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[casi] News, 24/9-1/10/03 (3)

News, 24/9-1/10/03 (3)


*  U.S. 'Ali Babas' Inspire Iraqis Into Hiding Valuable Things
*  More attacks on US troops
*  Governing Council member dies five days after attack
*  Explosions rock hotel, movie theater in Iraq
*  Shi'ite cleric discusses his army, relations with Iran
*  Bloody day in Iraq as UN pulls out staff
*  US forces shoot dead Iraqi child
*  Shiite cleric attacked
*  Ambush Sparks Lengthy Firefights
*  Adjusting to Reality in Iraq
*  One Polish Soldier Killed, Four US Troops Wounded
*  Sadrist Militia interferes with Burial Rites for Aqila al-Hashimi
*  U.S. Compound in Baghdad Is Hit in Attack


*  The men who shot Uday Hussein: First inside account of a 1996 ambush that
signaled active Iraqi resistance


by Aws al-Sharqy

BAGHDAD, September 23 ( - Helpless before the U.S. soldiers
who strip them clean of their savings, the Iraqi people were inspired to
create methods to keep their money and belongings away from the soldiers'
hands, putting into application "Necessity is the mother of invention"

Now the Iraqis hide their savings, jewelry and other valuable things in
unthinkable places to put them out of the sight of the soldiers, being aware
that what is "stolen" by U.S. soldiers is virtually lost forever.

"We heard about the U.S. robberies during their raids on houses and my
brother taught me how to hide our money and jewelry in a belt under clothes,
since they (U.S. soldier) do not frisk Iraqi women," Ban Mohmmad Hassan, an
Iraqi woman from al-Obeidi district, told Tuesday, September

"The other day, they ransack our house but found nothing," she added.

Abdul Qadir Abdul Kareem, an Iraqi tradesman, often changes his dinars into
dollars, so that he can hide them.

"I don't keep any Iraqi dinars, because I find it hard to hide them ... I
change all my profits into dollars, since it is easier to hide $10,000 than
its Iraqi equivalent of 20 million dinars," Abdul Kareem said.

"I carved out a secret place in my house that cannot be reached either by
thieves or U.S. soldiers," he added.

As for my wife's jewels, he continued, a friend of mine told me that the
U.S. soldiers did not steal what Iraqi women wore.

"Every time my wife gets to know about U.S. search operation in a nearby
area, she wears all her jewels," he said.

Aalaa Foad Hussein, a science student at Al-Mustansiriya University, said
that the U.S. break-ins have become the talk of the students.

"Day in and day out, we used to hear about a friend who had her jewels
stolen by U.S. soldiers ... Now we advise one another to protect ourselves
from the U.S. surprise thefts," she said.

She added: "The thefts extended to military checkpoints as well ... Every
day, we hear about dozens of Iraqi youths who had been stolen by U.S.
soldiers." Hassan Yussuf, an Iraqi businessman, had his satellite-operating
cellular stolen at a checkpoint.

"They stopped my car at a checkpoint in al-Sayidia area and snatched my
Thuraya and when I wanted it back they pointed their guns at me and
threatened me to leave the place right away, otherwise they would shoot,"
Yussuf said.

He lodged a complaint with an Iraqi police station and another with a U.S.
military police station, but to no avail.


Lieutenant Hussein Ali al-Yasseri, at Baghdad police station, told that the station received a myriad of stealing complaints,
but they could not bring the stolen things back to their owners, because the
Americans were not forthcoming. "They receive the complaints and promise us
to investigate the matter and bring back the stolen things, but they do not
honor their promises," Yasseri said.

"They did not even make any effort to help the complainers or care about
proving the innocence of their soldiers," he added.

He said there is no a central system to help Iraqis restore their stolen
things, so a lot of Iraqis are now convinced that the Americans have come to
their country to steal their money and jewels.

Ayman Hadi al-Saadi, a teacher - 45 - said that U.S. forces stormed his
house on September 17 in a provocative way and "tied our hands as if we were

"They turned the house upside down, and we could not utter a word," Saadi

"When they've gone, my wife told me that her gold-made necklace ... I
reported the incident to Iraqi officers, who only said they were sorry for
us," he added.


However, several U.S. officers interviewed by IOL refused to discuss theft
charges against their soldiers, alleging that they only confiscated Iraqi
properties but stopped short of explaining why.

One officer blamed the "disappearance" of properties on the negligence and
misconduct of Iraqis, pointing out that the reported thefts would alienate
the Iraqis, even those who welcomed the ouster of Iraqi president Saddam

Officer James Brat also acknowledged that U.S. military checkpoints
"routinely" confiscated large amounts of money.

"We can call it misunderstanding," Brat said. "One cannot be surprised to
see an Iraqi carrying cases of money inside their cars along with a
Kalashnikov, which gives U.S. soldiers a cause for suspicions."

Aljazeera, 24th September
[Various incidents, Wednesday 24th September]

US-led occupation troops had little respite in Iraq on Wednesday as
resistance attacks continued to target them.

Aljazeera's correspondent reported that a US military convoy was hit by an
explosion near the al-Sadiqiyah bridge between Ramadi and Falluja west of

Quoting eyewitnesses, he said the US soldiers opened fire randomly after the
blast, injuring several Iraqi civilians who were then taken to hospital.

Another US convoy came under a RPG attack in al-Tarmiyah district to the
north of Baghdad. The attack left a military vehicle damaged and several US
soldiers wounded.

US forces also came under mortar attack in the outskirts of Belad, 65 km
north of the Iraqi capital.

Though no casualties were reported, thick black smoke was seen billowing
from a US military camp.

That Iraq remained a hostile territory for the occupation forces was
emphasised by the spate of attacks.

A roadside bomb during the day tore through two commuter buses in capital
Baghdad, killing an Iraqi and wounding around 20.

The bomb apparently was aimed at the US troops.

Another blast in the northern city of Mosul ripped through a cinema hall,
causing several casualties.

"A grenade exploded inside the cinema. Twenty people were injured, two were
killed," said an officer at the police station nearest to the cinema.

US troops meanwhile claimed to have killed nine Iraqi fighters, the biggest
toll for more than a month, in scattered action over northern Iraq in the
past 24 hours.

A US military spokesman said that a financier of the Iraqi resistance was
also arrested and nearly 40 other fighters detained.

Most of the action was said to be in the north and south of Tikrit, the home
town of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 40, 25 September 2003

Iraqi Governing Council member Aqilah al-Hashimi died in Baghdad five days
after gunmen attacked her and her escorts outside her Baghdad home (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 2003), international news agencies reported
on 25 September.

"On behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority [CPA] and all its members,
I offer condolences to her family, her colleagues on the Governing Council
and the people of Iraq," Reuters quoted CPA head L. Paul Bremer as saying in
a written statement.

Al-Hashimi, a Shi'ite Muslim, was one of three women to sit on the Governing
Council, and the only member of the council to have served under the deposed
Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq's Foreign Ministry. Three of her
escorts, including a brother, were also injured in the 20 September attack.
One of the attackers was shot and killed by her security detail.

According to Al-Jazeera, al-Hashimi had sustained wounds in the shoulder,
leg, and abdomen. She was reportedly in critical but stable condition at a
U.S. military hospital in the Iraqi capital by 21 September following two
surgeries but CNN reported on 24 September that al-Hashimi had taken a turn
for the worse. She had been due to travel with an Iraqi delegation
representing Iraq at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York this week.

Many Governing Council members have reportedly received threats for working
with the U.S.-led transitional authority in Iraq, but this is the first
reported attack on a Governing Council member. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 40, 25 September 2003

One person was killed and two others wounded in an explosion outside a
Baghdad hotel on 25 September, Al-Arabiyah television reported. The hotel
housed employees of U.S.-based NBC television. A Somali security guard was
killed in the blast. Iraqi police said a bomb had been placed in a hut that
housed the hotel generator, BBC reported. The incident appears to be the
first time that Western media have been attacked in Iraq since the downfall
of the Hussein regime. A movie theater in the northern city of Mosul was
targeted one day earlier, when a hand grenade went off inside the theater,
killing two and wounding some 20 others, Al-Jazeera reported on 24
September. Eyewitnesses said that the theater was showing a pornographic
film at the time of the explosion. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 40, 25 September 2003

Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr discussed his controversial Imam
al-Mahdi Army in an interview with Cairo's "Al-Ahram al-Arabi" newspaper in
an interview published on 20 September. Al-Sadr contended that he was "not
sure" of the U.S. order calling on militias in Iraq to disband, telling the
weekly, "This applies to Al-Najaf city only, and not all of Iraq's cities."
He added that it was his group's "legal and legitimate" right to carry
weapons and that his "army" remains armed to protect leading Shi'ite figures
in that holy city. He reiterated earlier claims that the volunteer army
includes women, saying, "We need women to protect the religious shrines."

Asked about his trip to Iran (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 12 June 2003),
al-Sadr said that he "wished to strengthen ties between Iraq and the
neighboring states to avoid repeating the tragedy that Iraq suffered --
namely its isolation from its neighbors." When the interviewer pointed out
that the U.S. has cautioned Iraq's neighbors not to interfere in Iraq's
internal affairs, al-Sadr responded: "I too refuse any meddling...I broached
the issue of the borders between Iraq and Iran, and coordination of visitors
traveling between the two countries...the problem is that Iraq's borders are
open from all directions. They are open with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria,
Kuwait, and Jordan, so why focus on Iran?"

Al-Sadr was also asked whether he represents an extension of Ayatollah
Khomeini's revolution. He responded: "I am the extension of my own
reference, that of my father [assassinated Shi'ite cleric Muhammad Sadiq
al-Sadr]. If the two lines are similar, which is a fact, then our goals are
also similar. There is no harm in my being an extension of the Khomeini
revolution." He went on to say that he believes there is dissimilarity
between his beliefs and other Shi'ite trends, but added that it did not
constitute a "difference," saying, "All of to accomplish the same
goal of pleasing God."

On relations between Shi'ites and Sunnis, al-Sadr claimed -- although he is
reportedly not qualified to do so -- that he issued a fatwa after the fall
of the Hussein regime calling on the two groups to come together. When asked
about his group's seizure of a number of Sunni mosques in Iraq, he
reiterated earlier justifications that some "Sunni" mosques were actually
Shi'ite mosques confiscated by Hussein and given to Sunnis, so they were
rightfully the property of Shi'ites. He added: "There are [also] purely
Shi'ite areas such as Karbala and Al Najaf, and there is nothing to justify
the presence of Sunni mosques [in those cities] because nobody will make any
use of them. Anyway, the unity we call for requires that a Shi'ite imam lead
the Sunni minority in prayers and vice-versa."

Asked about Shi'ite cleric Kazim al-Ha'iri, whom al-Sadr claimed as his
movement's leader and religious guide, he said, "Theoretically, the Shi'ites
need a field commander in the battle scene...if al-Ha'iri proposed himself
as a field commander, we will be committed to him as a reference." Regarding
the U.S.-led administration in Iraq, al-Sadr said, "Every time we open an
institution or an office, the occupying forces hasten to close it and arrest
its members." He also rejected public opinion polls that claim that Iraqis
approve of the Coalition Provisional Authority, calling one such poll "a lie
and a fraud." (Kathleen Ridolfo)

Aljazeera, 26th September

Seven Iraqi civilians were killed and 13 wounded on Thursday night when a
mortar fell on a crowded square in Baqubah, northeast of Baghdad, police and
hospital officials said.

The mortar attack came at the end of a bloody day that saw the death of a
US-backed Iraqi Governing Council leader, a bombing at a Baghdad hotel and
an attack on US soldiers.

Concern over security led the United Nations to announce it was scaling back
its international staff, dealing a fresh blow to US claims the situation was
under control in Iraq. UN offices in Baghdad have twice come under attack.

Police Lieutenant Abbas Khodeir said the mortar hit about 9.10pm (1710 GMT)
in the town nearly 70km from the capital, but could not say who fired it.

Officials of Baqubah's general hospital said seven people died in the blast
and they treated seven others who were wounded, including a 12-year-old boy.

Six other wounded people were taken to the Diyala hospital.

Eight soldiers were wounded, three seriously, when their convoy came under
attack in the northern city of Mosul.

A Somali security guard was killed at a Baghdad hotel when a bomb, left on
the pavement beside it, shattered windows and sent debris flying.

The hotel housed journalists from US television network NBC. The network
said it would continue covering events in Iraq.

The United Nations said it was withdrawing 19 of its 105 international staff
in Iraq due to concerns over security.

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard called the shift of the staffers to nearby Amman,
Jordan, "a temporary redeployment of international staff in Iraq".

He said 42 international staff remained for now in Baghdad and 44 in
northern Iraq, down from 105, and "these numbers can be expected to shrink
further over the next few days."

"This is not an evacuation, just a further downsizing, and the security
situation in the country remains under constant review," Eckhard told


Aljazeera, 29th September

US occupation forces have shot dead a 10-year-old child near the northern
Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Soldiers opened fire at hundreds of stone-throwing demonstrators in Hawija,
west of the mainly Kurdish city Kirkuk on Monday, said a hospital director.
A demonstrator, 25, was also seriously injured after being hit in the heart.

The US army did not confirm the report. The casualties occured when
protesters, carrying portraits of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein,
took to the streets of Hawija and began pelting occupation soldiers with

In Falluja, west of Baghdad, the US military confirmed that one American
soldier was killed and one wounded in a bomb attack on a convoy on Monday.

A military spokeswoman, who would not give her name, said the convoy was
attacked about 9:15 am (0515 GMT) by an "improvised explosive device" in the
town of Habbaniyah, near to where the Americans have a large base.

An Iraqi police officer told AFP that unidentified resistance fighters fired
four mortar rounds on Monday morning at a US position in the centre of
Kirkuk, an Iraqi police station and an army rehabilitation centre.

The mortars apparently failed to hit their targets and caused no casualties
or damage.
US forces have not restored security to war-torn Iraq since occupying
Baghdad in April and continue to come under daily attack.
A military spokesman admitted that six US soldiers were wounded in a bomb
attack on Sunday against a convoy in the hotspot town of Falluja, 50km west
of Baghdad. 

The convoy was hit by an "improvised explosive device". The wounded
soldiers are said to be in stable condition. 
US officials said major combat in Iraq was over on 1 May but this was hard
to believe by the scenes in the town of Khaldiyah as US troops used tanks,
helicopters and a F-16 jet to battle out of an ambush.

For more than four hours, US soldiers and Iraqi resistance fighters fought
pitched battles after a convoy came under rocket-propelled grenade (RPG)

One resident said he saw "many" occupation forces killed. The US army said
two soldiers were wounded in an ambush.
Eye witnesses also said four Iraqi civilians were hurt, including an elderly
woman who was evacuated by US helicopter to a hospital after being hit in
the shoulder.
And in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, a bomb was found and defused in a
bag on a busy commercial street.
The incident takes place just a month after a blast in the city
killed prominent cleric Ayat Allah Muhammad Baqr al-Hakim.
As lawlessness continues to grip the country, an Iraqi official working on
drafting a new constitution for the occupied country escaped an
assassination attempt, but his bodyguard was killed.
It was the second attack on a political figure in nine days.

Jordan Times, 30th September

In Baghdad, officials said Jalaladin Al Sagher, a Shiite cleric on a panel
examining how to draw up a new Iraqi constitution, had a narrow escape in a
gun attack on Sunday that killed his bodyguard.

The incident came less than a week after Akila Al Hashemi, a member of
Iraq's Governing Council of US-appointed local leaders, died of wounds
sustained in a gun attack.

But the US-led administration said it was not yet clear whether the latest
attack had been an assassination attempt or Sagher had just been caught in
crossfire between criminals.

The violence underscored that Iraq's US-led occupiers still face a tough
task pacifying the country, but officials insisted the general security
situation was improving and said they would scale back a curfew imposed on

The US army's first armoured division which patrols Baghdad said security in
the city had improved and the curfew would now start at midnight instead of
11:00pm It would continue to end at 4:00am, an army statement said.


by Theola Labbé
Washington Post, 30th September

BAGHDAD, Sept. 29 -- U.S. soldiers with tanks and helicopters fought dozens
of Iraqi resistance fighters for more than eight hours in intense clashes
after a roadside bomb killed one U.S. soldier and wounded three other
servicemen, the U.S. military said today.

The firefights occurred in Habaniya, 37 miles west of Baghdad. About 150
soldiers opened fire from M1A1 Abrams tanks and OH-58 Kiowa helicopters in
response to ambushes by assailants firing rocket-propelled grenades and
small arms.

By sundown, the gun battles had destroyed two buildings the assailants used
as cover for the attacks. An unknown number of Iraqis were dead and 14 were
in custody, U.S. military officials said.

Habaniya sits along the main road that runs from Baghdad through the restive
western Euphrates River towns that have frequently erupted in violence. In
Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, U.S. soldiers came under fire Friday
night as they looked for roadside bombs. The U.S.-appointed police chief in
nearby Khaldiya, 45 miles west of Baghdad, was assassinated two weeks ago in
a daylight ambush.

The death of the soldier brought to 84 the number of combat deaths since
President Bush declared an end to major hostilities on May 1.

A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said today's
fighting began when a roadside bomb exploded at 9:16 a.m. under a convoy of
U.S. soldiers attached to the 82nd Airborne Division. One soldier was killed
in the blast, the official said. Assailants immediately ambushed the convoy
with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Soldiers called for
reinforcement and shot back at the fighters with 120mm cannons in a gun
battle that lasted three hours, the official said.

Around noon, soldiers surrounded the building where the shooting was coming
from and arrested two Iraqis, though two others managed to escape, the
official added. When a pair of helicopters arrived to search for the missing
Iraqis, about 20 resistance fighters hiding in a nearby building raked them
with small-arms fire, the military official said.

The fighters were offered several chances to surrender, but after no
response, U.S. forces fired on the building until it was reduced to rubble,
the official said. Iraqi police assisted in the firefights, he added.


by David Ignatius
Washington Post, 30th September

KIRKUSH, Iraq -- The first battalion of the New Iraqi Army will complete its
two-month training course here on Saturday with a well-orchestrated
graduation ceremony. The soldiers will pledge allegiance not to Saddam
Hussein but to a new code that declares: "I am a patriot. I voluntarily
serve in the cause of freedom from oppression for my country, Iraq."

These 700 new soldiers embody America's effort to remake Iraq. But the
training program also illustrates the obstacles and misjudgments that have
plagued the U.S. effort to stabilize the country. Because of these
difficulties, American officials said in interviews that they are planning
some major changes in their security strategy.

The heart of the revised plan is to build the new army quickly around
salvageable remnants of the old one, rather than create it from scratch. The
United States and its coalition partners will seek help from officers of the
old military, possibly including the former defense minister, Gen. Sultan
Hashem Ahmed. In effect, it's an accelerated exit strategy.

"It's all about time," said Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who is in charge of the
coalition's military training program. He explained in an interview that
several hundred selected officers from the old Iraqi army would begin a
three-month retraining course in January in what Eaton identified as
"Country X." That country is Jordan, according to Jordanian officials.

A new military academy in Iraq will simultaneously begin training several
thousand noncommissioned officers, Eaton said. When the officers and NCOs
have completed their courses at the end of March, they will be assigned to
bases in various parts of the country. There, they will take command of
newly recruited Iraqi soldiers and lead them in three months of basic
training, with help from coalition advisers.

The original plan was to train 27 battalions, or roughly 40,000 men, over
the next two years. Eaton said his revised plan will create that force in
half the time, so that the new army should be ready a year from now. It will
be able take over from coalition troops basic tasks such as guarding Iraq's
borders, escorting convoys and maintaining checkpoints. After the first
battalion graduates, it will be attached to the U.S. Army's 4th Division and
help patrol the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Vinnell Corp., the U.S.-based contractor that trained the first battalion
here, will mostly be replaced by the Iraqi officers and NCOs who will lead
basic training under the accelerated plan, Eaton said.

The most controversial aspect of the new plan, in Washington if not Iraq, is
likely to be its reliance on officers from the old Iraqi army. That marks a
sharp break with the strategy of wholesale "de-Baathification" that has been
pressed by Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the interim Governing Council who
until recently was the Pentagon's favorite Iraqi.

U.S. administrator Paul Bremer had embraced this start-from-scratch approach
when he decided to disband the Iraqi army last May, a decision that is now
regarded by some members of Bremer's team as a mistake. Eaton said Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld strongly supports his revised plan.

Eaton said he hasn't yet met Gen. Ahmed, the former Iraqi defense minister,
but would like to. "We need all the advice and help we can get," he said.

I got a glimpse of the training program last weekend when I traveled in a
military convoy to this base about 100 miles northeast of Baghdad. With me
in the convoy were three Iraqi clerics -- a Shiite, a Sunni and a Kurd --
who had all agreed to meet with the recruits and bless their participation
in the New Iraqi Army.

The clerics' visit illustrated one of the trickiest problems facing Iraq --
how to mold its fractious religious groups into a single army and nation.
The first battalion is 60 percent Shiite Muslim, 20 percent Sunni, 10
percent Kurdish and 10 percent other religious minorities. The Kurdish
percentage dropped when roughly 100 Kurdish recruits quit soon after the
training began, because their tribal leaders didn't want them mixing with
non Kurds.

In an effort to combine diversity and ethnic cohesion, each of the four
infantry companies in the first battalion is divided into platoons that are
exclusively Shiite, Sunni or Kurdish.

"We told the soldiers that the New Iraqi Army will be the nucleus for the
future of Iraq," the Shiite cleric, Sheik Abdul-Karim Fatawi, said through
an interpreter. "We must be one hand, all together."

The revised plan for the New Iraqi Army suggests that the Bush
administration understands that time is short, and that it can't reinvent
Iraq from the ground up. It must make compromises, and work with the
material at hand. That pragmatism about postwar Iraq is long overdue. 

Juan Cole ‹ Informed Comment, 29th September

Guerrillas in the town of Iskandariya, 45 km south of Baghdad, attacked US
troops with a home made bomb on Sunday at 11 am, wounding two. (Note that
this attack occurred, not in the usual northern Sunni Arab areas, but in a
Shiite region on the road to Karbala.) Guerrillas at Taji just north of
Baghdad, blew up a similar explosive device at 9:45 am on Sunday, wounding
two soldiers who were taken to a combat support hospital. A bomb went off
near Falluja as a US military convoy passed, but no word yet of any
casualities. In al-Hilla in the south, armed Iraqis refused to be searched
by Polish soldiers, who shot and killed one of them when he fired on them.
One Polish soldier was reported killed according to al-Zaman. (- AFP). While
the discovery by US troops of two big weapons caches over the weekend is in
a way good news, it is also very worrying that there were still large
weapons depots of this sort still not under US control 5 months after the
fall of the regime! SAM-7 surface to air missiles were among the munitions
discovered, which can be used against civilian aircraft (as was done by
al-Qaeda in Mombasa last year). 

Juan Cole ‹ Informed Comment, 27th September

Aqila al-Hashimi, a Shiite member of the Interim Governing Council, was
buried in Najaf on Friday after having been assassinated, probably by
Baathist goons. Ordinarily the body would have been carried to the shrine of
Imam Musa al-Kazim at al-Kazimiya, a suburb of Baghdad, for prayers before
being taken to Najaf. The way was blocked, however, by an armed Sadrist
militia (the Army of the Mahdi), who had been allowed to carry arms because
the young radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr was visiting the area.
Initially the American troops accompanying the funeral procession in tanks
and armored cars arrested four of the Sadrist militiamen. Then a Sadrist
crowd gathered, shouting, "Absolutely no, absolutely no to America! Yes, yes
to Islam!" and demanding the release of the four gunmen. The US authorities
decided to avoid a confrontation. They let the four go. (al-Sharq al-Awsat)

But then it was decided that the militiamen constituted a security threat to
the funeral procession, which included high Iraqi officials appointed by the
American administration, and so the prayers at the shrine were abandoned.
The procession went straight to Najaf. Since Muqtada must have known that
al-Hashimi's body would be taken to Kazimiya, his decision to go there and
to employ armed militiamen there as body guards seems to me to have been
calculated to provoke an incident. Muqtada has forbidden Shiites from
cooperating with the United States, and has demanded an immediate US
withdrawal, so he was no fan of Aqila al-Hashimi.

New York Times, 28th September

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 27 ‹ Three projectiles penetrated the concrete and
barbed-wire cocoon of security around the main compound for Americans in
downtown Baghdad today, hitting the 14th floor of the Rashid Hotel inside
the compound but causing little damage and no injuries.

"It woke us up with a bang, but there was really no further impact than
that," said Charles Heatley, a spokesman for the American-led governing

But after several weeks of high-profile attacks and beefed-up security
around Baghdad, the strike seemed a message that Americans would be a target
no matter how much they sought to protect themselves. This was not news to
at least one United States soldier in the compound, which is sealed off from
the rest of Baghdad with a huge concrete wall and heaps of concrete and
barbed wire.

"I've never felt safe here," the soldier said.


The attack today on the Rashid Hotel was the latest in a series of strikes
by anti-American forces that seem to be systematically aimed at American
installations, Iraqis perceived as working with them and other foreigners.

Since last month, suicide bombers attacked the embassy of Jordan, a strong
American ally, and the main United Nations compound twice. A police chief
and a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, Akila al-Hashimi, have been
killed. This week, the hotel where NBC, the American television network, has
an office was also bombed.

Lt. Col. George Krivo, a United States military spokesman, said today that
there had been no increase in the number of daily attacks, which he said
ranged steadily from about 10 to 20. He acknowledged an apparent change of
tactics recently in favor of higher-profile targets, though he played down
its significance.

"There have been attacks in the past," he said, "and we continue to say
there will be attacks in the future."

He said it was unclear exactly what had hit the hotel this morning, though
the best guesses were rocket-propelled grenades or mortar shells fired from
the west.


Yahoo, 30th September

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi police opened fire in downtown Baghdad Wednesday
morning after a group of unemployed people demonstrating to win back jobs
stormed a police station and threw stones at officers, an Iraqi policeman

Salah Hasan, a policeman, said officers fired into the air when the
Facilities Protection Force station was attacked by the demonstrators.
Several officers were injured he said, and the demonstrators set two cars on

Police Cpl. Hashim Habib Mohsen said some of the demonstrators fired on
police and the gunbattle was continuing 30 minutes after it broke out.

The shooting took place about three blocks north of the Palestine Hotel,
home to much of the foreign journalist corps covering the U.S. occupation of
the country.


by Peter Ford
Christian Science Monitor, 26th September

SHATRA, IRAQ ­ As Salman Sharif gave the order to open fire, he was certain
he was going to die himself. You did not try to assassinate Uday Hussein,
the former Iraqi president's elder son and heir-apparent, at point blank
range and expect to get away with it.

"We knew we had a 1 percent chance of returning alive," Mr. Sharif says
today, sitting crosslegged on a carpet-strewn floor as, for the first time,
he recounts to a foreign newspaper the daring attack he led. "Strict
security made this kind of operation almost impossible."

But after months of careful planning, the four man hit squad drawn from a
shadowy resistance group was determined to go ahead. As Uday Hussein drove
his golden Porsche slowly up a busy street in one of Baghdad's smartest
districts, just after dark on Dec. 12 1996, two gunmen responded to Sharif's
command with a hail of bullets from their AK-47 rifles.

"We were sure we had killed him," Sharif recalls. "We fired 50 rounds into
that car."

In fact, he discovered later, Uday had been hit 17 times but survived. He
was crippled for the rest of his life, and - according to popular belief -
rendered impotent (a special kind of justice, Sharif said, because of the
elder Hussein son's reputation for brutal womanizing), but he lived.

Still, the unprecedented assassination attempt on a member of the ruling
Baath Party's inner circle sent an important message. "We showed that the
Islamic resistance could reach any target at any time," Sharif says. "And we
refuted before the whole world the regime's claim that there was no
resistance inside Iraq."

Mr. Sharif, who was 27 at the time he mounted the operation that sent
shockwaves through the Iraqi leadership, looks an unlikely freedom fighter.
Studious and methodical, peering intently through a large pair of
spectacles, he resembled a provincial primary school teacher more than a
guerrilla hit-man. But Sharif's tale offers a rare window into how the Iraqi
resistance movement operated during Hussein's reign.

as a religious Shiite Muslim he hated the government which repressed his
coreligionists so fiercely and assented readily when a student friend in his
scruffy home town of Shatra, in Southern Iraq, recruited him into an armed
resistance group.

For two years he kept up his studies at a technical college and spent his
spare time organizing clandestine cells. Then, when a Shiite revolt broke
out in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, he and his comrades joined the
fighting, seizing their hometown and holding off Iraqi troops for three

Eventually they were overwhelmed and Sharif was arrested in a mass sweep of
detentions. But he was released after 18 days for lack of evidence, he says,
and fled to the safety of the marshes near Basra, where some of his fellow
resistance fighters had formed the "15 Shaaban" movement, named for the day
in the Muslim calendar that the Shiite uprising had begun.

Constantly harassed by Iraqi Army assaults, moving by canoe through the
thick reeds from one hut to another, Sharif lived in what he calls
"sub-human conditions" for the next five years, running one of his
movement's secret base camps built of dry reeds.

"It was very tough in the marshes," he remembers. "Most opposition groups
fled abroad, but we wanted to feel what the people felt, to be close to
their suffering."

Then, in 1996, the 15 Shaaban movement upped the ante. Instead of trying to
kill only regional Baath party leaders and local officials in occasional
sorties from their hidden camps, the group decided to aim at the heart of
the regime, targeting its highest leaders.

The idea, explains Hussein Hamza, leader of the former resistance movement
that has transformed itself into an Islamic political party, was "to weaken
the regime, to undermine its foundations and to create a state of chaos. And
we wanted to encourage people to rise up against the government."

Sharif was tapped for a key role. Mr. Hamza asked him to take control of the
group's Baghdad cells, and he moved to the capital in mid-1996 to take over
operations there.

It was not long, Sharif says, before he heard of Uday's regular Thursday
night trawls for pretty girls in Mansour, an upscale part of town where he
was notorious for forcing young women to accompany him back to one of his

The news intrigued him. "It seemed like a golden opportunity," he says, so
for the next two months Sharif strolled the crowded streets of Mansour each
Thursday evening, the night before the Muslim weekend, to see what he could

Sure enough, every Thursday round about seven, Uday would curb crawl along
Mansour's main drag, sometimes with bodyguards in a motorcade, sometimes

Keeping his eyes open and making friends with some of the neighborhood
shopkeepers, Sharif figured out which of the street peddlers were regime
informers, which traffic policemen were really secret-police officers, which
buildings housed government offices, and which of the regular passers-by
wandering up and down the sidewalk were actually security men.

"I didn't tell anyone about my plan until I was 100 percent sure it was
possible," he says. "I had to be absolutely right about all the details so
as to be credible in the eyes of my leaders."

Eventually he was sure enough to travel south, slip into the marshes, and
present his findings to the movement's leadership. They were convinced. He
had the go-ahead.

The next steps, he says, were to select the three men who would make up the
hit-squad under his leadership ("they had to be especially competent"), rent
a safe-house in Baghdad, buy a getaway car, and smuggle guns and grenades up
from the marshes into the capital for the assassination attempt.

Persuading his recruits to take part in the operation was not hard,
according to Sharif, despite the fact that they knew it was suicidal.

"Everybody in Iraq hated Uday," he says. "The team members were very happy:
they said they felt lucky to have been chosen for such an operation."

One, known by his code name Abu Zahrar, would drive the getaway car.

Sharif, who went by the name Abu Ahmed, would cover the gunmen. Abu Sadeq
and Abu Sajad would do the actual shooting.

A member of another cell rented an apartment in one of Baghdad's Shiite
neighborhoods, another bought a car, and men from the marshes came up with
the weapons. "We know our country well," says Mr. Hamza. "We knew which dirt
roads led around the checkpoints on the highway."

On the appointed day, seven o'clock found the hit-men eating ice cream on
the sidewalk outside one of Mansour's best known ice-cream parlors, keeping
their eyes skinned for their target. Half an hour passed. Another half hour.

No Uday. After waiting a little longer, the adrenaline draining from their
veins, the would-be assassins went home.

The following Thursday, the same thing happened. And the next Thursday. And
the next. Sharif began to suspect that his plan had been uncovered, but
nobody came to arrest them. Perhaps, he concluded, Uday was busy in his
capacity as Iraq's sports czar with an international soccer competition in
which the Iraqi team was competing.

After five weeks of waiting impatiently at his marshy headquarters for news,
Hamza sent an envoy to Baghdad with a coded message calling off the
operation. Such a long delay carried with it the risk of exposure. Sharif
begged for one more chance. His request was granted.

And so were his wishes. Just after 7 p.m. on the following Thursday, Sharif
spotted "a very unusual car" that could only belong to the flamboyant Uday,
cruising towards him under the streetlamps. He had no apparent escort

"He had so many security people on the streets, I think he felt safe,"
Sharif suggests.

Abu Sadeq leaned into the team's car and pulled out the sports bag in which
he had concealed two AK-47s, two spare magazines, and six grenades. Abu
Zahrar jumped into the car and drove it a few yards into the shadows.
Sharif, armed with a hidden pistol, accompanied the two shooters to the spot
he had chosen.

As Uday drove by slowly they were shocked to realize he was alone: his
bodyguard must have got out to search for women up the street. Abu Sadeq and
Abu Sajad pulled their weapons from the bag and opened up from just a few
yards away.

The windshield and passenger window shattered. Uday slumped to his right.

The gunmen emptied their magazines, dropped their weapons, and ran for their
getaway car. Sharif followed. The three men leaped in, roared off, and
disappeared. The whole incident had taken less than a minute. Nobody had
shot back at them. Nobody followed them.

Elated, they reached their safe house, where they slept the night. The next
morning they took the bus to Nasariyah, and a connecting bus to
Suq-ash-Shuyukh, on the edge of the marshes. By nightfall they were back in
the safety of their base. Sharif did not leave the marshes until the US-led
invasion last March.

"We never imagined it would be so easy," Sharif says with a smile. "We
thought we had been sent to our deaths."

In the marshes over the next few days, Hamza, the leader of 15 Shaaban,
listened to Voice of America radio and other international stations and
chuckled as Iraq pundits speculated about an attempted coup. "Lots of other
parties claimed the attack, but we didn't," he recalls. "We wanted the
regime to think it came from its own ranks."

Eventually, however, Saddam found out the truth. A member of 15 Shaaban who
knew about the plot was arrested in Jordan in connection with another affair
and handed over to the Iraqi secret police, Hamza says. Under torture, he
broke. By August 1998, 18 months after the assassination attempt, Saddam's
security men had arrested Abu Sajad and published details of the other
members of the team.

The government's revenge was vicious. Sharif's seven brothers and his father
were rounded up: his mother was told later to collect their bodies from the
Baghdad morgue. Abu Sadeq's father and three of his brothers were executed.
Abu Sajad and his father suffered the same fate. Security men bulldozed all
of the families' houses and confiscated all their property.

Last December, an Iraqi hit-squad tracked down Abu Sadeq, in exile in Iran,
and killed him.

Hamza's wife was arrested: she gave birth to a son in jail, and it was six
years before the two were released to house arrest. None of the families
evicted from their houses have been given new homes, none have yet been
offered any compensation by the new authorities, Sharif says bitterly.

Still, he insists, the operation was worth the price his comrades and their
families paid. "When you weigh up the pros and cons, the advantages are
bigger," he argues. "It is not easy for a man to sacrifice his family:
nobody would do it unless it was for a noble cause. But I think my family
was ready for that sacrifice. I inherited my sense of sacrifice from them.
It was the way I was brought up."

Hamza agrees. "The sacrifices we made and the blood our members spilled made
people demand the end of the regime," he says. "Maybe it will be because of
those sacrifices that in future people will demand that our Governing
Council stays on the right path. It's because we made sacrifices that we can
demand elections." Hamza adds that he is bitter about what he says is an
over-representation of former exiles on the Governing Council.

Sharif says he was satisfied when he heard the news that US troops had
killed Uday, along with his younger brother Qusay, in a July 22 shootout in

"Anyone would prefer to finish a job if it is the right job to do," he
reflects. "I wish it had been me who had done it. But no matter who killed
him, such a vicious man did not deserve to live."

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