Sunni Arab guerrillas attacked a bus in northern Iraq on Monday, killing 11 persons, the policemen aboard and their driver. The attack may have been in response to the Iraqi government campaign against the Sunni radicals in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city (pop. 1.7 million). Mosul is largely Sunni Arab and the governor of Ninevah Province, in which it is located, has alleged that Sunni radicals have been in control of it since January. It has been charged that al-Maliki’s campaign has been relatively ineffective, since the radical Sunni leaders melted away when it was inaugurated. The Iraqi military has seen almost no street battles, and has just arrested about 1000 persons; it has been alleged that these detainees are for the most part not connected to the religious extremists, and that they have been subjected to human rights abuses.
Shiite militiamen used a bomb to assassinate the police chief of a town near Nasiriya in the south. The town was the site of fierce fighting earlier between the Mahdi Army and government security forces, which left 22 dead.
The Iraqi military went into Shaab district in east Baghdad on Monday, confiscating bombs and arresting members of the Mahdi Army. The raid did not provoke a breakdown in the ceasefire between the army and the Mahdi Army.
The Moroccan government broke up a terror cell in Fez that was allegedly planning an attack in Belgium. If this story is as advertised, it underlines that radical Muslim extremism is best fought by establishing warm relations with Muslim allies such as Morocco, the security forces of which are far more able to break up such cells than is the US Pentagon. That is, diplomacy is more important to counter-terrorism than sheer military might.
Sunni Arab political parties are not accepting the apology of the US military for the actions of an army sergeant who used the Qur’an for target practice. [Since the Pentagon keeps the television turned to the Islamophobic Fox Cable News for the soldiers on bases in Iraq, it is amazing more such incidents don’t occur.] The Iraqi Islamic Party of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi is demanding a written apology and insisting that the sergeant be given the maximum possible sentence.
‘ “What truly concerns us is the repetition of these crimes that have happened in the past when mosques were destroyed and pages of the Holy Quran were torn and used for disgraceful acts by U.S. soldiers,” al-Hashimi said. “I have asked that first this apology be officially documented; second a guarantee from the U.S. military to inflict the maximum possible punishment on this soldier so it would be a deterrent for the rest of the soldiers in the future.” ‘
The Association of Muslim Scholars, which is Sunni fundamentalist, also condemned the incident and expressed outrage that the al-Maliki government has been silent in the face of it. The AMS is alleged to have links to the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a Sunni guerrilla group that is split on whether to continue to fight US soldiers or whether to join pro-US Awakening Councils. The USG Open Source Center translates their web posting:
‘ May 19, 2008 Monday . . .
“In a new step that reflects disdain for the feelings of Muslims in general and the Muslims in Iraq in particular, the occupation forces removed a soldier from Iraq they said opened fire at a copy of the holy Koran. This apologetic step is an attempt on their part to reduce embarrassment caused by this incident.”
The statement notes that this step will not succeed in absorbing the anger of the Iraqi people or covering up the details of what really happened, adding that “this action was not carried out by one soldier only, but rather by a combat force, which includes many members of the occupation forces.”
The statement wonders why the US forces decided to punish only one soldier, asking “if this soldier was really punished or rewarded for his action through taking him out of the hell in Iraq and sending him back to his country safely.”
Concluding, the statement says that this disciplinary action will open the door wide for “further violations of and aggressions against the holy Koran and Muslim sanctities,” by other US soldiers, “who are haunted by the failure of their military targets.”
Source: Association of Muslim Scholars website, in Arabic 19 May 08′
McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Monday:
Three civilians were wounded in a bomb explosion in Doura neighborhood south Baghdad around 7:30 p.m.
Around 10:00 the security forces in Zafaraniyah district southeast Baghdad found a Katusha rocket system with a Katusha rocket which was set. The explosive expert defused the rocket. No casualties were reported.
Five civilians were wounded when a Katusha rocket hit Adan intersection in Kadhemiyah neighborhood in north Baghdad around 12:00 p.m.
The Sahwa members in Abo Ghraib area in west Baghdad arrested four suicide bombers including a Syrian man. The four suicide bombers were arrested while they were in their car in al Hamdaniyah neighborhood, part of Abo Ghraib, police said.
Police found three unidentified bodies throughout Baghdad (1 body on Rasheed camp road, 1 body in Mansour and 1 body Shurta the 4th).
Around 9:00 p.m. an IED exploded targeting the vehicle of Major Ahmed, the chief police of al Quds police station in Shaab neighborhood north Baghdad. Major Ahmed got injured with three of his guards.
Two civilians were injured in a bomb explosion in Ghadeer neighborhood in east Baghdad around 9:00 p.m.
Around 8:00 p.m. gunmen opened fire targeting a vehicle carrying three policemen in Qadisyah neighborhood west Baghdad. The policemen were injured and taken to the hospital.
Gunmen attacked an officer in the ministry of interior affairs in Zafaraniyah neighborhood in southeast Baghdad. The officer was injured in the attack.
Three civilians were wounded in a car bomb near al Fattah mosque in downtown Tikrit city north of Baghdad.
A source in Nasiriyah police said that the commander of the marshes battalion Major Farhan Qasim Gtafi was killed in an IED explosion while he was nearby the headquarter of the battalion in Souq al Shuyoukh south of Baghdad on Monday morning.
A man was killed with his wife while she was wearing an explosive vest. The incident took place in al Mukhtar area north Falluja city west of Baghdad. Police said that they got intelligence information that the man has an explosive vest. The man gave the vest to his wife when the house was raided by the security forces. After police left the house, the explosive vest detonated killing the woman and casing serious wounds to the man who dies later, police said. ‘