*One GI was killed Monday and another was wounded when armed men fired on their convoy near the town of Hadithah, which is about 120 miles north of Baghdad. One report I saw suggested that the locals taunted the US troops, saying “bye bye.” There is a lot of anti-American feeling in the Sunni Arab belt, which had benefitted from Saddam’s rule, and which has increasingly turned to radical Islam.
*Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani issued a fatwa, printed in az-Zaman, forbidding Shiites from conducting reprisal killings of former Baath party members. He also forbade anyone from buying or selling stolen Iraqi antiquities. Sistani represents quietist, traditionalist Shiism in Iraq, which is apparently less popular than used to be thought, with radicalism of a Khomeinist sort more widespread. Many Iraqi Shiites already see Sistani as having collaborated with the Baath, so this sort of ruling may infuriate them against him all the more.
*Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim has complained again about the US plan to disarm his Badr Brigade militias. He points out that the Americans have not established order in Iraq, and that such community militias are necessary until they do. He said he hopes the Badr Brigades will eventually be incorporated into the Iraqi army.
*Nizar Trabelsi met with Osama Bin Laden five times and was specifically offered by him a suicide mission against an American base in Belgium, according to the Belgian Le Soir. The former professional soccer (football) player from Tunisia, is on trial with over 20 others in Brussels for his part in a plot to do a suicide bombing mission at the Kleine Brogel military base in Belgium. According to Agence France Presse, presiding judge Claire de Gryse told the court that Trabelsi had testified that “The attack was due to happen between midday and one o’clock and target the canteen of the base.” Trabelsi underwent military training in Afghanistan at an al-Qaeda base. He then fought for the Taliban in Eastern Afghanistan, but had problems with the other Arab fighters. He says he met Osama Bin Ladin 5 times in Qandahar, and that he “considered him like a father. Deeply affected by seeing video cassette montages of atrocities against Muslims, he proposed himself for a suicide mission, but insisted that it not be against civilian targets. The next day, he says, Bin Laden gave him th green light. “He proposed a number of targets to me then, including an American base in Belgium,” Tabelsi reported in the course of his interrogation. He was to have two accomplices, a Saudi and a Yemeni, who have not yet been identified. Trabelsi was arrested with bomb making materials in his apartment. He will be cross examined again Tuesday morning (today).