Friday, April 16, 2004
Iraq War NewsDiplomatic efforts press forward in Najaf
: "An Iraqi leader said he saw "flexibility" on the side of an anti-American cleric amid diplomatic efforts to end a standoff with U.S. troops in one of the holiest Shiite cities.
"In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on IraqUS-led coalition in tense standoff with Iraqi rebels
: "US commanders were due to meet local Iraqi leaders in the embattled Sunni bastion of Fallas a 48-hour ceasefire expired, while Shiite militants remained defiant in the holy city of Najaf. (AFP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqKidnapped Chinese Man Released in Iraq
: "A leading Sunni cleric said Friday that kidnappers have released a Chinese citizen abducted in Iraq and that the man is safely in the Chinese Embassy. (AP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqBook: Bush secretly ordered Iraq war plan
: "President Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq less than two months after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan and was so worried the decision would cause a furor he did not tell everyone on his national security team, says a new book on his Iraq policy.
"In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on IraqBush Administration Welcomes Brahimi Plan
: "The Bush administration is viewing positively a U.N. envoy's plan for a caretaker government to succeed the U.S. administration in Iraq. (AP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq20,000 US soldiers to remain in Iraq, released Japanese hostages want to stay
: "US officials announced that 20,000 US troops due to rotate home will stay in the region to confront the worsening security situation as three Japanese hostages were released, with two promptly saying they wanted to stay. (AFP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqOn eve of Bush summit, Blair says no rift over Iraq
: "On the eve of a crucial summit with US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair played down talk of a rift between the two allies over the handling of Iraq. (AFP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqIran's influence in Iraq
: "Iran has a strong influence over Iraq's Shia community, writes Middle East analyst Dilip Hiro.
"In BBC: Conflict with Iraq
Monday, April 12, 2004
Iraq War NewsFor one Fallujah family, harrowing trek to safety
: "BAGHDAD - When Mahmoud Salaiman Abid awoke on April 5, he was surprised to see U.S. Marines sealing off Fallujah. At 2 p.m., a mortar shell exploded in his front yard. For Abid and his family, their hellish captivity was just beginning. (USATODAY.com)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqFreed British hostage in Iraq feared for his life, mother says
: "British hostage Gary Teeley feared for his life as Italian troops battled with the Iraqi militia which held him capitive for six days, his mother said. (AFP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqSeven Chinese Kidnapped in Iraq, China Urges Rescue
: "Gunmen kidnapped seven Chinese citizensin Iraq, the latest in a spate of hostage-taking, and Beijingappealed to Baghdad on Monday to rescue them. (Reuters)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqApache Downed, Crew Killed
: "From Reuters :
The two crew members of a U.S. Apache helicopter were killed when it was shot down in Iraq on Sunday, the U.S. army said.
The helicopter was downed five km (three miles) west of Baghdad airport, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the U.S. army in Iraq, told a news conference.
"In Command Post: IrakNo News on Japanese Hostages
: "From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :
Japan has placed three aircraft on standby in Kuwait, in case three hostages being held by Mujahadeen fighters in Iraq are released.
But there is still no word on the captives' fate.
Two aid workers and a journalist were taken hostage in Iraq on Thursday.
The kidnappers threatened to kill the trio if Japan did not withdraw its troops from Iraq by last night.
A Japanese official says three C-130 transport planes have now been put on standby in Kuwait, but declined to indicate whether this means the hostages are about to be released.
Latest word from the ABC :
The Japanese Government says it has made no progress in winning the release of three hostages being held in Iraq.
An Iraqi man claiming to have spoken to the kidnappers says the hostages will be executed one by one from later tonight if the demands are not met.
The Japanese Government has not able to confirm the report and one official says attempts to free the hostages have made no progress.
"In Command Post: IrakUS Hostage "will be spared"
: "From the AAP via The Australian :
The Iraqi group holding a US hostage has agreed not to kill him, Mezher Dulaimi, a self-described Iraqi mediator, said today.
Dulaimi, who heads an Iraqi human rights group, said the affair of the missing American had been settled, and he was in good health.
Dulaimi said that the US hostage had received medical attention.
However there was no immediate word on when he might be released.
"In Command Post: IrakFallujah Ceasefire Extended 24 hrs
: "From the BBC via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :
The ceasefire in the besieged Iraqi town of Fallujah has been extended by 24 hours until Monday night local time.
A senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party which is leading the mediation effort, says both US forces and insurgents agreed to the extension.
Residents of Fallujah are burying their dead and trying to get out of the city during the lull in the fighting.
Local hospital officials say more than 600 people have been killed, most of them civilians.
The marines insist most of the dead are fighters.
Mediators continue efforts for a negotiated solution but the US military is re-enforcing its troops to resume the offensive if talks fail.
Close to 100% of the casualties shown on Australian TV are males between 17 and 30.
"In Command Post: IrakMehdi Army Retreats from Najaf
: "From the AFP via The Australian :
Police deployed in the central Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf Monday following an agreement, involving the US -led coalition, for the pullout of armed militiamen from the streets, police said.
Across the city, police forces deployed in all police stations which had been taken this week by Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.
Police deployed in force in Najaf, taking over police stations and public buildings.
No Mehdi Army militiamen were seen on the streets.
There's a lot of spin in the AFP report, but "Retreat' is an accurate description.
"In Command Post: IrakViolence erupts in Iraq
: "Violence has erupted in Iraq despite a fragile ceasefire between Sunni militants and US marines in the besieged city of Fallujah, where Iraqis said more than 600 civilians were killed in the past week.
"In Ananova: War In IraqDead Soldier's Kin Want Sibling GIs Home
: "With three daughters serving in Iraq, John and Lori Witmer's family Web site collected photos from Baghdad, notes to home and messages of encouragement. (AP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqTown Awaits Word on Man Kidnapped in Iraq
: "In his hometown in eastern Mississippi, Thomas Hamill is known as a good guy - a family man with a young son and daughter who took a job driving trucks in Iraq to make ends meet after his dairy farm took a hit. (AP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqIraq Battalion "Refuses to Fight"
: "A story from the Washington Post dated the 10th that other media outlets are starting to pick up (including us) :
A battalion of the new Iraqi army refused to go to Fallujah earlier this week to support U.S. Marines battling for control of the city, senior U.S. Army officers here said, disclosing an incident that is casting new doubt on U.S. plans to transfer security matters to Iraqi forces.
It was the first time U.S. commanders had sought to involve the postwar Iraqi army in major combat operations, and the battalion's refusal came as large parts of Iraqi security forces have stopped carrying out their duties.
The 620-man 2nd Battalion of the Iraqi Armed Forces refused to fight Monday after members of the unit were shot at in a Shiite Muslim neighborhood in Baghdad while en route to Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim stronghold, said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who is overseeing the development of Iraqi security forces. The convoy then turned around and returned to the battalion's post on a former Republican Guard base in Taji, a town north of the capital.
Eaton said members of the battalion insisted during the ensuing discussions: " We did not sign up to fight Iraqis ."
He declined to characterize the incident as a mutiny, but rather called it "a command failure."
The refusal of the battalion to perform as U.S. officials had hoped poses a significant problem for the occupation. The cornerstone of the U.S. strategy in Iraq is to draw down its military presence and turn over security functions to Iraqis.
Over the past two weeks, that approach has suffered a severe setback as Iraqi security forces have crumbled in some parts of the country. In recent days perhaps 20 percent to 25 percent of the Iraqi army, civil defense, police and other security forces have quit, changed sides, or otherwise failed to perform their duties, a senior Army officer said Saturday.
A soldier with the 1st Armored Division, who has recently been engaged in combat in Baghdad, said many of the Iraqi security troops with whom he has worked are no longer reporting for duty. "I think what we are seeing is not some mass quitting and mutiny by ICDC [Iraqi Civil Defense Corps], but rather just plain fear," the soldier said. "And all it takes is one Iraqi to take the lead in leaving, and they all do out of fear."
One of the problems, Eaton said, was that the Iraqi troops were not told they would be given a relatively benign role, and assumed they were being hurled into the middle of a bloody fight, battling on the side of the Americans against Arabs. " The battalion thought it was going to be thrown into a firestorm in Fallujah ," he said.
Complicating communications, he said, was that the battalion had 10 new U.S. advisers who rotated into their jobs April 1, just four days before the incident, replacing the advisers who had trained the unit for months.
"In Command Post: IrakJapan Unsure of Safety of Hostages in Iraq
: "Optimism that three Japanese held hostage in Iraq would be quickly released evaporated Monday, as Tokyo's top government spokesman backtracked on an earlier statement and said authorities were no longer confident about their safety. (AP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqClashes Erupt in Iraq's Falluja After Day's Truce
: "Fighting erupted in Fallujaovernight in the first major breach of an informal truce in thetown where more than 600 Iraqis were reported killed in a weekof battles between U.S. Marines and Sunni Muslim rebels. (Reuters)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqDan's Winds of War, April 12/04
: "Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis .
- Was the Sadr Revolt plotted in London? The Sunday Herald says claims that last month representative of the Mahdi Army, the Islamic Path Party, and Hezbollah met in London with Syrian and Saudi Islamists to add a Shi'ite component to the insurgency.
- Speaking of Sadr, BBC Monitoring has a translation of an al-Sharq al-Awsat article claiming that he is considering political assylum in Iran. Perhaps he's fleeing the quagmire ?
- Why did Pakistan put a premature end to military operations in Waziristan? Asia Times suggests that it has to do with the number of troops lost during the operation, which the newspaper places at 800 in contrast to the official figures cited by the Pakistani government. If true, this would mean that Pakistani casualties in a single military engagement now exceed the total number of US forces KIA in both Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.
Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; order restored in Faryab; Abu Sayyaf leader dead; Abu Sayyaf jailbreak; Spanish al-Qaeda cell targeted major shopping mall; top European al-Qaeda leader tied to 3/11; Hungarian al-Qaeda letter offers cash in return for withdrawl from Iraq; al-Qaeda funding Chechen jihad; recent violence in Tashkent due to foreign instigators; Nek Mohammed sez he ain't gonna surrender; Muslim extremist leader arrested in Zanzibar; and the ultimate neocon T-Shirt.
Read The Rest?
"In Command Post: IrakSuicide Bomb Factory Found
: "From the AFP via The Australian :
US marines told today how they killed one suicide bomber and discovered a suicide bomb workshop in the Sunni Muslim bastion of Fallujah, apparently run by Iraqis and foreigners.
The building, found on Thursday when marines chased a sniper, provided new evidence of the growing role of Iraqis in suicide bombings, the marines said.
Iraqi police and judges have recently expressed alarm about the increasing involvement of Iraqis in suicide bombings, which US officials had previously blamed on foreign fighters thought to be slipping across the border.
Police in the holy city of Karbala charged that some Iraqis were indoctrinated and high on drugs when they were dispatched on suicide missions.
Top US military officials warned the radical Islamic current in Iraq relied more heavily on Iraqi nationals than foreign elements.
Members of the 1st Battalion 5th (1-5) Marines said they stumbled on the workshop when they were trying to locate a sniper position.
" There was an open storage area and a living room. There were four belts packed with explosives ," said Lance Corporal James Walter, one of the men who discovered the arsenal in Fallujah's southeastern industrial sector.
A box of old US military uniforms were also found, issued by the US Army's 82nd Airborne, said Lieutenant Colonel Brennan Byrne.
Marines said that they believed about 15 to 20 people had been working in the facility.
Also on Thursday, marines from the 1-5 battalion shot dead a suicide bomber, captured a second individual and found a third blood-stained belt.
Marines had come under fire and entered a home where they shot and killed the bomber.
The marines then lobbed grenades at the body to blow it up amid fears the corpse was booby trapped, said Captain James Smith.
He showed pictures of the corpse before the marines blew up the body, with a white belt and wiring attached to a bearded man lying on a tile floor.
The suicide belts were fashioned in the style of the radical Palestinian group Hamas , with a hand-held detonator, Byrne said.
Asked about the people using the workshop, he said: " It seems a mix of nationalities ."
See Hashashim .
See Operation Wahrung
"In Command Post: Irak
Sunday, April 11, 2004
I'm wishing you all the joy
that Easter can bring,
a day when you'll find
happiness in everything.
May it be a day of warm
memories to share,
with enough sunshine
to make you forget your cares.
On Easter Day,
I'll say a prayer for you,
in hopes that your fondest
dream will come true.
Have a fabulous Easter!
Iraq War NewsGunmen shoot down U.S. helicopter in Iraq
: "Gunmen shot down a U.S. attack helicopter during fighting in western Baghdad on Sunday, and the fate of its two-member crew was unknown. Insurgents and Marines called a cease-fire in the besieged city of Fallujah, though the peace was shaken by sniper fire.
"In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on IraqMilitants agree Fallujah ceasefire
: "A third round of negotiations aimed at ending fighting in the besieged Iraqi city of Fallujah are to be held, a US commander said.
"In Ananova: War In IraqRebels threaten to kill US hostage
: "Militants have threatened to kill and mutilate a US civilian captured during the ambush of a convoy west of Baghdad.
"In Ananova: War In IraqBlair: Troops won't quit Iraq
: "Tony Blair has insisted there is no question of spiralling violence forcing him to pull British troops out of Iraq.
"In Ananova: War In IraqUK link to Spain terror suicides
: "Spanish police believe a British radical Islamic leader was contacted by suspected terrorists shortly before they blew themselves up in Madrid.
"In Ananova: War In IraqConfidence grows in stock market
: "Investors' confidence in the stock market has increased since the beginning of the year, with people expecting the FTSE to rise by around 200 points during the next six months, research showed.
"In Ananova: War In IraqCardinal backs Carey on Muslims
: "The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has joined criticism of Muslims for not doing enough to denounce terrorism.
"In Ananova: War In IraqWorld's Christians celebrate Easter as Iraq crisis looms
: "Christians around the world celebrated the culmination of the festival of Easter, which marks the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, amid increasing fears for world peace stoked by conflicts in Iraq and the Middle East. (AFP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqNo word on Japanese hostages reportedly to be released
: "Three Japanese hostages were still held in Iraq despite reports of their expected release, with various groups working to secure their freedom, Japanese officials manning a crisis cell here said. (AFP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqIraqi Civilians Flee Falluja as Truce Takes Hold
: "Civilians streamed out of Fallujaon Sunday after a truce halted a week of fighting between U.S.forces and rebels in which hundreds of Iraqis died. (Reuters)
"In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq3rd round of talks to be held in Fallujah
: "A third round of negotiations aimed at ending the fighting in the besieged city of Fallujah will be held Sunday, a U.S. commander said. Arab TV stations reported that Sunni militants have agreed to a U.S. offer of a cease-fire.
"In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on IraqRebels threaten to kill US hostage
: "Militants have threatened to kill and mutilate a US civilian captured during the ambush of a convoy west of Baghdad.
"In Ananova: War In IraqFootage shown of slain Westerners in Iraq
: "The bloodied bodies of two men, purportedly Americans killed during fighting in Fallujah, were shown on Arab TV Sunday.
"In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on IraqAmerican opposition to Iraq war grows with violence, casualties
: "A year after Baghdad fell to jubilant US forces, American public support for the occupation appears to be waning fast following a week of unparalleled anti-US violence in Iraq. (AFP)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqWhereabouts of Japan Hostages Unconfirmed-Envoy
: "Neither the whereabouts nor the safety ofthree Japanese civilians kidnapped in Iraq have been confirmed,a Japanese diplomat said in Amman on Sunday, hours after theirfamilies had hoped they would be released. (Reuters)
"In Yahoo! News: War with IraqTerrorists' 'propaganda gift': Cook
: "Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has accused US President George W Bush of handing terrorists a propaganda gift.
"In Ananova: War In Iraq