View Full Version : Blasts Rip Iraq Police Stations, Kill 55

04-21-04, 05:58 AM
Blasts Rip Iraq Police Stations, Kill 55


BASRA, Iraq - A series of explosions ripped through three police stations and a police academy in the southern Iraqi city of Basra Wednesday, killing at least 55 people, including some 10 schoolchildren, and injuring at least 238, officials said.

Three near simultaneous blasts targeted police stations at rush hour in Basra. At about the same time, a fourth explosion ripped through the police academy in the Basra suburb of Zubair. An hour later another blast targeted the same police academy.

Forty-five people were killed in the police station blasts and 10 were killed in the police academy explosions, officials and witnesses said. The injured included two British soldiers at the police academy, Maj. Hisham al-Halawi, spokesman for British forces in Basra, told Al-Arabiya television.

The attacks came a day after Iraqi leaders named a tribunal of judges and prosecutors to try Saddam Hussein, placing a longtime opponent of the ousted dictator in the forefront of the case against him and his former Baathist inner circle.

At one station in the Saudia district of Basra, four vehicles were seen destroyed including two school vans that were passing that station at the time of the attack. One was carrying students from a girls' middle school and the other carried kindergarten students.

Some 10 children were among the dead, Iraqi Police Col. Kadhem al-Muhammedawi said. It was not immediately clear which bus they came from.

Cars outside of the station were charred. The interior of one of the school buses was burned out, the seats shredded.

British forces who rushed to the scene were being hampered by angry protesters, said a Ministry of Defense spokeswoman in London, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The facade of the Saudia station was also heavily damaged and there was a hole 6-feet deep and 9-feet wide in front of the Saudia station.

More than 40 dead and 200 injured from the blast were brought to Basra's Educational Hospital, the city's largest, said Ali Hussein, an emergency physician at the facility.

Dozens of bodies could be seen in the morgue and in the hallways of Basra's Educational Hospital.

Another five dead and 36 injured were evacuated to a second hospital, Basra General Hospital, hospital officials said.

Witnesses said 10 people were killed in the police academy explosions.

"We don't know yet who committed these bombings," al-Halawi said. He said two British soldiers were wounded in the al-Zubair attack.

British military spokesman Squadron Leader Jonathan Arnold said the blasts were believed to have been caused by car bombs. Al-Muhammedawi said, however that the blast may have been caused by rocket attacks.

Also Wednesday, about 35 Iraqi insurgents attacked U.S. Marines in the besieged city of Fallujah with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, setting off a heavy gunbattle, the military said. No casualties were immediately reported.

Iraqi security forces, some wearing flak jackets and carrying weapons, moved back into Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, on Tuesday, part of an agreement between U.S. officials and local leaders aimed at ending hostilities. The accord calls on insurgents to hand in weapons and allows civilians to return.

U.S. officials have warned that if guerrillas do not surrender their weapons, Marines are prepared to storm the city _ likely sparking a new round of bloody fighting.

On Tuesday, a senior member of Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress was appointed to head the all-Iraqi tribunal _ a potentially controversial choice.

Chalabi, a longtime exile who returned to Iraq and was named to the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, is mistrusted as an outsider by many Iraqis who want to see Saddam prosecuted by Iraqis who were present under his brutal rule.

Meanwhile, guerrillas fired a barrage of mortar rounds at Baghdad's largest prison, killing 22 prisoners in an attack a U.S. general said may have been an attempt to spark an inmate uprising against American guards. The slain prisoners were all security detainees, meaning they were suspected of belonging to the anti-U.S. insurgency or to Saddam's former regime.

A U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in the northern city of Mosul: It was the 100th American combat death in April, the deadliest month since the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003.

At least 1,100 Iraqis have been killed in fighting since the start of the month, according to an Associated Press count based on reports from hospitals and Iraqi and U.S. officials.

Tuesday's mortar attack was the bloodiest against the sprawling prison complex of Abu Ghraib in western Baghdad. Ninety-two prisoners were wounded, 25 of them seriously, said Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a U.S. military spokeswoman.

"This isn't the first time that we have seen this kind of attack. We don't know if they are trying to inspire an uprising or a prison break," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told AP. In August, six security prisoners were killed in a mortar attack on the lockup, which was once Saddam's most notorious prison.

In the tribunal appointments, Salem Chalabi, a U.S.-educated lawyer and nephew of Ahmad Chalabi, was named by the Governing Council as director-general of the court, said INC spokesman Entefadh Qanbar.

Salem Chalabi named seven judges and four prosecutors, and further judges will be appointed, Qanbar said.

No date has been set for the trial of Saddam, who was captured by U.S. troops in December and has since been undergoing CIA and FBI interrogation at an undisclosed location in or near Baghdad.

On the council, Ahmad Chalabi, a favorite of the Pentagon architects of the Iraq invasion, has been a fierce proponent of expunging traces of Saddam's regime. He heads an official De-Baathification Commission that has been aggressive in purging Iraqis with links to Saddam's dissolved party from government positions _ so aggressive that even some U.S. officials have complained that it was getting rid of needed expertise.

Ahmad Chalabi's INC held a seat on the Governing Council commission that drew up the Saddam tribunal.

U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has recommended the council be dissolved on June 30 and a caretaker government of technocrats take its place. "Then certainly (Chalabi) and the INC will have a diminution in their political status," Dawisha said.

"If that happens, will the judge who is a relative of Chalabi be able to survive, or will the new government appoint a new group of people?"

Elections due by Jan. 31 for a government to replace the caretaker one also affect the tribunal. A court formed by an elected government would have more legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis, Dawisha said.

Iraqis _ particularly the Shiite Muslim majority repressed by the Baathists _ have been eager to try the man who ruled them with an iron fist for decades. Shiites, particularly local leaders with grassroots support, are likely to dominate any elected government and could want to see their own people lead Saddam's prosecution.

A team of Justice Department prosecutors and investigators has been gathering evidence for a war crimes case against Saddam, while other international groups have been sifting through the mass graves where U.S. officials say 300,000 victims of Saddam's regime were buried.

Aside from the regime's brutal persecution of political opponents, Kurds and Shiite Muslims, Saddam's military used chemical weapons against troops and civilians during the Iraq-Iraq War and a Kurdish uprising of the 1980s.



04-21-04, 06:00 AM
Camp Pendleton troops await outcome of renewed cease-fire


FALLUJAH, Iraq ---- Thousands of U.S. Marines poised on the fringes of this besieged city relaxed their stranglehold Tuesday, allowing residents to return to their homes, ambulances to pick up the scores of injured and dead and vehicles to distribute humanitarian aid.

In exchange for the loosening of the military cordon, city leaders say they will redouble their efforts to persuade insurgents to surrender their weapons ---- and themselves.

The aim: a peaceful solution to a standoff that is now in its third week.

"If they are sincere, and we're seeing them turning in weapons and identifying bad guys, then we'll slowly, slowly pull out of the city," Col. John Toolan, commander of the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Regiment and task force surrounding Fallujah, told his troops during a visit Tuesday to the front lines.

In Washington, however, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at a news conference Tuesday that he saw only a remote possibility that negotiations in Fallujah would succeed, and that he was skeptical they would lead to the detention of those responsible for the killing of four American civilians three weeks ago.

Toolan said the Iraqis only have "a couple more days" to produce results before they are judged and the decision to attack is again on the table.

"They (Iraqi leaders) say they've had enough; they want it to stop," Toolan told a few Marines from Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, in the living room of an Iraqi home the Marines have occupied for nearly two weeks.

The troops listened closely, staring up at the towering, fatherly New Yorker whom Marines say they trust to make the right decisions.

"We'll give them a chance ---- a couple of more days to find out if they are really sincere," he said. "Then we'll judge how they did."

Other officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have been more specific, saying that Friday is the deadline for cooperation.

Under the terms of the renewed cease-fire, which has been peppered with attacks by insurgents but largely honored by the Marines, Iraqis pledged to disarm and turn in insurgents to avoid a major assault by the Marines, many of whom seem to be chomping at the bit for decisive action.

Residents will be allowed to keep and travel with assault rifles, but machine guns, rockets, grenades and mortars have to be surrendered.

Military officials also have asked that the town turn over the key leaders of the insurgency, as well as those responsible for killing and mutilating four American contractors in Fallujah on March 31.

For their cooperation, U.S. officials postponed an attack and granted several key concessions.

A strict 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was rolled back to 9 p.m. and relaxed to give violators the benefit of the doubt unless they show hostile intent.

Many residents who fled during the fighting have been able to return to their homes. The conditions of their return, however, were still unclear Tuesday as several commands seemed to be following different rules.

During his visit Tuesday, Toolan told the troops that many military leaders around Fallujah and those "running the show in Baghdad" wanted to exploit the Marines' hard-earned foothold in the city and strike a final blow against the insurgents who are concentrated in the western third of the city.

But, he said, they would first give peace a chance.

According to BBC reports, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmit, the chief Coalition spokesman in Baghdad, made it clear Tuesday that military operations will resume in Fallujah if the regional and local Iraqi leaders do not satisfy American demands.

Troops in and around Fallujah say they wish they had continued their push into the city with the momentum they had achieved in the first few days of fighting. Then, tanks blasted buildings, the Spectre gunship ruled the night and American fighter jets dropped 500-pound bombs on enemy positions to protect the troops on the ground.

Now that they've been stationary, some have had second thoughts about what will be achieved if the Americans go in for the kill, and at what cost. Some say that the only way to attack without a massive loss of American life would be to level Fallujah in order to save Fallujah.

"This could be it for Fallujah for awhile," Cpl. Jong Kim, 20, of Sunnyvale, said of a Marine offensive against the town.

Brushing dust off his machine gun, poised over the same still and vacant quarter of northwest Fallujah that he and others have watched for days, Kim said he wished that something ---- anything ---- would happen soon. He said he was tired of being on the defensive.

"We could do it, but if we leave, they'll come back," he said of the insurgents. "They're crazy. They're not scared of anything."

Lance Cpl. Anthony Dilling ---- who was patrolling alongside one of his best friends when the Marine was shot in the head on the first day of fighting in Fallujah ---- said he has had enough of the dusty river town.

"I wish they'd just pull us out. I hate this place," he said Tuesday while peering through his rifle scope at the same cluttered section of the city he has stared at for nearly two weeks. "To tell you the truth, I'm scared (expletive) of this place. That first day was the deciding factor for me."

Most of the troops said they were sure they would prevail in an attack, but agreed that whether they take the town by force, the rebels will return.

Toolan seemed to sense or share some of the troops' frustration.

Before he left to visit other units along the cordon around Fallujah on Tuesday, Toolan congratulated the troops for their courage in taking and holding one of the toughest sections of the city, and thanked them for being patient and remaining motivated during the political negotiations.

"Hang in there," he said, patting a corporal on the shoulder. "We'll all know what's going to happen soon enough."

Staff writer Darrin Mortenson and staff photographer Hayne Palmour are reporting from Iraq, where they are with Camp Pendleton Marines. Their coverage is collected at www.nctimes.com/military/iraq.



04-21-04, 06:01 AM
Battle in forlorn corner of Iraq

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS - Members of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines were getting e-mails from parents grateful the unit wasn't in Fallujah, where four Americans were killed and mutilated last month.

But that unit, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch team covering it as embedded journalists, saw some of the Iraq war's fiercest fighting in weeks on Saturday.

The team's report was a national exclusive. Photographer Andrew Cutraro's image of a wounded Marine being carried to a medical evacuation helicopter ran on the front page of more than 20 newspapers.

Five Marines, dozens of Iraqi insurgents, civilians and the town's police chief were killed in a 14-hour battle in Husaybah. The forlorn corner of Iraq, just 300 yards east of the Syrian border, hadn't gotten much coverage.

"The area's been very neglected," reporter Ron Harris said. "They've been taking fire and heat, and no one was there to report it."

Harris and Cutraro had traveled with the Marine unit in Baghdad and Karbala for several weeks in spring 2003 at the outset of the Iraq war. This time, they met up with the Marines on March 22. They will leave on Thursday, following a memorial service for the five Marines. The unit had no losses its first nine months in Iraq. It lost nine members in a month and a half in al-Qaim, a region in western Iraq where Saturday's deadly battle took place.

Harris, reached by satellite phone in Iraq, said Tuesday he and Cutraro wanted to embed with the same group of Marines they had come to know a year earlier. Before war began in March 2003, the Post-Dispatch team had captured the unit in sketches and images in a series called "Postcards from Kuwait."

The unit, based at Twentynine Palms, Calif., included members from Missouri and southern Illinois, the newspaper's coverage area.

Harris said they went back because they felt it was important to tell the Marines' story in context and because the war is a major national issue that may decide the presidential election.

He said he was able to maintain journalistic objectivity despite living and working so closely with the Marines. He reported the unit's accidental killing of British journalists and "nasty" interrogations by Marines still upset from heavy losses the day before.

"When they went (into Husaybah) Sunday, the day after the attack, they were kicking in doors, ordering everybody out of the house," Harris said. "They scared the hell out of a bunch of people.

"It's not my part to make judgments whether these are good or bad things. I write what I see. Somebody else makes those calls."

The Marines were given the job of bringing peace and security to the region of al-Qaim, but what they have encountered is "full-blown guerrilla warfare," Lt. Jason Johnston told the Post-Dispatch for a story on Easter Sunday.

Harris and Cutraro chronicled a more complex, difficult and dangerous mission the newspaper called the "silent war," in a corner of Iraq that most Americans know little about.

That silence broke Saturday when Marines awoke to a flurry of mortar rounds after a roadside bomb ignited as a decoy. The Marines battled the offensive by reportedly hundreds of Iraqis who had slipped into Husaybah. The battle raged for 14 hours.

Post-Dispatch managing editor Arnie Robbins said the paper's coverage has humanized those at war and explained what is causing the insurgency and violence.

He said the unit was picked with a "lot of good planning," but no one could have predicted the ambush that occurred Saturday.

"Was there serendipity? Sure," he said. "It brought their fears and concerns to life. It showed how scary and difficult war is."


04-21-04, 06:03 AM
Marines fight enemy across western Iraq
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification Number: 200442094220
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq(April 20, 2004) -- Marines from the 1st Marine Division engaged enemy forces across the entire Al Anbar Province last week.

Marines saw action against enemy forces in Fallujah, where the cordon of the city remains in effect and offensive operations are still suspended, to Husaybah, a town on the border with Syria.

Seven Marines, soldiers and sailors were killed in action in the past week.

Negotiations between Iraqi civic leaders and Coalition Provisional Authority members are ongoing to extend the unilateral suspension of offensive operations into a full-fledged truce. Marines maintain defensive positions in the city and sporadic firefights were reported.

Still, Marines, even at the highest echelons, expressed frustration with enemy forces who violate the agreements and continue the attacks.

"I don't forecast that this stalemate will go on for long," said Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division to reporters in Fallujah. "It's hard to have a cease-fire when they maneuver against us, they fire at us."

Marines remain poised to resume their attacks against the enemy, should talks fail.

"We've got to be patient, but not too patient," Mattis added.

By early this week, a basic agreement for a lasting cease-fire was in the works. Still, Marines harbor doubts the enemy will live up to it.

"An agreement has been reached," said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, commanding officer for 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, to reporters. "Whether or not that agreement holds is the million dollar question."

Marines witnessed events that demonstrated the enemy's determination to launch attacks from mosques and even use ambulances to transport weapons. Both are protected by Geneva Conventions accords from attacks, but Marines are authorized to target them once they are used for hostile purposes.

Terrorists were discovered to be hiding weapons in sacks stuffed with food and other humanitarian supplies April 14. In the joint operation, Marines and New Iraqi Army soldiers discovered armor piercing rounds, aiming sights for rockets and rifles hidden in bags of grain, rice, and tea. The man detained for transporting the weapons was wearing a poorly made fake Red Crescent uniform in an attempt to make the convoy look legitimate.

The same day, an enemy sniper fled the battlefield in an Iraqi ambulance. The next day, an Iraqi ambulance pulled up to a mosque in Fallujah and another building to unload weapons into both sites.

Enemy fighters shot at Marines from a mosque and a nearby building on Sunday. Marine M-1A1 tanks returned fire against the building, killing one enemy and another group of Marines returned fire at the mosque's minaret, silencing the gun there.

Marines blared loudspeaker messages into Fallujah, saying, "You are cowards for hiding behind women and children. Come out and fight," Byrne said. They also played heavy metal music, including AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill."

Marines on the outskirts of Fallujah uncovered large caches of enemy weapons and captured scores of enemy forces. Marines found hundreds of AK-47 rifles, pistols and rocket-propelled grenades. Larger munitions such as anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers and rockets as well as materials for making improvised explosive devices were also seized.

Marines continue to allow humanitarian aid, such as food, water and medical supplies to flow into the city.

Action against the enemy wasn't limited to Fallujah, though. Marines and soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, serving under the Blue Diamond, raided hundreds of homes and buildings, netting hundreds of weapons and munitions and capturing several detainees suspected of carrying out attacks.

Marines also battled as many as 150 enemy forces Saturday in Husaybah, on Iraq's western border.

A daylong series of firefights began around 8 a.m. when a Marine patrol reported they were under fire by enemy forces wielding machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Additional Marines, backed by helicopter close-air support, were dispatched to the city and soon came under fire by enemy equipped with rifles and RPGs. The enemy forces were operating from positions in the vicinity of the former Ba'ath Party headquarters in Husaybah.

Enemy casualties are estimated to be 25-30 dead and an unknown number of wounded. At least 60 enemy fighters were detained.

"I don't think they expected us to retaliate as hard as we did," said Lt. Col. Matthew A. Lopez, battalion commander for 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment to reporters there.

Enemy forces were observed setting up mortar positions. Women and children surrounded those positions, but it is unknown whether or not they were in those positions on their own free will.

Shots were also fired at medical helicopters carrying wounded Marines from the battlefield.

By Saturday evening, contact with the enemy dropped off significantly, however, fighting at the squad level was sporadic in the city. The city remains cordoned and Marines in that area continue to hunt down enemy forces.


Marines with Regimental Combat Team 1's Headquarters Company, point their weapons toward a nearby field after recieving gunfire from that direction while driving on the outskirts of Fullujah, Iraq.
(USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Nathan Alan Heusdens) Photo by: Lance Cpl. Nathan Alan Heusdens



04-21-04, 12:03 PM
IRAQ: No smiles, no waves


SEEN THROUGH THE EYES of President George W. Bush, the war in Iraq is a war to help Iraqis win their birthright of freedom, to plant the seeds of democracy in the Middle East and to ward off terrorist attacks on the civilized world.

Seen through eyes of the grunts of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, the war is about guerrillas waiting in ambush, roadside bombs ready to explode, Iraqis turning away and buddies who aren't coming home.

"Who gives a damn about gay marriage or Martha Stewart?" Lt. Jason Johnston told a reporter. ". . . I don't think the American people understand that this is full-blown guerrilla warfare. This is the real war. Last year was a cakewalk."

Lt. Johnston's frustration was captured by Post-Dispatch reporter Ron Harris, who has returned to the 3rd Battalion a year after he and Post-Dispatch photographer Andrew Cutraro followed it on the road to Baghdad. The battalion hadn't lost a man then. But since returning to Iraq in March, its losses have mounted. Four men were killed during their first month back. Five more were killed and 12 were wounded Saturday in an ambush in Husaybah, near the Syrian border.

Forget hearts and minds. Forget the waves and smiles. Forget the good deeds and good manners. Forget the polite knocks on the door before searches. This is urban warfare against a faceless enemy. On Sunday, the Marines were breaking down doors in house-to-house searches for the fighters who had killed their friends.

These Marines will stay and fight for all of the noble purposes that the president talks about. They want to bring Iraqis freedom and democracy. They want to fulfill their duty to their country. But doubts are spreading among even these gung-ho fighters.
Sgt. Carl Scott of Pine Bluff, Ark., is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. "Most of these Marines, you can give them an M-16 and one bullet, and they'll go out there and battle to the death," he said. "But some are beginning to question why we're here. It's not that they don't want to be here. It's just that in times like this, it's hard for them to find a purpose."

Americans don't want the men of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines to have died in vain. Nor do they want the other 700 Americans who have died in Iraq to have given their lives for nothing. But neither do we want to sacrifice more young Americans to a lofty but unachievable goal.

President Bush owes it to the soldiers in Iraq to mount a diplomatic offensive to internationalize the effort in Iraq by turning over the political decisions to the United Nations. He has to do more than just say he wants U.N. help. He must work the phones and send envoys around the world the way his father did before the Persian Gulf War. An international force of troops from NATO and Muslim countries should be organized to protect U.N. peace efforts and ease the pressure on U.S. troops.

Mr. Bush certainly has diplomatic fences to mend. But as the most powerful leader in the world, he should be able to persuade our NATO allies to help prevent Iraq from descending into a civil war that could turn it into a hothouse for terrorists every bit as dangerous as Saddam Hussein.



04-21-04, 12:07 PM

04-21-04, 12:17 PM
Forget hearts and minds. Forget the waves and smiles. Forget the good deeds and good manners. Forget the polite knocks on the door before searches. This is urban warfare against a faceless enemy. On Sunday, the Marines were breaking down doors in house-to-house searches for the fighters who had killed their friends.

Funny how these people Iraqis that is, changed after Saddam was found? The same ones that welcome us in the beginning are the ones that are now killing us. The Shiites were happy to see us come to take out Saddam, now it's thanks get the hell out we will take over now.

04-21-04, 12:46 PM
Apr 21, 1:28 PM (ET)


(AP) Saudis gather in front of the partially destroyed headquarters building of the general security...
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - A suicide car bomb blasted the Saudi national police headquarters Wednesday, killing at least nine people and wounding 125 others, just days after the United States warned of a terrorist attack.

Facades were torn off buildings, revealing rooms still ablaze. Cars parked nearby were smashed by debris. Clouds of dust and black smoke rose from the seven-story building and settled over the neighborhood.

A Saudi Interior Ministry statement said attackers tried to drive one vehicle into the building, which housed the headquarters of Riyadh's traffic department in addition to the General Security headquarters.

The driver exploded the car 100 feet away from the gate, the Interior Ministry official said.

While the statement referred to just one car bomb, a police official had told The Associated Press earlier that two cars with bombs were parked about 50 feet away from the building. He added "a number of charred bodies" were carried from the scene.

The police official had said the blasts appeared to have resulted from suicide attacks and that one assailant died and one police officer was also killed.

Nine people were killed, including a police colonel, and 125 were wounded, according to officials at three hospitals.

It was not immediately known if the suicide attacker was among the dead counted by the hospital officials.

Among the wounded were police, some in critical condition, and at least three children.

(AP) A view taken from Saudi TV via APTN of unidentified building and cars destroyed by an explosion in...
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A Saudi official told AP that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage met with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal about 30 minutes after the attack. The meeting was at the Foreign Ministry, which is close to the General Security building in al-Nassiriyah, a central Riyadh neighborhood.

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah visited the wounded, one of them a young man who was unconscious and on a respirator. The prince stopped at the bedside of another young man who appeared alert and had no obvious injuries. A third wounded man wore camouflage.

"Your duty is our pride. God will help us to defeat these people," Abdullah told one of the injured.

The General Security building, the administrative headquarters of the Saudi domestic security service, was severely damaged. A number of homes in the neighborhood also were damaged.

General Security oversees officers who investigate burglaries and murders, direct traffic and perform other basic police duties in the kingdom. Such officers have been on the front lines in a Saudi crackdown on Islamic militants, manning checkpoints as part of stepped up security and occasionally engaging in fire fights with suspects.

(AP) A view taken from Saudi TV of an unidentified building destroyed by an explosion in central Riyadh,...
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Last month, a purported al-Qaida message appeared on the Internet threatening Saudi police, members of the intelligence forces and other security agents. The message said targeting Saudi security agents "in their homes or workplace is a very easy matter."

The explosion, which occurred about 2 p.m., hit when workers would have been leaving for the Saudi weekend.

Saudi TV showed the General Security building, about seven floors, with its glass facade shattered and severe damage inside. Firefighters worked to extinguish the blazes, and more than 20 ambulances had arrived. Two helicopters flew above the site. Police blocked the area and evacuated the surrounding buildings.

Hanan Batteesha, an Egyptian woman, was with her two children, aged 11 and 14, when she heard a "big blast."

"We heard wails and cries, then saw our neighbors running down the stairs," she said.

(AP) A view taken from Saudi TV via APTN of an unidentified building and cars destroyed by an explosion...
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By the time they reached the ground floor, "the gate was damaged, windows started shattering, and glass fell all over us," she said. "The fronts of the buildings around us were damaged, the air conditioners mangled and there was smoke everywhere."

The blast was heard and felt more than three miles away.

In an interview with the Saudi TV station Al-Ekhbaria, a leading Saudi cleric called the bombing "a dastardly criminal act."

"How can they make these dastardly acts bring them closer to God?" Sheik Abdullah Al-Mutlaq said, apparently alluding to Islamic militants who are blamed for terrorist strikes in the kingdom.

The acting U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bertrand Ramcharan, condemned the attack but urged the Saudi authorities to pursue the perpetrators by legal means.

(AP) A view taken from Saudi TV of an unidentified building destroyed by an explosion in central Riyadh,...
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"An essential element in fighting this scourge is to uphold the rule of law and fundamental standards of human rights, the very things terrorists seek to destroy," Ramcharan said in a statement.

The explosion came only days after Saudi authorities announced they had seized three booby-trapped SUVs that were loaded with a total of more than four tons of explosives and had apparently been abandoned by militants involved in a shootout with security forces.

An April 12 shootout in Riyadh left one suspected militant and one policeman dead. The next day, militants opened fire at a checkpoint in Riyadh, killing four police officers. Eight people have been arrested in connection with the shootouts.

The United States last week ordered the departure of nonessential U.S. government employees and family members from Saudi Arabia. It also urged private citizens to leave the kingdom, and the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh issued an advisory, warning of "credible indications of terrorist threats aimed at American and Western interests in Saudi Arabia."

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Carol Kalin said no Americans were hurt in the bombing.

President Bush had announced earlier this month that he was dispatching Armitage to the region for talks on Iraq.

Last year, the Saudi capital suffered two major attacks by suicide bombers driving vehicles filled with explosives. A total of 51 people were killed in the May and November bombings, including the assailants.

The Saudis pursued terrorists and Islamic extremists vigorously after those attacks, arresting hundreds of people.

The attacks were blamed on Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida, the network accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 strikes in the United States.

04-21-04, 02:04 PM
Insurgents Attack Marines in Fallujah
Wed Apr 21,

By LOURDES NAVARRO and JASON KEYSER, Associated Press Writers

FALLUJAH, Iraq - U.S Marines backed by tanks and helicopter gunships battled insurgents in northern Fallujah on Wednesday, killing nine, as a day-old attempt to bring peace to the besieged city hit snags.

Explosions were heard coming from the scene of the fighting, and Cobra helicopter gunships were blasting with Gatling guns from the air. Tanks moved into the Julan neighborhood from which Marines said insurgents their positions.

The attack came as U.S. Marine commanders said no guerrillas have come forward so far to turn in their heavy weapons, a key tenet of an agreement reached by negotiators that began being implemented on Tuesday. The Marines, in response, halted a key commitment on their side in the deal, the return of Fallujah residents to the city.

About 10 families made it back into the city in the morning before Marines announced to some 600 Iraqis waiting at the checkpoint that no more would be allowed to enter. The crowds massed behind concertina wire, with women and crying children pressing forward demanding to be let in. Nearby trucks were stacked high with families belongings and other goods.

The attack began just after daybreak when the insurgents launched a frontal assault on the Marines position with a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire, Marines said. Spokesman Lt. Eric Knapp said nine insurgents were killed and three Marines wounded.

Capt. Matt Watt, of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines regiment, said he doubted the battle would scuttle Monday's agreement, suggesting it was an isolated attack by a relatively small group of guerrillas.

"I think its one last surge by the Mujahedeen and criminal type elements in the city to get one last attack in before the political situation snuffs them out," Watt said. "They see that the end is near and they are making one last push."

But the failure to turn in any weapons so far was a more worrisome sign, Marines suggested. U.S. officials have said the deal's success hinges on whether the Fallujah negotiators a group of local civic leaders can convince the guerrillas to comply with the call to hand over their arsenals.

Implementation began with a spirit of optimism on Tuesday. Several hundred Iraqi police and security forces moved back into the city, and a curfew was pushed back by two hours to 9 p.m. Announcements aired in the city detailed how residents should turn in to police and city officials any heavy weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, rockets and bomb-making material.

By noon Wednesday, Marine Lt. Co. Brennan Byrne said no weapons had been turned in.

"These may be early indications that the insurgents may not be living up to the requirements of the agreement," Byrne said.

Insurgents opened fire with small arms overnight and fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the Liaison Office where Iraqi security forces are supposed to hand over to the U.S. military any weapons they collect.

During the day, some 300 members of the police and security forces who had left the city were lined up to "re-enlist," said Capt. Steve Coast meaning they would receive new documents certifying they are members of the force.

Fallujah's mayor was also working from the site. Several hundred other security forces moved into the city on Tuesday.

U.S. commanders have warned that they could launch an all-out attack on the city if the agreement announced Monday after negotiations between U.S. officials and Fallujah civil leaders falls through.

So far, the U.S. response has been the halt to the return of families who fled Fallujah during the fighting a top concern of the Fallujans. A day earlier, U.S. officials allowed 50 families back into the city as provided for under the deal.

"It's tit-for-tat, we're not seeing tat," Byrne said.

From the start, the fragile agreement had depended on how much the city's guerrillas complied with a call by city officials for them to turn in heavy weapons.



04-21-04, 02:30 PM
no guerrillas have come forward so far to turn in their heavy weapons, a key tenet of an agreement reached by negotiators that began being implemented on Tuesday.

Do you really think that the guerrillas will turn if their weapons? Come on, the only way that we will get them is to kill or capture the guerrillas.

04-21-04, 04:23 PM
It's Marines' job not to get angry
By Ron Harris
Of the Post-Dispatch

One year ago, Post-Dispatch reporter Ron Harris and photographer Andrew Cutraro accompanied the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, during its invasion of Iraq and the ensuing war. The battalion returned to Iraq last month, and Harris and Cutraro rejoined it to report on the Marines' new mission. On Saturday, they were the only journalists with the unit during a daylong offensive that followed an ambush in Husaybah. Five Marines died in the fighting.

HUSAYBAH, Iraq - Lance Cpl. Dustin Myshrall peered into the darkness through his night vision goggles, trying to keep up with the truck in front of him as the Marine convoy made its way down the treacherous stretch of road without headlights for security purposes.

In the rear of his truck were the bodies of four dead friends: Lance Cpl. Michael J. Smith, Lance Cpl. Ruben Valdez, Lance Cpl. Gary VanLeuven and Cpl. Christopher Gibson; and the body of the company commander, whom he so much respected, Capt. Richard J. Gannon.

They had all been killed hours earlier Saturday in a 14-hour battle with Iraqi insurgents who had ambushed the Marines early in the morning and fought with them deep into the night. Some of the enemy had fired at Marines and then hid behind children.

In front of Myshrall was another truck, this one filled with Iraqi prisoners, their hands tied behind their backs, white blindfolds covering their faces. They were the men who that very day may have killed his friends and wounded 12 other Marines.

For 90 minutes, Myshrall, 22, of Baton Rouge, La., would have to look at these men and be reminded that they were the people who were responsible for taking away his friends. And he wasn't supposed to get angry. In fact, it was his job and the job of Lance Cpl. Francisco Villegas, also a friend of the men in the back of Myshrall's truck, to get them to their destination safely.

Thus is the dichotomy of what the Marines do here, and nowhere is that dichotomy more manifest than at the battalion detention center, where scores of Iraqis are kept prisoner by the same Marines they have tried to kill.

They are supposed to feed them, give them water, make arrangements for them to say their daily prayers and walk them to an average five daily bathroom breaks.

It is part of Staff Sgt. Drew Glazier's job to make sure that while the Marines are doing all that, their emotions don't overtake them and they try to do to the prisoners what the prisoners did to their friends.

"It's tough, because some of the guys who work here have had a friend killed or wounded," said Glazier, 43, a Marine reservist who has worked for nearly 18 years as a correctional officer in Essex County, Mass.

"We're not here to punish them," he said. "We're here to hold them. We're here to provide care, custody and control - and sometimes another 'C' that isn't in our mission statement: compassion."

He knows that the Marines who rotate into the detention center from various infantry units don't come in feeling that way, and he must deal with that.

"You keep their feelings out in the open," he said. "You don't hide it. You don't suppress it. I talk to them about it. I explain that we're going to treat them with dignity and respect, not because of who they are, but because that's who we are.

"But these guys are Marines. They're very good at separating what we do here from how they feel. I've had two incidents where a detainee lunged at a guard, and the Marines handled it appropriately. I have not had to pull even one guard off a detainee."

Along with Lt. Jesse Larca, Glazier oversees the Marines' detention center for the region of Al Qaim. Currently, they have 104 prisoners. Dozens more have passed through the facility since the Marines arrived here nearly two months ago. Most have been released back into their communities. The rest have been pushed further down the line for more interrogation or to be held as permanent prisoners.

Glazier has drawn on his civilian experience to set up a booking system similar to the ones in the United States, where each inmate has a number and the numbers are connected to records and pictures to keep track of them.

Inmates eat three meals a day, "the same thing as the Marines eat," Glazier said, and are afforded at least 4.5 liters of water daily.

"That's my minimum standard," Glazier said, "and when it gets hot, they'll get them more."

The prisoners are kept in makeshift cells made of wire and wood and topped with razor wire. Marines armed with shotguns loaded with nonlethal rounds watch them from two 12-foot-high guard towers.

The Iraqis are not allowed to talk to each other. They are allowed out of their cells only for bathroom breaks, to wash or for interrogation.

So far, Glazier said, the prisoners have been very well-behaved.

"They've been very passive," he said. "The majority of what we do is housekeeping."

Marines at nearby Kilo Company claim they hear the inmates screaming and crying at times when they are interrogated.

But Glazier and members of the Marines' interrogation teams, called Humanint Exploitation Teams, say that is perception, not reality. There is never any physical abuse; international rules and strict orders disallow it.

Glazier says he physically searches each inmate before and after interrogation, looking for any signs of abuse. If he finds any, he must report it.

Staff Sgt. Justin Holder, an HET interrogator, said they are not allowed to physically harm a prisoner under the rules of the Geneva Conventions.

They can use sleep deprivation, reduced food rations and screaming and yelling, but nothing else.

Besides, said one HET member, information gained through torture would be unreliable because prisoners would say anything to relieve the pain.

"If I'm pulling your fingernails out, you'll tell me that you wear women's clothes on the weekend," said one HET member.

But they admit that they do create the perception that physical harm could occur, Holder said. They do it in part by yelling and screaming.

"Perception is reality," said Holder, 32, of Murray, Utah. "If they perceive something is going to happen, that can be as effective as if it really did happen."

Killed in action

Marines have released the names of these five Marines killed Saturday in a daylong battle with Iraqi insurgents:

Capt. Richard J. Gannon, 31, Escondido, Calif.
Cpl. Christopher A. Gibson, 23, Ventura, Calif.
Lance Cpl. Michael J. Smith, 20, Brooke, W.Va.
Lance Cpl. Ruben Valdez, 20, Duval, Texas.
Lance Cpl. Gary F. VanLeuven, 20, Klamath Falls, Ore.

Reporter Ron Harris
E-mail: ronharris6852@hotmail.com
Phone: 314-340-8214


Marines place a prisoner in a cell at the detention center Tuesday afternoon.
( Andrew Cutraro/P-D)



04-21-04, 05:29 PM
But they admit that they do create the perception that physical harm could occur, Holder said. They do it in part by yelling and screaming.

no matter what said in this articale, the only way that we can deal with these people is to KILL them or CAPTURE them.

04-21-04, 06:39 PM
General: Much of Iraq's Forces Have Quit <br />
<br />
By CONNIE CASS, Associated Press Writer <br />
<br />
WASHINGTON - About one in every 10 members of Iraq (news - web sites)'s security forces &quot;actually worked...

04-21-04, 06:40 PM
Lawlessness Part of Life in Fallujah
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2004 A certain amount of lawlessness has always been a part of life in Fallujah, Defense Department officials said recently.

While U.S. Marines stand ready inside the city, anti-coalition forces continue to attack in defiance of a ceasefire agreement. The city is a hotbed of anti- coalition activity, and has been since the U.S. troops entered the area in April last year.

But Fallujah's reputation for violence didn't start when the coalition rolled into town. It has always had the taste of what Americans would call the Wild West.

While Iraq is laced with antiquities, Fallujah isn't one of them. Just after World War II, the population of the town was around 10,000. The city, about 40 miles west of Baghdad, is on the edge of the desert, and now has about 300,000 citizens. It is a dry and arid landscape, made productive only because of extensive irrigation from the nearby Euphrates River.

It was, however, located on the main routes into Jordan and Syria. And in crime, as in real estate, location is everything. The city was on the main route for smugglers, and sheltered a number of very successful crime lords.

The area is poor, and the villages surrounding the city still shelter subsistence farmers and their families. The smugglers were a source of money even wealth for those in the region. Even government officials sheltered the smugglers, DoD officials said.

When Saddam Hussein took power in 1979, the city received a boost. Many of the people in Fallujah supported Saddam, and many of his closest advisors, highest- ranking military officers and high-ranking members of the Baath Party came from Fallujah, Ramadi, Tikrit and other areas in the center of the Sunni Triangle. Arab tribes in and around the city also owed fealty to Saddam and became bastions of the regime.

Hussein returned the favor by building factories in the city and providing jobs for his chosen people.

Fallujah took a number of hits in the first Gulf War. News reports indicate that in one instance, a U.S. bomber tried to take out Fallujah's bridge over the Euphrates. The bomb missed and allegedly killed 200 Iraqis in the city market.

Following the Gulf War, the city became an even larger smuggling center, this time with government encouragement, officials said. Saddam encouraged the smugglers to skirt the U.N.-imposed sanctions on Iraq.

Since the U.S.-led liberation of Iraq, former regime supporters have allied themselves with foreign fighters who seem to be entering Iraq via Syria, officials said. U.S. officials suspect that members of al Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam have cells in the city. Other terror groups have allied themselves with former regime elements and Sunni extremists, making for a very volatile mix.

Officials said these groups intimidate the larger population of Fallujah, and these citizens seem to be caught in the middle. If the people of Fallujah cooperate with the former regime members, then coalition forces will come after them. If they cooperate with the coalition, then they will be killed.

Terrorists have launched attacks against coalition forces, Iraqis supporting coalition efforts such as police and members of the Civil Defense Corps and against everyday civilians.

The Sunni Triangle became a haven for foreign fighters and anti-coalition elements. Attacks mounted against coalition and Iraqi targets. When coalition forces captured Saddam in December, the number of attacks dipped. But on Feb. 12, former regime elements launched an attack against U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. John Abizaid, who was visiting the area.

On March 31, anti-coalition forces attacked an SUV with four American security specialists. The attackers killed the men, and then a crowd mutilated their bodies. The Marines of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force launched Operation Vigilant Resolve on April 4.

On April 10, the Marines announced a unilateral ceasefire that allows humanitarian relief to reach the residents of the city. The Marines have remained in this posture since then, replying only when fired upon by anti- coalition forces.