2003-10-26 13:19:10 UTC
Robert Fisk, Arab News
I was in the police station in the town of Fallujah when I realized
the extent of the schizophrenia. Capt. Christopher Cirino of the
82nd Airborne was trying to explain to me the nature of the attacks
so regularly carried out against American forces in the Sunni Muslim
Iraqi town. His men were billeted in a former presidential rest home
down the road - "Dreamland", the Americans call it - but this was
not the extent of his soldiers' disorientation. "The men we are
being attacked by," he said, "are Syrian-trained terrorists and local
freedom fighters." Come again? "Freedom fighters." But that's what
Capt. Cirino called them - and rightly so.
Here's the reason. All American soldiers are supposed to believe -
indeed have to believe, along with their president and his Defense
Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld - that Osama Bin Laden's "Al-Qaeda"
guerrillas, pouring over Iraq's borders from Syria, Iran, Saudi
Arabia (note how those close allies and neighbors of Iraq, Kuwait
and Turkey are always left out of the equation), are assaulting
United States forces as part of the "war on terror". Special Forces
soldiers are now being told by their officers that the "war on
terror" has been transferred from America to Iraq, as if in some
miraculous way, Sept. 11, 2001, is now Iraq 2003. Note too how the
Americans always leave the Iraqis out of the culpability bracket -
unless they can be described as "Baath party remnants", "diehards"
or "dead-enders" by the US proconsul, Paul Bremer.
Capt. Cirino's problem, of course, is that he knows part of the truth.
Ordinary Iraqis - many of them long-term enemies of Saddam Hussein -
are attacking the American occupation army 35 times a day in the
Baghdad area alone. And Capt. Cirino works in Fallujah's local police
station, where America's newly hired Iraqi policemen are the brothers
and uncles and - no doubt - fathers of some of those now waging
guerrilla war against American soldiers in Fallujah. Some of them, I
suspect, are indeed themselves the "terrorists". So if he calls the
bad guys "terrorists", the local cops - his first line of defense -
would be very angry indeed.
No wonder morale is low. No wonder the American soldiers I meet
on the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities don't mince their
words about their own government. US troops have been given orders
not to bad-mouth their president or secretary of defense in front
of Iraqis or reporters (who have about the same status in the eyes
of the occupation authorities). But when I suggested to a group of
US military police near Abu Ghurayb they would be voting Republican
at the next election, they fell about laughing. "We shouldn't be
here and we should never have been sent here," one of them told me
with astonishing candor. "And maybe you can tell me: Why were we
Little wonder, then, that Stars and Stripes, the American military's
own newspaper, reported this month that one third of the soldiers in
Iraq suffered from low morale. And is it any wonder, that being the
case, that US forces in Iraq are shooting down the innocent, kicking
and brutalizing prisoners, trashing homes and - eyewitness testimony
is coming from hundreds of Iraqis - stealing money from houses they
are raiding? No, this is not Vietnam - where the Americans sometimes
lost 3,000 men in a month - nor is the US Army in Iraq turning into a
rabble. Not yet. And they remain light years away from the butchery
of Saddam's henchmen. But human rights monitors, civilian occupation
officials and journalists - not to mention Iraqis themselves -
are increasingly appalled at the behavior of the American military
Iraqis who fail to see US military checkpoints, who overtake convoys
under attack - or who merely pass the scene of an American raid -
are being gunned down with abandon. US official "inquiries" into
these killings routinely result in either silence or claims that
the soldiers "obeyed their rules of engagement" - rules that the
Americans will not disclose to the public.
The rot comes from the top. Even during the Anglo-American invasion
of Iraq, US forces declined to take responsibility for the innocents
they killed. "We do not do body counts," Gen. Tommy Franks announced.
So there was no apology for the 16 civilians killed at Mansur when
the "Allies" - note how we Brits get caught up in this misleading
title - bombed a residential suburb in the vain hope of killing
Saddam. When US Special Forces raided a house in the very same area
four months later - hunting for the very same Iraqi leader - they
killed six civilians, including a 14-year-old boy and a middle-aged
woman, and only announced, four days later, that they would hold an
"inquiry". Not an investigation, you understand, nothing that would
suggest there was anything wrong in gunning down six Iraqi civilians;
and in due course the "inquiry" was forgotten - as it was no doubt
meant to be - and nothing has been heard of it again.
Again, during the invasion, the Americans dropped hundreds of cluster
bombs on villages outside the town of Hillah. They left behind a
butcher's shop of chopped-up corpses. Film of babies cut in half
during the raid was not even transmitted by the Reuters crew in
Baghdad. The Pentagon then said there were "no indications" cluster
bombs had been dropped at Hillah - even though Sky TV found some
unexploded and brought them back to Baghdad.
I first came across this absence of remorse - or rather absence of
responsibility - in a slum suburb of Baghdad called Hayy Al-Gailani.
Two men had run a new American checkpoint - a roll of barbed wire
tossed across a road before dawn one morning in July - and US troops
had opened fire at the car. Indeed, they fired so many bullets that
the vehicle burst into flames. And while the dead or dying men were
burned inside, the Americans who had set up the checkpoint simply
boarded their armored vehicles and left the scene. They never even
bothered to visit the hospital mortuary to find out the identities
of the men they killed - an obvious step if they believed they had
killed "terrorists" - and inform their relatives.
Scenes like this are being repeated across Iraq daily. Which is why
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty and other humanitarian organizations
are protesting ever more vigorously about the failure of the US Army
even to count the numbers of Iraqi dead, let alone account for their
own role in killing civilians. "It is a tragedy that US soldiers have
killed so many civilians in Baghdad," Human Rights Watch's Joe Stork
said. "But it is really incredible that the US military does not even
count these deaths."
Human Rights Watch has counted 94 Iraqi civilians killed by Americans
in the capital. The organisation also criticized American forces
for humiliating prisoners, not least by their habit of placing their
feet on the heads of prisoners. Some American soldiers are now being
trained in Jordan - by Jordanians - in the "respect" that should be
accorded to Iraqi civilians and about the culture of Islam. About
But on the ground in Iraq, Americans have a license to kill. Not a
single soldier has been disciplined for shooting civilians - even
when the fatality involves an Iraqi working for the occupation
authorities. No action has been taken, for instance, over the soldier
who fired a single shot through the window of an Italian diplomat's
car, killing his translator, in northern Iraq. Nor against the
soldiers of the 82nd Airborne who gunned down 14 Sunni Muslim
protesters in Fallujah in April. (Capt. Cirino was not involved.)
Nor against the troops who shot dead 11 more protesters in Mosul.
Sometimes, the evidence of low morale mounts over a long period. In
one Iraqi city, for example, the "Coalition Provisional Authority" -
which is what the occupation authorities call themselves - have
instructed local money changers not to give dollars for Iraqi dinars
to occupation soldiers: Too many Iraqi dinars had been stolen by
troops during house raids. Repeatedly, in Baghdad, Hillah, Tikrit,
Mosul and Fallujah Iraqis have told me that they were robbed by
American troops during raids and at checkpoints. Unless there is a
monumental conspiracy on a nationwide scale by Iraqis, some of these
reports must bear the stamp of truth.
Then there was the case of the Bengal tiger. A group of US troops
entered the Baghdad zoo one evening for partying. During the party,
one of the soldiers decided to pet the tiger who - being a Bengal
tiger - sank his teeth into the soldier. The Americans then shot
the tiger dead. The Americans promised an "inquiry" - of which
nothing has been heard since. Ironically, the one incident where
US forces faced disciplinary action followed an incident in
which a US helicopter crew took a black religious flag from a
communications tower in Sadr City in Baghdad. The violence that
followed cost the life of an Iraqi civilian. Suicides among US
troops in Iraq have risen in recent months - up to three times
the usual rate among American servicemen. At least 23 soldiers are
believed to have taken their lives since the Anglo-American invasion
and others have been wounded in attempting suicide. As usual, the
US Army only revealed this statistic following constant questioning.
The daily attacks on Americans outside Baghdad - up to 50 in a
night - go, like the civilian Iraqi dead, unrecorded. Traveling
back from Fallujah to Baghdad after dark last month, I saw mortar
explosions and tracer fire around 13 American bases - not a word
of which was later revealed by the occupation authorities. At
Baghdad airport last month, five mortar shells fell near the runway
as a Jordanian airliner was boarding passengers for Amman. I saw
this attack with my own eyes. That same afternoon, Gen. Ricardo
Sanchez, the senior US officer in Iraq, claimed he knew nothing
about the attack, which - unless his junior officers are slovenly -
he must have been well aware of.
But can we expect anything else of an army that can willfully mislead
soldiers into writing "letters" to their hometown papers in the US
about improvements in Iraqi daily life. "The quality of life and
security for the citizens has been largely restored, and we are a
large part of why it has happened," Sgt. Christopher Shelton of the
503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment bragged in a letter from Kirkuk to
the Snohomish County Tribune. "The majority of the city has welcomed
our presence with open arms." Only it hasn't. And Sgt. Shelton didn't
write the letter. Nor did Sgt. Shawn Grueser of West Virginia. Nor
did Pvt. Nick Deaconson. Nor eight other soldiers who supposedly
wrote identical letters to their local papers. The "letters" were
distributed among soldiers, who were asked to sign if they agreed
with its contents.
But is this, perhaps, not part of the fantasy world inspired by the
rightwing ideologues in Washington who sought this war - even though
most of them have never served their country in uniform. They dreamed
up the "weapons of mass destruction" and the adulation of American
troops who would "liberate" the Iraqi people. Unable to provide fact
to fiction, they now merely acknowledge that the soldiers they have
sent into the biggest rat's nest in the Middle East have "a lot of
work to do", that they are - this was not revealed before or during
the invasion - "fighting the front-line in the war on terror".
What influence, one might ask, have the Christian fundamentalists had
on the American Army in Iraq? For even if we ignore the Rev. Franklin
Graham, who has described Islam as "a very evil and wicked religion"
before he went to lecture Pentagon officials - what is one to make of
the officer responsible for tracking down Osama Bin Laden, Lt. Gen.
William "Jerry" Boykin, who told an audience in Oregon that Islamists
hate the US "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation
and our roots are Judeo-Christian and the enemy is a guy called
Recently promoted to deputy undersecretary of defense for
intelligence, Boykin went on to say of the war against Mohammed
Farrah Aidid in Somalia - in which he participated - that "I
knew my God was bigger than his - I knew that my God was a real
God and his was an idol".
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said of these extraordinary
remarks that "it doesn't look like any rules were broken". We are
now told that an "inquiry" into Boykin's comments is under way -
an "inquiry" about as thorough, no doubt, as those held into the
killing of civilians in Baghdad.
Weaned on this kind of nonsense, however, is it any surprise that
American troops in Iraq understand neither their war nor the people
whose country they are occupying? Terrorists or freedom fighters?
What's the difference
* * *
Wolfowitz Survives Baghdad Attack
BAGHDAD, October 26 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - U.S. Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz escaped uninjured early Sunday,
October 26, when 29 heavy rockets hit the landmark Rashid hotel
in Baghdad, killing at least one person and injuring 15 others, a
senior U.S. military official said.
"Deputy defense secretary Wolfowitz escaped all right," Agence
France-Presse (AFP) quoted an occupation official as speaking,
on condition of anonymity.
Speaking at an earlier press conference shortly after he survived
the attack, Wolfowitz said that one American may have been killed
and "several" people were wounded.
"There may be one American dead", Wolfowitz said, adding that there
had been "several injured".
Wolfowitz said the United States would be unrelenting in the pursuit
of the "criminals" responsible.
He described such attacks as "the desperate acts of a dying regime
Al-jazeera satellite channel showed footage of two impacts, one on
the side of the building and another on one of the facades where
windows appeared shattered.
Two gaping holes were seen in a seventh-floor balcony and windows
were completely shattered between the third and ninth floors.
The hotel is in an area sealed off with heavy security inside the
main centre of operation of the U.S.-led occupation ruling Iraq.
Although its physical impact was minimal, that attack made headlines
because it targeted a heavily fortified center of U.S. activity
since the downfall of Baghdad in April.
Earlier, an Iraqi police colonel said rocket-propelled grenades
were fired from the public zoo behind the Rashid hotel at 6:15
am (0315 GMT) before the assailants sped away in a pick-up truck.
"The Americans found the launchers in the zoo," said the colonel on
condition of anonymity, adding that two policemen guarding the hotel
were among the wounded.
Thomas Hartwell, a photographer hired by the occupation authorities
for a documentary project, said he saw three wounded being carried
from the hotel.
"I saw three people being evacuated on stretchers into military
ambulances," said Hartwell, who was sleeping in the hotel when
the rockets hit.
On September 27, the Rashid hotel was hit by three homemade mortar
bombs or rockets that left no casualties and only minor damage.
The Rashid Hotel, built in 1983 with 14 floors and 400 rooms, used
to house most of the foreign press, diplomats and many visiting
Western businessmen before U.S.-led forces invaded the country in
A mosaic of former U.S. president George Bush, who led the campaign
that chased Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in 1991, used to adorn the
floor at the entrance, bearing the legend "The Criminal."
But since the overthrow of Saddam in April, the picture is gone and
the hotel houses officials of the occupying coalition. It stands next
to the Baghdad convention center, where the military press offices
* * *
Rockets slam into Wolfowitz's hotel
A barrage of rockets has hit the Baghdad hotel at which US assistant
defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, has been staying, killing one
person and wounding 15 others.
AFP quotes a top military officer as saying the No. 2 Pentagon
official escaped uninjured when 29 heavy rockets slammed into
the landmark al-Rashid Hotel at 0310 GMT on Sunday morning.
Unconfirmed reports said that the person killed was an American,
and among the injured were US Defence Department employees,
soldiers and foreign nationals.
The al-Rashid Hotel is frequently used by American military
personnel. Wolfowitz and other senior aides were staying on
the 12th floor when the building was attacked. The rockets
destroyed rooms below the 12th floor.
Witnesses said Wolfowitz, a major force behind the Iraq war, looked
composed as security forces led him away from the hotel. In a show
of defiance, the assistant secretary said later that the US would
not be cowed into abandoning Iraq after the brazen attack.
The hotel is in an area sealed off with heavy security inside the
main centre of coalition operations.
A senior defence official told reporters on the scene that according
to security briefings, the rockets may have been set up on Saturday
night and then remotely detonated the following morning.
Wolfowitz was paying his second visit to Iraq in three months
and had stressed the need to speed up the formation of a new
Iraqi army, police force, border guard and civil defence corps.
Three rockets, fired at the al-Rashid Hotel a month ago, hit the
building but caused no injuries.
Aljazeera + Agencies
Sunday 26 October 2003 5:27 AM GMT
You can find this article at:
* * *
Anti-war rally marches in Washington
by Benjamin Duncan
Tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators marched in Washington
on Saturday to express fierce opposition to the US-led occupation
With the Washington Monument looming in the background, people
gathered before the march to hear dozens of speakers from various
political and social walks of life denounce President Bush's
decision to go to war.
"As more troops start to come home in body bags, more and more
people don't know what we're doing there," said Bill Hackwell,
a spokesman for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) the
coalition that organised the march along with another advocacy
group, United for Peace and Justice.
Hackwell estimated that 100,000 people attended the demonstration,
though that number could not be independently verified.
A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Department said it no
longer gave crowd estimates. Reuters reported that police on the
scene put the figure at roughly 30,000.
An overwhelming number of protesters seemed to believe the Bush
administration lied to the American people about Iraq's alleged
weapons of mass destruction programme and led the United States
into an unjust war, driven by oil and imperialist designs on
the Middle East.
Demonstrators from across the country arrived carrying signs that
read "No more Bush, no more blood," "No blood for oil," and "Peace
One of those protesters, Philip Booth, said he drove all night on a
bus from Michigan to tell the president that "we were lied to."
"I hope this is a demonstration to the Bush administration that the
anti-war, anti-imperialist movement is very alive," Booth said.
Calls for impeachment
Like many in attendance, Booth called for the president's
impeachment, saying Bush had violated his oath of office
by misleading the public.
"I think the crimes that Bush committed are much more grave than
the crimes that [former President] Clinton committed," he said.
Richard Kaziny, a demonstrator from Chicago, Illinois, expressed
anger at what he perceived to be the administration's manipulation
of intelligence on Saddam Hussein's threat to US national security.
"This country was in no danger from Iraq," Kaziny said. "It was
just a made-up fairy tale of an excuse for war for oil and business
Although the organisers of the march are pushing the administration
to "Bring the Troops Home Now," Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for United
for Peace and Justice, said the message was more thematic than
"That is the rallying cry_ Exactly how that happens is going to
require some level of international cooperation," Dobbs said.
But Hackwell said he was not buying the argument that the United
States needed to maintain a long-term military presence in Iraq
in order to keep the peace.
"There's this colonial mentality that we're over there now and we
have to finish the job and that's a racist mentality," he said.
Many protesters and speakers at the rally insisted their criticism
of the White House was not unpatriotic, as supporters of the
president might suggest.
"We're the real patriots," said Reverend Al Sharpton, a well-known
civil rights activist and one of the Democratic candidates for
president. "We want to stop the misuse of American lies in Iraq."
Sharpton also urged the US Congress to vote against the $87 billion
spending bill requested by the administration for costs in Iraq
"Don't give Bush $87 billion," he said. "Don't give him 87 cents."
For some, the purpose was more personal than political. Susan Shuman,
a representative of Military Families Speak Out, took the podium
at the rally to plead with the administration to withdraw US troops
Her son Justin, a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, has
been serving in Iraq since the beginning of the war in March.
"Our children and [Iraqi] children continue to die," Shuman said.
By Benjamin Duncan
Sunday 26 October 2003 1:19 AM GMT
You can find this article at:
* * *
25,000 Rally Against "Liar" Bush, Iraq Occupation
WASHINGTON, October 26 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - Some
25,000 anti-war protesters took to the streets of several U.S.
cities Saturday, October 25, protesting the "lies" of U.S.
President George Bush and the U.S.-led occupation of oil-rich
More than 20,000 demonstrators marched in Washington to vocalize
mounting concern over the growing number of American servicemen
killed in occupied Iraq as well as the billions of dollars earmarked
for the occupation expenses, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
They demanded an end to the U.S.-led occupation and the quick return
of American troops.
More than 110 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraqi resistance
operations since May 1, when Bush declared an end to major combat
Among those who addressed the anti-war rally near the White House,
were Democratic presidential hopeful Al Sharpton and former U.S.
attorney general Ramsey Clark.
"We were right when we were saying Bush was misleading the
population," Sharpton charged.
"We are right now. We want to stop the misuse of American lives in
"Don't give Bush $87 billion, don't give him 87 cents, give our
troops a ride home," Sharpton said to loud cheers from the crowd.
Clark, a fervent supporter of left-wing causes since he served
under President Lyndon Johnson from 1967-1969, demanded Bush be
impeached, saying the president "has made us international outlaws.
"The American people are viewed around the world as supporting
George Bush's policies and they will be until he is removed from
office," said Clark, dismissing Bush's policies as "the greatest
threat to peace and security."
Fernando de Solar Suarez, whose Marine son, Jesus, was killed in
action in Iraq, told the crowd "we don't need any more deaths.
"President Bush -- wrongly called president -- has lied to the
entire world about this war," he maintained.
Michael McPhearson, a veteran from the 1991 Persian Gulf War, lashed
out at Bush, accusing him of misleading the nation.
"You have butchered the truth, George Bush."
War Against Muslims
"This is not a war against terrorism, this is a war against Muslims
and Islam," charged Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim-
American Freedom Society.
"This is the month of Ramadan, and the Muslim community is suffering
every single day because of this administration."
Casting the war on terrorism in religious terms, Evangelical
Lieutenant General William Boykin, deputy undersecretary of
defense for intelligence, said "our spiritual enemy will only
be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus".
Evangelical Lieutenant General William Boykin, deputy undersecretary
of defense for intelligence, "our spiritual enemy will only be
defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus".
In San Francisco, more than 4,000 activists chanted "End the
Occupation of Iraq" carrying signs bearing slogans such as
"Money for Schools, Not War."
They also carried placards in English, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and
Korean proclaiming: "Bush lied;" "Bush is looting the future;" "No
war for empire."
"This war is not about us," actor Danny Glover told the protesters.
"It is against us, against Iraqi people, and against our children."
The marchers included representatives of Military Families Speak
Out, a group of some 800 families with relatives among the U.S.
military forces in the Middle East.
The protests on both coasts were organized by the International
ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and United for Peace
* * *
Embattled US troops kill civilians
Five Iraqis have been killed and several civilians seriously
injured by US troops on a day of resistance attacks that left
about 20 occupation soldiers wounded.
A female Iraqi translator and a male bodyguard were killed and a
German man seriously wounded on Saturday when US soldiers opened
fire at their car, Aljazeera's correspondent reported.
The shooting occurred in the aftermath of a roadside bomb blast
near Falluja, 50kms west of Baghdad.
Elsewhere, a US military spokesman said three Iraqi civilians
were killed and two wounded when a roadside bomb hit two civilian
vehicles, which then came under fire on a highway, 80km west of
An official at a local hospital said one of the wounded was a
Westerner while his Iraqi translator was among the dead.
Across the country, about 20 US troops have been injured in Iraqi
resistance attacks, which included the shooting down of a US
Six US soldiers were wounded in two separate attacks in the Baquba
region, northeast of Baghdad, on Saturday.
Two were wounded in a roadside bombing of their convoy, near a
bridge in central Baquba, 65km northeast of the capital.
US forces detained 15 local residents, tied their hands behind
their backs and forced many of them to lay face down on the
ground, witnesses said.
Elsewhere in the region, four US soldiers were wounded in a rocket-
propelled grenade (RPG) attack on their convoy in the industrial
area of al-Hai al-Suni, 6km southwest of Baquba. The attack occurred
at 4pm (1300 GMT).
In Khalidiya, west of Baghdad, five US soldiers were wounded after
an explosion and shootout with resistance fighters at 7:15pm (1615
GMT), locals told AFP. The blast was followed by a rocket-propelled
grenade attack and a firefight, they said.
Earlier, five US soldiers were wounded when a US military Black
Hawk helicopter came down in an RPG attack. The helicopter crash-
landed near the town of Tikrit, former President Saddam Hussein's
US military spokesmen said they were unsure whether the aircraft
was shot down or was hit by an RPG after it landed. But a doctor
said one of those injured was suffering from shrapnel wounds in
both the arms and legs.
The helicopter was seen by an AFP photographer, trailing smoke
minutes after a loud explosion. The sound of small arms fire
was also heard from the direction of the emergency landing, the
French news agency reported.
US assistant defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, on a tour of
Iraq, visited Tikrit only hours before the attack on Saturday.
Taekwondo team shot
Elsewhere, the US military confirmed three soldiers were wounded
in a bomb attack in Baghdad, AFP reported.
Captain Ty Wilson of the 1st Armoured Division said a makeshift
bomb, possibly a mortar round detonated by remote control,
exploded at dawn on Saturday in the southwest of the capital.
In another incident, 11 members of a martial arts team were
wounded, three of them seriously, when unknown assailants
opened fire on their bus near the northern oil town of Kirkuk.
The Kurdish taekwondo team was heading back to Kirkuk from a
Baghdad tournament when they came under attack. Doctors said
three of the team members were in serious condition and had
been operated on five times.
Aljazeera + Agencies
Saturday 25 October 2003 11:46 PM GMT
You can find this article at:
* * *
US troops, Iraqi police under attack
Three US soldiers have been wounded in a bomb explosion in Baghdad.
Captain Ty Wilson of the 1st Armoured Division said a makeshift
bomb, possibly a mortar round detonated by remote control, exploded
at dawn on Saturday, on an exit ramp off a highway in the southwest
of the capital. Wilson said the bomb, placed beside a steel guard
rail under a tree, had hit a Humvee military vehicle.
Several other attacks were also carried out across Iraq in the past
24 hours, targeting either the US forces or Iraqi police, Aktham
Sulaiman, Aljazeera correspondent in Iraq, reported.
"An Iraqi police station came under a series of attacks in the city
of Mosul", he added.
According to Sulaiman, "a 20kg explosive device was found in
Baghdad's Press Association building".
Aljazeera + Agencies
Saturday 25 October 2003 7:26 AM GMT
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* * *
Sadr: US waging war against me
Iraqi Shia leader Moqtada Sadr has accused the United States
of waging war on him and fomenting civil strife in the city
of Karbala, where his supporters clashed with a rival cleric's
followers one week ago.
"I declare I had nothing to do with any of the bloodshed and
violence against anyone," said Sadr, who occupation officials
have said is under investigation for links to several attacks
involving his supporters.
"I said before we must raise the slogan of non-violence and
peaceful resistance," the young cleric told thousands at the
Kufa mosque on Friday, 150 km south of Baghdad.
Sadr said US forces were blaming him for last week's clashes
between his militia, the Mehdi army, and the followers of
pre-eminent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
"The Americans have used this division to make a war on me and
discredit the Mehdi army, especially since I declared a new
government which does not make any difference between any group,"
Sadr told worshippers in Kufa.
He rejected the notion of any feud between the Shia factions.
"There is no war between the Shias," he said.
Sadr argued that he stood on the side of the just while the
Americans looked to stir unrest among the country's 15 million-
strong Shia majority.
"It is a war between right and wrong. The occupation was supporting
the attackers (in Karbala) giving them ammunition and weapons," he
Sadr, who comes from a long line of revered clerics, also lashed
out at the Iraqi police for helping US troops.
Earlier in the week several Sadr supporters were detained in a
raid on the al-Mokhayam mosque in Karbala, which the US insists
was conducted by the Iraqi police. Sadr followers said the
operation was conducted by US forces using helicopters.
On Friday, 15 of the detainees were released, according to Methal
al-Hasnawi, a pro-Sadr cleric.
"Fifteen of the 38 people were freed," he said, adding that talks
would be held with US and Polish troops in Karbala to obtain the
release of those still being detained.
Three clerics are among those still held, he said. A demonstration
would be staged if the men are not freed, al-Hasnawi added.
Sadr supporters reopened the mosque, which was closed after the
military and police raid, al-Hasnawi said.
In his Friday sermon, al-Hasnawi issued a thinly-veiled criticism
of Sistani, without directly naming him.
"There are unfortunately among us people who act hand in hand
with Americans and Zionists," he said.
Friday 24 October 2003 7:20 PM GMT
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* * *
US Media Wary of Covering Casualties in Iraq
Agence France Presse, Arab News
NEW YORK, 25 October 2003 - With the postwar US combat toll in Iraq
rising at an almost daily rate, debate is growing at home over media
coverage of an issue with the potential to radically dent support
for the Iraq campaign.
Ever since Vietnam, the "body-bag factor" has loomed large in the
planning and running of any overseas US military operation, in the
knowledge that public opinion can shift swiftly and dramatically
if the death toll is deemed too costly.
The number of Americans who have died in combat in Iraq since US
President George W. Bush declared an end to major hostilities on
May 1 crossed the 100-mark last week. That figure does not include
those killed in noncombat situations, such as road accidents or
suicides. Taking those into account, a total of more than 200
Americans have died since May 1.
Conservatives insist the media has a morbid obsession with the
casualty toll, while liberal analysts argue that television and
newspapers have been intimidated by the Bush administration into
downplaying the issue. "It's an old fight that goes back to the
myth that the war in Vietnam was lost because of coverage that
was too graphic and negative," said Mark Miller, a professor of
media studies at New York University. Most analysts agree that
the major television networks, while reporting the combat deaths
as they happen, have kept the issue on the back burner. "In the
beginning, the coverage was more personal," said Christopher
Simpson, professor of communications at American University
in Washington. "We saw photos, we were given names. But as the
deaths kept coming it became more anonymous, more de-personalized."
Recently, the New York newspaper Newsday published the photos and
brief profiles of five American soldiers killed in Iraq, alongside
a strongly worded commentary condemning a lack of media interest
in the subject. "Obscure people dying in obscurity," the commentary
said. "The Pekinese of the Press do not feel dead soldiers are
worth mentioning. Only the guy next to them knew what they were
To some extent the press, especially the visual media has been
hampered by a military ban on the filming or photographing of
soldiers' remains being sent home. Footage of flag-draped coffins
carries enormous resonance in the United States, but for more
than a decade photographers and film crews have been barred
from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware - the main staging post
for reception of the remains of GIs killed overseas. In March,
on the eve of the Iraq invasion, the Pentagon sent a directive
to US military bases underlining the no-access policy. "There
will be no arrival ceremonies for, or media coverage of, deceased
military personnel returning to or departing from Ramstein (in
Germany) or Dover base, to include interim stops," the directive
said. "Shielding these tragic arrivals from view is part of
a troubling response to the public's recent war worries," USA
Today said in an editorial on Thursday. Long-term support for
continued US military involvement in Iraq "is dependent on honest
portrayals," the newspaper argued.
History, however, suggests that support and honest portrayals
do not necessarily make for happy bedfellows. TV footage in
the aftermath of the death of 18 US soldiers in Somalia in 1993
triggered a public outcry and a prompt US pullout.
And whatever the level of media coverage, public concern over
the death toll in Iraq is already apparent. In a Washington Post-
ABC poll published last week, 55 percent of respondents called
the number of US military casualties "unacceptable." If the US
fatalities in Iraq have been kept out of the media spotlight, the
wounded have not even figured on the cast list. With the exception
of Jessica Lynch - the former army private hailed as a hero after
her rescue from an Iraqi hospital - there have been no feature
news stories focusing on the wounded.
There has also been a noticeable lack of interviews from hospital
beds, and even the actual number of wounded has become a matter
of speculation given a dearth of official figures. "It's clear
that the media has knuckled under, to some extent, to government
pressure and conservative flack about negative reporting," said
Miller. "It's as if the casualties are only mentioned in passing,
or tucked discretely away on the inside pages of the newspapers,"
* * *
Two Iraqis Killed In Pipeline Blast, Two Shot By US Forces
Oct 24, 2003
A bomb exploded Thursday near a pipeline in northern Iraq, killing
two Iraqi Civil Defense Corps members and injuring 10 others, U.S.
The explosion took place south of Qayarrah, about 230 kilometers north
of Baghdad, U.S. officials said, according to The AP. The Iraqi guards
were helping secure pipelines that have been the target of sabotage
In Mosul, also in the north, US troops opened fire at four Iraqis
who attacked one of their compounds with rocket-propelled grenades
on Thursday. Two of the Iraqis were killed and a third wounded, the
military said. The fourth escaped.
Earlier it was reported that a U.S. military convoy was ambushed
Thursday in a village near Baqubah, northeast of the capital
Baghdad, according to witnesses.
A Humvee was set ablaze by a bomb at around 9:30 am (local time),
leaving a huge crater in the ground, at al-Saada, some 60 kilometers
from the capital, AFP cited a witness as saying.
U.S. soldiers searched the area for the perpetrators after the
attack, Satab added. There were no immediate indications about
Meanwhile, a woman and five children were injured, one seriously,
in the explosion of a grenade they were playing with in an abandoned
Iraqi army camp near Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, according to
"My wife, one of my children and four of his friends were injured
Wednesday night in the explosion of a grenade in the Saad camp,"
AFP cited Rahman Mezher Elwan as saying.
"Children were playing with the grenade when it exploded," said
He said he lived in a disused area of the camp, alongside dozens
more displaced Arab families from Kurdistan. U.S. forces use
another part of the camp, he added.
Elwan said he thought many more grenades and other explosive devices
were left behind by Saddam Hussein's army at the camp. (Albawaba.com)
* * *
Israel's Weapons of Mass Destruction
By Hussain Khan
Tokyo---After the worldwide publication of a report that Israel has
developed a technology, after a research effort of over 30 years,
to modify the US-made Harpoon anti-ship missile to deliver nuclear
warheads to targets on land, a senior Israeli official has denied
it. He says it is a phony story, politically motivated to draw public
pressure away from Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. "They
knew it was technically impossible to fit the missile with a nuclear
warhead," said the official. "They are fishing for reasons why the
US shouldn't do anything about Iran's program."
The report had originated in Los Angeles Times on the authority of
two senior Bush administration officials who disclosed it and one
Israeli official, who confirmed it. All three told this on condition
that their names should not be disclosed. If it is phony a story,
as the Israeli official claims, then the three officials involved
in disclosing it should be punished for spreading rumors. But the
question arises what interest these American and Israeli officials
have in drawing public pressure away from Iran's alleged nuclear
weapons program? Were these officials working as Iranian agents
and being paid for their services by the Iranian government? If not,
then the responsibility is shifted to the newspaper reporters. Were
they paid Iranian agents to write such a `phony' story in their
newspaper? Both these possibilities are unbelievable. It is better
to doubt the motives of that unknown Israeli official, who is try to
deny this fact, than the senior American officials or the reporters
of a responsible US newspaper.
As regards the official's claim that technically fitting Harpoon
missile with a nuclear warhead is impossible, the missile experts
have denied it. James Sentell, a retired guidance engineer who
worked at Raytheon Missile Systems, said, "We have TERCOM [Terrain
Contour Mapping], which was used in early Tomahawk cruise missiles"
It can be used on Harpoon missiles. He further said that the radar
seeker at the nose of the missile, though sufficient for plucking
out a target on the vast empty sea, would have to be replaced by
a more discriminating, satellite-driven global positioning system.
With such modifications, Harpoons can be used for carrying warheads
for land targets after cruising through the sea when they are
launched from the Israeli submarines.
However, the problem remains whether the mass of the warhead could
fit into the required space. Usually, the smallest nuclear warhead
weighs a half-ton. The Harpoon's conventional warhead weighs in
at 225 kilograms. Mark Hutchenreuther, an electronics engineer who
worked at the Harpoon Missile Handling Branch, is of the opinion
that it is possible to fit a small enough nuclear warhead on the
John Pike, a defense analyst for Global Security. org, said, "I can
see the Harpoon, which has a 13.5 inch [34.29 cm.] diameter, carrying
a 10-20 kiloton warhead that could burn down a large town".
The U.S. officials said the warheads have been designed for American-
supplied Harpoon missiles, which have sea-skimming cruise guidance
systems and a normal range of about 80 miles. Harpoons usually have
conventional warheads and are common in the arsenals of the U.S. and
Robert S. Norris, a nuclear historian at the Natural Resources
Defense Council in Washington, said in an interview that Israeli
engineers would have had to reduce the size of a nuclear weapon
to fit the warhead of a Harpoon and alter the missile guidance
system to hit land-based targets, both relatively simple tasks
for a sophisticated weapons program.
"They have been at it for more than 30 years, so this is something
within the realm of capability for Israel's scientists and
engineers," said Norris, who added that the range of the missiles
might have been extended, too.
And Israel already has the submarine-launched Popeye Turbo, which
the Federation of American Scientists puts conservatively at a
range of 200-350 kilometers. Its diameter is 53.34 cm. (21 inches) -
perfect for carrying a multi-kiloton warhead and for launching from
a torpedo tube.
Ultimately, the question is one of need. According to a spokesman at
the Boeing Company, parent of McDonnell Douglas, it would be illegal
for Israel to modify the US- made Harpoons without permission. The
number of U.N. resolutions Israel has violated and refused to follow
is sufficient to show to what extent Israel cares for the legality of
any action. Its 400,000 settlements on the land, which the U.N. has
declared as an `occupied' one, is also illegal. But Israel is always
confident that the US will keep a blind eye for all her illegal
actions, as all her politicians are in dire need of Jewish money and
vote in all US elections.
Despite Israel being smaller than New Jersey, with a population of
six million, it has now become world's 5th or 6th largest nuclear
power with its nuclear weapon estimated to be within 100 to 200.
Britain is having only 185, the smallest number among the five,
according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
The group estimated Russia has 8,232 weapons, the United States
has 7,068, China has 402 and France has 348.
Israel began building a nuclear bomb after a secret agreement was
signed with the French government in 1956 to help Israel build a
plutonium nuclear reactor. The reactor site was chosen in the Negev
desert, outside the village of Dimona. This was a massive project.
1,500 Israeli and French workers were engaged to build the reactor.
An extensive underground complex was built 14 square miles. According
to the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, French
military aircraft secretly flew heavy water, a key element of a
plutonium reactor, from Norway to Israel.
In the beginning, Israel never admitted it and even told lies to the
US. When an American U-2 spy planes spotted the construction site
in the beginning in 1958, Israel initially lied that it was just a
textile plant. Later on she said that it was just a metallurgical
research plant. According to documents at the National Archives in
Washington, two years later, U.S. intelligence identified the site
as a nuclear reactor and the C.I.A. said it was part of a weapons
Avner Cohen wrote a a book, `Israel and the Bomb'. In that book he
has written that the first and last time an Israeli prime minister,
David Ben Gurion, publicly admitted about the existence of a nuclear
plant was on Dec. 21, 1960. On that day, he made a statement before
the Israeli parliament that a nuclear reactor was under construction,
'exclusively for peaceful purposes.'
Beyond Iran, Arab diplomats and U.N. officials said in interviews
that Israel's steady enhancement of its secret nuclear arsenal, and
U.S. silence about it, inflames Arab desires for similar weapons.
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Shara, said, "Some quarters
selectively choose to level their false accusations at some Arab
and Islamic states. . . while simultaneously ignoring the Israeli
arsenal of weapons of mass destruction."
Even the countries friendly to the US like Egypt and Saudi Arabia
joined Syria in her criticism late last month. They spoke against
the US as well as the U.N. on this issue. They said that both of
them are pressuring Iran to give up nuclear program but ignoring
Israel's weapons of mass destruction.
"The presence of a nuclear program in the region that is not under
international safeguards gives other countries the spur to develop
weapons of mass destruction," Nabil Fahmy, Egypt's ambassador to
Washington, said in an interview. "Any future conflict becomes more
As a matter of fact, there were certain occasions when Israeli
generals had decided to use nuclear weapons. According to a report
in an Israeli newspaper, Haartz, at the start of the Yom Kippur
War, Moshe Dayan feared for Israel's fate and considered ordering
the army to arm the doomsday systems. It was the Prime Minister
Golda Meir, who immediately ordered Dayan to "forget" the idea of
activating the nuclear arsenal.
Similarly, in the Gulf War, Israeli generals were weighing the use
of nonconventional weapons. The then prime minister and his senior
ministers maintained restraint and did not issue any open threats.
But thick hints were leaked about Israel's nuclear potential.
Commenting about it, Reuven Pedatzur, has written in an article
in Haartz that "In the end, use of the nuclear threat did serious
harm to Israel's image of deterrence, as it was obvious that its
leadership lacked self-confidence and was not demonstrating the
steadfastness that is the requisite basis for the success of any
Israel continues the same policy of threatening its neighbours. The
Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened to bomb the Aswan Dam in Egypt
and the prime minister failed to admonish him. The latest leak to Los
Angles Times was for the same purpose to keep its neighbours afraid
of Israel's weapons of mass destruction and its power to destroy
rather annihilate them. That same day, the German weekly Der Spiegel
published a report that Israel plans to launch an air-force attack
on six Iran's nuclear sites.
Commenting on this sort of a `lunatic'Israel image, Reuven Pedatzur
concludes in his Haartz article that "Anyone who believes that
making Israel the nuclear neighborhood bully will strengthen its
image of deterrence is liable to find that it could do lethal harm
to its nuclear deterrence, weaken its international status, and
invite pressure on itself in the nuclear realm."
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