK-47 assault rifle and inciting a crowd of civilians at the site of a suicide bombing in eastern Mosul, the statement from the Multinational Brigade-Northwest said.

During the engagement an individual that appeared to have a weapon who was standing near the insurgent was shot and injured,” the statement said.

This individual turned out to be a reporter who was pointing a video camera.

The journalist, who was not identified, was taken to a military hospital and treated for minor wounds, the statement said, adding that he was expected to recover.

April 06, 2005
Iraqis Elect Jalal Talabani Interim President
Iraq's newly elected parliament chose Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as its new interim president Tuesday, reaching out to the nation's long-repressed Kurdish minority and taking one of the final steps toward forming Iraq's first democratically elected government in 50 years.

In a largely symbolic, secret election, lawmakers elected Talabani, with Shiite Adel Abdul-Mahdi and interim President Ghazi al-Yawer, a Sunni Arab, as his vice presidents. The three had been agreed upon in negotiations held during the past weeks, and no other candidates were proposed Tuesday.

Lawmakers cast 227 ballots in favor of Talabani and his two vice presidents. Thirty other ballots were left blank in apparent protest of the three candidates.


Read more…

April 05, 2005
Battle in Ramadi : 2 US, 1 Iraqi Soldiers Killed

From 9Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

US and Iraqi troops battled dozens of insurgents in eastern Iraq on Monday and two American soldiers and an Iraqi soldier were killed in the fighting.

“Coalition forces and Iraqi army soldiers encountered and attacked terrorist forces in a remotely populated region east of Baghdad at about 4pm on April 4,” a US military statement said.

“Two battalions from the Iraqi army had been conducting an independent cordon and search operation in eastern Diyala province. The mission to search for weapons cache sites in the area uncovered dozens of terrorists and a firefight ensued.”

The statement said US troops moved in to back the Iraqi forces, and called in air support.

The area was still being searched on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, gunmen kidnapped an Iraqi army general in western Baghdad, police say.

He was the commander of a special armoured division, one of the first armoured units in the Iraqi army.

April 04, 2005
US Soldier Killed by Roadside Bomb

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A US soldier has been killed by a roadside bomb in central Iraq, the US military says.

The explosion occurred near Baiji, an oil-refining town about 200 kilometres north of Baghdad, on Saturday.

Al Qaeda : 7 Suicide Bombers Hit Abu Ghraib

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

Al Qaeda's wing in Iraq says in an Internet statement that seven suicide bombers spearheaded its brazen raid on Abu Ghraib prison that wounded 44 United States soldiers.

In a statement on Saturday's raid on the prison outside Baghdad, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group said its fighters killed “dozens of Americans”, destroyed more than 15 vehicles and shot down an Apache helicopter.

It said 57 fighters attacked watchtowers from four sides and “silenced them” as seven suicide bombers detonated vehicles laden with explosives around the facility.

Three martyrs were … [killed] while infiltrating the infidels' fortresses and seven other martyrdom seekers went to heaven after they blew up the enemy …,” said the statement, posted on a website used by Islamists.
[…]
Your brothers in the Al Qaeda Organisation [for Holy War] in Iraq launched a well-planned attack on Abu Ghraib prison, where Muslim women and men are held,” the group said in another statement.
[…]
This battle is part of a series of raids … which began yesterday across the land of Mesopotamia.

The group said it would provide a film of the attack soon.

Winds Iraq Report: April 4/05

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

  • Progress towards a new Iraqi government continues to be difficult, leading Matt Yglesias to wonder if the Kurds will not continue to stall because they're better off without a new government in power. It's a plausible argument, but the representatives took another important step forward with the selection of a Sunni as Parliament Speaker. Challenges remain before the new government is ready to take the reins, but perhaps the perception by many Iraqis that their elected representatives are not getting the job done will force the issue.
  • More Iraqis are tipping off the authorities to insurgent activities, highlighting the fact that while the Coalition may not have won the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, the insurgency has done an equally poor job in that department. If the new Iraqi government can get its act together, the insurgency may find itself in dire straits indeed.

Other Topics Today Include: Marines face IEDs in Haqlaniyah; the Army's plan for defeating the insurgency; U.S. citizen captured in Iraq; reconstruction highlights; Carnival of the Liberated; mujahadeen travel alert; U.S. WMD intelligence report.

Read the Rest…

April 03, 2005
How The Iraqi Resistence Joined Al-Qaeda

In Newsweek Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau report on how Osama bin Laden and Zarqawi Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi formed a partnership giving Al Qaeda a leading role in the Iraqi resistance,

In the late summer of 2003, bin Laden sent two of his most trusted men to assess the Iraqi resistance and make Al Qaeda a player in Iraq:

“The resistance happened faster than we expected, and differently, so we were not prepared to assist and direct it,” one of the two envoys later told a senior Taliban official.

From California Yankee.

Sunni Arab Elected Iraq Parliament Speaker
Iraqi lawmakers elected a Sunni Arab as parliament speaker and Shiite and Kurdish leaders as his deputies on Sunday, ending days of deadlock as they sought to balance the country's predominant religious and ethnic groups in a new government.

The selection of Industry Minister Hajim al-Hassani as parliament speaker was a step toward repairing the tattered image of the newly elected National Assembly, which had bickered for days over the post.

“It's time for the patient, Iraqi people to be treated with the dignity that God has given them,” al-Hassani said as he accepted his new post.

Read more…

Abu Ghraib Prison Attacked, Dozens Hurt
Insurgents blew up car bombs and fired rocket propelled grenades at the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad, injuring 44 U.S. forces and 13 prisoners after a period of declining attacks that had raised hopes the insurgency might be weakening.

Late Saturday, dozens of insurgents attacked the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, resulting in a clash that lasted about 40 minutes, 1st Lt. Adam Rondeau said. He added that it was unclear if the clash was aimed at helping prisoners escape, although the militants were unable to penetrate the prison's walls and no detainees were set free.

“This was obviously a very well-organized attack and a very big attack,” Rondeau said.

Read more…

April 02, 2005
Car Bomb Kills 5

From Reuters via The Australian :

A car bomb exploded as Iraqi police were checking it north of Baghdad today, killing four policemen and a civilian, Iraqi officials said.

They said two policemen and a civilian were also wounded in the blast in the town of Khan Bani Saad.

April 01, 2005
US Citizen Held As Illegal Combatant

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The US military has confirmed it has held an American citizen without charges in Iraq since last year as a suspected top aide to militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, drawing condemnation from civil rights activists.

The man, who US officials at the Pentagon and in Iraq refused to identify by name, possessed dual US-Jordanian citizenship, the military said.

The man was not born in the United States, but became a naturalised US citizen and lived in “a couple of different cities” during about 20 years in America, one official said.

Thought to be the first US citizen caught as a suspected participant in Iraq's two-year-old insurgency, he was seized in a raid “late last year” on a Baghdad home where weapons and bomb-making material was found, the military said.

Air Force Lieutenant Colonel John Skinner, a Pentagon spokesman, said the man, deemed an enemy combatant, had personal ties to Zarqawi and was believed to have served as his personal emissary in several Iraqi cities.

The man has not been allowed to have a lawyer, Lieutenant Colonel Skinner said.

I think it's extremely high on the outrageous scale. This is a direct violation of a Supreme Court decision,” said lawyer Rachel Meeropol of the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights.

Cultural Treasure Wrecked in Attack

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Iraqi rebels have blown up the top of a towering centuries-old spiral minaret in the Iraqi city of Samarra.

Lieutenant Colonel Mahmoud Mohammed says the top tier of the 52-metre Malwiya tower was blown off in the attack.

The explosion left debris on the tower's winding ramps and a jagged hole on the top level.

The unique yellow sandstone tower in Samarra, an ancient city on the banks of the Tigris river, is one of Iraq's prized national treasures.

It was completed in 850 AD by the Islamic Abbasid dynasty.

Local Police Chief, Aide Slain

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Colonel Hatem Rashid Mohammad was killed along with an aide during an ambush in Balad Ruz, 50 kilometres north-east of the capital.

Balad Ruz lies in the mixed Sunni and Shiite Muslim province of Diyala, where insurgents frequently attack US-backed security forces.

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