Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Former Deputy Ambassador to Mongolia, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, Ann Wright; seated left to right, peace activist Cindy Sheehan; Iraq War veteran, former Army Sgt. Geoffrey Millard; and Franciscan Friar Louis Vitale, eat their last meal before beginning the fast at midnight to end the Iraq War, in front of the White House, Monday, July 3, 2006, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) Security Incidents Mercenary from Fairbanks, Alaska killed in Sadr City. According to his sister, Gordy Cook "was shot and killed Sunday in Sadr City outside [sic] Baghdad, Iraq. He was 36 years old. At the time of his death, Heidi said her brother was working as a civilian with a security contracting company. Although he recently was working in a civilian capacity, Heidi said her brother's life revolved around the military. He enlisted with the Marines after high school graduation . . . .He also spent time in the Air Force and Army receiving special operations training." Deputy Electricity Minister and 19 bodyguards kidnapped in eastern Baghdad. Raad al-Hareth, and his bodyguards were travelling in four cars when they were ambushed by gunmen dressed in security force uniforms in the eastern Baghdad neighbourhood of Talbiyah, a security official said, according to AFP. U.S. military says U.S. and Iraqi troops killed 7 in 2 gunfights in Adhamiya. Reuters also has:

In an update, KUNA reports AMS member has died, identifies him as Sheikh Mohammad Al-Jimaili. This appears to refer to the same incident as immediately above.. One civilian killed, two injured when missile hits checkpoint in Irbil. KUNA also reports: U.S. says it kills man near village of Mudaysis in Anbar, "suspected" of involvement in the Sadr City bombing on Saturday. AFP also reports: Juan Cole provides synopsis in English of reports from Al-Zaman. (As we try to remind people frequently, the reports you read from any one source are highly incomplete, particularly without access to Arabic language media. These items are apparently a day old (they included the attack on the brothel we reported yesterday), but he just posted them today, and they are new to us. -- C.) Political News and Other Developments Iraqi government asks assistance of Mahdi Army in winning freedom for kidnapped parliament member Tayseer al-Mashhadani. Excerpt:
Joshua Partlow, Washington Post. 07-04) 04:00 PDT Baghdad [snip]Sunni legislators did not accuse the Mahdi Army of kidnapping al-Mashhadani, but suggested it might be aware of what happened. "In the area where she was kidnapped, the Mahdi Army has virtual control," said Jubouri, a member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, as is al-Mashhadani. "And we think that the hideout in which she is being kept is not too far from that area." At the request of Sunni leaders, Iraq's interior minister asked al-Sadr's organization for help finding al-Mashhadani and "they promised that they will do their best," said an Interior Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Al-Mashhadani was kidnapped along with seven of her bodyguards when her convoy was stopped by gunmen in Baghdad's northeastern Shaab neighborhood. Though kidnappings are a daily occurrence in Iraq, this one has become a divisive and disruptive issue for the legislature. The Iraqi parliament held its session Monday without the 44 members of the Sunni Accord Front, who boycotted the meeting. Sunni legislators said they planned to withdraw four Cabinet ministers starting today and to call on the United Nations to intervene, unless al-Mashhadani was released. A spokesman for al-Sadr, Abdul Daragi, denied that the Mahdi Army had kidnapped al-Mashhadani and declined to comment on any discussions with the government.
Read in Full Iraqi Justice Minister demands UN oversight of rape-murder prosecution. Excerpt:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq's justice minister demanded Tuesday that the U.N. Security Council ensure that a group of U.S. troops are punished in the alleged rape and murder of a young Iraqi and the killing of her family, calling the attack "monstrous and inhuman." Two female legislators also called for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to be summoned to parliament to give assurances the U.S. soldiers would be punished for the March 12 attack on the family in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad. [snip] The Mahmoudiya attack was among the worst in a series of cases of U.S. troops accused of killing and abusing Iraqi civilians. Iraq's largest newspaper, Azzaman, said in an editorial Tuesday the rape "summarizes what has been going in Iraq for the past years not only by the American occupation army, but also by some Iraqi groups." Former Pfc. Steven D. Green appeared in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday to face murder and rape charges. At least four other U.S. soldiers still in Iraq are under investigation, and the military has stressed it taking the allegations seriously. "If this act actually happened, it constitutes an ugly and unethical crime, monstrous and inhuman," said Justice Minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli al-Shebli, a Sunni Arab. "The Iraqi judiciary should be informed about this investigation which should be conducted under supervision of international and human organizations. Those involved should face justice." "The ugliness of this crime demands a swift intervention of the U.N. Security Council to stop these violations of human rights and to condemn them so that they will not happen again," he added. The two lawmakers, Safiya al-Suhail and Ayda al-Sharif, said condemnation was not enough. "We demand severe punishment for the five soldiers involved," al-Sharif said. "Denouncements are not enough. If this act has taken place in another country, the world would have turned upside down." Al-Suhail said al-Maliki should appear before parliament "to make sure investigations are taking place." Mahmoudiya Mayor Mouayad Fadhil said Iraqi authorities have started their own investigation and that he had asked the hospital where the victims were taken for more details. According to a federal affidavit, Green and three other soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division had talked about raping the young woman, whom they first saw while working at a traffic checkpoint near her home. On the day of the attack, the document said, Green and other soldiers drank alcohol and changed out of their uniforms to avoid detection before going to the woman's house. Green used a brown T-shirt to cover his face. Once there, the affidavit said, Green took three members of the family - a man and a woman and a girl estimated to be 5 years old - into a bedroom. Shots were heard. Green allegedly shot the woman in the head after he and another soldier raped her, the affidavit said. Green was honorably discharged from the Army because of a "personality disorder" before the attack came to light, the affidavit said. He is being prosecuted in federal, rather than military court because he is no longer in the Army. Iraqi authorities identified the rape victim as Abeer Qassim Hamza. The other victims were her father, Qassim Hamza, her mother, Fikhriya Taha, and her sister, Hadeel Qassim Hamza. The affidavit estimated the rape victim was about 25. But a doctor at the Mahmoudiya hospital gave her age as 14. He refused to be identified for fear of reprisals. Mahdi Obeid, a neighbor, said that on March 12, he saw fire coming from the house. He rushed over to find Abeer's body on fire. He extinguished the flames and saw bullets in her head and chest. "It was a horrible scene," he said. "If I could go back in time, I would have not dared enter the house. I cannot wipe those barbaric scenes from my memory." An insurgent group, the Mujahedeen Army, distributed an account of the incident on an Islamist Web site. It appeared the report, which generally corresponded with details already made public, was designed to draw attention to the deaths and stir up hostility against the U.S. military. The Azzaman newspaper expressed skepticism the soldiers would be severely punished. "The U.S. Army will conduct an investigation and the result at best is already known. One or two U.S. soldiers will receive a 'touristic punishment' and the whole crime will be forgotten as it happened with Abu Ghraib criminals," the newspaper said, referring to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. guards at a prison in west Baghdad. ---Associated Press reporters Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Bushra Juhi and Qais al-Bashir contributed to this report from Baghdad.
Read in Full Chairman of JCS Peter Pace promises to "get to the bottom of it." Mahmoud Ahmedinejad plans visit to Iraq, first by an Iranian leader since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Tony Blair, in testy meeting with Parliament, says significant troop withdrawals are possible, but he makes no promises. Excerpt:
Matthew Tempest, political correspondent, The Guardian. Tuesday July 4, 2006 Significant numbers of British troops could leave Iraq within 18 months, Tony Blair said today, as he faced a two-hour grilling by MPs. In a combative performance defending Britisih involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the prime minister also dismissed as "nonsense" reports that the UK's mission in Afghanistan was confused - and personally promised he would "make sure" the armed forces got any further equipment or manpower they demanded. He also demanded an early response from Iran over the US proposals on its nuclear power programme. Mr Blair got into an angry exchange with Conservative MP Edward Leigh over the civilian death toll in Iraq, and insisted he had met British soldiers to hear their views on the conflict. But he confessed he did not meet many "ordinary Iraqis". Quizzed by MPs from the 31 specialist select committees at the twice-yearly liaison committee on a departure date from Iraq, Mr Blair suggested major withdrawals by 2008. But he admitted this would not be a total withdrawal. He told MPs, that UK forces would remain in Iraq as long as the government there wished them to . . .
Read in Full Iraqi Foreign Minister meets with Turkish leaders in Ankara, asks for help. Excerpt:
Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, currently in Ankara for an official visit, yesterday met separately with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss a number of issues, including bilateral relations. During his meeting with Erdogan, Zebari said that Iraq needed Ankara's leadership to end the Sunni-Shiite conflict and said that he appreciated the contributions of the Turkish government towards solving the issue up to now. Saying that he placed importance on the role of Erdogan in the alliance of civilizations, Zebari added that Iraq needed Turkey on all issues, including security. He further lamented that some regional countries were intervening in Iraq's internal affairs. Erdogan said that solidarity between all groups in Iraq was crucial for stability in the country. Later, Zebari met with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to discuss the terrorist PKK. Speaking at a joint press conference afterwards, Zebari said, "We're trying to control our borders.
Read in Full. Beyond Iraq NYT reports that CIA closed unit pursuing bin Laden 1 year ago. Rationale is that global Jihad movement is not hierarchical or centralized, bin Laden personally is no longer a major threat. Quote of the Day [King George] has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation: For quatering large bodies of armed men among us; For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states; ... For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury; ... For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our government. . . . He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the work of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the head of a civilized nation . . . . A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. -- Thomas Jefferson


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