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The Jehoshua Novels


Iraq Update October 11th

Iraq Update October 11th
October 11th

Sofia News AgencySofia Decides on Date for Troops Rebasing
The relocation of Bulgaria’s troops in Iraq from the southern city Karbala to the Qadissiya province is expected to take place October 20 to November 10.

Update: Mosque on fire after U.S. air strikes.

Further updates/discussion continuously being added in Comments.

Still, Sofia will decide on Monday the exact date for the rebasing of the Bulgarian peacekeepers. Defence Minister Nikolay Svinarov said that the relocation should take place before the rotation of the third and the fourth Bulgarian unit.

Bulgaria agreed in September to relocate its troops. Currently there are some 500 Bulgarian peacekeepers based in the Iraqi province of Karbala as part of a Polish-led multinational contingent. The news for the possible relocation of the Bulgarian soldiers as part of a contemplated changeover of command between Poland and the US in the provinces of Karbala and Qadissiya was broken a few weeks ago.

The Bulgarian peacekeepers are to move to the Diwaniyah base where the Spanish troops were located before their withdrawal.

24 comments to Iraq Update October 11th

  • Anonymous

    http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/breaking_news/9889344.htm

    11 October

    SCHEHEREZADE FARAMARZI

    Associated Press

    SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq – Maliha Barzanji says that the last party she voted for ended up arresting her son and she never saw him again. This time around, she plans to cast no vote at all, saying she hates both of the two big parties that run the Kurdish north of Iraq. “If they give me their blood,” she says, “I will gladly drink it.”

    Ata Mohammed, a writer, says he’ll vote, but will cast a blank ballot as a protest against both parties because they are “corrupt and have blood on their hands.”

    Grievances like these hang heavy in the air ahead of the three-tiered January ballot – national, gubernatorial and Kurdish regional – which will test the Western-protected enclave’s democracy and its future in postwar Iraq.

    Bearing the brunt of voter anger are the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which have ruled in tandem since coming out roughly equal in the last election, 12 years ago.

    Their past is dogged by betrayals. On various occasions the parties sided with their avowed foes – Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime, Iraq’s Iranian and Turkish neighbors – in their drive to crush each other. Their attempt to establish a joint administration after the 1992 election was followed by four years of civil war.

    In 1998 each set up a government in separate cities and a shared parliament took office in 2002. Many Kurds are willing to acknowledge that under the KDP and PUK, and under U.S.-British aerial protection since the end of the 1991 Gulf War, their enclave has flourished and today is the safest part of Iraq.

    But they also accuse the two factions of nepotism and corruption, and Kurdish political leaders aren’t trying to hide their shortcomings.

    Barham Saleh, a Kurdish PUK man and a deputy prime minister in the Iraqi interim government, agrees that the parties need to clean up their act.

    He says they can be proud of the rights they have achieved for the Kurds, “But now, with Saddam Hussein gone, and with the opportunity of building a federal democratic Iraq and after 12 years of self- government, we no longer can use Saddam Hussein for maintaining some of the unacceptable ways of politics.”

    Saleh knows the voters want “Political reforms, genuinely fighting corruption, eliminating cronyism and nepotism.” He also says it is “shameful” that the parties haven’t come clean on the question of the missing Kurds such as Barzanji’s son, Yousef, who was 24 when KDP security men raided the offices of a newspaper he worked at in Irbil on July 17, 1997, and hasn’t been heard from since.

    His mother doesn’t know if he is dead or in jail. She has made seven futile trips to KDP headquarters, 100 miles away in Irbil, sometimes accompanied by 38 mothers of vanished children. She said KDP officials promised to investigate. She’s still waiting to hear from them.

    “They behave exactly like Saddam,” said Barzanji, a graceful 59-year-old. “At least Saddam used to show off his dead, boast about it! But it’s the total silence that makes it so much more difficult to bear.”

    The regional election is supposed to end the split of Kurdish administration between the KDP in Irbil and PUK in Sulaymaniyah to the east, and usher in a single Irbil-based administration. KDP officials say they may form a coalition with the PUK against Islamic and leftist groups.

    “I think it’s better to form a coalition,” said Karim Rowsch, a KDP official in Sulaymaniyah. “We went through a bitter experience in the past. This may be a guarantee that there won’t be more bloodshed.”

    They agree on the principle of being part of a federal Iraq, but also want control of the oil city of Kirkuk, something the Arabs of Iraq may resist.

    The merging of their politics makes it harder for voters to tell them apart. In the past, each group tried to play on emotions, flaunting its martyrs and heroes of the strife-ridden past.

    But voters like the grieving Barzanji, and the writer Mohammed, feel they have a lot to answer for.

    “How can such parties transform into a democratic entity and then expect us to support them?” Mohammed asked. “They have a fantastic ability to make people forget their past, even though it was dotted with murder and torture of the population. And the Kurdish people have a fantastic ability to forget.”

  • Anonymous

    Booby-trapped car explodes in Mosul as U.S. convoy passing

    http://www.spa.gov.sa/newsview.php?extend.210166

    A car bomb exploded Monday in western Mosul as an American military convoy was passing, witnesses said. First reports indicated it may have been a suicid attack.
    Capt. Angela M. Bowman, a military spokeswoman, said a coalition patrol was involved in a “complex attack,” but details were still under investigation.
    Initial reports indicated there were casualties, she said, but no immediate figures were available.
    Witnesses said U.S. forces cordoned off the area soon after the attack.
    –SPA

  • Anonymous

    http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,FL_shiite_101104,00.html

    11 October

    Associated Press

    BAGHDAD, Iraq – Followers of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr trickled in to police stations in Baghdad’s Sadr City district to hand in weapons Monday under a deal seen as a key step toward ending weeks of fighting with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the Shiite militant stronghold.

    The arms transfer came after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, during an unannounced visit to Iraq, said Iraqis must take “the seeds of security” that the U.S. military has planted and grow their political and economic system.

    “We can help, but we can’t do it. You have to do it,” Rumsfeld told senior Iraqi commanders on Sunday.

    In preparation from the turn over of the weapons, checkpoints were set up along the road to al-Nasr police station, and Iraqi National Guard members took up position on the surrounding rooftops.

    Police Maj. Kadhim Salman said fighters had turned in machine guns, TNT paste, land mines and other explosives.

    Fighters are supposed to be compensated for the weapons they turn in, but Salman said those responsible for the payments hadn’t turned up yet. So, receipts were issued instead.

    Malik Jomaa walked up to the station with a white bag containing two grenade launchers slung over his shoulder.

    “God willing, there will be no more fighting and Sadr City will live in peace,” said the 20-year-old fighter in a track suit.

    Outside the Habibiya police station, a pickup truck offloaded some 20 grenade launchers and dozens of mortar rounds, Associate Press Television News footage showed. U.S. soldiers supervised the process from a distance.

    Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army agreed over the weekend to hand in its medium and heavy weapons at three police stations in Sadr City. The arms transfer is supposed to last five days, after which Iraqi police and National Guardsmen will assume security responsibility for the teeming Shiite slum, which is home to more than 2 million people.

    In return, the government has promised to start releasing detained al-Sadr followers, provided they did not commit crimes. It has also suspended raids in the northeastern Baghdad district.

    Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari welcomed the handover Monday as a “good and positive initiative,” telling APTN that he hoped other insurgent enclaves would follow Sadr City’s example.

    Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s interim administration has committed more than $500 million to rebuilding Sadr City, scene of weeks of heavy fighting between U.S. troops and al-Sadr’s militia.

    This is not the first time Iraqi authorities have tried to make peace with Al-Sadr’s militia. A peace deal brokered after heavy fighting in the holy city of Najaf in August allowed the Mahdi Army to walk away with its weapons and clashes continued in Sadr City.

    So far, al-Sadr has not pledged to disband his militia, a key U.S. and Iraqi government demand. But American and Iraqi authorities are eager to end the clashes in the Shiite stronghold so they can concentrate on suppressing the country’s more widespread Sunni insurgency.

    Elsewhere, two U.S. soldiers from Task Force Baghdad were killed and five wounded Monday in a rocket attack in southern Baghdad, the military said.

    The names of the dead soldiers were withheld pending notification of their families, the military said.

    More than 1,000 members of the U.S. military have died since American-led forces invaded Iraq in March 2003.

    Rumsfeld traveled for 12 hours Sunday from a dusty air base in Iraq’s western desert, to the protective zone in Baghdad where the U.S. Embassy and the interim Iraqi government are preparing for January elections, to the provincial capital of Kirkuk in the north.

    He said he saw evidence that the Iraqis are on the right track. On the other hand he witnessed little to indicate they will reach their goal soon.

    “It won’t be easy and it won’t be smooth,” he told several hundred South Koreans over dinner at their new outpost on the outskirts of Irbil, west of Kirkuk, the final stop on his whirlwind tour that began Sunday.

    On Sunday morning, Rumsfeld flew unannounced to Al Asad, home of the 3rd Marine Air Wing, from Bahrain. Rumsfeld ended his day in Skopje, Macedonia, where he was meeting with government officials on Monday before heading to Romania for a NATO.

    His visit to Iraq came as car bombers struck twice in rapid succession in Baghdad Sunday, killing at least 11 people including an American soldier.

    Iraq’s most feared terror group – Tawhid and Jihad – claimed responsibility for the near-simultaneous car bombings, one near an east Baghdad police academy and the other outside an east Baghdad market as an American military convoy was passing by.

    At least 16 people were wounded.

    An American soldier was fatally injured in the convoy attack, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. One Iraqi was wounded in that attack. The Kindi Hospital said it received 10 bodies from the police academy blast, and police said 15 others were injured there.

    The dead at Kindi hospital included three police academy students and a female officer.

    In a statement posted on the Web, Tawhid and Jihad, led by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said the car bombings were carried out by its military wing and were “martyrdom” operations, meaning suicide attacks.

    Al-Zarqawi’s group also warned it would continue “to slaughter infidels” until the Americans and their Iraqi allies release all women detained in Iraq. The warning was part of a message contained in a videotape posted Sunday on the Web depicting the brutal decapitation of British hostage Kenneth Bigley.

  • Anonymous

    http://www.turkishpress.com/turkishpress/news.asp?ID=30361

    BAGHDAD, Oct 11 (AFP) – Dealers muscled in on the first day of a weapons handover in Baghdad by Shiite militiamen to Iraqi authorities on Monday, in a disarmament operation built on shaky ground rather than a major breakthrough.

    A white Chevrolet backs into the entrance of Al-Habibiya police station in the Sadr City district and the trunk flips open to reveal a cache of about two dozen rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers and another dozen shells.

    Hussein Hashim, wearing a blue baseball cap and black wrap-around shades, begins to hand them over, one by one, to police officers standing by.

    “Did you count them? They are 22,” says Hashim.

    “Yes, do you have more?” asks Lieutenant Colonel Saadun.

    Saadun tells Hashim and two other companions that they have not received the cash yet to pay them for the stash and that they can either wait or take a receipt now and come back later to collect the money.

    The Habibiya station along with two others in this teeming Baghdad slum of 2.5 million geared up from 8:00 am (0500 GMT) to receive heavy and medium-sized weapons from militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr.

    It is part of a ceasefire initiative his representatives announced Saturday in return for an amnesty and release of the movement’s prisoners. But the terms have yet to be confirmed.

    Entire roads were blocked by police, while paramilitary national guard units stood at key intersections. A US military commander shuttled with his men in armoured Humvees between the three stations to observe the process.

    It was intermediaries, not bearded militiamen, who handed over the bulk of weapons.

    “You see, our bosses sold weapons to the Mehdi Army in the first place,” says Hashim, seemingly proud that he is part of the whole scheme.

    “Now we bought them back from them and we will sell them to whoever pays the highest price, and we heard the government is paying good dollars.”

    An RPG launcher was fetching 170 dollars, while a sniper rifle was going for 640 dollars, according to a list drawn up by a committee of the interior and defence ministries and the local city council.

    They have been charged with overseeing the whole process, which is expected to last until Friday.

    Hashim says most of the weapons that were handed in were Russian-made and belonged to the once-mighty army of ousted president Saddam Hussein.

    “If this whole ceasefire falls through, we will be ready to rearm the Mehdi Army,” he says, before he is called over by one his companions to unload another stash of mortar launchers and rockets.

    And if early signs are any indication, the so-called ceasefire and disarmament initiative appears to be fraught with mistrust and misunderstanding on both sides.

    The mechanics of the deal were verbally thrashed out at a meeting Saturday between two Sadr loyalists, Iraq’s National Security Advisor Kassem Daoud and the US military’s Colonel Abe Abrams.

    The aim is to restore security and begin reconstruction in Sadr City, which has been the scene of recurring violence and fighting since Sadr launched his revolt against the US occupation in April.

    Sadr leaders said Sunday at their base in Sadr City’s Al-Hikma mosque that they expected nothing less than an immediate end to raids and arrests by US troops in the area.

    They also demand the release of all their prisoners held in US-run detention centres, estimating their number at 500.

    Although both the Iraqi government and the US military have endorsed the initiative, they have taken a wait-and-see approach given so many false starts in the past, insisting they retain the right to conduct raids.

    “There is no agreement, there is no ceasefire,” says the US battalion commander for Sadr City, Lieutenant Colonel Gary Volesky, in front of the Al-Jazayer police station, another drop-off centre.

    “The leadership (Sadr) has to get out and say that the militia has no role, and that has not been met yet,” he said.

    Back at Habibiya, an Iraqi national guard officer shares Volesky’s reticence about the deal.

    “I do not trust these people,” says Captain Abdul Rahman, a former Republican Guardsmen under Saddam. “Our country is ruined!”

    He suddenly stops as his commander pulls in.

    “I am optimistic, it is working, people will be able to live in peace again,” insists Colonel Mehdi Zayer amid the clatter of cameras.

  • Anonymous

    MUSLIM DIVIDE :
    Iraqis Fearing a Sunni Boycott of the Election

    DEXTER FILKINS | NYT | October 10

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/11/international/middleeast/11sunni.html?hp&ex=1097553600&en=
    f4b04514b50c0b5e&ei=5094&partner=homepage

    BAGHDAD- Leaders of Iraq’s crucial Sunni Arab minority say they have failed to generate any enthusiasm for nationwide elections scheduled for January, and are so fearful of insurgent violence and threats that they can meet only in private to talk about how – or even whether – to take part.

    The leaders among the Sunni Arabs, which had dominated Iraqi politics since the nation’s birth in 1920, also said in interviews here that many prospective Sunni voters were so suspicious of the American enterprise in Iraq, and so infuriated by the chaotic security situation in the Sunni-dominated areas, that they were likely to stay away from the polls in large numbers.

    Sunni participation is crucial to the election. While a Sunni boycott remains far from certain and some Sunni leaders still hold out hope for a turnaround, American officials fear that if large numbers of Sunnis do not vote, the election will be regarded as illegitimate and may even feed the insurgency that has gripped much of the country.

    While American military commanders say they intend to open up many predominantly Sunni areas now under the control of insurgents, some Sunni tribal and religious leaders say that so far the campaign appears to be having the opposite effect, alienating the people it is supposed to liberate.

    “What elections are you talking about?” said Raad Rahim Ahmed, a 50-year-old resident of Samarra, who said American soldiers killed his wife and two children when they cleared the city of insurgents last week.

    “I’ve lost my entire family,” he said. “Why should I trust this government? Why should I vote at all?”

    Although several Sunni-based political parties have taken root here, their leaders say their attempts to rally constituents are failing to resonate in the face of cynicism and violence. Many of those who want to take part in the elections say they can do so only in secret, lest they risk assassination by Sunni insurgents.

    “What we think is that people ought to vote,” said Dhari al-Samarrai, a senior leader of the Islamic Party, a largely Sunni group. “But people are telling us, we won’t take part in the elections. What is the use, with all these bombings? The big tribes, Dulaimi and Jabouri, all of them are telling us this.”

    With voter registration to begin Nov. 1, some Iraqi leaders say they are hoping that enthusiasm among the Sunnis for the elections will pick up, especially if the violence is brought under control. Some Sunni leaders predict that more of their brethren will decide to take part as it becomes more certain that the elections will not be postponed.

    But for now, the mood among tribal and religious leaders as well potential voters appears to be one of apathy. Many leaders say they are especially fearful that the Sunnis, who dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein, face an era of persecution under an American-backed alliance of Shiites and Kurds, who together make up as much as 80 percent of the population. Both groups are expected to vote in great numbers.

    Already, one of the largest independent Sunni groups, the Association of Muslim Scholars, has announced that it will not take part in the elections. The group claims to represent 3,000 Sunni mosques around the country.

    The prospect of a low turnout by Sunni Arabs is deeply troubling to Iraqi leaders and American officials, who fear that the results of an election in which they do not take part will be viewed as illegitimate and fuel the guerrilla insurgency, and not, as is hoped, bring it to end. The body to be chosen in the elections, the National Assembly, is supposed to draft Iraq’s permanent constitution.

    Without adequate Sunni representation on that body, many people fear here that the constitution may not adequately protect them.

    Some Sunni leaders, especially those who are planning to run for office, say they still expect a large turnout among the Sunni voters once they realize that they will be left behind if they do not take part. Even if they have not begun campaigning in the Sunni Triangle, the area west of Baghdad that has been a hotbed of the insurgency, these candidates say they have begun meeting with tribal leaders to persuade them to support their candidacies.

    Some of these political leaders say they place great hopes in the American-led offensive to recapture as many as two dozen cities, most of which are in the Sunni-dominated areas. Once those obstacles are removed, they say, Iraqis from even the most hostile cities, like Falluja, will step forward to run for office.

    “The Sunnis have been in power for 500 years, and for the first time that has changed,” said Saad Abdul Razak, a senior leader of the Iraqi Independent Democrats, a predominantly Sunni party. “They are afraid of losing their power, but I think through the democratic process they will realize that this is nonsense.”

    While some Sunni leaders, like those in the Association of Muslim Scholars, say free elections are not possible until the Americans leave the country, others say they may be willing to take part under certain conditions. In that case, the Sunni leaders say, their people may yet come out to vote in large numbers.

    Wamid Omar Nadhmi, the leader of the Arab Nationalist Movement, a largely Sunni political party, said that if the American military could guarantee that it would pull back to its bases during the election campaign and if the Americans offered sufficient assurances that they would refrain from interfering in the elections, then many Sunnis, including himself, might take part.

    “A lot of people want democracy here, but they are just not comfortable with elections under American supervision,” Mr. Nadhmi said. “If they don’t meet our conditions, we will call for a boycott. Otherwise, we would be accused of being puppets of America.”

    American and British commanders say that they intend to allow the Iraqi forces to take the lead role in providing security during the election campaign, but that they have no plans to withdraw completely on election day or during the campaign.

    Despite his concerns, Mr. Nadhmi has quietly begun to pull his own party together and to meet potential partners in a political coalition. Those meetings, he says, are private. Mr. Nadhmi, like many other Sunnis here, is afraid to campaign or hold public gatherings, for fear that he will become the target of insurgents.

    Yet even if many Sunni leaders decide to jump into the fray, it seems far from certain that ordinary voters will follow their lead. In the Sunni areas under the control of the Iraqi government, large numbers of Sunnis remain deeply ambivalent about the American-backed enterprise.

    In the areas recently freed from insurgents, like Samarra and Babil Province, the attitude seems to be not one of gratitude, or even ambivalence, but of anger and resignation. Such bitterness seems widespread in the Sunni Triangle. At a recent meeting in Baghdad, a tribal leader from Falluja, a town still under insurgent control, gave a grim assessment of the coming elections.

    “You will not have one office to run the elections in Falluja,” said Ismail Abdid Fayad, a tribal leader taking part in peace negotiations with the government. “People will not vote. We will not participate in the elections. We will not support imperialism.”

    Yet even Mr. Fayad acknowledged the costs of Sunni inaction, saying it could doom the Sunnis to impotence in the new Iraqi political order.

    “That’s the problem,” he said. “The Sunnis will suffer if we do not participate.”

    Yet after that moment of self-doubt, Mr. Fayad reverted to his original line. “All the revolutions in Iraq have been made by the Sunnis,” he declared. “We will make a revolution again.”

    Some Sunni leaders say one solution could be to delay the election until the violence in those areas subsides. Such a delay seems highly unlikely, given the insistence of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country’s most powerful Shiite leader, that the elections be held no later than Jan. 31. The Shiites, who make up perhaps 60 percent of the population, are the Sunnis’ mirror-image: long dispossessed and eager to vote.

    Shiite enthusiasm, coupled with Sunni apathy, spells out the quandary faced by the Iraqi government and their American benefactors. The fear of many Iraqis, like Mr. Nadhmi, is that the elections will go forward and the Sunnis will stay home, rendering the result a spur for even more conflict.

    “If the Sunnis don’t participate in the elections,” Mr. Nadhmi said, “we will weaken considerably the legitimacy of the elections and of the parliament.”

    “The elections,” he said, “will be meaningless.”

    ———————————————
    Iraqi employees of The New York Times contributed reporting from Samarra for this article.

  • Anonymous

    see political comments in “Forgetting Iraq”
    http://scoop.agonist.org/story/2004/10/10/11136/496
    (a diary post of mine taken  from the Egytian newspaper Al-Ahram.)

  • Anonymous

    http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=6468776

    11 October

    DUBAI (Reuters) – A militant Iraqi group said it had beheaded a Turkish contractor and his Iraqi translator as punishment for working with U.S. forces in Iraq, television channel Al Jazeera television said on Monday.
    The station aired scenes from a video by the Army of Ansar al-Sunna group showing the Turk standing between two masked militants. Al Jazeera said the group killed the two men after they “confessed” to have cooperated with U.S. forces.

    The television said they would not air the beheading video, which it said it had obtained from a Web site, because it was too gruesome.

  • Anonymous

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/iraq/bal-te.mortar11oct11,1,5285719.story?coll=bal-home
    -headlines

    Long an Iraqi target, no U.S. help in sight

    Base: Complaints by soldiers under daily fire contrast sharply with White House and Pentagon statements.

    Since May, Brig. Gen. Oscar B. Hilman, commander of the 81st Brigade Combat Team, a National Guard unit from Washington state that operates the base, has requested 500 to 700 more soldiers. But he said the request has been denied.

    “Because the enemy is persistent, we need additional forces. We asked twice,” said Hilman, who arrived here in April for a yearlong stint. But Hilman said he was told that “there are no additional forces,” and that U.S. soldiers are needed elsewhere, particularly to battle insurgents and cover a large area to the north that includes the rebellious cities of Tikrit and Samarra.

    The 81st Brigade’s top enlisted man, Sgt. Maj. Robert Barr, said the soldiers here are frustrated, and that he often hears the same question: “Why aren’t we stopping it or killing their guys who are doing it?”

    Their complaints contrast sharply with statements by President Bush and top Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who say U.S. troop strength is sufficient but that more soldiers will be sent if senior commanders ask.

  • Anonymous

    Coalition to Cease Rebel Attacks During U.S. Election
    By Mark Sage, PA News, in New York

    Coalition attacks on rebel-held cities in Iraq will be suspended until after the US presidential election, it was reported today.

    Large-scale assaults on cities such as Ramadi or Fallujah will be put on hold for fear that large numbers of US troops could be killed or injured, Government officials told the Los Angeles Times.

    “When this election’s over, you’ll see us move very vigorously,” one senior administration official was quoted as saying.

    “Once you’re past the election, it changes the political ramifications.” But the White House insisted that decisions on military operations would be left to commanders in Iraq.

    A Pentagon official added that recent air strikes within the so-called Sunni Triangle were more effective than expected, meaning troop engagements could wait.

    “We see no need to rush headlong with hundreds of tanks into Fallujah right now,” the official said.

    The developments come with just three weeks to go until what is set to be a very tight election between President Bush and his Democratic challenger John Kerry. The election will take place on November 2.

    A tracking poll, for the Washington Post, showed today that Mr Bush had the support of 51% of likely voters and Senator Kerry 46%.

    Mr Bush has held an advantage since his Republican Convention last month, but Mr Kerry has closed the gap in recent weeks.

    The battle for the White House has already become dirty, with so called television “attack-ads” being unveiled by by both sides.

    In their latest planned commercial, Republicans will seize on comments by Senator Kerry over the weekend that terrorists are a “nuisance”.

    In the New York Times magazine, the Massachusetts Senator said: “We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance.”

    Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot responded: “Quite frankly, I just don’t think he has the right view of the world. It’s a pre-9/11 view of the world.”

    But Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer accused the Republicans of misrepresenting the Democrat.

    “This is yet another example of the Bush campaign taking John Kerry’s words out of context, and then blowing it up into something that is nothing,” he said.

    “John Kerry has always said that terrorism is the number one threat to the US.”

    Senator Kerry’s comments are likely to become a focus of attention at the third and final televised presidential debate, which will take place in Arizona early on Thursday.

  • Anonymous

    Baghdad | Oct 12

    AP
     TWO Lebanese who were abducted by Iraqi militants have recounted their ordeal, which included beatings, threats of death and in one case being forced to watch another hostage beheaded “as if he were a bird”.

    Mohammed Raad, 27, and Antoine Antoun, 29, were kidnapped separately and released after intervention by a Muslim clerical organisation.

    They told their stories on al-Arabiya television, offering insights into the wave of kidnappings in Iraq.

    Mr Raad, a truck driver, was seized on August 2 from a hotel room in Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad. He said three men grabbed him in his room, sprayed something into his mouth to prevent him from screaming, bundled him into a car and drove him to Fallujah.

    He was denied food and water for six days and accused of working for the Americans, which he denied.

    After almost a week, Mr Raad said he was seized by another armed group, which captured him after a brief gun battle. This group, the Islamic Movement for Iraq’s Mujaheddin, drove him to Samarra north of Baghdad.

    “All they talked about was how they were going to kidnap someone, throw explosive devices on the roads and how they were going to slaughter people,” Mr Raad said.

    As US forces stepped up pressure on insurgents in Samarra, Mr Raad was moved again, this time to Trabil on the border with Jordan.

    “They took me into a room full of blood,” he said. “Blood was sticking on the floor. I saw a man sharpening a knife with a stone. They told me they will show me something which is a warning to every Lebanese and Arab not to work with the Americans.”

    Soon afterward, the guards brought an Egyptian man – Mohammed Fawzi Abdul Mutwalli – into the room.

    “They chopped his head with ease, in cold blood, as if he were a bird,” Mr Raad said as tears welled in his eyes. “I will never forget that scene and the smell of blood.”

    Mr Raad said his kidnappers never demanded money. He was released at the end of August with the intervention of the Association of Muslim Scholars, an influential Sunni Muslim group believed to have links to the insurgents.

    The second hostage, Mr Antoun, was kidnapped by the Islamic Army in Iraq, the same militant group that claimed responsibility for abducting two French hostages – Christian Chesnot, 37, and George Malbrunot, 41 – who disappeared on August 20.

    Mr Antoun, who owns a dairy products plant, was kidnapped on July 31 by about 25 armed men from an apartment near his factory in Youssifiyah. The kidnappers were disguised as police and overpowered his five Iraqi security guards.

    He was beaten on his head and face, stuffed into the trunk of a car and driven to an unknown location where he was held – most of the time blindfolded and chained – in a shed used by farm animals. His kidnappers accused him of being a spy for the Americans.

    After 12 days, Mr Antoun was taken to an unpaved road, given 5000 Iraqi dinars ($4.13) and told to follow the road to Fallujah.

    He said yesterday he was willing to return to Iraq — but no time soon. “Your life could be saved only once,” he said.

  • Anonymous

    surprised so few here and in news media have commented on this incremental significant positive development…

  • Anonymous

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=540&ncid=540&e=5&u=/ap/20041011/ap_o
    n_re_mi_ea/israel_terrorism

    Think Tank: Iraq War Distracted U.S.

    2 hours, 42 minutes ago   Middle East – AP

    By MARK LAVIE, Associated Press Writer

    TEL AVIV, Israel – The war in Iraq (news – web sites) did not damage international terror groups, but instead distracted the United States from confronting other hotbeds of Islamic militancy and actually “created momentum” for many terrorists, a top Israeli security think tank said in a report released Monday.

    President Bush has called the war in Iraq an integral part of the war on terrorism, saying that deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein hoped to develop unconventional weapons and could have given them to Islamic militants across the world.

    But the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University said that instead of striking a blow against Islamic extremists, the Iraq war “has created momentum for many terrorist elements, but chiefly al-Qaida and its affiliates.”

    Jaffee Center director Shai Feldman said the vast amount of money and effort the United States has poured into Iraq has deflected attention and assets from other centers of terrorism, such as Afghanistan.

    The concentration of U.S. intelligence assets in Iraq “has to be at the expense of being able to follow strategic dangers in other parts of the world,” he said.

    Shlomo Brom, a retired Israeli army general, said the U.S.-led effort was strategically misdirected. If the goal in the war against terrorism is “not just to kill the mosquitos but to dry the swamp,” he said, “now it’s quite clear” that Iraq “is not the swamp.”

    Instead, he said, the Iraq campaign is having the opposite effect, drawing Islamic extremists from other parts of the world to join the battle.

    “On a strategic level as well as an operational level,” Brom concluded, “the war in Iraq is hurting the war on international terrorism.”

  • Anonymous

    http://www.turkishpress.com/turkishpress/news.asp?ID=30361

    Militia weapons handover in Baghdad starts on shaky ground

    BAGHDAD, Oct 11 (AFP) – Dealers muscled in on the first day of a weapons handover in Baghdad by Shiite militiamen to Iraqi authorities on Monday, in a disarmament operation built on shaky ground rather than a major breakthrough.

    A white Chevrolet backs into the entrance of Al-Habibiya police station in the Sadr City district and the trunk flips open to reveal a cache of about two dozen rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers and another dozen shells.

    Hussein Hashim, wearing a blue baseball cap and black wrap-around shades, begins to hand them over, one by one, to police officers standing by.

    “Did you count them? They are 22,” says Hashim.

    “Yes, do you have more?” asks Lieutenant Colonel Saadun.

    Saadun tells Hashim and two other companions that they have not received the cash yet to pay them for the stash and that they can either wait or take a receipt now and come back later to collect the money.

    The Habibiya station along with two others in this teeming Baghdad slum of 2.5 million geared up from 8:00 am (0500 GMT) to receive heavy and medium-sized weapons from militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr.

    It is part of a ceasefire initiative his representatives announced Saturday in return for an amnesty and release of the movement’s prisoners. But the terms have yet to be confirmed.

    Entire roads were blocked by police, while paramilitary national guard units stood at key intersections. A US military commander shuttled with his men in armoured Humvees between the three stations to observe the process.

    It was intermediaries, not bearded militiamen, who handed over the bulk of weapons.

    “You see, our bosses sold weapons to the Mehdi Army in the first place,” says Hashim, seemingly proud that he is part of the whole scheme.

    “Now we bought them back from them and we will sell them to whoever pays the highest price, and we heard the government is paying good dollars.”

    An RPG launcher was fetching 170 dollars, while a sniper rifle was going for 640 dollars, according to a list drawn up by a committee of the interior and defence ministries and the local city council.

    They have been charged with overseeing the whole process, which is expected to last until Friday.

    Hashim says most of the weapons that were handed in were Russian-made and belonged to the once-mighty army of ousted president Saddam Hussein.

    “If this whole ceasefire falls through, we will be ready to rearm the Mehdi Army,” he says, before he is called over by one his companions to unload another stash of mortar launchers and rockets.

    And if early signs are any indication, the so-called ceasefire and disarmament initiative appears to be fraught with mistrust and misunderstanding on both sides.

    The mechanics of the deal were verbally thrashed out at a meeting Saturday between two Sadr loyalists, Iraq’s National Security Advisor Kassem Daoud and the US military’s Colonel Abe Abrams.

    The aim is to restore security and begin reconstruction in Sadr City, which has been the scene of recurring violence and fighting since Sadr launched his revolt against the US occupation in April.

    Sadr leaders said Sunday at their base in Sadr City’s Al-Hikma mosque that they expected nothing less than an immediate end to raids and arrests by US troops in the area.

    They also demand the release of all their prisoners held in US-run detention centres, estimating their number at 500.

    Although both the Iraqi government and the US military have endorsed the initiative, they have taken a wait-and-see approach given so many false starts in the past, insisting they retain the right to conduct raids.

    “There is no agreement, there is no ceasefire,” says the US battalion commander for Sadr City, Lieutenant Colonel Gary Volesky, in front of the Al-Jazayer police station, another drop-off centre.

    “The leadership (Sadr) has to get out and say that the militia has no role, and that has not been met yet,” he said.

    Back at Habibiya, an Iraqi national guard officer shares Volesky’s reticence about the deal.

    “I do not trust these people,” says Captain Abdul Rahman, a former Republican Guardsmen under Saddam. “Our country is ruined!”

    He suddenly stops as his commander pulls in.

    “I am optimistic, it is working, people will be able to live in peace again,” insists Colonel Mehdi Zayer amid the clatter of cameras.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think it can be deleted.
    One of the editors might be able to sort it out.

  • Anonymous

    Is that the sound of excrement hitting whirling blades I hear?

  • Anonymous

    A report here
    indicating that Aziz died whilst “in custody”…had a stroke on his way to the bog?

    Saddam’s right-hand man dies
    From correspondents in Dubai
    October 9, 2004

    TARIQ AZIZ, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister under Saddam Hussein, has died in custody, Al-Arabiya television said today, quoting sources in the International Committee of the Red Cross in Iraq.

  • Anonymous

    some mighty fine sources, left and right, involved in this one:

    Confusion over ousted Iraqi deputy PM Tariq Aziz’s Death
    Pakistan Times, Pakistan – Oct 10, 2004
    BAGHDAD (Iraq): An Arab TV channel has claimed that the former Iraqi deputy prime minister and former foreign minister Tariq Aziz has died under US custody …
    http://pakistantimes.net/2004/10/10/top5.htm
    US denies Tariq Aziz death reports Al-Jazeera
    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/7FDA4087-1836-4B61-9F28-5FEDA1F940BB.htm
    US military says Iraq’s Tariq Aziz still alive, amid earlier … Khaleej Times
    http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/focusoniraq/2004/October/focusoniraq_Octob
    er95.xml&section=focusoniraq
    Tariq Aziz’ family says he’s alive Washington Times
    http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20041009-104731-5694r.htm
    The Statesman – New Kerala – all 43 related »
    http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&ie=UTF-8&ncl=http://pakistantimes.net/2004/10/1
    0/top5.htm

    Tariq Aziz death rumors may be part of trial deal
    KurdishMedia, UK – Oct 10, 2004
    … October 2004: According to Iraqi sources, the recently reported and subsequently refuted rumors of the death of former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz may be …  
    http://www.kurdmedia.com/news.asp?id=5577

  • Anonymous

    ….Everyone involved in this mess, including Arab journalists, needs to write as accurately as possible because “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth ever gets its boots on.”….

    Posted by Christopher at May 5, 2004 11:35 AM

    http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000762.php#000762

  • Anonymous

    I am surprised that AlSadr is keeping his word.  Maybe the carrot and stick approach worked.  Maybe now some reconstruction money can be spent in Sard City.

    Mad Dog

  • Anonymous

    Reuters|October 11|Irwin Arieff

    Equipment and materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons are disappearing from Iraq (news – web sites) but neither Baghdad nor Washington appears to have noticed, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported on Monday.

    Satellite imagery shows that entire buildings in Iraq have been dismantled. They once housed high-precision equipment that could help a government or terror group make nuclear bombs, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report to the U.N. Security Council.

    Equipment and materials helpful in making bombs also have been removed from open storage areas in Iraq and disappeared without a trace, according to the satellite pictures, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said.

    While some military goods that disappeared from Iraq after the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion, including missile engines, later turned up in scrap yards in the Middle East and Europe, none of the equipment or material known to the IAEA as potentially useful in making nuclear bombs has turned up yet, ElBaradei said.

    The equipment — including high-precision milling and turning machines and electron-beam welders — and materials — such as high-strength aluminum — were tagged by the IAEA years ago, as part of the watchdog agency’s shutdown of Iraq’s nuclear program. U.N. inspectors then monitored the sites until their evacuation from Iraq just before the war.

    The United States barred the inspectors’ return after the war, preventing the IAEA from keeping tabs on the equipment and materials up to the present day.

    Under anti-proliferation agreements, the U.S. occupation authorities who administered Iraq until June, and then the Iraqi interim government that took power at the end of June, would have to inform the IAEA if they moved or exported any of that material or equipment.

    But no such reports have been received since the invasion, officials of the watchdog agency said.

    The United States also has not publicly commented on earlier U.N. inspectors’ reports disclosing the dismantling of a range of key weapons-making sites, raising the question of whether it was unable to monitor the sites.

    ‘WE SIMPLY DON’T KNOW’

    In the absence of any U.S. or Iraqi accounting, council diplomats said the satellite images could mean the gear had been moved to new sites inside Iraq or stolen. If stolen, it could end up in the hands of a government or terrorist group seeking nuclear weapons.

    “We simply don’t know, although we are trying to get the information,” said one council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    U.S. officials had no immediate comment on the report.

    President Bush (news – web sites), locked in a tough reelection battle with Senator John Kerry (news – web sites) of Massachusetts, justified the war, in part, by saying that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (news – web sites) was on the brink of developing a nuclear bomb that he might use against the United States or give to terrorists.

    Both men agreed during a Sept. 30 debate that nuclear proliferation is the most serious threat facing the United States.

    A new CIA (news – web sites) report last week by chief U.S. weapons investigator Charles Duelfer made clear, however, that Saddam had all but given up on his nuclear program after the first Gulf War (news – web sites) in 1991.

    ElBaradei, whose agency dismantled Iraq’s nuclear arms program over a decade ago, drew similar conclusions to the Duelfer report well before the March 2003 invasion

  • Anonymous

    How when they get there to exchange their weapons for cash – there is no cash.
    Not a very good way of trying to build an atmosphere of trust IMHO

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