Fort Walton Beach, FL | August 27
AP – A congressional delegation led by U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller got a close-up look at combat in Iraq when two mortar shells exploded about 500 yards from where the lawmakers were waiting to board a helicopter.
The bipartisan delegation, which also visited Afghanistan, departed before Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani returned from Britain on Wednesday to march to the city of Najaf and end violence between U.S. troops and Shiite Muslims.
Miller, R-Chumuckla, said Thursday from Washington that he saw a growing anger among Iraqis over the violence in Najaf and elsewhere sanctioned by Muqtada al-Sadr and other militant leaders.
“They see it as disrupting commerce, and they don’t like the fact he’s using a religious site as a base,” Miller said.
Miller, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, had been to Iraq last year and to Afghanistan two years ago. He reported seeing progress in the rebuilding of both war torn countries.
In Afghanistan, the delegation met President Hamid Karzai. Violence toward American troops there has subsided but the growth and sale of poppy plants used to produce heroin is helping fund terrorist activity, Miller said.
Other delegation members were Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Tom Cole, R-Okla.; Jim Marshall, D-Ga., and Guam’s nonvoting representative, Madeleine Bordallo, a Democrat.