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Thread: Further Proof Al-Zarqawi Myth Created By The U.S.

  1. #11
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    Does al-Zarqawi exist?

    http://www.news24.com/News24/World/I...814710,00.html

    11/10/2005 14:46 - (SA)

    Baghdad - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's faction has claimed responsibility for attacks that have left hundreds of Iraqis dead, and the United States has called him the most dangerous terrorist in Iraq.

    Still, even as al-Zarqawi threatens more chaos - in recordings and internet messages - many Iraqis believe the Jordanian militant does not even exist and is merely a phantom created by the Americans to sow unrest in the country.

    Similar disbelief greeted Britain's explanation that its soldiers, arrested in southern Iraq disguised as Arabs, were on an undercover hunt for terrorists. Instead, some Iraqis argue the soldiers were out to kill Shi'ite Muslims and blame the murders on Sunnis in hopes of sparking civil war.

    Such conspiracy theories are common among Arabs and may seem laughable to outsiders. But in Iraq, where rulers from British colonists to Saddam Hussein regularly played one ethnic group against the other, imagined plots can seem reasonable - a fact that may have dire consequences for US efforts to build a stable Iraqi government.

    Opposition to constitution
    Indeed, ethnic and religious groups typically at odds are now standing united against the US-backed push for Iraqis to adopt a new constitution in a referendum om Friday and elect a permanent government in December. These steps, they say, are really intended to tighten the grip of America and Britain - the old master in Iraq - on the counry's oil wealth.

    "Zarqawi is ... a myth that America has created to put a face to the terrorism it wants to stoke in this country to justify its continued presence," Sheik Amer al-Husseini, a top aide to radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

    "If there was no more terrorism in Iraq, there would be no reason for the United States to remain ... making it harder for them to ... force this constitution on Iraqis," said al-Husseini.

    Such arguments only add to confusion among many Iraqis who already are faced with different views from religious leaders. The radical al-Sadr has hinted he opposes the new constitution, while Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Iranian-born cleric who holds the greatest sway over Iraqi Shi'ites, has urged its passage.

    US officials had hoped that such rifts, more common between the Shi'ites and Sunnis, would have been overcome with the June 2004 handover of sovereignty and the January elections that brought the current government to power.

    But each time, the same hardline Shi'ite and Sunni groups who had ridiculed the war to topple Saddam as a US effort to seize control over Iraqi oil, remained unconvinced.

    As a result, little has changed in Iraq, once the seat of proud Islamic empires upon which Iraqis now look back in wonder as they survey a landscape pockmarked by bombs and sown with civilian corpses.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #12
    Partridge Guest
    Robert Fisk writes:



    And who was to blame? Why Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, of course. The same tiresome, odd, ruthless, nebulous Zarqawi who the Americans seem as little able to capture or kill as they do Osama bin Laden, or Mullah Omar, or, for that matter, Radovan Karadjic and Ratko Mladic, the war criminals who butchered the Muslims of Srebrenica and other cities in Bosnia. The suicide bombings that killed 56 innocents in Amman bore in that cliche beloved of all journalists, "all the hallmarks" , of al-Qa’ida and Zarqawi. Why do we keep gifting these creatures with the attributes of silver?

    If, that is, Zarqawi is alive. A petty criminal from the Jordanian city of Zarqa, he certainly existed in 2003 when the illegal invasion of Iraq was undertaken by the United States and Britain. But many in Iraq believe he died in the initial air attacks of that war. In Zarqa, his wife, of whom he was very possessive, has gone out to work to support her family. When his mother died last year, the family had no messages of condolence from Zarqawi, an odd omission from a man who has supposedly embraced so strict an interpretation of Islam.

    Repeatedly, American intelligence officers have "identified" Zarqawi from videotapes depicting the murder of Western hostages. But the killers were always cowled in scarves, their voices distorted. How did the Americans know this was Zarqawi? There are many unanswered questions about al-Qaida’s role in Iraq - and now in Jordan - which we journalists now prefer to leave alone. Why Jordan? Why now?

  3. #13
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    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  4. #14
    PhilosophyGenius Guest
    The name of this thread is missleading in that, I thought it was going to talk about the rumour he was dead a long time ago. This "terrorism expert" is just stating already known facts about Zarqawi. That he wasn't origianally an ally of bin Laden until years after the war in Iraq started. A man who worked in Zarqawi's orginanization before the war in Iraq was arrested in Germany and said that Zarqawi was somewhat of a rival of bin Laden. The fact that Powell and the Bush administration were saying Zarqawi was bin Laden's man in Iraq was pure spin to sell the war.

  5. #15
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    Suicide Attacks Kill at Least 57 at 3 Hotels in Jordan's Capital
    The tightly coordinated blasts bear the hallmark of Al Qaeda, intelligence officials say, and shred the nation's reputation as a relatively safe zone.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...es%3Cbr%20/%3E

    By Ashraf Khalil, Ranya Kadri and Josh Meyer, Special to The Times
    11/10/2005

    AMMAN, Jordan — Suicide bombers carried out nearly simultaneous attacks on three Western chain hotels here Wednesday night, killing at least 57 people, wounding more than 100 and emphatically ending Jordan's status as an oasis of relative calm in the Middle East.

    The blasts struck the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn in the Jordanian capital just before 9 p.m., sending clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky and leaving some of the bloodied victims lying on plush-carpeted floors.

    At the Radisson, an assailant detonated an explosives belt in the midst of a wedding party in a crowded banquet hall, resulting in extensive casualties, officials said. At the Days Inn, a car bomber was unable to breach the security perimeter outside the hotel before detonating his explosives, Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher told reporters.

    Emergency workers rushing to the scenes used bellman's carts to carry the wounded out of the hotels. The flood of victims overwhelmed local hospitals.

    A surgeon at Istiqlal Hospital reported "bodies coming left and right." Sixteen corpses were placed in a single room and dozens of the injured were in danger of dying overnight, the surgeon said.

    No group claimed immediate responsibility for the bombings, but Western intelligence officials said the multiple, tightly coordinated suicide attacks focusing on relatively soft targets bore the hallmark of the Al Qaeda network. Muasher, in an interview on CNN, said that although it was too early to tell for sure, he believed Al Qaeda-affiliated Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab Zarqawi was "obviously the prime suspect."

    Early reports indicated that the majority of the victims Wednesday were Jordanian civilians. The injured included Moustapha Akkad, the internationally famed Syrian-born film director of "The Message" and "Lion of the Desert." Akkad's 30-year-old daughter, Reem, died in one of the blasts.

    Madison Conoley, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Amman, said no American citizens were known to have been injured. Associated Press reported that an American at the Hyatt, speaking with a Southern drawl, had said, "My friends are dead." The blast shattered the entrance to the five-star hotel.

    Reuters quoted a French U.N. official as saying, "I was eating with friends in the restaurant next to the bar when I saw a huge ball of fire shoot up to the ceiling and then everything went black."

    The U.S. Embassy was advising Americans in Amman to take what the spokesman called "common sense" precautions such as "avoiding large crowds and keeping a low profile."

    The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israelis staying at the Radisson on Wednesday had been evacuated before the attacks and escorted back home "apparently due to a specific security threat."

    (Gold9472: This has since been retracted by Ha'aretz.)

    Amos N. Guiora, a former senior Israeli counter-terrorism official, said in a phone interview with The Times that sources in Israel had also told him about the pre-attack evacuations.

    "It means there was excellent intelligence that this thing was going to happen," said Guiora, a former leader of the Israel Defense Forces who now heads the Institute for Global Security Law and Policy at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "The question that needs to be answered is why weren't the Jordanians working at the hotel similarly removed?"

    Jordanian security forces were placed on high alert, deploying throughout the capital around hotels, embassies and malls. The Jordanian government sealed off the borders and announced that all government and public offices would be closed in mourning today.

    Jordan's King Abdullah II condemned the attacks, calling them criminal acts committed by "a misled and misleading group."

    In Washington, President Bush said the bombings "again demonstrated the terrible cruelty of the terrorists and the great toll they take on civilized society." Bush, in a statement, pledged full support and assistance for the Jordanian government, which he called "a key ally in the war on terror."

    Jordan has long enjoyed a reputation as a safe zone sandwiched between its violent, unstable neighbors — Israel and the Palestinian territories to the west and Iraq to the east. Nestled amid the tumult, Jordan looks at first like a sleepy strip of desert and rugged mountains, tourist-friendly and eager to get along politically with other Arab countries as well as the West.

    As suicide attacks took place routinely in Israel, large-scale bombings rocked hotels in Egypt and an insurgency raged in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, Jordan largely escaped the region's violence.

    At the same time, the type of attack that occurred Wednesday had long been seen by Amman as a possibility.

    "We've always been concerned about it," said Taher Masri, a former Jordanian prime minister. "We've known the terrorists have been targeting Jordan for a long time."

    Al Qaeda's confederates have been helping wage the bloody insurgency against U.S. troops and government security forces in Iraq. Al Qaeda's reported leader there, Zarqawi, has in past statements threatened to bring his fight home.

    Current and former U.S. counter-terrorism officials pointed out that the Radisson SAS hotel has in the past been a target of both Al Qaeda and Zarqawi's affiliated but independent network. Al Qaeda, they said, has made repeated attempts on the same target.

    Zarqawi, they said, was centrally involved in a plot in late 1999 to target Amman hotels during millennium celebrations. The plot was thwarted by Jordanian intelligence, and Zarqawi fled to his base in Afghanistan. He oversaw a terrorist training camp there until the post-Sept. 11 U.S. military strikes in October 2001. Several dozen militants were eventually convicted in the millennium plot, including Zarqawi and others in absentia.

    Jordan's peaceful reputation may have been what drew the attackers to it, said Labib Kamhawi, a former political science professor at Jordan University in Amman.

    "The more Jordan stressed this, the more determined these groups were to disrupt that safety," Kamhawi said.

    The kingdom's security and intelligence services have long been known for skillful spy work — and tough crackdowns against Islamic extremists and other would-be agitators.

    One Western diplomat in Amman, in a 2004 interview, called Jordan "the most effective police state in the region."

    But the threat of unrest has lurked beneath the surface for years. Jordan is poor, and its political life stifled. The population is heavily Palestinian, and public sympathy for the Palestinian cause put the government under intense pressure as it negotiated peace with Israel and kept up close ties with the U.S.

    The war in Iraq and the grinding insurgency there further eroded stability, analysts say. Jordan became a staging ground for contractors, journalists, aid workers and diplomats headed into Iraq — and a refuge for Iraqis fleeing the chaos. With public sentiment squarely against the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Jordanian government has continued its public support for the United States.

    "[Jordan] was always a fragile oasis," said Joost Hiltermann, an Amman-based analyst for the International Crisis Group. " … It was only a matter of time before somebody got through."

    Cracks have been showing in Jordan's seemingly impermeable security screen in recent years. In 2002, U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley was gunned down in front of his house in Amman. Earlier this year, militants in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba launched homemade missiles, narrowly missing a U.S. warship and killing a Jordanian soldier.

    Masri, the former prime minister, said the attacks proved that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 had begun to seriously destabilize the region.

    "Iraq was not the source of terrorism [before the invasion]," Masri said, "but now it has become exactly that."

    The bombings could prompt an exodus by the international aid organizations and multinational contracting and security companies for whom Jordan has served as a safe staging point for operations in Iraq. Kamhawi, the political analyst, predicted an abrupt end to Jordan's ongoing economic boom.

    "A lot of the investments are coming because Jordan is safe," he said. "We don't have oil. We don't have water. All we have is stability."

    A look at attacks connected with Jordan in recent years:

    • Aug. 19, 2005: Attackers fire at least three rockets from the hills above the Jordanian port city of Aqaba, with one narrowly missing a U.S. Navy ship docked in the port and another hitting a taxi outside an airport in nearby Israel. A Jordanian soldier is killed.

    • Aug. 7, 2003: A car bomb explodes outside the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad, killing at least 17 people, including two children. More than 50 people are wounded.

    • Oct. 28, 2002: An American diplomat, Laurence Foley, is assassinated in front of his house in Amman, gunned down in the first such attack on a U.S. diplomat in decades.

    • March 28, 1998: A crude bomb explodes in an elite English-language school in Amman in what one senior government official calls an apparent attempt to instigate attacks against Americans. The explosion shatters windows but causes no injuries.

    • Jan. 17, 1998: Masked men raid a dinner party at the hillside mansion of a wealthy Iraqi businessman in Amman, slitting the throats of a top Baghdad diplomat and seven other people.

    Source: Associated Press

    Los Angeles Times
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  6. #16
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    Al-Qaida in Iraq threatens to attack Israel

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/644387.html

    By News Agencies
    11/12/2005

    A Web statement Friday in the name of al-Qaida in Iraq, claiming the deadly hotel bombings in Amman, Jordan, included a threat to Israel, Jordan's western neighbor. The statement noted that Jordan, which it described as Israel's "buffer zone," was now "within range" and "it will not be long before raids by the mujahedeen come" to Israel itself.

    The statement said that the attacks in Amman were carried out by four Iraqis, including a husband and wife "who chose to accompany her husband to his martyrdom."

    "All of these are Iraqis from the land between the two rivers," the statement said, alluding to Iraq's ancient name, Mesopotamia. "They vowed to die and they chose the shortest route to receive the blessings of God."

    The statement could not be authenticated, but it appeared on a site which has included past al-Qaida statements and was signed in the name of the group's spokesman, Abu Maysara al-Iraqi.

    Jordan's security forces were interrogating scores of Arab suspects, including Iraqis, on Friday in connection with three suicide bombings that killed at least 60 people in Amman hotels in attacks claimed by al-Qaida.

    A Jordanian security official said some 120 suspects, mainly Iraqis and Jordanians, were arrested in roundups.

    One day after Jordan's King Abdullah pledged to "pull from their holes" militants behind one of the worst attacks to hit Jordan in its modern history, authorities stepped up a hunt for Islamic underground cells across the kingdom.

    A security source told Reuters police conducted searches on Thursday in impoverished Amman neighborhoods where many Iraqi workers live. No more details were provided.

    "The authorities are interrogating a wide range of suspects from different nationalities including Iraqi nationals to gather evidence that can lead us to the culprits," Interior Minister Awni Yarfas told Reuters.

    In near-simultaneous attacks on Wednesday night, two suicide bombers turned crowded wedding parties into bloody scenes of destruction at the Grand Hyatt and the nearby Radisson SAS in central Amman. A third targeted a Days Inn hotel.

    The attacks killed at least 57, most of them Jordanians, and wounded 96 but health officials have warned the death toll could climb as 16 people remained in critical condition.

    Yarfas said forensic experts were conducting DNA analyses on what security officials believe are the remains of the bombers.

    In a televised address on national television late on Thursday, a somber-looking King Abdullah said:

    "We will pursue those criminals and those who are behind them, and we will reach them wherever they are."

    Authorities said the attacks, which have shattered the sense of stability in U.S. ally Jordan, were executed by three suicide bombers wearing explosive belts; two entered the hotels, while a third blew himself up outside the hotel.

    Al Qaeda in Iraq, led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said in a statement on an Islamic Web site that "a group of our best lions" had carried out the attacks against the hotels because they were used by U.S. and Israeli spies.

    Famous director among fatalities
    Moustapha Akkad, the Syrian-born director of the "Halloween" horror films, died Friday from wounds sustained in the triple hotel bombings, a hospital official said.

    Akkad, 74, who lived in Los Angeles, died at 7.30 A.M. in a Jordanian hospital where he was being treated, according to surgeon Dr. Yousef Qisous.

    Akkad's daughter, Rima Akkad Monla, 34, also died in one of Wednesday's three explosions, said her mother Patricia Akkad, speaking from Los Angeles.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  7. #17
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    Iran sees 'Zionist' link to Jordan attacks

    http://www.iranmania.com/News/Articl...rent%20Affairs

    Monday, November 14, 2005 - ©2005 IranMania.com

    LONDON, November 14 (IranMania) - Iran said it suspected Israel was behind the suicide attacks in Amman, even though Jordanian officials have blamed the bombings on militants linked to Iraq-based Al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said AFP.

    "The explosions in Jordan are a suspicious matter. Most probably the Zionist regime (Israel) was behind them," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

    "It was a bitter incident. We condemned it and our foreign minister (Manouchehr Mottaki) has phoned his Jordanian counterpart (Faruq al-Kasrawi), to sympathise with the families of the victims and condemn the terrorist acts," he added.

    The attacks on three luxury hotels on Wednesday killed 57 people and wounded about 100 more.

    Iran does not recognise Israel and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad caused an international outcry in October when he called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map", AFP stated.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  8. #18
    PhilosophyGenius Guest
    What's there proof?

  9. #19
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    U.S., U.K. soldiers killed in separate incidents
    8 suspected al-Qaida die in fight; officials checking if al-Zarqawi was one

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10107233/

    Updated: 4:24 p.m. ET Nov. 20, 2005

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents killed an American soldier near Baghdad and a British trooper in the south on Sunday, and U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a shootout — some by their own hand to avoid capture.

    In Washington, a U.S. counterterrorism official said the identities of the suspected al-Qaida members was unknown. When asked if they could include terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the official replied: “There are efforts under way to determine if he was killed.

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

    Earlier, an ambush on a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol northwest of Baghdad left 15 civilians, eight insurgents and a U.S. Marine dead from a roadside bomb and the firefight that followed, a U.S. military statement said Sunday.

    The attack began Saturday with a roadside bomb detonating next to the Marine’s vehicle in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, the U.S. command said.

    Fifteen Iraqi civilians also were killed by the blast, which was followed by an insurgent shooting attack, the statement said.

    “Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding another,” the statement said.

    A later statement said a U.S. soldier was killed by small-arms fire while on patrol north of Baghdad. No other details were provided.

    At least 2,092 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The toll includes five soldiers who died Saturday in a pair of roadside bombings near Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, and a soldier who died in a U.S. hospital in Germany from injuries suffered Thursday when his vehicle was rammed by an Iraqi car near Beiji.

    Britain’s Defense Ministry also said Sunday that a British soldier was killed and four were wounded in a roadside bombing near Basra in southern Iraq. Basra is the main base for British forces in the region.

    The death brings the number of British troops killed in Iraq to 98, the ministry said.

    Sunni leaders press for timetable
    At a U.S.-backed reconciliation conference in Cairo, Egypt, Sunni leaders are pressing ahead with demands that the Shiite-majority government agree to a timetable for withdrawing all foreign troops.

    With less than a month to go before the vote, an electoral commission official said Sunday that hospital patients, prisoners and members of the Iraqi security forces will be allowed to vote three days early.

    The “special voting” will take place Dec. 12, Farid Ayar said. The elected legislators will serve four-year terms.

    Past voting in Iraq has involved massive security operations to ensure a peaceful vote. U.S. and Iraqi officials hope the country’s Sunni Muslim minority will participate in large numbers following widespread boycotts of votes in the past.

    In western Baghdad, hundreds of marching Iraqis — mostly Sunnis — demanded an end to the torture of prisoners, and called for the international community to pressure Iraqi and U.S. authorities to ensure that such abuse does not occur.

    Anger over detainee abuse has increased sharply since U.S. troops found 173 detainees at an Interior Ministry prison in Baghdad’s Jadriyah neighborhood. The detainees, mainly Sunnis, were found malnourished and some had torture marks on their bodies. Sunni Arabs dominate the insurgent ranks.

    Carrying posters of tortured prisoners, disfigured corpses and U.S. troops arresting locals, the nearly 400 demonstrators marched from the office of the Front for National Dialogue, a Sunni political group, a few hundreds yards in the western neighborhood of Jamia before dispersing peacefully.

    “We condemn torture and we call on the United Nations and the international community to put pressure on the Iraqi government and the Americans,” Ali al-Saadoun, of the Sunni Muslim group, told the demonstrators. “We want all the detainees released.”

    Conference in Egypt
    The demonstration came as Iraqi officials met in Egypt at a reconciliation conference organized by the Arab League.

    Iraq’s Shiite-led government has promised an investigation and punishment for anyone guilty of torture. Attacks against Shiite civilians by Sunni religious extremists have occurred throughout the Iraq conflict but spiked since the prisoners were found last weekend.

    Since Friday, at least 125 Iraqi civilians have been killed in bombings and suicide attacks. They include 76 people who died in near-simultaneous suicide bombings at two Shiite mosques in Khanaqin along the Iranian border. Four people have been arrested, including one believed to have been planning another suicide attack, a security officer in Khanaqin said.

    Attack on funeral
    On Saturday, a suicide bomber detonated his car in a crowd of Shiite mourners north of Baghdad, killing at least 36 people.

    The bomb exploded late in the afternoon as mourners offered condolences to Raad Majid, head of the municipal council in the village of Abu Saida, over the death of his uncle. Abu Saida is near Baqouba, a religiously mixed city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

    Police said about 50 people were injured.

    Earlier, a car bomb exploded among shoppers at an outdoor market in a mostly Shiite neighborhood in southeast Baghdad, killing 13 people and wounding about 20 others, police reported. Witnesses said they saw a man park the car and walk away shortly before the blast.

    In Jordan, family members of Jordanian-born al-Qaida in Iraq chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi renounced the terror leader, whose group claimed responsibility for Nov. 9 suicide attacks on three Amman hotels that killed 59 other people.

    The family of al-Zarqawi, whose real name is Ahmed Fadheel Nazzal al-Khalayleh, reiterated their strong allegiance to Jordan’s King Abdullah II in half-page advertisements in the kingdom’s three main newspapers. Al-Zarqawi threatened to kill the king in an audiotape released Friday.

    © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  10. #20
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    Al-Zarqawi May Be Among Dead in Iraq Fight

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051120/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

    By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 1 minute ago

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a gunfight — some by their own hand to avoid capture. A U.S. official said Sunday that efforts were under way to determine if terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among the dead.

    Insurgents, meanwhile, killed an American soldier and a Marine in separate attacks over the weekend, while a British soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in the south.

    In Washington, a U.S. official said the identities of the terror suspects killed in the Saturday raid was unknown. Asked if they could include al-Zarqawi, the official replied: "There are efforts under way to determine if he was killed."

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

    On Saturday, police Brig. Gen. Said Ahmed al-Jubouri said the raid was launched after a tip that top al-Qaida operatives, possibly including al-Zarqawi, were in the house in the northeastern part of the city.

    During the intense gunbattle that followed, three insurgents detonated explosives and killed themselves to avoid capture, Iraqi officials said. Eleven Americans were wounded, the U.S. military said. Such intense resistance often suggests an attempt to defend a high-value target.

    American soldiers controlled the site Sunday, and residents said helicopters flew over the area throughout the day. Some residents said the tight security was reminiscent of the July 2003 operation in which Saddam Hussein's sons, Odai and Qusai, were killed in Mosul.

    The elusive al-Zarqawi has narrowly escaped capture in the past. U.S. forces said they nearly caught him in a February 2005 raid that recovered his computer.

    In May, the group said he was wounded in fighting and was taken out of the country for treatment. Within days, it reported he had returned — though there was never any independent confirmation that he was wounded.

    The U.S. soldier killed Sunday near the capital was assigned to the Army's Task Force Baghdad and was hit by small arms fire, the military said. The Marine, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, died of wounds suffered the day before in Karmah, a village outside Fallujah to the west of the capital.

    In the southern city of Basra, a roadside bomb killed a British soldier and wounded four others, the British Ministry of Defense said. The ministry said 98 British soldiers have died in the Iraq conflict.

    The U.S. military also said Sunday that 24 people — including another Marine and 15 civilians — were killed the day before in an ambush on a joint U.S. Iraqi patrol in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad in the volatile Euphrates River valley.

    According to the U.S. statement, the attack began Saturday with a roadside bomb detonating next to the Marine's vehicle, followed by a heavy volley of fire from insurgents.

    "Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding another," the statement said.

    The three American deaths brought to at least 2,093 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

    Meanwhile, four women were killed Sunday night when gunmen stormed their home in a Christian district of eastern Baghdad, police said, adding that valuables were stolen and the motive for the attack appeared to have been robbery.

    The latest deaths occurred at the end of a violent three-day period in which at least 140 Iraqi civilians died in a series of bombings and suicide attacks — most targeting Shiite Muslims.

    The victims included 76 people who died Friday in near-simultaneous suicide bombings at two Shiite mosques in Khanaqin and 36 more killed the next day by a suicide car bomber who detonated his vehicle amid mourners at a Shiite funeral north of the capital.

    In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that commanders' assessments will determine the pace of any military drawdown. About 160,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq as the country approaches parliamentary elections Dec. 15.

    The Pentagon has said it plans to scale back troop strength to its pre-election baseline of 138,000, depending on conditions. Rumsfeld said the U.S.-led coalition continues to make progress in training Iraqi security forces, which he placed at 212,000.

    Rumsfeld also said talk in the United States of a quick withdrawal from Iraq plays into the hands of the insurgents.

    "The enemy hears a big debate in the United States, and they have to wonder maybe all we have to do is wait and we'll win. We can't win militarily. They know that. The battle is here in the United States," he told "Fox News Sunday."

    In Cairo, Egypt, Iraq's president said Sunday he was ready for talks with anti-government opposition figures and members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party, and he called on the Sunni-led insurgency to lay down its arms and join the political process.

    But President Jalal Talabani, attending an Arab League-sponsored reconciliation conference, insisted that the Iraqi government would not meet with Baath Party members who are participating in the Sunni-led insurgency and attacking Iraqi and U.S.-led forces in the country.

    "I am the president of Iraq and I am responsible for all Iraqis. If those who describe themselves as Iraqi resistance want to contact me, they are welcome," Talabani told reporters. "I want to listen to all Iraqis. I am committed to listen to them, even those who are criminals and are on trial."

    Talabani made clear in his remarks, however, that he would talk with insurgents and "criminals" only if they put down their weapons.

    In Baghdad, hundreds of Sunnis demanded an end to the torture of detainees and called for the international community to pressure Iraqi and U.S. authorities to ensure that such abuse does not occur.

    Anger over detainee abuse has increased sharply since U.S. troops found 173 detainees at an Interior Ministry prison in Baghdad's Jadriyah neighborhood. The detainees, mainly Sunnis, were found malnourished and some had torture marks on their bodies. Sunni Arabs dominate the insurgent ranks.

    The 400 protesters carried posters of tortured detainees, disfigured dead bodies and U.S. troops detaining Iraqis as they marched for a few hundred meters (yards) through western Baghdad.

    Iraq's Shiite-led government has promised an investigation and punishment for anyone guilty of torture. Attacks against Shiite civilians by Sunni religious extremists have occurred throughout the Iraq conflict but spiked since the detainees were found last weekend.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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