Bombings and Assassinations Mar Christmas Day in Iraq
Douglas Ireland of the LA Weekly has a fine piece on the problems with the coverage of Iraq in the US media, and offers some helpful pointers on how to penetrate the fog of information war.
Guerrillas detonated a car bomb on Saturday at Khan al-Nus, between the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, killing five Iraqi civilians. The guerrillas had apparently been aiming at a US military convoy but missed.
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat and wire services report that new bodies were pulled out of rubble near a truck bombing that appears to have targeted the Jordanian embassy in the Mansur District of Baghdad on Friday, bring the total number of deaths in that incident to 9.
Near Taji, Guerillas gunned down Jalil Ibrahim and Ali Muhammad. Ibrahim was a member of a local governing council.
South of Mosul, guerrillas assassinated an Iraqi translator working for the US military, along with his wife, at the village of Abu Hiza’.
Gunmen assassinated Dr. Hasan al-Ruba’i, 45, a professor in the medical school at Baghdad University, as he drove in his car with his wife. She was unharmed. Al-Ruba’i had a reputation for having stood for academic integrity against attempts to make hiring or firing decisions at the medical school on the basis of politics imposed from above.
In a case of mistaken identity, US troops killed Muhammad Nihad Hamudi as he was driving out near the airport. They had thought him a guerrilla, but he was not.
In Mosul, in two separate incidents guerrillas attacked Iraqi police with a hand grenade and with small arms fire. There was no word of casualties.
In Samarra, clashes between guerrillas and Iraqi national guardsmen left two guardsmen and three civilians dead.
The Association of Muslim Scholars claimed that on Friday, US troops had invaded the home of one of its members, Shaikh Muwaffaq Muzaffar Al-Duri, the Friday prayers leader at Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Mosque. The AMS claimed that US troops “executed” Al-Duri, with “the utmost barbarity.” The US military denies any knowledge of the incident.
The AMS office in Iskandariyah, Babil province, was also assaulted by a mixed force of US troops and Iraqi national guards. The AMS is often suspected of having at least some links to the guerrilla resistance among Sunni Arabs to the US presence in Iraq. The AMS says that in the past 2 months, some 20 Sunni Friday prayer leaders have been assassinated or disappeared, 80 have been arrested, and several mosques have been invaded and searched.
Militants kidnapped multimillionnaire Turkish businessman Kahraman Sadikoglu along with several other Turks from the port city of Umm Qasr on the Gulf earlier this week, a video showed. Sadikoglu, a shipping magnate, had been helping clear the Gulf of debris from the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.
US Marines captured two members of the Monotheism and Holy War group that now styles itself the “Mesopotamian al-Qaeda.” AP reports, ‘ A Marines statement identified the men as Saleh Arugayan Kahlil and Bassim Mohammad Hazeem. Their cells kidnapped and executed 11 Iraqi National Guardsmen, carried out car bombings and other attacks in the Ramadi area and “smuggled foreign terrorists into the country,” the Marines said. “This group is responsible for intimidating, attacking and murdering innocent Iraqi civilians, Iraqi police and security forces, and business and political leaders throughout the [A]nbar province,” the statement said. ‘
Edmund Sanders of the Los Angeles Times reports that candidates loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr on the various electoral slates running for parliament number altogether about 180. He says Sadr himself, a Shiite fundamentalist and Iraqi nationalist who wants US troops out of the country, is hedging his bets so as to maximize his opportunities to take advantage of the post-election situation. If the elections go well, he will have at least some followers in place in parliament. If they go badly, he can point out that he had public reservations all along.