The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] U.S. troops raid Palestinian mission in Baghdad

U.S. troops raid Palestinian mission in Baghdad

By The Associated Press, May 29 2003

First such action against a foreign mission; Palestinian officials say
building ransacked.

BAGHDAD - U.S. troops raided the Palestinian Authority's mission in Baghdad
on Thursday and
arrested 11 members - including its top diplomat - after ransacking the
building, Palestinian
officials said Thursday. A top U.S. general said only eight people had been

"They even took all of our water bottles and food cans," said Mohamed Abdul
Wahab, a mission official. "They behaved like common thieves." Although U.S.
troops have conducted numerous sweeps against suspected criminals and
loyalists of
Saddam Hussein's regime, Wednesday's raid was the first such action against
a foreign diplomatic mission.

Wahab said the soldiers seized three AK-47 automatic rifles that the
embassy's sentries had used to guard the building during the looting that
laid waste to much of the capital after U.S. troops seized the city. The
rifles and a handgun,
which was also confiscated, were duly licensed by Iraq's former government,
he said.

He said that on Wednesday morning, dozens of U.S. troops escorted by several
armored vehicles at
the building in Baghdad's embassy district. After the guards opened the
gate, they were immediately
arrested by soldiers who burst into the building and detained officials,
drivers and gardeners.

The detained men included charge d'affairs Majah Abdul Rahman, who was
running the mission in the ambassador's absence, Wahab said. They were later
taken to a U.S. base in the center of the city, he said.

They remained in custody Thursday afternoon, Wahab said.  Gen. David
McKiernan, commander of U.S. ground
forces in Iraq, confirmed Thursday that troops had entered the diplomatic
compound during a search operation in the area.

"That happened in a part of Baghdad where we lost a soldier," he told

McKiernan said seven Palestinians and a Syrian had been detained, adding
that he did not know how
many of them had diplomatic status. Troops seized four AK-47s, four hand
grenades, and a .38 caliber pistol, he said.

The embassy was badly damaged during last month's fighting in Baghdad. On
the building's facade, a direct hit had opened a hole about one meter wide
next to a large mural of the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem.

Staffers said the explosion was caused by a rocket fired from an attack
helicopter. Nobody was
injured in the attack. Wahab said the soldiers used shotguns to blast open
office doors, though he said all were unlocked or had keys in them.

Many of the doors in the building bore the marks of combat boots and several
had their locks shot off. An embassy safe appeared to have been opened after
the door hinges had been broken off, and a number of file cabinets were
standing open with all of their contents removed.

An official photo of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was lying smashed on
the floor.

Wahab said two embassy flags had been taken away by the soldiers. He said
the troops had told staffers that the mission did not have authorization to
possess automatic weapons.

"Every embassy has guns, we used them to ward off looters," Wahab said. He
complained that no system had been set up to license firearms since Saddam's

"To attack a foreign embassy is a criminal act and a breach of diplomatic
immunity," Wahab said.

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]