15 Killed, including a US Soldier; Dozens Wounded
Minister of Justice Narrowly Escapes
Guerrillas attempted but failed to assassinate the Iraqi Minister of Justice, Malik Dohan al-Hassan, 83, with a suicide bomb on Saturday. The powerful explosion did kill 3 of his bodyguards and two civilians, including his nephew, and wounded 8 others. Credit for the attack was claimed by al-Tawhid, the organization of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which castigated al-Hassan as an “apostate,” i.e. a former Muslim who had renounced Islam. Radical Islamists consider Muslims who cooperate with the West to be apostates, and in medieval Islamic jurisprudence, apostasy was a capital crime.
Al-Hassan had served as Minister of Education in the late 1960s before the 1968 Baath coup, in an Arab nationalist government. He was one of the ministers tapped by Allawi to announce the ‘state of emergency’ law recently that was decried by many civil libertarians, apparently in hopes that his stature would help deflect those criticisms (-ash-Sharq al-Awsat).
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on Saturday denied a report in the Sydney Morning Herald that he had personally executed prisoners in late June.
Al-Hayat reports that Allawi is considering increasing the strength of the Iraqi civil defense forces in al-Anbar, Salahuddin and Diyala provinces, where most of the guerrilla violence takes place.
Hareth al-Dhari, leader of the Board of Islamic Clerics, a Sunni fundamentalist organization, warned against sending Federal forces into al-Anbar, saying that they would be met with fierce resistance.
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat reported that Shaikh Akram Abid Fareeh, the Sunni imam of the Fatimah Zahra’ Mosque in Ramadi, pledged in his Friday sermon that if the US troops did not withdraw from Iraq, Ramadi would become their “graveyard.”
Guerrillas near Beiji north of Baghdad detonated a roadside bomb as a US military convoy passed, killing one US soldier and wounding another. 656 US troops have been killed in military action is the beginning of the war.
Guerrillas also struck at the National Guard Headquarters in Mahmudiya, 30 km south of Baghdad, with a suicide bombing. They killed at least one person and wounded more than 30.
They also ambushed the police chief of Iskandariyah, Lt. Col. Rahim Ali, who was driving to work, killing him.
Police and self defense forces throughout the country faced numerous attacks on Saturday.
In Hawija, just west of Kirkuk, guerrillas attacked the police station, killing two policemen and two civilians. One of the guerrillas was killed in the firefight.
In the capital, guerrillas assassinated a cleric who belonged to the Iraqi Islamic Party, Sheikh Abdul Samad Ismail al-Adhami. He is the brother of Abdul Wahab al-Adhami, also a Sunni cleric, who fought Saddam’s regime. The party’s headquarters in Baghdad was recently firebombed. Although the pary is a Sunni fundamentalist one, it has cooperated with the US and the caretaker government of PM Allawi, drawing down on it the ire of Sunni Arab nationalists and more hardline fundamentalist groups. Old-time Baath guerrillas would also blame it for its anti-Baath activities.
An Iraqi guard from Kirkuk, Farhat Abdullah, who watching over the oil pipelines in the north, was kidnapped by assailants as he headed home.
A Jordanian truck driver who had been taken hostage was found dead. Truckers are key to bringing in and out the goods that will allow the new government to survive, and several have been targeted.