Skip to comments.Operation Phantom Fury--Day 197 - Now Operations River Blitz; Matador--Day 92
Posted on 05/22/2005 6:56:43 PM PDT by TexKat
A girl who was watching American and Iraqi soldiers on patrol in front of her house smiles when she sees a news photographer as Airman First Class Andrew Pulido is on guard during a foot patrol in a northern neighborhood of Mosul May 10, 2005. He is assigned from the US Airforce to the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment of the Styker Brigade, for the purpose of coordinating air support.
Looking down the barrel Sgt. Shaun Southern of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment of the Stryker Brigade adjusts his gunsight before practicing manual shooting with his 50-cal. machine gun at a range at Al Kindi, an Iraqi Army base near FOB Courage in Mosul, Iraq.
By Bob Kerr, The Providence Journal
I talked to Mike Yon by satellite phone. It was a little scratchy at times and helicopters intruded occasionally. But it was worth it.
He describes himself as an author, explorer and photographer. He uses his camera as a notepad, he says.
And earlier this month, he took notes that were seen around the world.
He is in Iraq, he says, because he didn't quite believe what he was seeing in the news. He is a former Green Beret, and he wanted to see for himself.
He and I share the belief that we just aren't getting a full and honest look at this war -- or even a steady helping of small, telling snapshots. It is part of the reason why I appreciate Joel Rawson, the Journal's executive editor, going to Iraq with photographer John Freidah to give us an idea of what the day-to-day life of some Rhode Island National Guard members is like.
And it is why I appreciate what Mike Yon does to satisfy the need to know more. [...]
He thinks Iraq represents a turning point in modern history and that it is difficult to understate its importance. He has been in other places where there was a struggle to introduce democracy. It is a messy process, he said.
And he saw perhaps the worst of the struggle in the city of Mosul a few weeks ago when he was with the Stryker brigade on normal operations.
At first, he had a photo opportunity in front of him that seemed like one of those timeless shots of soldiers and civilians claiming simple human contact in the middle of a war.
Then, it turned crazy. [...]
He is still sorting through the strange case of the photo that slipped from his control. But Army officials have told him something very good came from its release within Iraq. Iraqis saw the picture of a child killed by insurgents and started to come forward with information.
And others saw it, too. Intended or not, Yon has given us a look at innocents caught in the crossfire of a war without frontlines. He has let us see the other victims, the ones who die in far greater numbers than American troops but seldom claim a place in the nightly body count.
He has helped fill in a picture of the war in Iraq that has long been out of focus and sadly lacking in detail.
This is the photograph and story that Bob Kerr wrote about:
At the end of the runway, the jet car waits. An airplane above has challenged Scott Hammack to a race. Jaws drop as the aircraft approaches and you put your hands over your ears to block the deafening noise. Scott kicks in the afterburner and accelerates. Before you can take a breath, the Air Force Reserve Jet Car is roaring down the runway in a veil of smoke and a shower of scarlet flames. You can feel the reverberations of mini sonic booms. Within seconds Scott approaches 400 mph and overtakes the plane. As Scott zooms past the aircraft, he pulls 4.5 G forces. Then he deploys the parachute to bring the car to a stop. 11 Gs of negative force rattle his body. The crowd cheers with delight as Scott gets out of the car and waves to his fans.
The Air Force Reserve Above & Beyond Jet Car is powered by a Westinghouse J-34 jet engine that develops 10,000 horsepower and 6,000 pounds of thrust. This engine was originally used in a North American Buckeye T-2A aircraft. The car is made of aluminum and magnesium, weighs 2,300 pounds, is 26 feet long, and uses 40 gallons of diesel fuel for each performance. Two ring-slot parachutes (one is a back-up) can bring the car to a stop in less than 2,000 feet. It also houses an on-board fire extinguisher system. The car is the first jet-powered ground act to break into the air show industry.
Scott Hammacks wife, Linda, has been a full-time crew member for more than 10 years. Bill Braack rounds out the crew and is a flight engineer with the Air Force Reserve. Bill became a member of Scotts crew more than five years ago.
In the new $8 million dining facility on Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq, Army Sgt. Michael Boutte of the 73rd Engineer Company heads for a table. Boutte works within the Stryker brigade based out of Fort Lewis, which is currently deployed at Marez and at other bases around Mosul. PETER HALEY/THE NEWS TRIBUNE
MATT MISTEREK; The News Tribune
Last updated: May 22nd, 2005 07:23 AM
MOSUL, Iraq The tile floors and marble-pattern tables and chairs gleam with a shade of white seldom seen at this dust-choked U.S. Army base. Filipino workers in tuxedo vests and matching ties keep the food stations heaped with fresh fruit and salads; others distribute gourmet-looking desserts from a well-stocked glass case. A gold-rimmed decanter and decorative wine glasses rest atop a faux brick fireplace, while the sound system plays Billy Joels Only the Good Die Young.
The words chow hall hardly seem to fit what military contractors have built in the middle of Forward Operating Base Marez, the most populous Army post in Mosul and home to thousands of Fort Lewis troops.
The $8 million dining facility, which opened at the beginning of the month, is meant to help soldiers relax a little before they head out for another mission. The restaurant atmosphere is an escape from the razor wire, portable toilets and endless miles of grit just outside the front door.
Most of all, its designed to help them forget what happened five months ago at the old chow hall about a quarter-mile down the road and to make them less vulnerable to it happening again.
The new building was under construction Dec. 21 when an Islamic extremist, reportedly dressed as an Iraqi soldier, blew himself up in the plastic-and-aluminum tent where thousands of soldiers, contractors and others gathered to get their three squares a day.
Twenty-two people were killed in the lunchtime blast, including 14 U.S. soldiers, and more than 60 were wounded. Many were badly burned.
Six of the dead were from Fort Lewis, the largest number of casualties sustained at one time by either of the posts two Stryker brigades that have deployed to Iraq since November 2003.
Something else was lost that day an intangible quality that made the structure the size of a football field an appealing target for the insurgency.
Youve got the symbolism of what this place stands for, said Maj. Rob White, an Arizona National Guardsman whose unit has on-base police duties. This is the one place where we all come together on the battlefield.
Soldiers at Marez, suddenly dispersed to makeshift dining rooms around the base, got by for months on sandwiches, meals-ready-to-eat in brown plastic pouches and prewarmed food delivered in insulated canisters. Their patience was rewarded May 1, when the new concrete-reinforced dining hall opened for business the only hardened structure built for this purpose on any U.S. base in Mosul.
By VOA News
22 May 2005
German authorities have arrested a Palestinian man in connection with an alleged al-Qaeda plot to carry out a suicide attack in Iraq.
German federal prosecutors said Sunday they had arrested a stateless Palestinian identified only as 28-year-old Ismail Abu S. The prosecutors said they believe he took part in an insurance scam to raise money for the intended operation.
They added that they will conduct further investigations to determine whether he was aware of the al-Qaeda connection.
German authorities previously arrested the man's brother and an Iraqi alleged to have ties to al-Qaeda.
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.
Sun May 22, 2005
DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Syrian authorities arrested the chief of the Arab Organization of Human Rights in Syria (AOHRS) on Sunday, the group said in statement.
"A political security unit of four and a driver entered the office of lawyer Mohammad Raadoun, the president of AOHRS, and escorted him to the political security office in (the port city of) Latakia," it said.
"We urge all honorable people for solidarity with us in a campaign for his release," the statement said.
Officials were not immediately available for comment.
Ammar Qurabi, the head of the group's media office, said he believed the arrest was related to statements issued by the group about the arrest of returning Islamist dissidents.
Syria told its embassies in March to facilitate the return of exiles, in what campaigners saw as a de facto amnesty for dissidents who had fled the country.
Rights activists say hundreds of Syrians living abroad for political reasons have taken advantage of the opportunity, but some have come back only to find themselves behind bars.
The group became active after President Bashar al-Assad introduced a measure of reform after assuming power in 2000 and freed hundred of political prisoners. The authorities later cracked down on activists, rights groups say.
© Reuters 2005
From correspondents in Baghdad
May 23, 2005
THE US military has denied any of its servicemen are missing after the claimed execution of a US pilot in Iraq.
It now appears the victim of an apparent hostage-taking and killing was an Iraqi-American businessman.
Militants led by al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed today to have executed the man four days after he was seized in Baghdad.
"Your brothers in Al-Qaeda in the Land of Two Rivers got their hands on a US pilot who turned out to have bombarded several mosques and the Sheraton hotel in Baghdad during the invasion of Iraq, as well as several civilian homes," the group said in an internet statement.
The statement was accompanied by pictures of an Illinois driving licence identifying the purported victim as Neenus Y. Khoshaba, a US national born on November 27 1948.
The statement said that "after questioning this infidel, the divine verdict was applied to him".
Although the statement identified the hostage as a pilot, the US military has now denied that any of its servicemen had gone missing.
A high-ranking official with Iraq's Assyrian Democratic party identified Mr Khoshaba as a US-Iraqi businessman from an Assyrian family who was kidnapped last week.
"I can't confirm his death, but I can identify the hostage," the official said.
"Mr Khoshaba was a US-Iraqi businessman based in Chicago who moved back to Iraq after the war in 2003.
"He was apparently tricked by a group of people posing as representatives from the oil ministry, who told him that they were looking for someone with a dual nationality and had business opportunities to offer him.
"There had been no word from him since," he said.
Mr Khoshaba lived near Baghdad Jadida, in eastern Baghdad.
The group led by Zarqawi, Iraq's most wanted man, has claimed a string of devastating attacks as well as kidnappings since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
A new Iraqi Army soldier crouches on the side of a street during a mission with U.S. Marines with the 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16, 2006. Fifteen new Iraqi Army soldiers accompanied U.S. Marines with the 3rd Platoon and together conducted a cordon and search mission of a neighborhood. The three-hour joint-operation was geared toward keeping a military presence in area and establishing a positive relationship between Iraqi civilians and members of their own military. The Marines and their Iraqi counterparts executed the mission without incident. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Christopher A. Hook, a rifleman and team leader with the 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, gives a young Iraqi boy candy during a search mission, in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16, 2005. The three-hour joint-operation was geared toward keeping a military presence in area and establishing a positive relationship between Iraqi civilians and members of their own military. The Marines and their Iraqi counterparts executed the mission without incident. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
Two new Iraqi Army soldiers walk down a staircase in a home during a mission with U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16, 2005. Fifteen new Iraqi Army soldiers accompanied Marines with the 3rd Platoon and together conducted a cordon and search mission of a neighborhood. The three-hour joint-operation was geared toward keeping a military presence in area and establishing a positive relationship between Iraqi civilians and members of their own military. The Marines and their Iraqi counterparts executed the mission without incident. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
A new Iraqi Army soldier sits in the back of a 7-ton truck with U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, as they travel to their destination in the city of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16, 2005, for a mission. The three-hour joint-operation was geared toward keeping a military presence in area and establishing a positive relationship between Iraqi civilians and members of their own military. The Marines and their Iraqi counterparts executed the mission without incident. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Troy C. Arnold, squad leader and rifleman with the 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, discusses with new Iraqi Army soldiers the details of a mission theyre about to conduct in the city of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16, 2005. The three-hour joint-operation was geared toward keeping a military presence in area and establishing a positive relationship between Iraqi civilians and members of their own military. The Marines and their Iraqi counterparts executed the mission without incident. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
U.S. Marine Cpl. Eric W. Witt, a rifleman with the 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, points a new Iraqi Army soldier in the direction where he needs to position himself during a mission in the city of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16, 2005. The three-hour joint-operation was geared toward keeping a military presence in area and establishing a positive relationship between Iraqi civilians and members of their own military. The Marines and their Iraqi counterparts executed the mission without incident. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
A new Iraqi Army soldier stands in the doorway of a home and posts security during a mission with U.S. Marines with the 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16. 2005. The three-hour joint-operation was geared toward keeping a military presence in area and establishing a positive relationship between Iraqi civilians and members of their own military. The Marines and their Iraqi counterparts executed the mission without incident. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
U.S. Marine Cpl. Joel Jaime, squad leader for 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, talks on his radio to his fellow Marines while a new Iraqi Army soldier stands off to the side, in a joint operation in the city of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16, 2005. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Diklich, a squad automatic weapon gunner with 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, and a new Iraqi Army soldier charge out of the entrance of a residence after searching it during a mission in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16, 2005. The three-hour joint-operation was geared toward keeping a military presence in area and establishing a positive relationship between Iraqi civilians and members of their own military. The Marines and their Iraqi counterparts executed the mission without incident. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Aaron C. Cardenas, a rifleman with the 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, is joined by a new Iraqi Army soldier during a mission in the city of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16, 2005. The three-hour joint-operation was geared toward keeping a military presence in area and establishing a positive relationship between Iraqi civilians and members of their own military. The Marines and their Iraqi counterparts executed the mission without incident. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
A U.S. Marine with the 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, runs through the entrance of a home during a mission while his comrade posts security in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16, 2005. The three-hour joint-operation was geared toward keeping a military presence in area and establishing a positive relationship between Iraqi civilians and members of their own military. The Marines and their Iraqi counterparts executed the mission without incident. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
A new Iraqi Army soldier crouches on the side of a street during a mission with U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 16, 2005. Fifteen new Iraqi Army soldiers accompanied Marines with the 3rd Platoon and together conducted a cordon and search mission of a neighborhood. The three-hour joint-operation was geared toward keeping a military presence in area and establishing a positive relationship between Iraqi civilians and members of their own military. The Marines and their Iraqi counterparts executed the mission without incident. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan
Last Update: Monday, May 23, 2005. 11:00am (AEST)
The chief of the Defence Force says he is confident Australia could set a timeline for the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq within six to eight months.
At the weekend, General Peter Cosgrove welcomed home his son who had been serving in Baghdad.
General Cosgrove says Australian troops will only stay in Iraq until their work is completed.
"I'd simply say that we are encouraged by the signs of the maturing Iraqi security forces in the Al Mutthana province," he said.
"That's good stuff and if it continues that way then we won't need to apprehend being there for years and years."
May 22nd, 2005
By: Mark Kilmer · Section: Diaries
From the transcript of this morning's Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT: "Well, you said there were weapons of mass destruction."
DR. DEAN: "I said I wasn't sure, but I said I thought there probably were. But the thing that really bothered me the most, which the 9-11 Commission said also wasn't true, is the insinuation that the president continues to make to this day that Osama bin Laden had something to do with supporting terrorists that attacked the United States. That is false. The 9-11 Commission, chaired by a Republican, said it was false. Is it wrong to send people to war without telling them the truth. And the truth was Osama bin Laden was a very bad person who was doing terrible things, but that Iraq was never a threat to the United States. That was the truth."
So the President keeps saying that OBL had something to do with supporting the terrorists who attacked the U.S. Dean thinks the 9-11 commission found that he had nothing to do with it.
I hope he misspoke, confusing Osama bin Laden's name with that of Saddam Hussein. My best political advice for Governor Dean: Do not speak in public and especially not in front of cameras.
Former NFL Player's Family Critical of Way Army Handled Investigation of His Death.
WASHINGTON May 23, 2005 The family of former professional football Pat Tillman says the Army disrespected his memory by lying in its investigation of his death in Afghanistan last year.
In interviews with The Washington Post, the Army Ranger's mother and father said they believe the military and the government created a heroic tale about how their son died to foster a patriotic response across the country.
"Pat had high ideals about the country; that's why he did what he did," Mary Tillman told the Post. "The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect. The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his own men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they lied about it afterward is disgusting."
Tillman, a player for the Arizona Cardinals, left the National Football League after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to join the Rangers with his brother. After a tour in Iraq, they were sent to Afghanistan in 2004 to help hunt for the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.
Shortly after arriving in the mountains to fight, Tillman was killed in a barrage of gunfire from his own men, mistaken for the enemy as he got into position to defend them.
After a public memorial service, at which Tillman received the Silver Star, the Army told Tillman's family what had really happened.
The separate interviews with Tillman's parents, who are divorced, appeared on the Post's Internet site for Monday's editions.
Patrick Tillman Sr., a lawyer, told the Post he is furious about a "botched homicide investigation" and blames high-ranking Army officers for presenting "outright lies" to the family and to the public.
"After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this," the father said. "They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."
10:00 The Hunt for Osama bin Laden and the War on Terrorism
Thursday May 12, 2005
Diane talks with former CIA agent Gary Schroen, who led the United States' first post-9/11 intelligence team into Afghanistan.
Monday May 23, 2005
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) Two carloads of gunmen assassinated a top aide to Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's Cabinet and his driver on Monday, police said.
Wael al-Rubaei and his driver were attacked in the main street in central Baghdad's Mansour district at about 8:15 a.m. as they were heading to work, said police Lt. Majid Zaki.
Zaki said two carloads of gunmen sprayed automatic weapon fire at al-Rubaei's vehicle, killing the official and his driver.
The slaying follows Sunday's killing of another senior government official, Trade Ministry auditing office chief Ali Moussa.
State employees have been prime targets of insurgents bent on disrupting the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
In the interest of timeliness, this story is fed directly from the Associated Press newswire and may contain occasional typographical errors.
Howard Dean confuses bin Laden, Saddam
Democrat leader insists on jail time for DeLay on 'Meet the Press'
Mon May 23, 2005 07:28 AM BST
KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded on Monday near the convoy of a Kurdish official in the Iraqi town of Tuz Khurmatu south of Kirkuk, killing at least five people and wounding 18, police said.
They said several people in the convoy of the official, Mohammed Mahmoud Jigareti of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, had been killed and wounded, but Jigareti had survived.
Police said it was not yet clear whether the blast had been a suicide attack.
© Reuters 2005
Monday May 23, 2005
SAMARRA, Iraq (AP) - Three suicide bombers tried to attack an American military base in this city on Monday and wounded three U.S. soldiers, the military said.
Two suicide bombers detonated their car bombs at about 7 a.m. outside a U.S. base in downtown Samarra, 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, Maj. Richard Goldenberg said.
Three Task Force Liberty soldiers sustained non life-threatening wounds, Goldenberg added.
A third militant approached the scene wearing an explosives-packed vest and was shot by soldiers but still managed to set off his bomb, killing himself but causing no other injuries or damage, Goldenberg said.
U.S. and Iraqi security forces quickly cordoned off the area, blocking all vehicle and pedestrian traffic out of apparent fear that further terrorist attacks could be launched against the base.
Separately, a suicide bomber injured four Iraqi civilians in a Sunday attack in a neighborhood in Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. - AP
Sun May 22, 4:46 PM ET
UMM QASR, Iraq - The weight of a fuel truck collapsed the roof of an escape tunnel being dug out of Camp Bucca, where more than 6,000 suspected terrorists and insurgents are being held....(Excerpt)
Mon May 23, 2005 12:28 PM BST
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A car bomb at a restaurant in northern Baghdad caused more than 50 casualties on Monday, Iraqi police said.
They did not know how many people had been killed and how many wounded, but said 52 people had been caught up in the blast, which struck the restaurant at lunch time.
© Reuters 2005
BAGHDAD, May 23 (KUNA) -- Iraqi authorities arrested the nephew of the wanted terrorist Izzet Al-Douri who was Saddam's deputy during the era of the ousted government, said a statement released by the Iraqi Ministerial Council on Monday.
Iraqi security forces captured Mathna Shihab Ahmed Al-Douri, who is the nephew of Izzet Al-Douri in an area near Tikrit, the statement said.
"Mathna Al-Douri is the nephew of the terrorist Izzet Al-Douri who was the deputy president of the ousted Saddam Hussein. Mathna was a lieutenant during Saddam's government," the statement added.
Mathna Al-Douri has been providing protection to Izzet Al-Douri and expected to be the mastermind of roadside bombs in Al-Dour region.
In the meantime and according to intelligence information, security forces found a hiding place in a Baghdad house with weapons and ammunition. The five residents of the house were arrested.
A statement by the Iraqi government said the hiding place relates to Al-Zarqawi's terrorist network. Several mortars and 14 rifles along with loaded sniper-shoot guns were found in the place.
Eight explosive mines, six grenades, three missiles and a large quantity of explosives were found, in addition to propitiatory statements by the terrorist network.
Joint Iraqi-US sweep west of Baghdad nets 285 suspects
BAGHDAD, May 23 (AFP) - Iraqi and US forces captured 285 suspected insurgents in a single day during a massive sweep of Baghdad's western outskirts aimed at stopping a wave of car bombings in the capital, the military said Monday.
"Coalition forces, in conjunction with the Iraqi army and ministry of interior forces, have detained 285 suspected terrorists in the western Baghdad district of Abu Ghraib in less than 24 hours," a statement said.
The military did not specify the number of troops involved in "Operation Squeeze Play" but said the raid was being carried out by four Iraqi army and three police commando battalions, backed by US soldiers.
Battalions generally consist of 300 to 400 troops.
"This is the largest combined operation with Iraqi security forces to date," said Lieutenant Colonel Clifford Kent. "The Iraqi security forces have the lead in this operation while we perform shaping and supporting roles."
The sweep, which was still continuing Monday, was launched on Sunday and jointly prepared during a special briefing the previous day.
One of the main objectives was to "reduce the amount of vehicle bombs in the city", the military said.
"By the end of the summer, the terrorists will be captured, dead or, in the least, severely disrupted, because of Iraqi security forces' efforts in this operation," said Colonel Joseph DiSalvo, a coalition commander in Baghdad.
The area swept by US and Iraqi forces since Sunday includes neighbourhoods where many of the attacks carried out daily on the airport road are thought to originate.
Convoys carrying US troops, private security guards, foreign contractors and journalists are frequently hit on the airport road, a 12-kilometre (seven-mile) stretch nicknamed the "Death Strip".
The month of May has been one of the bloodiest since the 2003 invasion, with relentless car bombings and other attacks that have killed more than 500 people.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's wing in Iraq said it was behind the assassination of a security official on Monday, according to an Internet posting.
"Your brothers in ... squadron of Al Qaeda Organization for Holy War in Iraq killed Wael Rubaie, head of the operations room in the Ministry of State for National Security, as he headed to work in central Baghdad and his driver was also killed," said a group statement on an Islamist Web site.
Its authenticity could not be verified.
The group, led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has claimed responsibility for many attacks in a wave of insurgent suicide bombings and ambushes that have killed more than 500 people since a new Iraqi government was named late last month.
I see that our guys have been very busy.
Good mornin' TK. A busy day.
Mon May 23, 4:46 AM ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Three U.S. soldiers were killed on Sunday in two insurgent attacks in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the U.S. military said on Monday.
A U.S. military statement gave no details of the attacks that killed the three soldiers.
Earlier, the military reported that another U.S. soldier was killed in a car bomb attack on Sunday near the town of Tikrit.
Residents look through the holes of a U.S. armoured vehicle which was hit Sunday night by a roadside bomb in the al-Tamim area of Ramadi, about 113 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad in Iraq Monday, May 23, 2005 wounding three U.S. soldiers. (AP Photo/Omar Aboud)
Renewed attacks leave 15 dead
May 23 2005 at 03:24PM
By Michael Georgy
Baghdad- Guerrillas attacked a Baghdad restaurant and detonated a suicide truck bomb outside a mayor's office, as a deadly campaign aimed at toppling Iraq's new US-backed government killed at least 15 people on Monday.
Police said a car bomb blew up outside a restaurant in northern Baghdad at lunch time, killing at least four people and wounding more than 100.
The truck bomb exploded near the mayor's office in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, south of the oil city of Kirkuk, killing five and wounding 18.
Insurgents also struck in Samarra, targeting a US base with two car bombs and a suicide bomber strapped with explosives, killing four Iraqis and wounding four US soldiers.
Earlier on Monday, gunmen in Baghdad shot and killed Wael Rubaie, an official in the operations room of the Ministry of State for National Security, a government statement said. His driver was also killed.
Al-Qaeda's wing in Iraq, led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said it was behind the assassination.
The bloodshed came as mostly Sunni Muslim insurgents stepped up a campaign of attacks that have killed more than 500 people in the three weeks since a new Shi'ite-led government came to power with the promise of stability.
The wave of suicide bombings, assassinations and ambushes have raised fear that violence could spark civil war.
Among the dead in Tuz Khurmatu was the brother of a senior official in one of Iraq's main Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, police said.
The official, Mohammed Mahmoud Jigareti, was wounded in the blast. Both men had been in a car that was entering the mayor's office compound when the bomber struck.
Insurgents also have been targeting the US military.
Three American soldiers were killed in separate attacks in the northern city of Mosul on Sunday, the military said, and another US soldier was killed by a bomb blast near Tikrit.
More than a dozen senior Iraqi government officials have been killed in Baghdad in well planned attacks in recent weeks.
US and Iraqi forces detained 285 suspected insurgents in the western Baghdad district of Abu Ghraib after a widespread search, the US military said. It said the operation called "Squeeze Play" was designed to kill or capture guerrillas who have been staging attacks in the capital.
Iraqi officials are hoping to give Sunnis a bigger role in politics after they were sidelined in Jan. 30 elections, in a strategy designed to defuse the Sunni-led insurgency.
Tit-for-tat killings between Shi'as and Sunnis have raised fears that violence will push Iraq towards civil war. A senior US official said he didn't think such an outcome was likely, but added it was on his "list of things to worry about".
Leaders of Iraq's two Muslim sects have moved rapidly in the past few days to try to dispel the rising sectarian tensions.
Moqtada al-Sadr, a young cleric who led two armed uprisings against US troops last year, on Sunday sent a delegation to see the Sunni Muslim Clerics' Association, and another team met representatives of SCIRI, the main Shi'a party, and its militia, the Badr Organisation. Officials in Sadr's office said a summit between the two sides may be held.
Zarqawi, who Iraqi officials accuse of trying to spark a full-scale sectarian conflict, has warned Sunnis not to join the political process because it would make them infidels.
Zarqawi's group said on Sunday it killed a US pilot it had captured and posted pictures of his identity papers on the Internet, naming him as Neenus Khoshaba.
But the man's brother, Boulus, said Neenus had never worked for the US military and had recently returned to Iraq seeking business opportunities after studying in the United States.
Neenus was last seen just before heading to a meeting with oil officials.
"All we know is he has been kidnapped," Boulous said. "Today we heard from satellite channels that Zarqawi killed him."
Insurgents have kidnapped over 150 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis over the past two years. Many were released but about a third were killed, some by beheading.
Iraq's government said on Monday it had captured an insurgent related to Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the most-wanted aide of Saddam Hussein still on the run. A government statement said Muthana al-Douri was captured near Tikrit last week.
(Additional reporting by Aref Mohammed in Kirkuk and Faris al-Mehdawi and Waleed Ibrahim in Baghdad)
That statement reflects more truth than just about anything you hear in the mainstream media.
His glass is half full and his eyes are wide open. We need more of those types reporting in theater.
The scene at the site of a car bomb which exploded at lunchtime outside the popular Habayibna restaurant where police officers often meet for lunch, in the Talibia area of northern Baghdad, Iraq Monday, May 23, 2005, killing at least three people and injuring more than 70 according to eyewitnesses and hospital officials. (AP Photo/Mohammed Uraibi)
By PAUL GARWOOD, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A car bomb exploded Monday at a Baghdad restaurant popular with police, killing at least four people and wounding about 70, and militants assassinated a top national security official. Five U.S. troops were killed by roadside bombs and a vehicle accident.
U.S. soldiers survey the scene following a car bomb attack at a restaurant in Baghdad May 23, 2005. A car bomb at a restaurant in northern Baghdad caused more than 50 casualties May 23, Iraqi police said. They did not know how many people had been killed and how many wounded, but said at least 52 people had been caught up in the blast, which struck the restaurant at lunch time. (Ceerwan Aziz/Reuters
U.S. and Iraqi forces detained 300 suspected insurgents in the biggest sweep in the capital to date.
The car bomb in the busy Talibia neighborhood was detonated outside the Habayibna restaurant at a time when police officers usually meet there for lunch, said police Lt. Zaid Tarek.
Casualties were taken to three Baghdad hospitals, and they included four dead and 54 injured at al-Kindi hospital, according to admission records. At least 10 more wounded were taken to Imam Ali hospital and five to the Medical City hospital.
Earlier, two carloads of gunmen killed Maj. Gen. Wael al-Rubaei, a top national security official, and his driver in Baghdad's latest drive-by shooting.
Al-Qaida in Iraq, the group run by Jordanian terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility for killing al-Rubaei in a statement posted on an Internet site used by the group. The claim's authenticity could not be verified.
The brother of the driver cries out over his brother's body at Yarmouk hospital, after Maj. Gen. Wael al-Rubaei, director of the National Security Ministry's operations room, and his driver were assassinated by two carloads of gunmen in a drive-by shooting on their way to work, in Baghdad's Mansour district in Iraq Monday, May 23, 2005. State employees and security forces have been prime targets of insurgents bent on disrupting the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. (AP Photo/Mohammed Uraibi)
Al-Rubaei's killing came a day after another senior government official, Trade Ministry auditing office chief Ali Moussa, was killed as part of an ongoing terror campaign that has killed more than 550 people in less than a month.
AP - Mon May 23, 6:42 AM ET The coffin of Ali Moussa, the director general of the Iraqi Trade Ministry who was killed with his driver by gunmen in western Baghdad on Sunday, is carried in the funeral procession in the al-Salam neighbourhood of Baghdad, in Iraq Monday, May 23, 2005. State employees and security forces have been prime targets of insurgents bent on disrupting the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. (AP Photo/Mohammed Uraibi)
The U.S. military said Monday that three American soldiers were killed Sunday and one was injured in two separate attacks in the northern city of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.
Another two Task Force Liberty soldiers also were killed in separate incidents Sunday. The first was killed when his patrol was attacked with a car bomb just north of Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad. The other was killed in a vehicle accident near Kirkuk.
As of Monday, at least 1,634 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
In other violence around Iraq, a suicide bomber killed five people and injured 13 when he drove an explosives-packed pickup truck into a crowd outside a municipal council office in Tuz Khormato, 55 miles south of Kirkuk, said police commander Lt. Gen. Sarhat Qader.
A US officer secures the site of a suicide car bombing outside Tuz Khurmatu town hall. An insurgent killer squad shot dead the commander of Iraq's new counter-insurgency headquarters as he drove to work in Baghdad, as US and Iraqi troops conducted a massive sweep for insurgents.(AFP/Marwan Ibrahim)
Another two people were killed and two were injured in Kirkuk when a mortar round landed on a house, police Capt. Farhad Talabani said.
In the former insurgent stronghold of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, three suicide bombers tried to attack an American military base, injuring three soldiers, the military said.
Local residents view a house destroyed by a suicide car bomb attack in the northern Iraq town of Samarra, May 23, 2005. Three suicide bombers attempted to attack a U.S. military base in Samarra, killing two Iraqis and injuring nine people, including four U.S. soldiers, military and civilians officials said. Photo by Stringer/Iraq/Reuters
The joint offensive, dubbed Operation Squeeze Play, appeared to be winding down Monday. It involved seven Iraqi battalions backed by U.S. forces and was centered on western Baghdad's Abu Ghraib district, targeting militants suspected of attacking the U.S. detention facility there and the road linking downtown to the international airport, the military said.
"This is the largest combined operation with Iraqi security forces to date," said U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Clifford Kent. "The Iraqi Security Forces have the lead in this operation while we perform shaping and supporting roles."
Three Romanian journalists who had been held hostage in Iraq for nearly two months arrived home aboard a military plane Monday, a day after their release.
From right television reporter Marie Jeanne Ion, Romanian President Traian Basescu, Romania Libera reporter Ovidiu Ohanesian and cameraman Sorin Miscoci, hold hands shorthly after the three Romanian journalists freed from Iraq descended from a military aircraft in Bucharest Romania Monday May 23 2005.Three Romanian journalists who were held hostage in Iraq for nearly two months arrived home aboard a military plane Monday, a day after their release.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
TV reporter Marie Jeanne Ion and cameraman Sorin Miscoci, and newspaper reporter Ovidiu Ohanesian were kidnapped in Baghdad on March 28 with their guide, American-Iraqi Mohammed Monaf. The four were freed Sunday.
Former hostage Sorin Miscoci is hugged by relatives as he arrives at Bucharest military airport. The three Romanian journalists, Marie Jeanne Ion and Sorin Miscoci of Prima TV and Eduard Ohanesian of the Romania Libera newspaper, along with Iraqi-American Mohammed Munaf, were set free 22 May after being held hostage for nearly two months(AFP/Daniel Mihailescu)
Iraqi insurgents had demanded Romania withdraw its soldiers from Iraq. Bucharest rejected the demand. The three journalists were greeted Monday by Romania's President Traian Basescu and hundreds of journalists and friends.
Separately, Iraqi security forces captured Ismail Budair Ibrahim al-Obeidi, a "terrorist" close to al-Zarqawi's network, in Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad, a government statement said.
The suspect, also known as Abu Omar, planned car bomb attacks in Baghdad and rigged booby-trapped cars for foreign fighters, the statement said.
Meanwhile, aides to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr sought to defuse tension between Sunnis and the majority Shiites after a recent series of sectarian killings. Sunnis are believed to make up the bulk of Iraq's deadly insurgency.
The senior aides met Sunday with the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, a key Sunni group, in a bid to soothe tensions that have flared and resulted in the deaths of 10 Shiite and Sunni clerics in the past two weeks.
From left, Muqtada al-Sadr's aide Hazim al-Araji, Muqtada al-Sadr's aide Abdul-Hadi al-Daraji and Senior Sunni Cleric Abdul Salam al-Kubaisi leave a meeting between the two religious groups at Baghdad's Sunni Um al-Qura mosque in Iraq Sunday. (AP/Karim Kadim)
The association's leader, Harith al-Dhari, last week pinned the killing of several Sunnis, including clerics, on the Badr Brigades, the military wing of Iraq's largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The militia denied the charge and accused the Sunni association of trying to start a civil war.
Al-Sadr said in a television interview broadcast Sunday that the talks were aimed at settling the feud between the association and the Badr Bridges. Al-Sadr has resurfaced after lying low following fierce battles between his supporters and U.S. forces last year in the southern holy city of Najaf and Baghdad's impoverished Sadr City.
Sunni leaders have formed an alliance of tribal, political and religious groups to help Iraq's once-dominant minority break out of its deepening isolation following a Shiite rise to power after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni.
___ Associated Press reporter Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania, contributed to this report.
Bump Allegra and stay safe.
May 23, 2005
EL PASO, Texas - A military policeman has been sentenced to three months in prison after pleading guilty to assault and two counts of making a false statement in the 2002 beating death of a prisoner in Afghanistan.
In a plea bargain, Army prosecutors agreed not to pursue a charge of maltreatment against Spc. Brian E. Cammack. Cammack also agreed to testify in other cases related to the deaths of two inmates at the Bagram Control Point.
Cammack was sentenced Friday during a court-martial at Fort Bliss. He will be demoted to private, fined more than $3,200 and given a bad-conduct discharge.
"I have come to realize what I did was wrong," Cammack said.
Cammack, a member of the Army Reserve's 377th Military Police Company in Cincinnati, said he was angry when he struck the prisoner, Mullah Habibullah, twice in the thigh with his knee. The prisoner had allegedly spit on his chest.
The technique isn't supposed to be used unless a guard's life is in danger, but soldiers have testified it was used regularly with the knowledge of officers. Cammack told the judge that he didn't feel threatened by the prisoner.
Habibullah died of a pulmonary embolism apparently caused by blood clots formed in his legs from the beatings, according to a 2004 military report.
Prosecutors argued that Cammack should be given the maximum penalty of six months in prison. They declined comment after the court-martial.
"Spc. Cammack made a mistake. He has been punished, and now he is moving on with the rest of his life," said Capt. Robert Leone, the defense attorney.
Cammack testified earlier this year in a hearing for Pfc. Willie V. Brand, who is scheduled to face court-martial on charges of assault, maiming, maltreatment and making a false statement. Brand is accused of assaulting Habibullah and the other prisoner who died, a man identified only as Dilawar.
This month, the Army charged three more soldiers with assault at the detention center where the two prisoners died.
This U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter drops candy for kids near Balad, Iraq.
Posted on Mon, May. 23, 2005
Troops drop sweets, toys for Iraqi children to convey goodwill
BAGHDAD, Iraq - From a high-performance perch above the Iraqi countryside, Johnny Taylor is looking for targets at 145 mph.
He spots one, banks his Army Black Hawk in a 180-degree turn, and his machine gunners let loose.
Goal! Soccer ball away.
About 150 feet below, two Iraqi boys quit waving and bolt from a mud-brick farm compound to collect their spoils of war, bouncing high into a crop field.
Taylor, 59, a chief warrant officer with the Salisbury, N.C.-based Bravo Co. of the N.C. Army National Guard 126th Aviation Battalion, has been dropping treats to kids in rural regions since his yearlong tour began in January.
"It doesn't hurt anything, and someday this kid will grow up, and somebody will ask him to be a terrorist and he'll think back on a soccer ball from a helicopter," says Taylor, a Vietnam veteran from Gastonia.
"And how many people will he tell about this?"
In the struggle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, U.S. soldiers are concentrating on the country's children. It is there, they say, they have the best chance to leave a lasting positive impression.
"We believe changing the attitude of kids, 6 to 12, will benefit us long-term most," says Brig. Gen. Tom Lawing of Matthews, who commands the Charlotte-based N.C. Army National Guard 30th Engineer Brigade at Camp Anaconda in Balad, the helicopter's base.
"We want the next generation of Iraqis to have national pride, but also see the U.S. as a good thing."
Taylor and his machine gunners -- Spc. Andrew Boyce, 23, of Winston-Salem, and Spc. Joe Elmore, 20, of Salisbury -- also drop "candy bombs," zipper-locked bags with Beanie Babies and candies adorned with a flowing red ribbon to mark their landing spot.
To avoid enemy fire, they fly fast and near the ground, so low that the powerful Black Hawk must pull up to avoid high-tension power lines on their mission from Balad to Baghdad.
Kids they spot along the way get the goodies, supplied by a unit in Fayetteville, if it won't interfere the chopper's mission and there's no sign of insurgent activity.
"I'd like to just have a Black Hawk to myself," Taylor says, "and just go around and do candy bombs."
With Our Soldiers
Observer reporter Mark Washburn (right) and Macon (Ga.) Telegraph photographer Nick Oza, both of Knight Ridder newspapers, are in Iraq to report on our troops' humanitarian missions.
Spc David Hayes a 30th Engineering Brigade from N.C., holds a Guidon Banner flag during Combat Shoulder Sleeve Insignia Awards while Brig. General Thomas Lawing greets the soliders at Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq. This awards is for the service in combat zone. Photo by Nick Oza
Posted on Sun, May. 22, 2005
BALAD, Iraq -- Anaconda is a company town and the company loves misery.
Talk to U.S. soldiers and airmen occupying this old Iraqi air base an hour north of Baghdad, and they will tell you that, yes, they miss their families. Yes, it's hotter than Satan's stove. Yes, body armor and helmets are clunky office fashion when there's a mortar alert.
But at Logistical Staging Area Anaconda, a well-gated community of 23,000, they point with pride to their missions.
"The kids were all grabbing and excited," says Sgt. Barbara Tobin, describing a trip to a school where soldiers distributed candy and stuffed animals, the kind of humanitarian mission that U.S. forces conduct daily but rarely makes the news back home.
"I believe in fighting for my country," says Tobin, from Pineville and recently married. "The best country to live in is the United States of America even though we're overtaxed."
Tobin has been at Camp Anaconda since January, a member of the Charlotte-based N.C. National Guard 30th Engineer Brigade, responsible for projects in the northern half of Iraq ranging from school renovations to repairing highways after bomb attacks.
She is on a yearlong rotation at the sprawling base, where American touches like Pizza Hut and Burger King are available, but the most popular attraction is a leftover from the Saddam regime -- two swimming pools, one indoors, where troops slosh off the desert heat.
Even here, money walks
Isolated by danger, language and barbed wire, the 23,000 residents of Camp Anaconda have their own economy and 1st Lt. Michael Worley, of Wilson in Eastern North Carolina, is its overseer and analyst, sort of a far-flung Alan Greenspan.Worley is in charge of the base finance office and explains the tidal action of cash on the soldiers' twice-monthly paydays.
"They get that money and take it straight over to the PX. The next day it comes straight back here."
And goes straight to Sgt. Cynthia Lilly, who rules the vault. She swings open the door on her safe to reveal the camp's treasury, about $1.1 million in cash, much of it worn by the round trips to the military exchange store.
"It doesn't look like much, does it?" she asks, and no, it doesn't. The bills barely fill two shelves in the steel box. A fortune in fives has never been freed from its shrink-wrap.
Dust is so thick here it dances in headlight beams like a misty fog. Spc. Roderick Simon of Rocky Mount in Eastern North Carolina, has it worse than most. His sinuses are OK, but he fixes the engineering brigade's computers and often finds their delicate innards coated with fine grit.
CD ROMs have a short life here, and floppy discs are beyond redemption. Simon wages a never-ending battle against the ancient sands of Iraq, with cans of compressed air his sword and shield.
Pay for risky job
While no one complains they're overpaid here, war zone duty does have its rewards. Soldiers in Iraq get an extra $225 a month in family separation pay, another $225 a month for hostile fire pay and $100 a month in hardship duty pay, plus tax breaks.Meals and clothing are free, but there are temptations beyond the powers of even hardened soldiers.
"The food in the chow hall is great, but there's something about going by the Burger King and smelling it that makes you want to go in," Worley admits.
Stars and `Star Wars'
Hollywood gets out here, too.
Amanda Swisten, star of the movie "The Girl Next Door," was in camp last week on a morale mission. Blonde, impossibly thin and showcasing it all in nonregulation shorts, she said she liked visiting Anaconda because, "It's not all men like some of the other camps. There, they weren't paying much attention to Dean."
She extended a willowy limb at actor Dean Cain, posing nearby for pictures with passers-by. He starred in TV's "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" and was touring the war zone with her.
Thursday, the third installment of the new "Star Wars" trilogy opened, which included the screen at Anaconda. Because the camp is in a time zone eight hours ahead of New York, Anacondians were among the first U.S. audiences to see the movie.
Soldiers were gathering outside the post playhouse in the afternoon for a good spot in line for the 6 p.m. premiere.
Several dozen were in queue by 4:05 p.m. when a siren wailed, signaling that the camp was under attack by mortar or rocket fire. Everyone had to move into a bunker until the all clear was sounded 25 minutes later.
Thursday's was the 39th mortar alert this month. Sensitive radars often pick up the arc of the incoming round, and if there is enough data to triangulate its source, eager specialists in mortar huts send one back.
Fired from distances of 10 miles or more, the insurgents' mortars are the equivalent of pitching a dart onto a football field while blindfolded in the parking lot and trying to nail someone in the helmet.
They usually fall harmlessly into the vast open spaces of the base, which has a 23-mile perimeter, though one mortar round recently burrowed into a latrine. The structure was unoccupied. It would have been a bad way to go.
An upgrade in housing
What used to be a tent city has been transformed in the last year into a giant trailer park. Most soldiers live in mobile housing units, modest but comfortable compartments, many adorned with satellite TV dishes.Ambiance of highway construction is the camp's decorator motif. Jersey barriers, like those lining road projects, surround dwellings, eating halls and offices.
But these Jersey barriers are on basketball scholarship, reaching about 10 feet in height to shield against shrapnel blasts. Locals call them Texas barriers.
Hangars still house wings
Concrete humps measle the air base side of the post, old hangars for Saddam Hussein's air force. One of the vast bunkers has been transformed into a sorting center for mail, with boxes and letters destined for remote bases packed up and made ready for transport by truck or plane.
"We have a word here: fascuracy," says Maj. Ephraim Grubbs of High Point, meaning that the mission is to move the mail fast but accurately to its target. It's a complicated job in a military that is constantly on the go, and Grubbs' team takes pride in tracking down soldiers on the move and getting them their care package from home.
When military records fail to pinpoint the location of the addressee, Grubbs' unit does not admit defeat. "We've even e-mailed people to ask where they are so we can get them their stuff," he says.
In the cool cavern of the hangar where Saddam's mighty MiGs used to nest, a new generation of wings are found, something pleasant in the harsh desert. Entertaining mail sorters all day with giddy song are tiny birds in the rafters, making the best of their new quarters.
With Our Soldiers
Observer reporter Mark Washburn (right) and Macon (Ga.) Telegraph photographer Nick Oza, both of Knight Ridder newspapers, traveled with an N.C. National Guard unit to Iraq.
President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai hold a joint news conference, Monday, May 23, 2005, in the East Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Posted on Mon, May. 23, 2005
JENNIFER LOVEN Associated Press
WASHINGTON - President Bush said Monday that U.S. troops in Afghanistan will remain under U.S. control despite Afghan President Hamid Karzai's request for more authority over them.
"Of course, our troops will respond to U.S. commanders," Bush said, with Karzai standing at his side at the White House. At the same time, Bush said the relationship between Washington and Kabul is "to cooperate and consult" on military operations.
There are about 20,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, costing about $1 billion a month. That is in addition to approximately 8,200 troops from NATO countries in Kabul and elsewhere.
Bush also said that Afghan prisoners under U.S. control in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere, would be slowly returned to their home countries.
"We will do this over time," he said. "We have to make sure the facilities are there."
Bush had high praise for Karzai as a valued anti-terror partner and credited the Afghan leader with "showing countries in the neighborhood what's possible."
Karzai thanked Bush for helping to put his country on the path to democracy. But he also came to their meeting with a long list of grievances.
Karzai wants more control over U.S. military operations in his country, custody of Afghan prisoners held by the United States and more assistance in fighting opium trade.
As for the opium-heroin trade, Bush said, "I made it very clear to the president that we have got to work together to eradicate the poppy crop."
Karzai commented on recent reports of abuse of Afghan prisoners by their American captors. "We are of course sad about that," he said, speaking in fluent English. But, he added, "It does not reflect on the American people."
Similarly, a report - later retracted - in Newsweek magazine earlier this month that alleged mistreatment of the Quran by American prison guards does not reflect American values, Karzai said.
While claiming the original report was not responsible journalism, Karzai said, "Newsweek's story is not America's story. That's what we understrand in Afghanistan."
Saying that he himself had been to a mosque in Washington, Karzai noted that many thousands of Muslims are going on a daily basis to mosques in America, without incident.
The two leaders addressed reporters in the East Room of the White House.
Bush welcomed his guest as the "first democratically elected leader in the 5,000- year history of Afghanistan."
"And your leadership has been strong," Bush added.
Bush and Karzai pledged to work more closely together amid continued instability and protests in Afghanistan.
"It's important for the Afghan people to understand that we have a strategic vision about our relationship with Afghanistan," Bush said.
He said the United States and Afghanistan had signed a "strategic partnership" that establishes "regular high-level exchanges on ... economic issues of mutual interest. "
"We will consult with Afghanistan if it perceives its territorial integrity, independence or security is at risk," Bush said.
Karzai said that he hoped Afghanistan would be free of opium poppy crops within five to six years and that Afghan farmers could find alternative crops like honeydew melons and pomegranates.
Opium poppies are the raw material for heroin. Their cultivation has rocketed since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Last year, cultivation reached a record 323,700 acres, yielding nearly 80 percent of world supply.
"Indeed, Afghanistan is suffering from the cultivation of poppies, which is undermining our economy," Karzai said. "It's giving us a bad name, worst of all."
Ahead of their meeting, Karzai said that he wanted more control of U.S. forces in his country and to take over custody of the hundreds of Afghans detained in military jails in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during and after the 2001 U.S. invasion that ousted the repressive Taliban regime.
Karzai began his U.S. stay by sharply denying a reported State Department cable that said he has not worked strongly enough to curtail production of opium, the raw material for heroin. The cable, from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said the U.S. crackdown there has not been very effective, in part because Karzai "has been unwilling to assert strong leadership," The New York Times reported Sunday.
Recent anti-American protests across Afghanistan killed at least 15 people and threatened a security crisis for Karzai's feeble central government.
The White House blamed the May 9 Newsweek report for igniting the violence.
U.S. President George W. Bush shakes hands after a joint press availability with the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (L), in the East Room at the White House in Washington May 23, 2005. REUTERS/Shaun Heasley
U.S. first lady Laura Bush, right, is given a tour of the pyramids of Giza by egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass on Monday, May 23, 2005 in GIza, Egypt. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Posted on Mon, May. 23, 2005
NEDRA PICKLER Associated Press
GIZA, Egypt - First lady Laura Bush on Monday endorsed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's plan for presidential elections as "bold and wise" despite complaints from opposition groups that the voting is designed to keep Mubarak in power.
"I would say that President Mubarak has taken a very bold step. He's taking the first step to open up the elections and I think that's very, very important," Mrs. Bush said. She spent a day in Egypt, much of the time with Egyptian first lady Suzanne Mubarak.
Speaking to reporters in front of the Giza pyramids, Mrs. Bush noted that the United States' democracy also took time to fully develop.
"As you know, you have to be slow as you do each of these steps," Mrs. Bush said. "You know that each step is a small step, that you can't be quick."
Egyptians are deciding in a referendum whether to accept changes to the constitution that would allow for the country's first multi-candidate presidential election in September. Mubarak, Egypt's president for 24 years, has been regularly re-installed in yes-no referendums in which his name is the only one on the ballot. He hasn't formally announced he will run again but is widely expected to do so.
Opponents say the new system is being set up to ensure Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party still controls the election outcome.
Last week, the White House said President Bush supports Mubarak's plan to hold free and competitive elections for president and urged Egypt to allow for full campaigning as well as international observers.
Winding up her five-day trip to the Middle East, Mrs. Bush echoed her husband's praise of the Egyptian leader.
"I think he's been very bold and wise to take the first step," she said.
Earlier Monday, Mrs. Bush said she was not surprised to encounter protesters over the weekend during her tour of Mideast holy sites and pledged the United States will do all it can to help resolve age-old conflicts.
"As we all know, this is a place of very high tensions and high emotions," the first lady said while standing in the garden courtyard of the Church of the Resurrection in Abu Ghosh, Israel, a predominantly Muslim town where some believe Jesus appeared on Easter. "And you can understand why when you see the people with a deep and sincere faith in their religion all living side by side."
Mrs. Bush visited sites sacred to all three major religions born in the region. As she toured the 12th century church, nuns and monks sang Psalm 150 in Hebrew as a symbol of the religious cultures coexisting in the region.
President Bush talked with his wife by telephone Monday and she told him the trip was going well, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. McClellan dismissed the protests as "a little commotion" and said the demonstrators were few although they got a lot of coverage.
From Israel, Mrs. Bush traveled to Cairo, where she met with Mrs. Mubarak at Ittihadiyya Palace. The two women then taped a segment for "Alam Simsim," the Egyptian version of "Sesame Street," with a peach-colored puppet named Khokha. "Mama Suzanne" and "Auntie Laura," as Khokha called the first ladies, talked about the importance of reading to children.
US First Lady Laura Bush chats with Egyptian Sesame Street character Khokha before a segment taping at Alam Simsim Studio in Giza, just south of Cairo.(AFP/Jim Watson)
U.S. first lady Laura Bush (L) and Egypt's first lady Suzanne Mubarak tour the set of 'Alam Simsim', the Egyptian version of the popular U.S. children's show 'Sesame Street' in Cairo, Egypt May 23, 2005. U.S. first lady Bush is on a Middle East tour to counter anti-U.S. sentiment in the region. REUTERS/Hasan Jamali/Pool
Mrs. Bush's low-key travels Monday were in contrast to her stops Sunday at sites sacred to Muslims and Jews.
Asked about the protests during an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," Mrs. Bush said she understands resentments that have been built up, in part because of reports and pictures of prisoner abuse.
"I know from visiting Afghanistan ... that many, many people are glad our troops are there, that we are giving them a chance to rebuild their country," she said. "All of us, everyone ... deplore the photographs that we've seen, the reports that we've heard of prisoner abuse, but that's not really not what happens (with U.S. forces) ... This is a handful of people."
She said she feels that the American presence in the Middle East and Southwest Asia "is really wanted and is needed" to ensure nation-building and peacemaking.
Asked on NBC's "Today" show if she had felt endangered during the tours in the Middle East, the first lady replied, "No, I did not at all. I think maybe the reports that you all have seen have been slightly exaggerated. ... I have never felt at all unsafe."
Mrs. Bush's five-day visit was intended partly to help defuse anti-American sentiment in the region. Strains have arisen because of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and allegations that American interrogators have mistreated Muslim prisoners.
ON THE NET
Laura Bush: http://www.whitehouse.gov/firstlady
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants his first White House visit this week to yield assurances from George W. Bush of pressure on Israel to start heeding a 'road map' peace plan, aides and diplomats say. But Abbas has scaled back expectations of concrete promises from Bush of 'final-status' negotiations on a Palestinian state once Israel evacuates the occupied Gaza Strip in three months. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas talks to the media after his arrival at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 21,2005. (Loay Abu Haykel/Reuters)
By Wafa Amr
RAMALLAH (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants his first White House visit this week to yield assurances from George W. Bush of pressure on Israel to start heeding a "road map" peace plan, aides and diplomats say.
But Abbas has scaled back expectations of concrete promises from Bush of "final-status" negotiations on a Palestinian state once Israel evacuates the occupied Gaza Strip in three months.
Thursday's meeting has great symbolic importance as the first by a Palestinian president since 2000, when Middle East peace negotiations collapsed into violence for which U.S. officials often blamed Abbas's late predecessor Yasser Arafat.
Washington, keen to embark on the long-stalled "road map," has welcomed Abbas's vow to seek statehood by peaceful means as well as a ceasefire he declared with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in February and persuaded militants to respect.
But diplomatic momentum has diminished.
A spate of truce violations by Gaza militants, who say they are avenging Israeli assaults, have exposed Abbas's shaky grip. Meanwhile, Israel has suspended ice-breaking gestures like military pullbacks in the occupied West Bank.
Abbas wants to ensure there is movement toward talks on a state after Israel scraps Jewish settlements in Gaza -- slated for August -- and for that he needs Bush's support.
But Abbas's aides said he did not now anticipate a Bush pledge of talks on "final-status" peace issues like borders. Israel rejects such talks until Abbas subdues militant factions, a precondition for carrying out the "road map."
"Abbas doesn't have high expectations that Bush would commit to push Israel to enter final-status negotiations after it pulls out of Gaza," a senior Palestinian official said.
"But he does want assurances from Bush that he will make Israel implement the road map after the Gaza pullout (to set the stage for) a sovereign, territorially contiguous state."
He meant mainly a halt to Israel's expansion of large West Bank settlements. This contravenes the road map, but Sharon cites a Bush pledge to him in 2004 that Israel would not have to cede all the West Bank under any realistic peace deal.
POSSIBLE MILITANT THREAT
Abbas is expected to impress on Bush the threat he believes he will face from militants, especially the growing Islamist Hamas movement, if Palestinian hopes for a viable state through negotiations are dashed after a Gaza pullout.
Palestinians welcome the prospect of taking over Gaza. But Sharon has made clear Israel will keep larger tracts of the West Bank as the trade-off, absorbing what Palestinians say would constitute the center of a future state.
Many analysts say that if Sharon slams the door to talks after uprooting all 21 settlements from Gaza and four of 120 in the West Bank, militants will resume major attacks.
Israel says no road map process is possible without an end to Palestinian militant activity. Palestinians say Abbas will have difficulty stopping it unless Israel also meets obligations under the plan, such as freezing West Bank settlement activity.
Washington has praised new Palestinian security reforms and wants Israel to help Abbas weaken the appeal of militants by doing more to ease restrictions on civilian movement in the West Bank. Both matters are initial "road map" requirements.
"But the Americans are not ready to confront Israel on other sensitive broader issues that could pose a problem for Sharon or disrupt the disengagement plan," one Western diplomat said.
Nationalist Jews are escalating a protest campaign against the pullout, denouncing it as "a reward for terrorism," and opinion poll support for the plan has slipped a little in reaction to fresh barrages on Gaza settlements by militants.
ISRAEL TO PRESS BUSH
Sharon's top security adviser Dov Weisglass will precede Abbas to Washington on Tuesday to urge the White House not to promise the Palestinian leader any concrete steps toward statehood, a senior Israeli political source said.
"Weisglass will explain to the Americans that there are growing fears in Israel of 'Hamas-stan' in Gaza after we leave, and that giving Abbas a prize before he has stamped out terrorism would damage Sharon's case for proceeding with disengagement," the source told Reuters.
Abbas will bring Bush up to date on reforms, praised by U.S. officials, in which he has retired force commanders who ignored his orders to rein in militants, merged feuding security agencies and tried to recruit militants as policemen.
"President Abbas will try to get the message across that changing the culture of terrorism works better than (forcibly) dismantling the infrastructure of militant groups. Luring those groups into the mainstream will moderate them," Rafiq Husseini, chief of staff of Abbas's office, told Reuters.
At a contemporary worship service at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq, participants greet each other during fellowship time in the Transformation Chapel. Almost everyone is from the Stryker Brigade, which is also known as the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division from Fort Lewis. The brigade is deployed here and at other bases around Mosul.
MATT MISTEREK; The News Tribune
Last updated: May 23rd, 2005 10:45 AM
MOSUL, Iraq Gathered together in the renovated shell of an old Iraqi Army pistol range, a few dozen Fort Lewis soldiers and civilian military workers joined in singing Hymn No. 212 from the Baptist Hymnal. Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves.
He will lift you by his love, out of the angry waves.
Love lifted me, love lifted me
When nothing else could help, love lifted me.
It was a declaration of religious faith and an acknowledgement that they cant go it alone. And on a day when they would learn two of their Stryker Brigade comrades had been killed overnight, they could use the lift they get each week at Transformation Chapel.
Sitting in church on Sunday morning provides a spiritual sanctuary but not a physical one for these men and women who deployed from Tacoma in October. Twice last fall, enemy mortar rounds struck near the chapel during services, peppering the side of the building with shrapnel and breaking eight window panes. Sheets of plywood with cutout crosses now cover those gaps.
Sgt. Anita Shaw is still amazed that no glass shards fell on worshippers inside. She says it was Gods way of showing off.
You know hes here to protect you, said Shaw, who works in the 25th Brigade Support Battalions supply shop. Even though you always have your buddy on your left and your buddy on your right, God gives you overall protection.
Transformation is one of four chapels operated by Stryker Brigade ministry teams at Forward Operating Base Marez, the most populous U.S. installation in northern Iraq. Army chaplains and lay religious leaders seek to give comfort and spiritual counsel to soldiers, many of them young and confronting questions of life and death for the first time.
The 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment the unit known as The Bobcats has many soldiers who identify themselves as Christians. There are also two Jews, two Muslims and a handful of Wiccans among the battalions 700-some infantrymen. Then there is the vast middle ground.
A huge chunk is no preference Id say about 30 percent which is what youd expect with 18- to 20-year-olds who havent worked out their religious life yet, said Capt. Donald Carrothers, the chaplain for the 1-5.
I call them the superstitious ones, he added. Theyll come by and ask me for Celtic-style crosses. Some of the Stryker drivers really like carrying those. But you wont see them at chapel.
Officials with the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division Fort Lewis second Stryker brigade have taken steps to accommodate the religious needs of soldiers outside of the mainline Protestant denominations.
A Catholic priest roves among the U.S. bases in Mosul and celebrates Mass at Marez on Saturdays and Sundays. A reconciliation booth, or confessional, is set up at Transformation Chapel, behind the stage where a contemporary praise band plays.
A group of Mormons meets on Sunday afternoons. And the support battalion recently converted a building into a place for Muslim soldiers to practice their beliefs, complete with prayer rugs.
Even so, Carrothers conceded that resources for many religions are lacking, and Islamic and Jewish faith leaders only pass through a few times a year.
There are only about 5 or 6 Muslim chaplains in the whole Army, said Carrothers, whose background is Southern Baptist. The same with rabbis; they are in very short supply.
Saihou Jobe, a 22-year-old Stryker mechanic, is believed to be the only devout Muslim in the 1-5 Infantry. He said that his superiors in the vehicle shop have been good about giving him the time he needs for his five-times-a-day prayers. In fact, sometimes they remind him to pray.
Jobes unit took part in the coalition offensive in Fallujah last fall, which coincided with the holy month of Ramadan. His bosses offered to give him downtime in his tent during the day so that he could observe the pre-sundown fast, but he chose to keep working because his colleagues needed him.
I would wake up in the middle of the night to eat just so I would be strong the next day, said Jobe, who was raised in the African nation of Gambia, where his grandfather was an imam.
Jobe carries his red prayer rug the same one hes had since basic training in his CamelBak backpack. His Holy Quran is stored safely in a black zippered bag.
This is where I go for answers, he said, holding the book gently in the break room of the Stryker shop. This is my guide.
Many Christians on base are equally committed to practicing their beliefs in a combat zone. Spc. Edwin Gonzalez, 28, a supply specialist from Puerto Rico, even waited to come to Iraq to be baptized. Outside Transformation Chapel last fall, he and three other soldiers were immersed in a 3,000-gallon canvas bag used for storing water.
I just have this feeling that Jesus walked somewhere around this part of the world, Gonzalez explained Sunday morning, after packing up the bass guitar he plays in the praise band.
And with that, he put on his armor vest, picked up his rifle from the chapel gun rack and walked out into the morning sun.
Matt Misterek: email@example.com
Baghdad raids net 22 terrorists, weapons, $6 million
BAGHDAD, Iraq Task Force Baghdad units nabbed 15 terror suspects during six early-morning raids conducted throughout Baghdad on May 22.
One of the raids, in central Baghdad, netted two suspected terrorists and $6 million dollars in US currency.
Later in the day, an Iraqi citizen told Iraqi Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division about two people suspected of planning and carrying out a car-bomb attack near a military base in central Baghdad. An Iraqi patrol went to the site, cordoned off the area and detained two suspects. Both suspects were taken into custody for questioning.
Another Iraqi citizen's tip helped Task Force Baghdad Soldiers find 14 mortar rounds in east Baghdad.
In other combat operations May 22, a dismounted Iraqi Army patrol from the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division found another weapons cache in east Baghdad. The Iraqi Soldiers found three mortar rounds, one rocket, three grenades and AK-47 rifles. The cache also contained one chemical mask, 135 anti-aircraft rounds, machine gun ammunition, a police radio and speaker and six fuses.
Iraqi Soldiers from the 3rd Muthana Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division uncovered a third weapons cache containing a number of rockets buried in Abu Ghraib. Explosives experts checked for booby traps, and finding none, removed an undetermined number of rockets from the site.
In north Baghdad, a Task Force Baghdad observation team investigating an earlier mortar attack saw a suspicious vehicle parked in front of a house. When the Soldiers searched the house they found a male disguised as a woman in an apparent effort to avoid detection. The man was arrested and taken into custody for further questioning.
Later, a U.S. convoy hit a roadside bomb in western Baghdad. No Soldiers were injured in the attack, but an Iraqi citizen was hurt. While Army medics treated the injured civilian's wounds, they saw a taxi cab start to leave with four occupants trying to hide. The Soldiers stopped the cab and detained all four occupants. The injured citizen was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Text for release and opsec review provided by the TASK FORCE BAGHDAD Public Affairs Office. contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
BAGHDAD , Iraq Local commanders from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, and Coalition Forces met May 21 to discuss how to deal with terrorist actions in Baghdad 's Rusafa neighborhood.
This is just the beginning of a new era of cooperation between the Iraqi Police, Public Order Brigades and the Iraqi Army. From now on, forces from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense and Coalition Forces will work together to defeat the terrorists in Baghdad, said US Army Col. Joseph DiSalvo, commander of Coalition Forces in Rusafa, eastern Baghdad, to open the meeting.
One of the Iraqi commanders said it was important to note this was the first time all the different MoI/MoD units were meeting to talk about an operation. This will go a long way toward making all of our groups more effective and unified, he said.
DiSalvo briefed the Iraqi commanders on a plan to reduce the amount of vehicle bombs in the city. The operation is a combined mission; we need the Iraqi Forces to work together to make it a success, he said.
Iraqi commanders seemed very interested in planning the operation and offered advice on how to identify vehicle bombs. They offered comments on who they think are making the bombs, how to seal off Baghdad from terrorist infiltration and how to improve communications among themselves and with the Coalition Forces.
One Iraqi general provided some observations he has made about vehicle bombs. He said citizens need to be on the look out for vehicles with tinted windows; vehicles riding low or tilted to one side due to carrying a heavy load of explosives; religious writing on the side of a vehicle, so a terrorist photographer will be able to recognize the vehicle; vehicles with usually only one occupant; and vehicles driving very fast.
The Iraqi general said actions by security forces alone are not enough to defeat the terrorist threat. It is important for the citizens to report suspicious persons or vehicles to the police and army. This is not something the Iraqi security force can do on its own, he said.
US Army Maj. Daniel Cormier, an operations officer with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, briefed the concept of the operation and roles of both the US and Iraqi units. He stressed the need for crosstalk and coordination between all forces involved. He emphasized that through cooperation, the Iraqi people will see a surge of Iraqi security force presence and need to understand we are doing this for their safety, he said.
It is very important for the Iraqi people to know that the Iraqi security force is here to help, DiSalvo said. By the end of the summer, the terrorists will be captured, dead or, in the least, severally disrupted, because of (security) efforts in this operation, DiSalvo said.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONCERNING THIS RELEASE, CONTACT THE TASK FORCE BAGHDAD PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE AT: TaskForceBaghdadPAO@id3.army.mil .
May 23, 2005
Release Number: 05-05-28
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OPERATION PENINSULA NETS 184 TERROR SUSPECTS
DIWANIYAH, Iraq Polish and Iraqi Soldiers nabbed 184 terror suspects and seized weapons parts, ammunition, possible bomb-making materials and propaganda in As Suwaryah May 19 and 20.
Multi-National Division Central-Souths 1st Polish Brigade and the 19th Iraqi Army Brigade conducted Operation Peninsula to round up terrorists and eliminate their base of operations.
Among the items confiscated were parts to various weapons and 6,000 AK-47 rounds. Troops also confiscated paramilitary clothing.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONCERNING THIS RELEASE, CONTACT THE MULTI-NATIONAL DIVISION CENTRAL-SOUTH PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER. PIOMNDCS@POCZTA.ONET.PL OR PIOMNDCS@WP.PL.
A holy Quran which, according to members of the National Guard, survived the explosion of a car bomb at lunchtime outside the popular Habayibna restaurant, where police officers often meet for lunch, in the Talibia area of northern Baghdad, Iraq Monday, May 23, 2005, killing at least three people and injuring more than 70 according to eyewitnesses and hospital officials. (AP Photo / Mohammed Uraibi)
So they don't think it possible that someone just set it on the seat AFTER the explosion?
KABUL (AP) - Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces arrested 15 suspected drug traffickers and seized a large quantity of opium in a major counter-narcotics swoop in a southern province, local officials said Monday.
Elsewhere, the bodies of two men, thought to be Uzbeks who were kidnapped as they drove down a highway in another southern province last week, were found shot to death, said Ali Khail, spokesman for the governor of Zabul province. He blamed Taliban rebels.
The counter-narcotics operation began Sunday in Helmand province and continued Monday. An Afghan force, supported by coalition soldiers and helicopters, seized 32 assault rifles, three vehicles and the opium, which was then destroyed by burning, officials said. A former provincial intelligence chief was among those arrested.
The commander of the police anti-narcotics squad, Gen. Said Kamal Sadat, said helicopters from the U.S.-led coalition participated in the raids.
The U.S. military in Kabul said its forces were not involved. British officials, who have a lead role in the anti-drug campaign, declined to comment.
The raid came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai pressed for more assistance in fighting the opium trade during a meeting Monday with President George W. Bush in Washington.
Bush told reporters he made it clear to Karzai "that we have got to work together to eradicate the poppy crop."
Opium poppies are the raw material for heroin. Their cultivation has soared since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Last year, cultivation reached a record 131,000 hectares, yielding nearly 80 per cent of world supply.
Karzai said he hoped Afghanistan would be free of opium poppy crops within five or six years and that Afghan farmers find alternative crops like honeydew melons and pomegranates.
The Uzbek Embassy said local authorities had informed them that five or six armed men had attacked two trucks driven by Uzbeks last week and that at least one of the men had been killed, but the fate of the other was not known.
However, Khail said local residents had found two bodies Sunday in an area between Shinkay and Sori districts about a two-hour drive from the scene of Wednesday's kidnapping, and had alerted police.
Khail said the two men appeared to be about 35 years old and had been shot with AK-47s. He said authorities were sure they were the kidnap victims, but couldn't provide their names.
Separately, the United Nations on Sunday called for Afghan human rights investigators to be allowed into Bagram, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, after the New York Times reported that poorly trained U.S. soldiers there had repeatedly abused prisoners.
"Such abuses are utterly unacceptable and an affront to everything the international community stands for," said Richard Provencher, UN spokesman in Afghanistan. The U.S. military did not respond to requests for comment Sunday.
Karzai also commented on recent reports of abuse of Afghan prisoners by their American captors. "We are of course sad about that," he said in Washington. But, he added, "It does not reflect on the American people."
Bush, meanwhile, said American troops in Afghanistan will remain under U.S. control despite Karzai's request for more authority over them.
"Of course, our troops will respond to U.S. commanders," Bush said, with Karzai standing at his side at the White House. At the same time, Bush said the relationship between Washington and Kabul is "to co-operate and consult" on military operations.
That was my 1st thought too. That book was not in the car at the time of the explosion.
The invinsible Koran you know.
The one in Guantanamo might have even put its ownself in the toilet after being touched by an infidel.
5/20/2005 6:04 PM
By: News 14 Carolina
The IPPA is encouraging others to voice their concerns about prisoner mistreatment and religious intimidation by calling or e-mailing the White House.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. Newsweek recently retracted a controversial story about American interrogators desecrating the Quran at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, but the Islamic Political Party of America is calling for a national day of outrage on May 23.
The IPPA is encouraging others to voice their concerns about prisoner mistreatment and religious intimidation by calling or e-mailing the White House.
A recent Newsweek story described American interrogators desecrating the Quran at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay.
"We are constantly told that this is not a war against Islam and if it truly isn't which I believe religion probably plays a small part in this war but if it truly is not against Islam, they would stop using religious intimidation," said IPPA chairman Jibril Hough.
"Our whole purpose of this is to get people to call in not only Muslims, but concerned Christians and Jews and anybody who loves justice and right," IPPA national organizer Ali Abdur-Rashid said.
Newsweek has stated that despite its retraction, it will continue to investigate charges of religious intimidation.
Iraq News, BAGHDAD, International human rights organisations have raised concern over the Iraqi prime ministers' recent announcement that the death penalty would be implemented as a way to control ongoing violence and insurgency in the country.
"It's true that they have been having serious security problems in the country but the death penalty certainly is not appropriate. What they are doing is just suppressing human rights in the country. We are against this decision," Middle East spokeswoman for Amnesty International (AI), Nicole Choueiry, told IRIN from their London headquarters.
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, announced on 16 May in Baghdad that the death sentence would be retained and that the new government would be prepared to use it. He added that insurgents were trying to start open warfare between Shi'ites and Sunnis.
Iraq's interim government reinstated the death penalty for crimes including murder, kidnapping and drug running in August 2004.
Al-Jaafari vowed to concentrate efforts on anyone targeting Shi'ites and Sunnis.
"The new government will strike with an iron fist against any criminal who tries to harm a Sunni or a Shi'ite citizen," he said. His speech came amid an increase in violence which has resulted in the deaths of more than 490 people since his government was formed on 28 April 2005.
[Iraq News] Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) officials told IRIN that the use of the death penalty was an abuse of international human rights laws. They said this should be taken into consideration when drafting the new constitution, which should promote human rights and not take them away.
A senior official at the Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR), who did not want to be named, said that the situation was very sensitive and should be dealt with carefully when drafting the new constitution. He added that the decision could trigger pressure from international humanitarian groups worldwide. The ministry has not responded to the prime ministers remarks.
The decision of whether to implement the death penalty under the new constitution has sparked reaction from some local religious leaders.
"No human can determine if a person can live or not. It is in the hands of God. Our community is totally against this idea and will fight it. We cannot use death to correct the insecurity. You will just be taking more lives and if charged they should pay in prison and not in graves," Sheikh Omar Shaker, a Sunni senior religious leader, told IRIN in the capital, Baghdad.
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