Iraq 23: “Another Vietnam? No,” says military expert

October 30, 2003

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is part of an occasional series of updates about the situation in Iraq.

I attach 12 articles, with summaries first.

CONTENTS

1. "Ramadan seen month of virtue and violence in Mideast" (Reuters, Oct. 29, 2003)
2. "U.S. postwar death toll in Iraq hits new milestone" (Reuters, Oct. 29, 2003)
3. "FACTBOX - Table of military casualties in Iraq" (Reuters, Oct. 29, 2003)
4. "Recent bombings in Iraq since August" (AP, Oct. 27, 2003)
5. "Holy month of Ramadan begins for Muslims" (UPI news agency, Oct. 26, 2003)
6. "Syria slams ICRC attack as harming Iraqi interests" (Reuters, Oct. 29, 2003)
7. "Iraq - The Unanswered Question" (AP, Oct. 29, 2003)
8. "2 Al Jazeera Staffers Are Held in Iraq" (AP, Oct. 29, 2003)
9. "Another Vietnam? No" (New York Post, Oct. 29, 2003)
10. "American Soldiers Kill Six Iraqi Civilians After a Bomb Explosion Near a U.S. Convoy" (New York Times, Oct. 29, 2003)
11. "Air Raid Kills 22 Taliban, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan" (Reuters, Oct. 28, 2003)
12. "Ten Taliban Killed in Fighting With Allies" (AP, Oct. 27, 2003)



SUMMARIES

1. "Ramadan seen month of virtue and violence in Mideast" (Reuters, Dubai bureau, Oct. 29, 2003). "From a holy month of piety and sacrifice, Islam's Ramadan has evolved into a prime time for attacks by Muslim militants seeking a fast track to Paradise, and this year it appears to be no different. Ramadan, which began in most of the Middle East on Monday, got off to a violent start in Iraq, where synchronised suicide bombings killed 35 people. A day later, Washington warned Americans not to travel to Saudi Arabia because of information on possible attacks on aviation and Western targets. Egyptian militant Yasser al-Sirry who runs the London-based Islamic Observation Centre, said: "Ramadan is a blessed time when good deeds are rewarded 10-fold. If you are martyred in Ramadan, that's even better." Islam strictly forbids the killing of non-combatants during conflict and many clerics frown upon suicide attacks. But analysts and Islamists say the heightened religious fervour of Ramadan appears to encourage extremism. In Algeria, where an estimated 150,000 people were killed during an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, residents greeted Ramadan with fear as it is traditionally a time for attacks. In ancient and modern Islamic history, Ramadan has also been a time of great victories for Muslim armies. "Shedding blood during Ramadan brings them (militants) greater martyrdom and closer to God," said Mounir Boudjema, an expert on Algerian Islamist rebel groups."

2. "U.S. postwar death toll in Iraq hits new milestone" (Reuters, Baghdad bureau, Oct. 29, 2003). Two U.S. soldiers were killed in an attack north of Baghdad late on Tuesday, the U.S. military said, taking the combat death toll among U.S. troops in Iraq since the war higher than the wartime total.

3. "FACTBOX - Table of military casualties in Iraq" (Reuters World Report, Oct. 29, 2003). Reuters provides a table of casualties suffered by U.S., British and other forces, as well as Iraqis, since the U.S.-led assault on Iraq began on March 20. The figures for Iraqi civilian dead are estimated at between 7,776 and 9,587, according to the web site www.iraqbodycount.net, run by academics and "peace activists".

4. "Recent bombings in Iraq since August" (AP, October 27, 2003). Here, the Associated Press, lists recent bombings in Iraq.

5. "Holy month of Ramadan begins for Muslims" (UPI news agency, Bahrain, Oct. 26, 2003). "Cannon fire signaled the start of Ramadan on the island of Bahrain early Monday. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a month of fasting and reflection for more than a billion Muslims worldwide. For the entire month, starting at dawn until immediately after sunset, Muslims refrain from drinking, eating, smoking and sexual relations. Muslims believe prayers on that night will be answered and God will reward the faithful who stay up late praying for the atonement of sins and a place in paradise after resurrection."

6. "Syria slams ICRC attack as harming Iraqi interests" (Reuters, Damascus bureau, Oct. 29, 2003). Syria condemned as "terrorism" on Wednesday a deadly suicide attack on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baghdad this week, saying such attacks harmed the Iraqi people's interests... A U.S. general has said one attacker captured alive in an attempted suicide bombing on a police station on that day was carrying a Syrian passport.

7. "Iraq - The Unanswered Question" (By Charles J. Hanley, AP Special Correspondent, Oct. 29, 2003). "Twelve bombings and three months later, U.S. occupation authorities appear no closer to halting the Iraq terror offensive than on the August morning when the first exploding vehicle ripped through Jordan's embassy in Baghdad. Some American officials were quick to blame diehard Saddam Hussein loyalists for the latest Baghdad suicide bombings. Others pointed to "foreign fighters." But in Baghdad itself, the U.S.-led occupation made clear it's still too early to answer the urgent questions of who's behind the attacks and how to stop them."

8. "2 Al Jazeera Staffers Are Held in Iraq" (Associated Press, October 29, 2003) Coalition forces in Iraq have detained two Al Jazeera staffers on allegations that they had prior knowledge of a car bombing in Baghdad, the editor of the Arab satellite television station said Tuesday... The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists has criticized U.S. military forces for what it called an increased harassment of reporters since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

9. "Another Vietnam? No" (By Ralph Peters, New York Post, October 29, 2003). "Every lost service member matters, but at the present casualty rate it would take 15 years for our dead in Iraq to surpass the number of Americans butchered on 9/11. Better to fight like lions than to die like sheep... Iraq another Vietnam? Hell, even Vietnam wasn't the Vietnam of left-wing baby-talk politics and campus political astrology. Our Vietnamese enemies represented a mass movement. The Iraqi terrorists represent a small, bloodthirsty movement to oppress the masses... Did Operation Iraqi Freedom create terrorists? No. It terrorized the terrorists. Now it's flushing them out of their hiding places. We'll be killing and capturing them for years. But that's the only approach that works..."

[TG adds: I attach these final three articles to illustrate how in general the Western media does not give nearly as much prominence to the deaths of civilians and "militants" in Iraq and Afghanistan as it does in "Palestine."]

10. "American Soldiers Kill Six Iraqi Civilians After a Bomb Explosion Near a U.S. Convoy" (New York Times, October 29, 2003). "FALLUJA, Iraq - American soldiers killed six civilians just west of this city on Monday after a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy, according to town officials and witnesses. The soldiers, who were on the main road to Falluja when the bomb exploded, fired on a minivan heading in the opposite direction on a different road more than 100 yards away, witnesses said. A spokesman for the American military in Baghdad offered only a general response to questions about the incident, saying he had no details about what had happened but he believed the use of force was justified. Four people in the minivan died, and two were severely wounded, Mr. Saleh said. He showed what he said were photographs of the shattered van that he had taken immediately after the incident. The photographs show a gruesome scene. Pieces of bodies cover the van's seats, sharing space with a set of brown prayer beads. A headless, legless torso lies on the ground beside the van... Since early September, soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division have killed more than 20 civilians and Iraqi police officers in and around Falluja in incidents where the victims have put up little or no resistance, according to accounts from witnesses."

11. "Air Raid Kills 22 Taliban, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan" (Reuters, October 28, 2003) At least 22 guerrillas from the ousted Taliban regime and al Qaeda network were killed in an aerial attack by U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan's southeastern Paktika province, the region's governor said on Tuesday.

12. "Ten Taliban Killed in Fighting With Allies" (AP, Oct. 27, 2003) U.S. and Afghan troops patrolling the rugged border with Pakistan killed at least 10 suspected Taliban who ambushed them with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, Afghan officials said Monday.

 


FULL ARTICLES

RAMADAN SEEN MONTH OF VIRTUE AND VIOLENCE IN MIDEAST

Ramadan seen month of virtue and violence in Mideast
By Miral Fahmy
Reuters, Dubai office
October 29, 2003

From a holy month of piety and sacrifice, Islam's Ramadan has evolved into a prime time for attacks by Muslim militants seeking a fast track to Paradise, and this year it appears to be no different.

Ramadan, which began in most of the Middle East on Monday, got off to a violent start in Iraq, where synchronised suicide bombings killed 35 people -- the worst since U.S. troops ousted Saddam Hussein in April. [TG adds: This isn't correct: The attack on the Shiite mosque in the south of Iraq killed over 100].

A day later, Washington warned Americans not to travel to Saudi Arabia because of information on possible attacks on aviation and Western targets in the kingdom, which is battling a surge in violence believed to be linked to Osama bin Laden.

"The youth (militants) believe that fasting and jihad go hand in hand," said Egyptian militant Yasser al-Sirry who runs the London-based Islamic Observation Centre.

"Ramadan is a blessed time when good deeds are rewarded 10-fold. If you are martyred in Ramadan, that's even better."

Islam strictly forbids the killing of non-combatants during conflict and many clerics frown upon suicide attacks.

Like many other moderates, Eid Abdel-Hamid Youssef, a preacher at Egypt's prestigious Al-Azhar Mosque, said there was no linkage between armed resistance and Ramadan.

"Whoever links the month of Ramadan with war and fighting, they are responsible for their actions. But Islam makes no linkage like that at all," he said.

But analysts and Islamists say the heightened religious fervour of Ramadan appears to encourage extremism.

In Algeria, where an estimated 150,000 people were killed during an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, residents greeted Ramadan with fear as it is traditionally a time for attacks.

Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, when practicing Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn to dusk -- a discipline aimed at bettering Muslims' souls.

But in ancient and modern Islamic history, Ramadan has also been a time of great victories for Muslim armies.

Muslims believe that the dead are guaranteed access to heaven during the holy month as the gates of hell are shut.

"Shedding blood during Ramadan brings them (militants) greater martyrdom and closer to God," said Mounir Boudjema, an expert on Algerian Islamist rebel groups.

RIPE RECRUITING TIME

In the Middle East, Ramadan comes this year at a time of despair and bitterness for Muslims who witnessed the fall of Iraq, a Muslim country into "infidel" U.S. hands.

Islamists said that in addition to the spiritual incentive Ramadan provides, the large mosque gatherings are ideal for finding new recurits particularly at a time of growing anti-Western sentiment among many Arabs.

"For terrorist groups like al Qaeda, Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to find more recruits and whip up the drive of existing members," said Saudi columnist Mansour al-Nogaidan, who was jailed on militancy-related charges in the 1990s.

While it is impossible to predict whether the Middle East will see a surge in violence during Ramadan, analysts said the U.S. presence in Iraq and Israel's bloody confrontation with the Palestinians did not bode well for a peaceful month.

This month, Al Jazeera television broadcast tapes it said were from bin Laden in which he urged Iraqis to wage holy war against Americans and vowed more suicide attacks inside and outside the United States.

Sirry, a member of Egypt's Gamaa al-Islamiya, said bin Laden's calls had fuelled the ambitions of many militants.

"Such tapes, even though they are not related to Ramadan, lift the moral of the brothers in the region," he said. "The situation in Iraq too is encouraging. The more Americans killed there increases the possibility of Americans dying elsewhere."

(Additional reporting by Paul de Bendern in Algiers, Mohammed Abdellah in Cairo)

 

US POSTWAR DEATH TOLL IN IRAQ HITS NEW MILESTONE

U.S. postwar death toll in Iraq hits new milestone
Reuters
October 29, 2003

Two U.S. soldiers were killed in an attack north of Baghdad late on Tuesday, the U.S. military said on Wednesday, taking the combat death toll among U.S. troops in Iraq since the war higher than the wartime total.

A spokesman for the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division said the two soldiers were killed and another was wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.

The deaths brought to 116 the number of U.S. troops killed in hostile action since Washington declared major combat operations over on May 1, compared to 115 U.S. combat deaths during the U.S.-led war, according to official figures.

The attack happened after dark on Tuesday around 120 km (75 miles) north of Baghdad.

Iraqi guerrillas opposed to the U.S.-led occupation attack U.S. forces daily, especially in the so-called "Sunni Triangle" north and west of Baghdad where deposed dictator Saddam Hussein has strong tribal ties.

The mounting death toll in Iraq has put pressure on U.S. President George W. Bush, seeking re-election next year.

Bush on Tuesday blamed the violence in postwar Iraq on members of Saddam Hussein's ousted Baath party and "foreign terrorists."

 

FACTBOX - TABLE OF MILITARY CASUALTIES IN IRAQ

FACTBOX-Table of military casualties in Iraq
Reuters World Report
October 29, 2003

Two U.S. soldiers were killed in an attack north of Baghdad late on Tuesday, the U.S. military said on Wednesday, taking the combat death toll among U.S. troops in Iraq since the war higher than the wartime total.

Following is a table of casualties suffered by U.S., British and other forces, as well as Iraqis, since the U.S.-led assault on Iraq began on March 20. Sources for Iraqi casualties are unofficial.

The figures in brackets refer to casualties since May 1, when U.S. President George W. Bush declared major combat over.

U.S., BRITISH AND OTHER TROOPS KILLED:

COMBAT/ATTACKS

United States 231 (116)

Britain 19 (11)

Other nations

NON-COMBAT

United States 125 (102)

Britain 32 (7)

Other nations 2 (2)

IRAQIS KILLED:

MILITARY 4,895 to 6370

CIVILIANS Between 7,776 and 9,587+

- Unofficial think tank estimates. No official figures available.

+ - Figure compiled on Web site www.iraqbodycount.net, run by academics and peace activists, based on incidents reported by at least two media sources.

NOTE: NON-COMBAT is defined as accidents, U.S. or British fire killing or wounding their own troops, and other incidents unrelated to fighting.

 

RECENT BOMBINGS IN IRAQ SINCE AUGUST

Recent bombings in Iraq since August
The Associated Press
October 27, 2003

A list of recent bombings in Iraq:

Oct. 27: Car bombers strike the international Red Cross headquarters and four police stations across Baghdad, killing about 40 people on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Oct. 26: Iraqi insurgents fire a barrage of rockets at the heavily guarded Al Rasheed Hotel, killing an American colonel and wounding 18 others. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in the hotel, but was unhurt.

Oct. 14: A suicide car bomber exploded his vehicle outside the Turkish Embassy, killing the driver and a bystander, and wounding at least 13.

Oct. 12: A suicide car bombing near the Baghdad Hotel leaves eight people dead and at least 32 wounded.

Oct. 9: A suicide bomber drove his Oldsmobile into a police station in Baghdad's Sadr City district, killing himself and nine other people.

Sept. 25: A planted bomb damaged a hotel housing the offices of NBC News, killing a Somali guard and slightly injuring an NBC sound technician.

Sept. 22: A suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint outside U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing himself and an Iraqi policeman who stopped him and wounding 19 people.

Sept. 9: A suicide bomber targeted a U.S. intelligence compound in northern Iraq, killing three people and seriously wounding four American intelligence officers.

Aug. 29: A car bomb explodes outside a mosque in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf, killing more than 85 people including Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim.

Aug. 19: A truck bomber struck at the headquarters of the United Nations at the Canal Hotel, killing 23 people, including the top U.N. envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Aug. 7: A car bomb shattered a street outside the walled Jordanian Embassy, killing at 19 people including two children.

 

HOLY MONTH OF RAMADAN BEGINS FOR MUSLIMS

Holy month of Ramadan begins for Muslims
UPI
October 26, 2003

Cannon fire signaled the start of Ramadan on the island of Bahrain early Monday.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a month of fasting and reflection for more than a billion Muslims worldwide.

For the entire month, starting at dawn until immediately after sunset, Muslims refrain from drinking, eating, smoking and sexual relations, the Gulf Daily reported.

In Bahrain, the Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry issued an order forbidding restaurants and coffee shops to open during daylight in Ramadan.

Non-Muslims may eat during the day, but not in public. Anyone seen eating, drinking or smoking during the banned hours will be arrested, the newspaper said.

The holiest night of Ramadan is Lailat Al Qadir, which falls in the last 10 days, Gulf News said.

Muslims believe prayers on that night will be answered and God will reward the faithful who stay up late praying for the atonement of sins and a place in paradise after resurrection.

 

SYRIA SLAMS ICRC ATTACK AS HARMING IRAQI INTERESTS

Syria slams ICRC attack as harming Iraqi interests
Reuters
October 29, 2003

Syria condemned as "terrorism" on Wednesday a deadly suicide attack on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baghdad this week, saying such attacks harmed the Iraqi people's interests.

"Syria strongly condemns the destructive attack on the ICRC offices in Baghdad," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Bushra Kanafani said in remarks run by the official SANA news agency.

"Such operations that target innocent life and humanitarian and international organisations, severely harm the interests of the Iraqi people. They are terrorist acts," she said.

The attack on the ICRC was one of four suicide missions that killed 35 people and wounded 230 on Monday in Baghdad's bloodiest day since Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

A U.S. general has said one attacker captured alive in an attempted suicide bombing on a police station on that day was carrying a Syrian passport.

U.S. President George W. Bush has blamed violence in Iraq on members of Saddam's ousted Baath party and foreign "terrorists," and has said he expects Syria and Iran to enforce border controls to stop infiltrators.

Washington has accused the Damascus government of turning a blind eye to militants crossing into Iraq. Syria has also long been on the U.S. State Department's list of states that support terrorism.

 

IRAQ - THE UNANSWERED QUESTION

Iraq-The Unanswered Question
By Charles J. Hanley
The Associated Press
October 29, 2003

Twelve bombings and three months later, U.S. occupation authorities appear no closer to halting the Iraq terror offensive than on the August morning when the first exploding vehicle ripped through Jordan's embassy in Baghdad.

Some American officials were quick to blame diehard Saddam Hussein loyalists for the latest Baghdad suicide bombings, 45 minutes of coordinated strikes that stunned Iraqis. Others pointed to "foreign fighters." On Tuesday, President Bush blamed both for the siege of Baghdad violence.

But in Baghdad itself, the U.S.-led occupation made clear it's still too early to answer the urgent questions of who's behind the attacks and how to stop them.

The four bombings Monday, killing some three dozen people and wounding more than 200, were the latest in a string stretching back to Aug. 7 and the Jordanian Embassy. Since then, truck and car bombs have devastated the U.N. headquarters, killed an Iraqi religious leader and scores of followers, and struck Turkey's embassy, a hotel and other targets, killing more than 100 more people.

No credible claims of responsibility were made in the major attacks. Though seemingly aimed at discouraging cooperation with the U.S. occupation, the bombings weren't accompanied by any manifesto of goals or demands. And despite physical evidence left behind, investigations seem stalled. "We do not have a case," a top Pentagon officer, Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, admitted last week.

The U.S. command here, reflecting the attitude in Washington, strives to maintain an upbeat tone.

Even after a rocket barrage forced the occupation authority to abandon its main Baghdad hotel on Sunday, the general responsible for security in Baghdad stayed on message. "Absolutely," Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey said when asked whether he still believed that security had improved.

After Monday's quadruple bombings, it was no longer Dempsey but a deputy who appeared before reporters. In the face of massive casualties, Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling still looked for the positive, saying the victims could have been more numerous still if not for "the heroic work of Iraqi police," who aborted a fifth attempt.

Many Iraqis don't see such silver linings. The U.S. occupation "has not been a success," a grim Dr. Jalal F. Massa said after his clinic was wrecked, an incidental victim, in one of Monday's bombings.

The aborted fifth bombing supplied authorities with a live subject for interrogation: a failed would-be suicide driver who was said to carry a Syrian passport.

"I think that's a reasonable supposition," Hertling said later Monday, when asked whether he believed foreign terrorists were carrying out the attacks. "That's something we'll look closely at in the next few days."

Within one day, however, the occupation's Coalition Provisional Authority was cautioning against accepting the "Syrian" theory just yet, or the entire "foreign terrorist" link. "We are not able to make that firm conclusion just now," said a senior official of the U.S.-led coalition, speaking on condition he not be named.

In fact, Dempsey, 1st Armored Division commander, had been more emphatic on Sunday. He said that in Baghdad "we have not seen any infusion of foreign fighters."

The next day, the commander of the military zone north of the capital, Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, echoed Dempsey's assessment for his operations area. "We have not seen them yet," he said of the much-discussed "foreign fighters." Added the general, "We continue to look for that every day."

The uncertainty in Baghdad was underlined by the U.S. command on Tuesday, when a well-placed officer said the need for intelligence information about the mysterious attackers remains acute. "It's needed in a much more robust fashion than we have," he said.

 

2 AL JAZEERA STAFFERS ARE HELD IN IRAQ

2 Al Jazeera Staffers Are Held in Iraq
The Associated Press
October 29, 2003

Coalition forces in Iraq have detained two Al Jazeera staffers on allegations that they had prior knowledge of a car bombing in Baghdad, the editor of the Arab satellite television station said Tuesday.

Coalition military officials said they had no details about the detentions.

U.S. soldiers detained Iraqi cameraman Samer Hamza and a driver while they were covering an explosion at a police station in western Baghdad, Al Jazeera editor Ibrahim Hilal said.

The blast was one of a series of car bombings Monday that killed dozens of people and injured more than 200.

Hilal said the Al Jazeera staffers were held on allegations they had known of the attack before it took place - charges he denied.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera has repeatedly been accused by U.S. officials of biased reporting, accusations the station also denies. Journalists from Al Jazeera and other news organizations occasionally have been held for short periods by coalition troops.

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists has criticized U.S. military forces for what it called an increased harassment of reporters since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

 

ANOTHER VIETNAM? NO

Another Vietnam? No
By Ralph Peters
New York Post
October 29, 2003

Let's leave the phony pieties and hand-wringing to the presidential aspirants and celebrity journalists. Here's the truth:

* Thirty-six dead in a series of suicide bombings in Baghdad? The chump change of strategy. Cold-blooded, but true.

* Another American soldier killed in a roadside bombing? Every lost service member matters, but at the present casualty rate it would take 15 years for our dead in Iraq to surpass the number of Americans butchered on 9/11. Better to fight like lions than to die like sheep.

* Iraq another Vietnam? Hell, even Vietnam wasn't the Vietnam of left-wing baby-talk politics and campus political astrology. Our Vietnamese enemies represented a mass movement. The Iraqi terrorists represent a small, bloodthirsty movement to oppress the masses.

* Did Operation Iraqi Freedom create terrorists? No. It terrorized the terrorists. Now it's flushing them out of their hiding places. We'll be killing and capturing them for years. But that's the only approach that works.

* Has the War on Terror made Americans less safe? Despite the dishonest claims of Democratic presidential hopefuls, the answer is an unequivocal "No!" Where is the evidence that we're in greater danger now? Where are the terrorist attacks on our cities?

In this war, the only measurement that matters is the absence of attacks. Since 9/11, our government has taken the war to the terrorists and kept us remarkably safe.

* They'll attack America again and prove the War on Terror was a failure. Bull. Oh, we'll eventually be hit again. No counter-terror effort will ever be 100 percent effective. But if Terrorist No. 500 gets through, it doesn't mean there was no value in stopping the first 499. The proof of our success in this war is the undisturbed routine of our daily lives.

* Isn't there some way to stop the attacks in Iraq? Not in the short term. We face those who wish to turn back the clock, in some cases to the days of Saddam's rule, in others to a primitive theocracy. Our enemies are fanatics in the truest sense of the word. Every one we kill is a service to humanity.

* Doesn't the continuation of the attacks mean our approach is flawed? No. There's no magic bullet. This isn't a movie. It's a deadly, long-term struggle for incalculably high stakes.

And there is no rational, responsible alternative to persevering. The only disastrous choice we could make would be to give up.

* How long can the Iraqi terrorists maintain this pace of attacks? We don't know. The Iraqi terrorists themselves don't know. But we should be encouraged, not discouraged, that the best they can do is to ram a few suicide wagons into public buildings. They're not overrunning our troops. They're desperately scraping up all the suicide drivers they can. It's only surprising that they've been able to find so few.

* Do the Iraqi people support the terrorists? No. The Iraqi people just want to live in peace - without Saddam. They don't want our troops to stay forever, but few want us to leave tomorrow. The terror attacks will keep reminding them why they don't want the old regime back. What should we expect in Iraq? Imperfect results. It's an imperfect world. But even a partial success in establishing basic human rights, the rule of law and some form of democracy would be an unprecedented triumph in the region.

* Why are so few nations willing to help us? Because many political leaders want us to fail. Because the United States has returned to its original ideals, supporting freedom, self-determination, the rights of the individual and simple human decency.

Our example terrifies every one of Iraq's neighboring governments and infuriates the Europeans - who long profited from their political love affairs with dictators, even as they damned America for similar behavior.

We have taken a stand for freedom. And freedom still has few friends in this world.

There is only one way in which the situation in Iraq resembles Vietnam: Our enemies realize that they can't win militarily. This is a contest of wills much more than a contest of weapons. The terrorists intend to wear us down.

Our enemies are employing media-genic bombings to leap over our soldiers and influence our political leaders and our elections - just as the Vietnamese did. The suicide bombers themselves are deluded madmen, but the men behind the terror campaign calculate that, if they can just maintain a sufficient level of camera-friendly attacks, our military successes and all the progress of our reconstruction efforts will be eclipsed by a mood of dejection in Washington.

If the terrorists turn out to be right, the butcher's bill in the coming years and decades will be vastly higher than the casualty count in Iraq.

 

AMERICAN SOLDIERS KILL SIX IRAQI CIVILIANS AFTER A BOMB EXPLOSION NEAR A U.S. CONVOY

American Soldiers Kill Six Iraqi Civilians After a Bomb Explosion Near a U.S. Convoy
By Alex Berenson
New York Times
October 29, 2003

American soldiers killed six civilians just west of this city on Monday after a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy, according to town officials and witnesses.

The soldiers, who were on the main road to Falluja when the bomb exploded, fired on a minivan heading in the opposite direction on a different road more than 100 yards away, witnesses said. Their accounts were corroborated by Taha Badewi, the mayor of Falluja, and Jalal Sabri Khamis, the chief of police.

A spokesman for the American military in Baghdad offered only a general response to questions about the incident, saying he had no details about what had happened but he believed the use of force was justified. The spokesman, who insisted on anonymity, said no one from the 82nd Airborne Division, which patrols Falluja, was available for comment.

The base in Falluja where the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne live was under mortar attack at dusk on Tuesday when a reporter and photographer approached seeking comment on the incident. Guards at the base's gate said no one was immediately available for comment.

In the past, commenting on incidents in which Iraqi police or civilians were killed, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of allied forces in Iraq, has said the rules governing American troops here allow them to use overwhelming force on any entity considered hostile, even if it does not represent an immediate threat and is near civilians.

Falluja, in central Iraq, is a center of resistance to the American occupation and has been the scene of repeated violence over the past several months, including a car bomb Tuesday that killed four people.

The shooting on Monday in Falluja occurred about 7:30 a.m. near the intersection of two roads just west of a bridge over the Euphrates River, witnesses and the two town officials said.

An American convoy of about eight vehicles was traveling east toward Falluja, on a road where United States patrols are often attacked. Two bombs planted in the center median exploded, damaging one of the vehicles but not stopping the convoy's progress, witnesses said.

Still heading east, the convoy began to fire, shooting at several vehicles heading southwest, away from the patrol, on a nearby road, said Amir Ahmed Saleh, a passenger in a vehicle on that road.

The convoy's targets included a minivan carrying employees of Iraq's state oil company, Mr. Saleh said. He was a passenger in a second minivan being used by the oil company.

The minivan in which Mr Saleh was riding was ahead of the minivan that was shot, and Mr. Saleh was unhurt.

The American fire devastated the minivan, which crashed into a lamppost by the side of the road, Mr Saleh said.

Four people in the minivan died, and two were severely wounded, Mr. Saleh said. He showed what he said were photographs of the shattered van that he had taken immediately after the incident. The photographs show a gruesome scene. Pieces of bodies cover the van's seats, sharing space with a set of brown prayer beads. A headless, legless torso lies on the ground beside the van. There was no independent means of confirming that the van pictured was the one involved in the incident.

Hassan Hussein, who lives across the road from the spot where the minivan crashed into the lamppost, corroborated Mr. Saleh's account, as did Abbas Hussein, one of Mr. Hussein's neighbors. At least two other cars were also hit, killing two more people, the men said.

"There was an explosion," said Mr. Badewi, the mayor. Referring to the American troops, he added, "They accused some people in their cars of shooting at them, and they opened fire on them."

Colonel Khamis, the police chief, said of the American forces: "When they're subjected to attack, they start shooting indiscriminately. The minibus was heading to Ramadi - they didn't have any link with the issue."

Mr. Badewi said that he had pleaded with American commanders to restrain their troops, but that they had refused. "We've talked about this reaction, and so many people and clerics have talked to them," he said.

"They say, `This is our way.' "

The political allegiance of the two Iraqi officials was not clear, but they seemed generally moderate in their view of the American occupation.

Three American soldiers from the 82nd Airborne have been killed around Falluja since mid-September, according to casualty reports from the United States military. The city is in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, an area west and north of Baghdad that is a stronghold of support for the ousted former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.

Guerrillas in the area regularly fire mortars at a base the 82nd maintains just east of Falluja and attack American patrols with roadside bombs and grenades.

Mr. Hussein said he blamed the United States for the violence that has plagued Falluja, including the car bomb on Tuesday that killed four people and wounded four more.

"First they said they want to protect the Iraqi people, but then they destroy us," he said. "The only one who is hurting us is the Americans themselves."

Since early September, soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division have killed more than 20 civilians and Iraqi police officers in and around Falluja in incidents where the victims have put up little or no resistance, according to accounts from witnesses. American military officers have said the shootings were justified under American rules of engagement, but have provided scant details.

 

AIR RAID KILLS 22 TALIBAN, AL QAEDA IN AFGHANISTAN

Air Raid Kills 22 Taliban, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan
Reuters
October 28, 2003

At least 22 guerrillas from the ousted Taliban regime and al Qaeda network were killed in an aerial attack by U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan's southeastern Paktika province, the region's governor said on Tuesday.

Air support was called in after a group of Taliban and al Qaeda fugitives fired rockets and heavy machine-guns on a base used by U.S.-led troops and their Afghan allies in Shkin, near the Pakistan border, on Saturday, said Mohammad Ali Jalali.

Jalali told Reuters that he had heard unconfirmed reports that two U.S. soldiers may also have died, but the U.S. military in Afghanistan was not immediately available for comment.

"The 22 bodies for sure were Taliban and al Qaeda who got killed in the bombing," Jalali said.

The clash was separate from fighting in the Gomal district of Paktika on Friday in which 20 suspected al Qaeda and Taliban militants, including Arabs and Chechens, died, according to Paktika police chief Dawlat Khan.

More than 350 people, including civilians, foreign and government soldiers, aid workers and many rebels have been killed since August across Afghanistan.

The south and southeast have been worst affected by a wave of attacks blamed on remnants of the hardline Islamic Taliban regime which has declared a jihad, or holy war, against foreign troops in Afghanistan and the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

The violence is the worst since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban from power late in 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.

The U.S. military leads some 11,500 troops in the hunt for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters. The fate of bin Laden and Taliban supreme commander Mullah Omar remains unknown.

 

10 TALIBAN KILLED IN FIGHTING WITH ALLIES

10 Taliban Killed in Fighting With Allies
The Associated Press
October 27, 2003

U.S. and Afghan troops patrolling the rugged border with Pakistan killed at least 10 suspected Taliban who ambushed them with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, Afghan officials said Monday.

The officials gave contradicting accounts of the clash, with a provincial governor saying 22 Taliban were killed after airstrikes were called in by the American and Afghan soldiers.

However, Gen. Atiqullah Luddin, a regional military commander based in nearby Logar province, said his men were involved in the Sunday patrol and only 10 Taliban were killed and no airstrikes were involved. Two other suspected Taliban fighters were arrested, he said.

Both officials said two Afghan soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

Mohammed Ali Jalali, governor of Paktika province, said the Americans and Afghans were in Barmal district, about a mile from the Pakistan border, when they were attacked by rebels using rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and Kalashnikov rifles.

The troops called in airstrikes, he said, and a wave of heavy bombardment hit the unpopulated area near the village of Shkin, 135 miles south of Kabul.

Taliban and al-Qaida rebels have been launching increasingly bold assaults in recent months, raiding police stations, killing aid workers and confronting U.S. troops.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.