11 US Troops Wounded;
Car Bomb in Samawah
The Associated Press reports that guerrillas pounded a U.S. base near Baghdad airport with mortar shells, wounding 11 US soldiers. The shelling started a fire on base that burned for an hour.
In the southern city of Samawah, guerrillas detonated a car bomb outside the police HQ. They wounded two persons and set two cars ablaze.
On Tuesday, police discovered a car bomb packed with 150 pounds of explosives in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, averting a massive explosion. In response, they announced a curfew from 9 pm until 6 am. There was also more trouble in Najaf between the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr and Najaf police. When the police arrested two members of the Mahdi Army militia loyal to Muqtada, the militiamen riposted by taking 25 policemen hostage. They released 16 of them on Wednesday. One Al-Sadr spokesman, Ahmad al-Shibani, asserted that all the police hostages had been released.
Marine Cpl. Wassef Hassoun, taken hostage by guerrillas, continued to be unaccounted for. Stories are surfacing that he had gone AWOL or tried to, making contacts with Iraqis in hopes of getting help in going to Lebanon, where he has relatives. The local Iraqis, however, are alleged to have instead sold him to the guerrillas. The AWOL story has not been confirmed by the Marines, and they seem ill at ease in their statements on the matter.
‘ “The circumstances surrounding the Marine’s absence initially indicated that he was missing,” a statement by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force said. “However, in light of what we have observed on the terrorists’ video, we have classified him as captured.” ‘
Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein was legally surrendered to the Iraqis by the Americans. Since the US is no longer in international law the Occupying power, it has little right to continue to hold Saddam. Since the Americans do not, however, trust the Iraqis to guard him properly, their surrender of Saddam is just as much a sham as their surrender of sovereignty. A new opinion poll in Iraq suggested that over forty percent of Iraqis want him executed, while a similar proportion want him just to be let go. This sign of the extreme polarization of the Iraqi public over this issue is a very bad omen. By the way, it seems that Salem Chalabi, nephew of disgraced Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi, is still in charge of trying Saddam, according to the Arabic press. Salem has strong ties to Israeli interests, which may undermine his effectiveness in this role with the Iraqi public.