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Author Topic: Iraq or Iran In The NEWS!  (Read 12757 times)
Soldier4Christ
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2008, 08:48:48 PM »

Saddam's son plotted hit squad for UK
Uday reportedly ordered elite team to carry out murders, bombings in Britain

Saddam Hussein's son Uday hatched a plot to assassinate the leader of the Iraqi opposition in London in April 2000, according to a new Pentagon study based on documents seized during the Iraq war.

The abortive conspiracy called for an elite recruit in the Fedayeen Saddam paramilitary group to kill Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, who was based in London.

The plot is outlined in Iraqi memos that detail Saddam’s support for a wide network of Middle Eastern terror groups, including Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda. They include a 1993 cooperation deal with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, headed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became second-in-command of Al-Qaeda when the two groups merged in 2001.

There is, however, no evidence of the firm link to Osama Bin Laden that the Bush administration had claimed as one of the justifications for attacking Iraq: “This study found no ‘smoking gun’ [ie, direct connection] between Saddam’s Iraq and Al-Qaeda.”

A British official said this weekend: “Nothing we have seen has changed our prewar position that there was no link between Saddam and Bin Laden.”

However, there was strong evidence of Uday Hussein planning to order the Fedayeen, which he set up in the 1990s as answerable only to himself or his father, to carry out assassinations and bombings in London.

In a possible recognition that Britain would be one of the most difficult targets to attack, officials ordered that only the best recruits should be based there.

One memo from a senior Fedayeen official refers to orders given by Uday at two meetings in May 1999. The dictator’s son had ordered officials to “start planning special operations in the centres of the traitors’ symbols in the fields of London / Iran / self-ruled areas [Kurdish northern Iraq]”.

The operations were to be known by the codename Blessed July and would be backed by the Iraqi intelligence service, the Da’irat al-Mukhabarat al-Amah. Agents in London were to carry poison suicide capsules, with orders to use them if captured.

The official then listed Uday’s orders on how to prepare the recruits: “Select 50 Fedayeen martyrs according to the required specifications. Admit them to the Intelligence School to prepare them for their duties.

“After passing their tests they will be selected for their targets as follows. The top 10 will work in the European field – London. The next 10 will work in the Iranian field. The third 10 will work in the self-ruled area.”

The plot to attack Chalabi in April 2000 is the only example of a specific attack planned in London. It called for a Fedayeen operative to make his way across Europe “for the purpose of executing a sanctimonious [sic] national duty, which is eliminating hostile agent Ahmed Chalabi”.

The Fedayeen was later to prove one of the few Iraqi forces that offered tough resistance to the 2003 invasion, but on this occasion its operation failed because the agent was unable to obtain a visa to enter Britain.

The documents show that officials at the Iraqi embassy in London had a stock of weapons that Saddam had ordered them to destroy in July 2002. The embassy asked Baghdad for advice “regarding how to destroy weapons in London, which include seven Kalashnikov guns, 19 other guns with ammunition, and silencers”.

Saddam had extensive cooperation with Middle Eastern terrorist groups. One memo refers to an agreement with Egyptian Islamic Jihad during the 1991 Gulf war for attacks against Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, which was taking part in the operation to free Kuwait. The memo, dated March 1993, says that whereas Iraq had promised to finance and train Egyptian Islamic Jihad for the attacks, it was now prepared only to provide the group with finance.

The study’s assessment of Iraq’s lack of links to Al-Qaeda represents a final acceptance by the Pentagon that it was wrong to make such claims.

MoD in ‘secret justice’ over deaths

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been accused of operating “secret justice” after issuing a court gagging order to conceal how Whitehall cost-cutting might have caused the deaths of 10 servicemen in Iraq.

The MoD has demanded that key parts of the inquest next week into the crash of an RAF Hercules in Iraq in 2005 be held in secret on grounds of “national security”.

Nine British servicemen and one Australian airman died in the tragedy. It was the largest single loss of life of British forces in Iraq.

Their lawyers said they might challenge the gagging order in the coroner’s court this week because its real purpose appeared to protect the government from political embarrassment.

The secret MoD papers are understood to cover its decision not to spend an extra £50,000 buying a fire suppressant foam system for each Hercules plane in Iraq.
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« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2008, 12:47:58 PM »

Iraq forces battle Basra militias

Heavy fighting has been raging in Basra as thousands of Iraqi troops battle Shia militias in the southern city.

At least 12 people have died in the operation, which is being overseen in Basra by Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki, a day after he vowed to "re-impose law".

British forces carried out air strikes to support embattled Iraqi army tanks and artillery on the ground.

Oil-rich Basra is in the grip of a bitter turf war between armed groups, including the Mehdi Army, say analysts.

The Mehdi Army - which supports radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr - called for a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience.

The powerful militia declared a truce last August which had been credited with helping restore stability to parts of Iraq.

The BBC's Adam Brookes says three Iraqi army brigades were deployed from Baghdad to Basra as back-up for the offensive, and that up to 15,000 troops could be involved.

Some of the fiercest fighting in the operation - dubbed Saulat al-Fursan (Charge of the Knights) - has focused on Mehdi Army strongholds.

Of the suspected militants known to have been killed so far, four died in street fighting and five in a coalition air strike.

British military spokesman Maj Tom Holloway told the BBC no UK troops were involved on the ground.

The UK military returned control of Basra to the Iraqis in December and concentrated its forces at the city airport.

The Iraqi commander in charge, Lt Gen Ali Ghaidan, said the operation aimed to purge Basra of what he called "outlaws".

He said his forces had confiscated weapons and roadside bombs during raids across Iraq's second city.

Routes into Basra have been sealed off, according to reports.

One resident of the city told the BBC: "The streets are very dangerous, there's continuous exchange of fire in areas very close to my house, even though my neighbourhood is relatively safer than others."

The offensive comes a day after the authorities in Basra imposed an indefinite night-time curfew.

On Tuesday, police also imposed curfews in the southern Iraqi cities of Kut and Nasiriya, amid reports of clashes there between gunmen and security forces.

Moqtada Sadr called in a statement for Iraqis to stage "sit-ins" and threatened to declare a "civil revolt" if attacks by US and Iraqi forces did not stop.

In Baghdad's Sadr City, Mehdi Army fighters reportedly ordered Iraqi police and soldiers out of the district.

Hundreds of protesters marched in the Iraqi capital to launch a campaign of civil disobedience, calling on shops to shut.

Moqtada Sadr last month renewed the group's ceasefire, under which it pledged not to attack rival armed groups or American forces in Iraq.

But the truce is said to have come under strain in recent weeks as US and Iraqi forces detained militia members.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the BBC: "Militias have taken over almost the city and law and order has collapsed, although it is not a hopeless case because the government is taking measures to reverse the situation.

"Remember, Basra is the lifeline of Iraq. Most of Iraq's oil exports go through Basra."

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« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2008, 11:23:38 AM »

Fresh clashes break out in Basra

Fresh fighting has erupted in the southern Iraqi city of Basra and elsewhere, as Iraqi security forces battle Shia militants for a second day.

So far more than 40 people have died and some 225 have been injured over the two days of clashes in Basra.

Fighting is also continuing in Baghdad, and there have been casualties after rockets were fired at the Green Zone.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has given militants 72 hours to lay down their arms or face "severe penalties".

His campaign to "re-impose law" in the city triggered unrest elsewhere in Iraq, and many towns are under curfew.

Unrest in Basra has been stoked by a variety of militias and criminal gangs.

But the government's unspoken intent is to stop it falling under the sway of the Mehdi Army, led by the radical young cleric Moqtada Sadr, BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says.

After an overnight lull, the fighting resumed in Basra on Wednesday.

The AFP news agency quoted witnesses in Basra as saying the fighting was concentrated on the districts of Gazaiza, Garma, Khmasamene, Hayania and Maqal.

   
BASRA KEY FACTS
Third largest city, population 2.6 million approx
Located on the Shatt al-Arab waterway leading to the Gulf - making it a centre for commerce and oil exports
Region around city has substantial oil resources
4,000 UK troops based at international airport

Medical officials say 46 people have been killed in the fighting, along with 225 hurt. A Basra city council member said there were few civilian casualties as they were staying inside their houses.

A large number of gunmen have been detained, say officials.

Reports suggest that the fighting is not on the same scale on Tuesday but, where there was no fighting, Basra's streets remained deserted even after the night curfew ended at 0600 (0300 GMT).

British forces, which patrolled Basra for nearly five years, withdrew to a base outside the city in December and have not been involved in the fighting.

In Baghdad, rockets were fired at the Green Zone, the diplomatic and government compound.

Five Iraqi civilians were killed by stray rockets, while inside the heavily fortified zone three Americans were seriously injured.

In Sadr City, a vast Shia suburb in the capital, there were overnight clashes between Mehdi Army fighters and American and Iraqi soldiers.

Twenty people died in the violence and at least 115 people have been injured, according to police.

Here and in other Shia areas of Iraq, many shops and offices are shuttered, indicating Moqtada Sadr's call for a campaign of civil disobedience is being followed.

One report also suggests hundreds of people are demonstrating in Sadr City.

More clashes also broke out in Kut, south-east of Baghdad, where two people were reported dead on Wednesday.

In a separate incident, US forces battling suspected al-Qaeda insurgents in the northern town of Tikrit say they injured or killed "several Iraqi civilians" in an airstrike.

Iraqi sources say at least five are dead, including a judge.

In a statement, Mr Maliki gave militants a 72-hour deadline to lay down their arms and sign a pledge renouncing violence.

"Otherwise, they will face the most severe penalties," he said in the statement which was broadcast by state television.

The Basra operation is being personally led by Mr Maliki, a fact hailed by Washington as "brave".

Sadrists are convinced the operation is an attempt to weaken them ahead of provincial elections due in October, but Mr Maliki has embarked on a risky strategy, says the BBC's Roger Hardy.

For one thing, it is far from clear that it will succeed.

The Sadrist movement enjoys widespread support, especially among the young and the poor, and is well entrenched in Basra and many other predominantly Shia towns and cities in the south.

For another, if the ceasefire which the Sadrists have largely followed since last year were to collapse, that would seriously undermine claims by the government - and by the Bush administration in Washington - that Iraq was moving from civil war to political reconciliation, our correspondent says.

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« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2008, 12:00:11 AM »

Baghdad under curfew amid clashes

A curfew has been imposed on Baghdad amid continuing clashes between Shia militias and Iraqi security forces.

The curfew will last from 2300 (2000 GMT) on Thursday until 0500 on Sunday to "protect civilians", officials say.

More than 130 people have died since a clampdown on Shia militias in the southern city of Basra started on Tuesday. Unrest has spread to Baghdad.

Earlier US President George W Bush praised Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki's decision to order the crackdown.

Heavy fighting between the Shia Mehdi Army, led by radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, has continued in Basra for a third day, with violence in other parts of southern Iraq.

Late on Thursday, Sadr called for a political solution to the crisis.

In a statement relayed by his aide Hazem al-Aaraji, he said he wants "everyone to pursue political solutions and peaceful protests and a stop to the shedding of Iraqi blood".

Mr Maliki earlier vowed that he would continue the fight against the militias for as long as was necessary.

"We have made up our minds to enter this battle and we will continue until the end. No retreat," Mr Maliki said in a speech broadcast on Iraqi state television.

The prime minister has personally overseen the operation in Basra, which involves some 30,000 troops and police.

But Mehdi Army fighters remain in control of some densely-populated areas.

Speaking at a US Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio, Mr Bush said "normalcy" was returning to Iraq.

"As we speak Iraqis are waging a tough battle against militia fighters and criminals in Basra, many of whom have received arms and training and funding from Iran," he said.

Mr Maliki's move against Basra's militias underlined "his leadership and his commitment to enforce the law in an even-handed manner", the US president added.

Rising violence

He spoke as one of several Americans injured this week in rocket attacks on Baghdad's Green Zone died, amid fresh missiles attacks on the fortified area.

US embassy staff in Baghdad have been told not to leave reinforced structures, following the attacks.

The state department has instructed embassy personnel to wear helmets and other protective gear if they leave the building, even if they stay within the Green Zone.

Meanwhile, one of Iraq's two main oil export pipelines from Basra was blown up in a bomb attack, sending oil prices above $107 a barrel.

And Basra's police chief survived a bomb attack that killed three of his bodyguards.

   
BASRA KEY FACTS
Third largest city, population 2.6 million approx
Located on the Shatt al-Arab waterway leading to the Gulf
Region around city has substantial oil resources
4,000 UK troops based at international airport

With many shops and markets shut, residents in the city said they were beginning to run out of food and water.

In Baghdad, thousands of Sadr supporters marched to demand Mr Maliki quit over the Basra operation and there was sporadic fighting in Shia areas of the capital.

In other developments:

    * The FBI said it had recovered the bodies of two US security contractors kidnapped in Iraq in 2006
    * A prominent Sunni civilian spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, Tahseen Sheikhly, was kidnapped by gunmen
    * Dozens died in clashes between the security forces and militias in the southern city of Kut
    * Clashes have also been reported in the towns of Hilla and Diwaniya, as well as the Shia holy city of Kerbala

The number of gunfights in southern Iraq appears to be growing, says the BBC's Crispin Thorold in Baghdad.

The fighting still seems to be mainly with members of the Mehdi Army, our correspondent says.

The militia had held to a ceasefire since last August, contributing to the general fall in violence across Iraq.

The government says it aims to re-impose law and order in Basra, which the British military handed over to Iraqi forces in December.

However, Moqtada Sadr's supporters say the government wants to weaken the militias before local elections in October.

At stake, analysts say, is control of Iraq's only port city and the region's oil fields.

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« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2008, 12:05:36 AM »

Iraq PM gives militants ultimatum

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has given Shia militants in the southern city of Basra 72 hours to lay down their arms or face "severe penalties".

Mr Maliki issued the threat on the second day of a government offensive, that has left at least 46 people dead.

The leader of the main militia, the Mehdi Army, says Mr Maliki must leave Basra and start negotiations.

The clashes have spread elsewhere with rockets fired at Baghdad's Green Zone, causing a number of injuries.

Many Iraqi towns are under curfew.

Unrest in Basra has been stoked by a variety of militias and criminal gangs.

But the government's unspoken intent is to stop it falling under the sway of the Mehdi Army, led by the radical young cleric Moqtada Sadr, BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says.

No chasing

As night fell, Basra was quieter, after a second day of intensive fighting, concentrated on the districts of Gazaiza, Garma, Khmasamene, Hayania and Maqal.

   
BASRA KEY FACTS
Third largest city, population 2.6 million approx
Located on the Shatt al-Arab waterway leading to the Gulf - making it a centre for commerce and oil exports
Region around city has substantial oil resources
4,000 UK troops based at international airport

About 225 people are said to have been injured. A Basra city council member said there were few civilian casualties as they were staying inside their houses.

A large number of gunmen have been detained, say officials.

British forces, which patrolled Basra for nearly five years, withdrew to a base outside the city in December and have not been involved in the fighting.

Prime Minister Maliki has been overseeing the operation from Basra.

"We are not going to chase those who hand over their weapons within 72 hours," Mr Maliki said.

"If they do not surrender their arms, the law will follow its course," the Basra Operational Command quoted him as saying.

Hours later, a senior aide to Moqtada Sadr, Hazim al-Araji, told the BBC that the Sadrists would be willing to send a delegation to meet Mr Maliki for talks if he left Basra.

But events might overtake any efforts at dialogue, says the BBC's Crispin Thorold in Baghdad.

Black-shirted members of the Mehdi Army have reappeared on the streets of Sadr City in Baghdad. They had been withdrawn when the movement declared a ceasefire last August.

Across the Iraqi capital, the thud of rockets and mortars has been heard - several fell short of their target, the Green Zone - home to the diplomatic and government offices - killing at least eight civilians.

   

Inside the heavily-fortified zone three Americans were seriously injured.

In Sadr City, a vast Shia suburb in the capital, there were overnight clashes between Mehdi Army fighters and American and Iraqi soldiers.

Up to 20 people died in the violence and at least 115 people have been injured, according to police.

Here and in other Shia areas of Iraq, many shops and offices are shuttered, indicating Moqtada Sadr's call for a campaign of civil disobedience is being followed.

More clashes also broke out in Kut, south-east of Baghdad, where at least three people were reported dead on Wednesday.

Sadrists are convinced the operation is an attempt to weaken them ahead of provincial elections due in October, but Mr Maliki has embarked on a risky strategy, says the BBC's Roger Hardy.

For one thing, it is far from clear that it will succeed, he says.

The Sadrist movement enjoys widespread support, especially among the young and the poor, and is well entrenched in Basra and many other predominantly Shia towns and cities in the south.

For another, if the ceasefire which the Sadrists have largely followed were to collapse, that would seriously undermine claims by the government - and by the Bush administration in Washington - that Iraq was moving from civil war to political reconciliation, our correspondent says.

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« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2008, 12:07:22 AM »

Battles across Iraq's south in crackdown

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered Shi'ite militiamen to surrender on Wednesday as a crackdown on followers of powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr spread across southern towns leaving a ceasefire in tatters.
Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2008, 7:11 (GMT)


Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered Shi'ite militiamen to surrender on Wednesday as a crackdown on followers of powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr spread across southern towns leaving a ceasefire in tatters.

Sadr, whose truce last year was praised by U.S. forces for curbing violence, called for talks to end the crackdown on his followers, the biggest military operation that Iraqi forces have undertaken without U.S. or British combat units.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the fighting, which began in the southern oil hub of Basra and spread to Shi'ite parts of Baghdad where Sadr's followers hold sway and the towns of Hilla, Kut and Diwaniya in the south.

Maliki, in Basra to oversee the campaign there, said fighters would be spared if they surrendered within 72 hours.

The assault is a chance for his government to prove it can impose its will and allow American forces to withdraw. But it also runs a risk of unleashing more violence after a year that saw security in Iraq improve dramatically.

"We have been living for the last hours in hell. We have spent most of the time hiding under the staircase," said Basra resident Faris Hayder, 28. "We haven't seen anything like this since the foreign troops arrived in 2003."

Battles which began on Tuesday in Basra resumed with heavy gunfire and explosions. A health official said 40 people had been killed and 200 wounded in the city by Wednesday morning.

A Reuters correspondent in Kut, 170 km (105 miles) south of Baghdad, heard gunfire and mortar impacts and saw buildings and cars aflame. Police said at least 18 people died in clashes there, including a baby girl.

In Hilla, several Iraqi security sources spoke of large-scale casualties after a U.S. air strike called to help Iraqi police fighting militiamen. U.S. forces confirmed the helicopter strike but denied there were large numbers killed.

In the capital, a health official said 14 people were killed and more than 140 wounded in clashes in the Sadr City slum.

Mortar bombs in other parts of the city killed nine people and wounded dozens, including three American civilians in the fortified Green Zone diplomatic and government compound. Two American soldiers died of bullet wounds.

A roadside bomb struck a U.S. patrol on a main road through Sadr City late on Wednesday and troops were cordoning off the area, a U.S. spokesman said. He had no details of casualties.

Iraqi forces also reported clashes in other mainly Shi'ite districts with a strong Sadr presence.

Such a big Iraqi operation would have been impossible a year ago, showing how far Iraqi forces have come, said U.S. military spokesman Major-General Kevin Bergner: "These are Iraqi decisions, they are Iraqi government forces and these are Iraqi leaders implementing and directing these decisions."

U.S. and British backing was limited to air support and teams of mentors embedded with Iraqi officers, Bergner said.

WITHDRAWAL PLANS

Washington aims to bring 20,000 of its 160,000 troops home by July after a build-up of troops improved security last year. U.S. Democratic candidates who aim to succeed President George W. Bush next January are calling for a faster withdrawal.

But violence has increased in the past few months and Iraqi forces have yet to show they can tackle militants on their own.

Sadr, a young, anti-American cleric, helped install Maliki in power after an election in 2005 but later broke with him. His followers, known as the Mehdi Army, have feuded with other Shi'ite groups seen as influential in Maliki's government.

Sadr declared a ceasefire last August, winning praise at the time from U.S. commanders for helping to reduce violence, although they say "rogue" Mehdi Army units outside Sadr's control have fought on with support from Iran.

Despite the violence, Sadr aides said the cleric's truce was still formally in place, a negotiating posture that could be useful for Sadr in coming days.

Sadr's followers have taken to the streets demonstrating against Maliki's government and forcing schools, universities and shops to close. On Tuesday he said he would call a "civil revolt" if attacks on his followers did not stop.

The head of Sadr's office in Basra, Harith al-Ithari, said the movement was negotiating with Maliki to end the fighting.

"There are ongoing negotiations with the prime minister. Maliki asked to meet Sadr officials in Basra," he told Reuters.

Another top aide, Hassan al-Zargani, read to Reuters what he said was a statement from Sadr calling on Maliki to leave Basra and appoint a delegation to hold talks.

Sadr has long been a thorn for rival Shi'ite groups in Maliki's circle, said Iraqi political analyst Hazem al-Nuaeimi.

"There is a need to minimise the Sadrists' strength and influence and to draw the lines before they get any stronger."

British forces, which patrolled Basra for nearly five years, withdrew to a base outside the city in December and were not involved in the fighting. A British military spokesman said the Iraqi assault was expected to last two to three more days.

An official with Iraq's Southern Oil Company said production in the Basra area which produces 80 percent of Iraq's exports could be disrupted if fighting lasted more than three days.

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« Reply #21 on: March 30, 2008, 12:01:26 AM »

How U.S. lost Basra
'Iraq really is beginning to look like Vietnam'

The U.S. suffered a major strategic military setback in Basra yesterday if its goal is truly to turn over Iraq to the Iraqi army – a goal about which some of the war's biggest defenders are beginning to question, reports Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

One well-paced military source told G2 Bulletin the initial fight over the Iraqi town went like this: "We lost Basra last night. An Iraqi army commander was told by the local Madhi army commander to lay down all their weapons, surrender all their uniforms, surrender their equipment and then there would be no trouble. The Iraqi army did just that."

"So we lost Basra faster than we lost Da Nang in 1975," he continued.

And this senior officer is not alone in observing parallels to Vietnam.

The "surge," while without question successful at reducing U.S. casualties and increasing the costs of war for the terrorists, is somewhat akin to Lyndon B. Johnson's bid to escalate the war by increasing the number of ground troops but in continuing to restrict their actions in destroying the enemy, say some frustrated U.S. troops and officers.

Likewise, some veterans of the conflict, including those who genuinely believe the war against Islamo-fascists was just and necessary, say the rules of engagement are mystifying – leaving some to wonder if military victory is actually the goal.

"We really should have assassinated Moqtadr al-Sadr in 2004, in the second Fallujah battle when we had the chance," said one senior officer frustrated by the fall of Basra to the Madhi army. "Of course, just down the road from me, the American military is forbidden from going into Sadr City in hot pursuit of insurgents who have fired upon coalition forces."

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« Reply #22 on: March 30, 2008, 12:02:51 AM »

The liberal invoked procedures are now playing into their hands.

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« Reply #23 on: April 06, 2008, 04:09:54 PM »

US forces clash with Iraq militia

Twenty people were killed in clashes in Baghdad between members of the Mehdi Army militia group and US and Iraqi forces, Iraqi medical workers say.

Iraqi officials said women and children were among the dead and more than 50 wounded in the Sadr City district. The US says nine "criminals" were killed.

The mainly Shia area of east Baghdad is a stronghold of the Mehdi Army.

The militia's leader, the cleric Moqtada Sadr, has called for a mass demonstration against the US presence.

In a statement, the US military said it had carried out an air strike in Sadr City at about 0800 local time (0500 GMT) in which nine "criminals" were killed.

US commanders have previously said their forces are targeting those firing mortars and rockets from Sadr City into Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, where the Iraqi government and the US embassy are based.

On Saturday, the Iraqi president, prime minister and other political leaders called for militias to be disbanded.

Analysts said the call was aimed mainly at the Mehdi Army, which was recently involved in heavy fighting with the security forces across southern Iraq.

The clashes eased after Moqtada Sadr ordered his fighters off the streets but sporadic fire fights continue, especially in Sadr City.

Students freed

Sunday also saw Iraq's security forces report that they had freed 42 university students hours after they were kidnapped by gunmen near the northern city of Mosul.

The male students were on two buses ferrying them to Mosul from their homes in Shurkat, 70 km (40 miles) further south, when they were ambushed and captured.

Mosul, some 360km north-west of Baghdad, has recently been the scene of extra security effort as US and Iraqi forces try to stop violence in cities outside the capital.

Also on Sunday, hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Father Youssef Adel in the capital's Karradah district.

The Assyrian Orthodox priest was killed on Saturday at his home.

One of the mourners, Midhat Faez, was quoted as saying the assassination was aimed at provoking conflict between Muslims and the tiny Christian community.
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« Reply #24 on: April 06, 2008, 04:13:08 PM »

Rival claims over Basra battle
By Adam Brookes
BBC News, Baghdad

The fighting between Shia militias and Iraqi and coalition forces in Basra last week led to hundreds of deaths - more than three hundred by some counts.

Yet what the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, declared to be "a fight to the end" concluded with an accommodation, the details of which remain unclear.

As the dust settles in Iraq's second city, different versions of what actually took place there last week are emerging.

A military operation - overseen by Mr Maliki - was intended to "cleanse" the city of militia activity.

But resistance by fighters of the Mehdi Army, loyal to the cleric Moqtada Sadr, was unexpectedly fierce.

Mr Maliki returned to Baghdad this week, calling the operation a success.

It is a claim that is being widely disputed in Iraq.

Tehran role?

The Mehdi militiamen withdrew from the streets after six days of fighting, but they appear to have taken their arms with them, defying Prime Minister Maliki's initial demand that all militia-held medium and heavy weapons be surrendered.

The political leadership of Iraq is saying that there was no deal with the Mehdi militia to stop the fighting.

On Thursday Mr Maliki insisted he had not ordered negotiations with Moqtada Sadr.

And a source close to the prime minister says that Moqtada Sadr's order to cease fighting came at the instigation of Iran.

The source said that as the bloodshed in Basra began early last week, Moqtada Sadr tried to telephone Prime Minister Maliki from Qom, in Iran - and the prime minister refused to take his call.

But a delegation from the United Iraqi Alliance, the parliamentary bloc that supports Mr Maliki, flew to Tehran, where they told representatives of the Iranian leadership that Iran's involvement in stirring up the militia violence was unacceptable and would have to stop, the source said.

They pointed out that Iranian munitions were being used in the fighting.

The Iranian leadership, according to the source, then brought Moqtada Sadr to Tehran.

There, late on Saturday night, he crafted the statement that would order his Mehdi Army militiamen off the streets, the source said.

In this version of events, the Iraqi prime minister retains the ability to deny entering talks with Moqtada Sadr. In effect, it appears to have been done for him, with Iranian influence brought to bear.

Protest call

Moqtada Sadr's organisation, for its part, says its leader chose to order his militiamen off the streets for the sake of "Iraqi unity". His militiamen fought Iraqi troops to a standstill in parts of Basra.

British and American support - including logistics, air strikes and artillery fire - was organised hurriedly to help break their resistance.

Moqtada Sadr has called for a million people to take to the streets across Iraq on 9 April - supposedly to protest against the coalition military presence in Iraq.

But a large turnout would also serve to demonstrate at home as well as abroad the strength of his following, even after the Basra confrontation. The United States ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, on Thursday reinforced the view that Iran was directly supporting the activities of the Mehdi Army militia through the week.

Rockets, he said, that had landed inside the Green Zone were manufactured in Iran, some of them as recently as last year.

"How does he know? We have the tailfins," he said.

'Tangible gains'

Ambassador Crocker was insistent that the operation had shown the Iraqi armed forces in a positive light, even if some objectives were not achieved.

"There is still a major problem in Basra," he said, "but in terms of decision, resolve and ability, they did it themselves and they got in the fight."

He pointed to what he said were tangible gains for the Iraqi government - "thousands" of people, at the behest of tribal leaders, were signing up to be security volunteers, he said.

And the vital port facilities of Um Qasr were now completely in the hands of the Iraqi security forces, he added.

The armed forces had demonstrated in Basra that they were growing in strength and confidence:

"One thing [the Basra operation] tells us is that the Iraqi Security Forces will increasingly be in the lead."

Earlier in the day, Mr Maliki conceded that elements of the military had not performed well, and were being investigated.

His comments echoed those of a US military spokesman on Wednesday, who said some of the were not "up to the job".

Surprise

Mr Crocker will soon board a plane back to Washington, where, together with the commander of coalition forces, General David Petraeus, he will testify before Congress on the situation in Iraq.

He will no doubt be questioned about the competence of Iraq's military and its ability to take over security responsibilities from US troops - it appears he will use the Basra operation as evidence that the Iraq's soldiers are performing.

But the Ambassador is a man with few illusions, and he conceded that the Basra operation did not go as planned.

"I did not expect a major battle from day one," he said.

The Basra operation, it appears, is an empty vessel - it can be filled with any interpretation you choose.

For the Iraqi government and the Americans it is evidence of the growing confidence of the state to exercise power, even though Mr Maliki and Ambassador Crocker have said they were taken by surprise by the scale of the resistance.

For the movement of Moqtada Sadr it was a demonstration of power across south and central Iraq - even though its militia ended up withdrawing.

The role of Iran in the outcome appears important, but is still opaque.

The one conclusion which, so far, can be drawn unequivocally - Iraq is a place where violence can flare and spread exceedingly quickly. The security gains of recent months, as Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus have readily conceded, remain fragile.
____________________________________________
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« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2008, 01:03:08 AM »

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Iraq to Execute al Qaeda Leader in Murder of Bishop

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

BAGHDAD (ANS) -- A leader of al Qaeda in Iraq has been sentenced to death for the killing of Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, whose murder in March drew worldwide condemnation, the Iraqi government said Sunday.

According to a story by Ross Colvin and published by the Reuters News Service, the Iraqi Central Criminal Court imposed the death sentence on Ahmed Ali Ahmed. He is known as Abu Omar, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

Reuters reported that Rahho, the archbishop of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, was abducted on Feb. 29 after gunmen attacked his car and killed his driver and two guards. His body was found in a shallow grave two weeks later.

At the time, Reuters reported, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blamed al Qaeda and vowed to bring the bishop's killers to justice.

Reuters said his Shi'ite Muslim-led government has been accused by members of Iraq's shrinking Christian minority of not doing enough to protect them from violent persecution.

Chaldeans belong to a branch of the Roman Catholic Church that practices an ancient Eastern rite, Reuters said, and form the biggest Christian community in Iraq.

Reuters reported Dabbagh said Ahmed was a leader of Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, and had been sought for his involvement in a number of “terror crimes against the people of Iraq.”

Dabbagh described Rahho as an advocate of peace and tolerance among Iraqis.

Reuters said when Rahho’s body was found on March 13, police said it was not clear whether the 65-year-old clergyman, known to be in poor health, had been killed or died of other causes.

A number of Christian clergy have been kidnaped and killed, and churches bombed in Iraq, since the 2003 U.S.- led invasion.

A former archbishop of Mosul, Basile Georges Casmoussa, was kidnaped in 2005 but released after a day in captivity.
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« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2008, 11:41:58 PM »

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,361248,00.html

SYDNEY, Australia —  Australia, a staunch U.S. ally and one of the first countries to commit troops to the Iraq war five years ago, ended combat operations there Sunday, a Defense Department official said.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was swept into office in November largely on the promise that he would bring home the country's 550 combat troops by the middle of 2008.

Rudd has said the Iraq deployment has made Australia more of a target for terrorism.

The combat troops are expected to return home over the next few weeks. Local media reports said the first of the soldiers had already landed in Australia on Sunday afternoon.

Several hundred other troops will remain in Iraq to act as security and headquarters liaisons and to guard diplomats. Australia will also leave behind two maritime surveillance aircraft and a warship to help patrol oil platforms in the Gulf.

The troops on Sunday held a ceremony that included lowering the Australian flag from its position over Camp Terendak in the southern Iraq city of Talil, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as required by the Defense Department.

The soldiers, as well as 65 army trainers, were stationed at Talil, about 185 miles south of Baghdad, and were responsible for providing security training for Iraqi forces, as well as reconstruction and aid work. They have been on standby to offer backup to Iraqi forces in the south for the past two years.

In February, the head of Australia's defense force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, told a Senate inquiry that the troops were no longer needed in Iraq.

Rudd remains committed to keeping Australia's 1,000 troops in Afghanistan.

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« Reply #27 on: June 02, 2008, 08:05:10 PM »

Ahmadinejad: 'Satanic' U.S. almost done for
'The countdown to the annihilation of the emperor of power and wealth has started'

Ahmadinejad says Israel will soon disappear

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predicted on Monday that Muslims would uproot "satanic powers" and repeated his controversial belief that Israel will soon disappear, the Mehr news agency reported.

"I must announce that the Zionist regime (Israel), with a 60-year record of genocide, plunder, invasion and betrayal is about to die and will soon be erased from the geographical scene," he said.

"Today, the time for the fall of the satanic power of the United States has come and the countdown to the annihilation of the emperor of power and wealth has started."

Since taking the presidency in August 2005, Ahmadinejad has repeatedly provoked international outrage by predicting Israel is doomed to disappear.

"I tell you that with the unity and awareness of all the Islamic countries all the satanic powers will soon be destroyed," he said to a group of foreign visitors ahead of the 19th anniversary of the death of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Ahmadinejad also again expressed his apocalyptic vision that tyranny in the world be abolished by the return to earth of the Mahdi, the 12th imam of Shiite Islam, alongside great religious figures including Jesus Christ.

"With the appearance of the promised saviour... and his companions such as Jesus Christ, tyranny will be soon be eradicated in the world."

Ahmadinejad has always been a devotee of the Mahdi, who Shiites believe disappeared more than a thousand years ago and who will return one day to usher in a new era of peace and harmony.

His emphasis on the Mahdi has been a cause of controversy inside Iran with critics saying he would be better solving bread-and-butter domestic problems rather than talking about Iran's divine responsibility.
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nChrist
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« Reply #28 on: June 02, 2008, 09:30:31 PM »

Quote
Ahmadinejad also again expressed his apocalyptic vision that tyranny in the world be abolished by the return to earth of the Mahdi, the 12th imam of Shiite Islam, alongside great religious figures including Jesus Christ.

"With the appearance of the promised saviour... and his companions such as Jesus Christ, tyranny will be soon be eradicated in the world."

Brother,

It's disgusting that anyone would profane and blaspheme the HOLY NAME OF JESUS CHRIST by using it in connection to evil hosts. HIS only connection will be as their JUDGE for Eternal punishment. They will meet JESUS CHRIST soon enough, and it won't be pleasant.

Joel 2:1-2,10-11:

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming.
It is close at hand-
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was of old
nor ever will be in ages to come.
Before them the earth shakes,
the sky trembles,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
The LORD thunders
at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty are those who obey his command.
The day of the LORD is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?

No power can stand against the Day of the LORD. Great hosts of evil will perish and be reserved for final JUDGMENT.

Matthew 24:27-31 NASB  "For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. "But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. "And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
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« Reply #29 on: June 02, 2008, 10:12:31 PM »

It's disgusting that anyone would profane and blaspheme the HOLY NAME OF JESUS CHRIST by using it in connection to evil hosts. HIS only connection will be as their JUDGE for Eternal punishment. They will meet JESUS CHRIST soon enough, and it won't be pleasant.

Yes it is disgusting, that is the nature of islam.

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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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