Friday, October 06, 2006
DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2006
PHOTO: A father weeps as he holds the body of his three-year old son Kerar Sadiq in Baqouba hospital yard, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 6, 2006. The boy was killed in a random shooting in front of a family home in Khan Bani Saad village outside Baqouba Thursday. (AP Photo/Mohammed Adnan)
Security Incidents for October 6, 2006
A Kurdish lawmaker was kidnapped in Baghdad and later found dead, a spokesman for the Kurdish bloc in parliament said Friday. Mohammed Ridha Mahmoud, was kidnapped with his driver Thursday afternoon in the northeastern Baghdad neighborhood of Seleikh, said Firyad Rawndouzi, spokesman for the Kurdish bloc. Mahmoud's Jamat Islamia has four seats of the Kurdish bloc's 53 in parliament. Hours after the kidnapping, both bodies were found shot in the head and chest, Rawndouzi said.
Baghdad police collected 35 corpses over a period of 24 hours, they have said, mostly in the Sunni western half of the city, on an otherwise relatively peaceful day. The bodies -- which were found bwteen 6.00 am (0300 GMT) Thursday and 6.00 am Friday -- bore the tell tale markings of Baghdad's grim sectarian war with signs of torture and bullet wounds to the head.
A bomb attack killed one person and injured four others in northeastern Baghdad Friday. Among those injured in the blast were two firefighters who had rushed to the scene of another bombing 10 minutes earlier, police Lt. Bilal Ali said. Nobody was injured in the first explosion, which set a power generator ablaze in Baghdad's Qahira district.
While later in the day another mortar fell near Shorja market close to the Tigris river. Otherwise, there were no reports of the car bomb and booby-trap attacks that are tearing the capital city apart.
In a predominantly Shiite part of eastern Baghdad, police found the bodies of five men in their 30s, apparently victims of sectarian death squads. All five had been shot, had their hands and feet bound and showed signs of torture, police Maj. Maher Mousa said.
Iraqi security forces fired on a suicide car bomber Thursday evening, forcing him to detonate before he reached a checkpoint in the Abu Ghraib section of Baghdad, Iraqi emergency police said. Despite the intervention, the explosion killed a woman and wounded seven others, including an Iraqi soldier, police said.
NOTE: A BIG THANKS TO WHISKER FOR PUTTING TOGETHER THE SECURITY INCIDENTS IN IRAQ AND FORWARDING THEM TO ME.
More than 200 wanted suspects were arrested by the Iraqi army in a large operation against insurgents last week in Diyala province and were put on display in Baquba. Diyala is a volatile, ethnically-mixed area northeast of the capital that has seen some of the worst violence over recent months. Soundbite, Commander of the 5th division of the Iraqi army (Arabic): “We have arrested 251 wanted terrorists from a number of networks including Ansar al-Sunna group, Jamaat al Tawheed wa al Jihad, the 20th Revolution Brigades and a number of Saddam’s followers and militiamen,”
When she heard the news, Um Ahmed raced out into Palestine Street, screaming at the top of her voice and hitting herself frenziedly. "Allahu Akbar (God is Great), I want my girl - she is young and innocent," she cried hysterically, asking every passer-by if they knew anything about the whereabouts of her daughter - a 23-year-old ministry of culture employee, abducted on her way to work. The abduction of women and children has become a lucrative business for gangs in many parts of Iraq and particularly in Baghdad. Women are so fearful of being kidnapped that they rarely go out alone, and hire taxis to go to work. The victims are normally from wealthy families, but kidnapping is so widespread that even ordinary families cannot feel safe. Women and children are easy prey because, unlike many men in Iraq these days, they usually do not carry guns; and families respond very quickly to ransom demands for women because they are deeply concerned about their reputation. Shakir Juma'a, 35, a car dealer in Baghdad, immediately paid 30,000 US dollars for his kidnapped teenager daughter who was released unharmed a day later. Reliable data about the number of women kidnappings is hard to obtain. A source in the ministry of women's affairs, on condition of anonymity, said that they have no figures and that the ministry of interior declined to pass such data on to them. NGOs have come up with figures but they are hard to verify. For instance, Yanar Mohammed, head of the Women's Freedom Organisation, claimed in a press conference last month that about 2,000 women have been kidnapped in Iraq over the last three years. Some suggest that this is a rather conservative estimate. A police lieutenant colonel, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, said most cases go unreported because families prefer direct negotiation with kidnappers to lessen the risk of their abducted loved ones being harmed. But families also refrain from contacting law enforcers out of suspicion of links between the latter and the kidnap gangs. Indeed, people who’ve witnessed abductions speak of victims being taken away by men in police uniforms and driving police cars. These concerns are further fueled by the fact that few kidnappers are ever caught.
About 4,000 Iraqi police have been killed and more than 8,000 injured since September 2004, the U.S. commander in charge of the police training said Friday. Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson also said that it is hard to tell how many militia members have infiltrated the police forces, but said Iraqi officials are trying to weed them out. "I have no idea what the number is,"said Peterson, commander of the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team in Iraq."Certainly if we ask the question, they won't respond that they are associated with any militia. ... It's something we continue to look for. We do ask the question." Noting the more than 12,000 police casualties, he said there are many police who are loyal to the country and"they've paid a great price." Iraqi authorities on Wednesday pulled a brigade of about 700 policemen out of service in their biggest move ever to uproot troops linked to death squads. The brigade is suspected of allowing gunmen to kidnap 24 workers from a frozen food factory in a district of Baghdad where the Shiite Mahdi Army militia is known to have considerable power. Peterson said he believes the matter, which included the deaths of seven workers, was"an isolated incident."
Two blasts in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad kills 2 and wounds 38. A bomb exploded near a large crowd of labourers gathering to look for work in Baghdad early on Thursday (October 5), wounding 30, police said. The explosion happened at Tayaran Square in the Bab Sharqi area where a group of men were waiting for daily work, police said. In a separate incident, a car bomb exploded in a Shi’ite neighbourhood, northeast of the capital, killing two civilians and wounding eight others, police said. Soundbite, Saad, eyewitness, saying (Arabic): “They (workers) came from all the provinces to work. What did he (the man who placed the bomb) gain when he put a bomb here and hurt three or four? What do we call such an act ? Is not it an act of a coward? It is not an act of honest man. What did those innocent and poor people do.” Soundbite, Ali, policeman, saying (Arabic) “A car bomb exploded in our area, but God willing we will pass this ordeal”
Iraq’s school and university system is in danger of collapse in large areas of the country as pupils and teachers take flight in the face of threats of violence. Professors and parents have told the Guardian they no longer feel safe to attend their educational institutions. In some schools and colleges, up to half the staff have fled abroad, resigned or applied to go on prolonged vacation, and class sizes have also dropped by up to half in the areas that are the worst affected. Professionals in higher education, particularly those teaching the sciences and in health, have been targeted for assassination. Universities from Basra in the south to Kirkuk and Mosul in the north have been infiltrated by militia organizations, while the same militias from Islamic organizations regularly intimidate female students at the school and university gates for failing to wear the hijab. Women teachers too have been ordered by their ministry to adopt Islamic codes of clothing and behaviour. “The militias from all sides are in the universities. Classes are not happening because of the chaos, and colleagues are fleeing if they can,” said Professor Saad Jawad, a lecturer in political science at Baghdad University. “The whole situation is becoming completely unbearable. I decided to stay where many other professors have left. But I think it will reach the point where I will have to decide. “A large number have simply left the country, while others have applied to go on prolonged sick leave. We are using recently graduated MA and PhD students to fill in the gaps.” “What has been happening with the murders of professors involved in the sciences is that a lot of those involved medicine, biology, maths have fled,” says Wadh Nadhmi, who also teaches politics in Baghdad. “The people who have got the money are sending their children abroad to study. A lot – my daughter is one of them – are deciding to finish their higher education in Egypt.” It is not only in Baghdad that the universities are beginning to suffer from the security situation. In Mosul, too, professors complain of a system now approaching utter disarray. Mohammed U a 60-year-old science professor, who asked for his full name not to be disclosed, spoke to the Guardian after returning from the funeral of a colleague, a law professor and head of the law faculty, who died in an explosion. “Education here is a complete shambles. Professors are leaving, and the situation – the closed roads and bridges – means that both students and teachers find it difficult to get in for classes. In some departments in my institute attendance is down to a third. In others we have instances of no students turning up at all. “Students are really struggling. To get them through at all, we have had to lower academic levels. We have to go easy on them. The whole system is becoming rapidly degraded.” The situation is reflected in many of Iraq’s schools. “Education in my area is collapsing,” said a teacher from a high school in Amariyah, who quit four months ago. “Children can’t get to school because of road blocks. The parents of others have simply withdrawn them from the school because of the fear of kidnapping (a rampant problem with the widespread criminal gangs).
A recent spike in attacks on women has forced many in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to retreat into their homes or resort to armed escort by relatives and tribal guards. In recent weeks, Mosul residents have witnessed an unprecedented rise in the number of female corpses found throughout the city. Alaa al-Badrani said her friend, a school principal, was kidnapped from her home in the Bakr district of the city by an armed gang. Her body was found with her throat slit in a construction site in the same district. Neighbours, who asked not to be named, told Aljazeera that the school principal had received threats on September 20 and was asked to pay “protection money”. One neighbour said: “But they didn’t wait more than two hours before taking her. “She was an outstanding woman and very religious so we do not know why this happened to her.”
Toxic water in the Tigris river killed thousands of fish and birds in Iraq’s Salahudin province, local police told Xinhua on Wednesday. Residents of Beiji town, 200 km north of Baghdad, said they saw a large number of dead fish floating on the Tigris and hundreds of birds dead for unknown reason since early in the morning, the source said. “Police stations all over the province reported that an unknown toxic water could be the reason behind the death of the fish and the birds,” he said, adding that police vehicles called on the people of Beiji by loudspeakers to stop using the water until further notice. Samples of the river water have been sent for test to the provincial capital of Tikrit, some 175 km north of Baghdad, and other samples have been sent to local health laboratories to assure the existing and the kind of poison, he said. The provincial water directorate, which produces drinking water for people in this area, ordered all its projects to suspend working and wait for the tests’ results, the source added. The Tigris flows through Iraq and penetrates eight Iraqi provinces, including Baghdad, before joining Euphrates to form Shatt al-Arab. The river’s water is a main source for drinking water supplies for millions of Iraqis.
Doug Rokke, U.S. Army contractor who headed a clean-up of depleted uranium after the first Gulf War states: “Depleted uranium is a crime against God and humanity.” Rokke’s own crew, a hundred employees, was devastated by exposure to the fine dust. He stated: “When we went to the Gulf, we were all really healthy.” After performing clean-up operations in the desert (mistakenly without protective gear), 30 members of his staff died, and most others, “including Rokke himself”, developed serious health problems. Rokke now has reactive airway disease, neurological damage, cataracts, and kidney problems. “We warned the Department of Defense in 1991 after the Gulf War. Their arrogance is beyond comprehension. Yet the D.O.D still insists such ingestion is “not sufficient to make troops seriously ill in most cases.” Then why did it make the clean up crew seriously or terminally ill in nearly all cases?
Doctors in southern Iraq are making comparisons to the birth defects that followed the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII. They have numerous photos of infants born without brains, with their internal organs outside their bodies, without sexual organs, without spines, and the list of deformities goes on an on. Such birth defects were extremely rare in Iraq prior to the large scale use of DU. Weapons. Now they are commonplace. In hospitals across Iraq, the mothers are no longer asking, “Doctor, is it a boy or girl?” but rather, “Doctor, is it normal?” The photos are horrendous. Ross B. Mirkarimi, a spokesman at The Arms Control Research Centre stated: “Unborn children of the region are being asked to pay the highest price, the integrity of their DNA.” Prior to her death from leukemia in Sept. 2004, Nuha Al Radi , an accomplished Iraqi artist and author of the “Baghdad Diaries” wrote: “Everyone seems to be dying of cancer. Every day one hears about another acquaintance or friend of a friend dying. How many more die in hospitals that one does not know? Apparently, over thirty percent of Iraqis have cancer, and there are lots of kids with leukemia.” “The depleted uranium left by the U.S. bombing campaign has turned Iraq into a cancer-infested country. For hundreds of years to come, the effects of the uranium will continue to wreak havoc on Iraq and its surrounding areas.” This excerpt in her diary was written in 1993, after Gulf War I (approximately 300 tons of DU ordinance, mostly in desert areas) but before Operation Iraqi Freedom, (est. 1700 tons with much more near major population centers). So, it’s 5–6 times worse now than it was when she wrote that diary entry!!
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani on Friday to discuss control of oil resources in the autonomous region of Kurdistan. Rice, visiting Iraq at the end of a Middle East tour, flew to northern Kurdish region after talks in Baghdad where she pressed Iraqi politicians to unite and rein in sectarian violence that threatens to tear the country apart. A senior state department official said before Rice's meeting with Barzani that she wanted to urge Kurdish leaders to work with Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs, particularly on the controversial issue of managing Iraq's vast oil wealth. The meeting with Barzani, the president of Kurdistan, came as the Iraqi government is drafting legislation to clarify how oil investment and revenues should be shared with a view to encouraging foreign investment to develop its vast resources. "As for the revenues of oil ... we (favour) a fair distribution of oil revenues all over Iraq," Barzani said after the talks. Rice did not mention oil in their joint news conference. The issue of how powers are divided between Baghdad and the regions is at the heart of a bitter sectarian and ethnic dispute. In a latest tension between Kurds and Arabs over oil, the Kurdish regional government last month raised the threat of secession if the Baghdad government did not drop claims to a say in development of oil resources in their northern districts. "Kurds, like any other nation, they have the right to self-determination," Barzani said after the meeting. But he stressed that the Kurdish parliament had opted for a "federal system" within a federal state of Iraq.
With violence bloodying Iraq, Kurds in the peaceful north have been showing signs of going their own way, raising their own flag and even hinting they could secede in a dispute over oil wealth — moves that have alarmed Shiites and Sunnis. Kurds insist they are only using the autonomous powers given to them by the constitution passed last year that laid down a federal system in Iraq. But many of those powers — particularly the division of oil wealth — remain vague. Some Shiites are also pressing for their own autonomous region in the south, but even mere talk of federalism — amid a wave of Shiite-Sunni violence that has killed thousands this year — has raised fears of the country falling apart. "I warn those who back federal regions," a top Sunni Arab cleric, Harith al-Obeidi, said in his prayer sermon Friday in a Baghdad mosque. "They should think about security in Baghdad before claiming that federalism will provide security for the regions. ... Federalism in its current form will lead to the division of Iraq." Sunnis in particular worry that a breakup of the country will create strong Shiite and Kurdish regions in the south and north — where Iraq's oil wealth is concentrated — and leave Sunnis in an impoverished central zone with no resources. Backing for independence has always been strong in the autonomous zone in Iraq's northernmost three provinces, where the majority of the country's 5 million Kurds live. They have enjoyed self-rule since 1991.
Soldiers in Baghdad Chasing ‘Ghosts’ [Or: Target Practice Improves Your Aim –dancewater]
What was meant to be a day meeting the Iraqi people in one of Baghdad's eastern neighborhoods abruptly turned into a long day of what the soldiers now refer to as "chasing the ghosts of small arms fire." The troops used to laugh about these "ghosts" and their poorly aimed potshots, but now they take them very seriously. That's because the situation has escalated beyond the random potshots. Now, U.S. troops are hunted by well-trained sniper teams who lay in wait on rooftops and other well-shielded positions. So far this month, at least nine of the 19 U.S. troop deaths in Iraq involved small arms fire and not roadside bombs. Death is very real to these men. Most have seen it in front of their own eyes. By the time the soldiers of the 2nd Platoon arrived at the scene of the sniper attack, the ghost is long gone. Inside the house where the soldiers believe the attack came from is a nervous, stuttering man trying to say in broken English that the sounds of shooting came from somewhere else. But shell casings litter the rooftop. He is taken in for questioning and gunpowder tests. The street below looks deceptively normal. Small children wave up to the troops on the roof. It's hard to imagine that a U.S. soldier was just shot through the arm here. [Bumpersticker: If you can read, thank a teacher. If you can read in English, thank a Marine. Looks like the Iraq people get target practice on top of English practice. – dancewater]
Maj. Gen. Bashar Mahmoud Ayoub, commander of the 9th Iraqi Army Division, was joined at the press conference by the Adhamiyah District Police Chief, Iraqi Police Brig. Gen. Ahmed and 172nd Stryker Brigade Commander U.S. Army Col. Michael Shields. Maj. Gen Bashar Mahmoud Ayoub (foreground), 9th Iraqi Army Division commander, speaks to the press Sept. 26 about ongoing security operations in Baghdad. He was joined by the Adhamiyah District police chief, Brig. Gen. Ahmed. Photo by Army Master Sgt. Rick Brown. Addressing the most recent operations in the Adhamiyah District neighborhoods of Shaab and Ur, all three leaders noted the improved stability and security of the area, but stated that work there is not complete. They were also adamant about the need for continued cooperation between the armed forces, the political leadership of Iraq and the Iraqi people. According to Shields, during the Shaab and Ur operation that began Sept. 14, the combined team searched more than 36,000 buildings, including 23 mosques that Iraqi Security Forces were given permission to search. The operation led to the discovery of five caches containing an undisclosed number of weapons and the capture of several detainees.
[And the unanswered question is: Did the US like him because he was against Iraqi government militias, or because he was involved with those militias? The claim is made (on the NPR audio on 10/3/06 that the Iraqi government didn’t like him for that reason, but who knows? The only thing we do know is that CentCom is terrible at email updates, since they are still bragging about a guy that has been canned four days ago. - dancewater]
IDEAS AND COMMENTARY
House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra is still pressing U.S. intelligence agencies to look for possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq—even though intelligence officials say further work is unlikely to reveal anything new about Saddam's WMD programs.
WRP: The number, I believe, is 21 American soldiers killed since Saturday. Four more died today. Dozens of Iraqi civilians have been killed just in the last few days. Can you give me your assessment of where we are in terms of this occupation of Iraq?
Rep. McGovern: I think it’s an absolute fiasco. It is a complete mess. We have ruined our reputation around the world. On top of everything else, the contractors involved in this war are ripping off American taxpayers. These contractors have stolen millions of dollars of taxpayer money, and all we have to show for it is being the referee in a civil war. This war needs to be brought to an end and the sooner the better. I believe that if we can end the U.S. occupation, we can hopefully prompt a new dynamic in Iraq where the various factions will decide to cooperate with each other and decide to figure out a way to coexist, and also prompt some of Iraq’s neighbors and the international community to play a constructive role helping to construct a peaceful future for the people of Iraq.
WRP: Can you tell me about your proposed legislation, HR4232?
Rep. McGovern: Our bill essentially calls for an end to the war now. It basically stops funding the war. That’s the way you end wars. We can talk all we want about someday the conditions will be ripe, or someday we’ll do this or do that, but the fact is that the only way to end this war is by cutting off the funding. This not a cut-and-run strategy. What my bill says is that we will continue to provide funds for a safe and orderly withdrawal of troops. This bill doesn’t say cut funds immediately and leave our troops just hanging there. It provides funding for the safe and orderly withdrawal of our troops. That may take weeks, or even a few months, in all reality. It also allows for there to be continued U.S. assistance for economic reconstruction. We do have a moral obligation not to leave the people of Iraq high and dry after this war. We should also support international organizations like the United Nations if they decide to put in a temporary peacekeeping force. But it would not allow for the funding of U.S. troops on the ground. We have great men and women serving our country in Iraq right now, but it is my conviction that the continued presence of U.S. soldiers in Iraq is not calming the situation. It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire.
PDA urges everyone to sign the petition, and to ask your Congressional member to co-sponsor the bill. Rep. McGovern was interviewed on Wednesday, Oct. 4, by PDA National Board Member William Rivers Pitt.
The premature withdrawal of American troops from Iraq would have disastrous consequences for Iraq, for the Middle East, and for American foreign policy and would lead to a full-scale humanitarian disaster. [It already is a full - scale humanitarian disaster! I quit reading at this point. – dancewater]
While the recent buzz in Washington is about partitioning Iraq into ethnic enclaves, completely ignored is the fact that most Iraqis, and perhaps a majority of the Iraqi parliament, wants America to set an immediate deadline for military withdrawal. Sixty percent of Iraqis support a one-year deadline for withdrawal. Sixty-one percent say they approve of attacks on U.S. forces, from 47 percent in January. The American people deserve to know the choices, and we don't. The polling numbers are available, but hidden from the public. Among the most fascinating findings are that a majority disapprove of Iran’s president and foreign jihadis, and 72 percent agree that Iraq will still be one country five years from now. (See AP, Sept. 28, 2006, reporting a University of Maryland poll.) What kind of superpower uses lethal force year after year to make oppressed people hate them more and more? Arrogance has made our rulers blind with entitlement.
PEACE ACTION: Take the voters’ peace pledge. "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."