Archive for the ‘Bombs’ Category

U.S. Troops Still Necessary, Iraqi Govt Official Says

November 8, 2008

Iraq’s deputy prime minister said Saturday his country still needs the U.S. military to ensure security and warned time is running out to approve a new security deal with Washington.

East of Baghdad, a suicide bomber slammed his car into a police checkpoint, killing eight civilians and wounding seven policemen. A security official says the Saturday attack occurred on a highway near the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi in Anbar province. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information to the media.

By BUSHRA JUHI, Associated Press Writer

The violence came as U.S. and Iraqis officials were working to finalize a deal that would remove U.S. troops from Iraq’s cities by June 30 and withdraw them from the country by 2012.

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh cautioned that Iraq will enter a “period of a legal vacuum” if the U.N. mandate under which US troops operate in Iraq expires by year’s end without the agreement having been approved.

On Thursday, the U.S. sent what it calls its final answer to proposed Iraqi changes to the draft agreement, and is now waiting on Baghdad’s response.

“The government is studying the latest amendments, and I hope that we can settle this subject as soon as soon possible because time is running,” he said.

Saleh, who is Kurdish, added the pact is key to preserving “the security improvement which has been achieved” in recent months.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081108/ap_on_
re_mi_ea/ml_iraq;_ylt=AtaK9ojqjuQ
BexB7tj1fxDqs0NUE

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Deadly blasts rock Indian state

October 30, 2008

At least 64 people have been killed in a series of bomb explosions in India’s north-eastern state of Assam, the police say.

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta
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More than 160 others were injured in at least 18 blasts, the majority of them in the state capital, Guwahati.

The separatist United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) denied any role in the blasts and blamed Indian “occupation forces” for engineering them.

Security forces have been fighting separatist rebels in Assam for decades.

The explosions in Guwahati and the towns of Kokrajhar, Barpeta Road and Bongaigaon occurred within an hour after 1100 local time (0530 GMT).

Read the rest and see the video:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7699105.stm

Relaxed lifestyles show Baghdad extremists waning

October 29, 2008

Engineering student Haifaa Salman has discarded the Islamic head cover she started wearing two years ago after militants threatened to “punish” her if she kept showing up at college with her hair uncovered.

“I was forced to wear it,” the 22-year-old says, recalling the day in 2006 when two men on a motorbike stopped her outside campus to deliver the threat. But, she adds, “It’s different now. Life is normal again. College women wear what they please. The extremist groups are gone.”

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer

People walk through the bustling Shorja open air market in Baghdad, ... 
People walk through the bustling Shorja open air market in Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2008.(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

The decision by some women to shun the Islamic head cover, or hijab, is just one of the signs that Baghdad residents are growing increasingly confident in the past year’s security gains.

Children with backpacks can be seen walking to school. Sidewalk cafes remain open after dark. Families stroll through parks in the sunset.

But after five years of violence, many people are hesitant.

“Things are much better now,” said Ziad Mohammed, a 49-year-old government employee who lives in Karkh, a mainly Sunni Arab district on the west bank of the Tigris.

“But fear is still inside me,” he added. “I want to get rid of it. Maybe it will happen next year.”

For now, Mohammed continues to escort his children to school and picks them up because he fears they could be kidnapped.

Baghdad remains a very dangerous place, and much of the capital looks like a city at war.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081029/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_
iraq_baghdad_today;_ylt=AqAxnbFHokgkhgz0ovUNCuys0NUE

Chicago, Academics Defend Bill Ayers; Former FBI Agents Outraged

October 16, 2008

By Steven Gray
Time Magazine
 

In recent months, Chicago has bathed in pride as the place Barack Obama calls home, in spite of the attendant scrutiny on people like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. and Tony Rezko. But it is now particularly defensive, if not irate, about the latest local figure to haunt Obama’s presidential candidacy: Bill Ayers.

Ayers, 63, is the University of Illinois at Chicago education professor who, during the Vietnam era, was a leader of radical group the Weather Underground. In recent weeks, Republicans have mounted an increasingly potent assault on Obama’s past dealings with Ayers. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice-presidential candidate, depicted Chicago as a hotbed of radical politics. Earlier this month, she referred to Ayers when she said Obama “sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.” During Wednesday night’s final presidential debate, Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, continued to question Obama’s association with Ayers, insisting that the Democratic nominee launched his political career in Ayers’ living room. Obama very audibly interjected that such criticism was a falsehood.

For a sense of the reaction in Chicago, consider the headline of a recent Chicago Tribune blog post: “Question for Ayers alarmists: Where were you in the 1990s?” That was the period in which Ayers evolved from a bomb-throwing radical into a socially acceptable pioneer in education. At the university in recent days, Ayers’ colleagues have circulated letters expressing support. Similar formal statements may soon come from a group of alumni and the university itself. “Bill has nothing to be ashamed about in his scholarly career – it’s one that any scholar can take pride in,” says Victoria Chou, dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois here, and a friend of Ayers for years. She adds, “I’m just disappointed in those in our country who would try to tear down and destroy his reputation for political purposes. This is about Obama, not really about Bill, but it’s troubling us all.”

Ayers’ Illinois roots run deep. His father was a top executive at Commonwealth Edison, a local utility company. The young Ayers, inspired by the 1960s civil rights movement, later emerged as a leader of the Weather Underground, a group that bombed the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon. He and other members of the group soon fled into seclusion, taking on assumed names. He and his wife, fellow radical Bernardine Dohrn, turned themselves in after charges were dropped because of tainted evidence. (Ayers’ famous quote afterward: “Guilty as hell, and free as a bird. It’s a great country.”) By the mid-1980s, Ayers had re-emerged as an education scholar and was on track toward tenured status at the University of Illinois. In the early 1990s, Chicago’s mayor, Richard M. Daley, named him an assistant deputy mayor for education, and by the decade’s end, he’d been named the city’s Citizen of the Year.

He became an influential fixture in Chicago society. In 1995, Ayers and his wife hosted a coffee at their home in the leafy intellectual enclave here known as Hyde Park. The Obama campaign has stopped commenting on it. Based on other reports, the gathering may have been a campaign event for Alice Palmer, the Illinois state senator who was one of Obama’s mentors and, at the time, was plotting a bid for Congress. It may also have been one of several coffees organized at the time to allow Obama to be introduced as Palmer’s heir apparent. Or both. (Palmer and Obama had a falling-out soon after; she supported Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries.) It’s clear that during the coffee, Obama, then a young University of Chicago law professor, met an influential group of Chicagoans who would be crucial for his eventual bid for Palmer’s Illinois senate seat…..

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20081016
/us_time/chicagosaysthereistoomu
chadoaboutbillayers;_ylt=AhIBkMZ0ps1gPa7aLFfmJIGs0NUE

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Former FBI Agents Outraged At Ayers, Obama Ties

By Ronald Kessler
Newsmax
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Former FBI agents who worked the Weather Underground case are angry about the longtime relationship between Barack Obama and William Ayers, a leader of the domestic terrorist group who has admitted widespread bombings.

“It outrages me to think that a person would be seeking the presidency of the United States and was close to an individual like Bill Ayers,” former agent Max Noel told Newsmax.

Ayers said in his book that he participated in the bombing of New York City police headquarters in 1970, the U.S. Capitol in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972. In September 2001, the New York Times quoted him as saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs . . . I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, was sent to prison for failing to cooperate in solving the robbery of a Brink’s armored car in which two police officers were killed.

Charges against Ayers were dropped because the FBI used so-called national security wiretaps that could not be used legally in criminal cases.

 

Obama launched his political career at Ayers’ home in 1995. From 1999 to 2002, he served with Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago. In response to criticism of their relationship, Obama has said he was 8 when Ayers was bombing buildings.

But the presidential candidate was a grown man when he sought and obtained Ayers’ blessing for his entry into politics.

Former FBI agent Willie Reagan said, “I spent seven years of my life hunting down people who described themselves as revolutionary communists and were involved in bombings.”

Reagan, who infiltrated the Weather Underground in New York, said he witnessed members of the group making bombs.

“At some point, Obama knew of his background and should have repudiated him, not later when he is running for president,” Reagan told Newsmax.

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http://www.newsmax.com/headlines/fbi_obama_
ayers_/2008/10/14/140252.html

Al-Qaida uses women as suicide attackers

January 5, 2008
By DIAA HADID, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – It goes against religious taboos in Iraq to involve women in fighting, but three recent suicide bombings carried out by women could indicate insurgents are growing increasingly desperate.

The female suicide attacks come as U.S.-led coalition forces are increasingly catching militants suspected of training women to become human bombs or finding evidence of efforts by al-Qaida in Iraq to recruit women, according to military records.

With coalition forces pushing extremists out of former strongholds and shrinking their pool of potential recruits, the militants are being forced to come up with other methods to penetrate….

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Akj4JrLWLdbfeM00IvUH19Cs0NUE

Iran Cited In Iraq’s Decline in Violence

December 23, 2007

 By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 23, 2007; Page A01

The Iranian government has decided “at the most senior levels” to rein in the violent Shiite militias it supports in Iraq, a move reflected in a sharp decrease in sophisticated roadside bomb attacks over the past several months, according to the State Department’s top official on Iraq.

Tehran’s decision does not necessarily mean the flow of those weapons from Iran has stopped, but the decline in their use and in overall attacks “has to be attributed to an Iranian policy decision,” David M. Satterfield, Iraq coordinator and senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said in an interview.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker said that the decision, “should [Tehran] choose to corroborate it in a direct fashion,” would be “a good beginning” for a fourth round of talks between Crocker and his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad. Although the mid-December date scheduled for the talks was postponed, Crocker said he expects that the parties will convene “in the next couple of weeks.”

The Pentagon has been more cautious in describing Iran’s role ….
Ryan C. Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq 
Ryan C. Crocker,
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/22/AR2007122201847.html?hpid=topnews

State Department Security Chief Resigns Amid Blackwater Turmoil; Iraq Wants the Security Contractor Out

October 24, 2007

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The State Department’s security chief resigned on Wednesday in the wake of last month’s deadly Blackwater USA shooting incident in Baghdad and growing questions about the use of private contractors to protect diplomats in Iraq.

Richard Griffin, the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, announced his decision to step down at a weekly staff meeting, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, adding that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accepted the resignation, which is effective Nov. 1.

“Secretary Rice is grateful to Ambassador Griffin for his record of long exemplary service to the nation,” McCormack said. “He has distinguished himself during a 36-year career with the U.S. government, serving in some of the most sensitive and demanding posts.”

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071024/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_iraq_
blackwater;_ylt=AtmkLk4.3y9pGsCsmUhwIAas0NUE

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Iraq Still Determined to Expell Blackwater USA

By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – The Iraqi government remains determined to expel the Blackwater USA security company and is searching for legal remedies to overturn an American-imposed decree that exempts all foreign bodyguards from prosecution under local laws, officials said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki‘s government accepted the findings of an Iraqi investigative committee that determined Blackwater guards, without provocation, killed 17 Iraqis last month in Nisoor Square in western Baghdad.

Iraqi investigators declared that Blackwater should be expelled and $8 million should be paid as compensation for each victim.

The officials said the Cabinet decided Tuesday to establish a committee to find ways to repeal a 2004 directive issued by L. Paul Bremer, chief of the former U.S. occupation government in Iraq. The order placed private security companies outside Iraqi law.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

The Iraqi probe into the Sept. 16 shooting found that Blackwater personnel guarding a State Department convoy opened fire on Iraqis without reason. Blackwater said its men came under fire first, although no witnesses have been found to corroborate the claim. The guards involved have been isolated and have not been available to comment.

The Iraqi officials said Cabinet ministers again demanded that the U.S. Embassy, Blackwater’s biggest client in Iraq, expel the company. U.S. officials have said any action must await completion of an American investigation.

In Washington, the State Department’s security chief, Richard Griffin, announced his resignation a day after a review panel created by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered a series of measures to boost government oversight of the private guards who protect American diplomats in Iraq.

Rice’s review panel found serious lapses in the department’s oversight of such guards, who are employed by Griffin’s bureau.

Neither Griffin nor spokesmen for the department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau could be reached for immediate comment.

In a Shiite district southeast of Baghdad, meanwhile, two bombs exploded seconds apart near a bus station Wednesday, killing at least nine people, police and hospital officials said.

The blasts, which occurred about 30 yards apart in Jisr Diyala, targeted government employees, construction workers and vendors waiting for minibuses to take them into the capital, officials said. Vendors were selling pastries, juice and tea to the workers.

Three policemen, women and children were among the nine killed and 23 wounded, officials said.

Mohammed Nuaman, a 36-year-old store owner who was wounded by shrapnel in the shoulder, said rescue efforts were complicated by a damaged bridge. The bridge, which spans the Diyala River to connect the area with Baghdad proper, was bombed in May and remains under repair.

“I heard a big explosion at the bus station area and another bomb went off about 30 seconds later, as I was heading to the area,” Nuamen said.

“Locals rushed to the area and carried some wounded by their cars to the nearby Zafaraniyah hospital before the ambulances and police arrived about 15 minutes later,” he said.

Hours later, mortar shells rained onto a neighborhood in Hibhib, 30 miles north of Baghdad, killing at least five civilians and wounding 17, police said.

Hibhib, a Sunni town in Diyala province, was the area where al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike last year.

A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information, said the mortar rounds were launched from the nearby district of Hidaid and were targeting Sunnis who had turned against al-Qaida.

Despite bombings in Baghdad and elsewhere, the Iraqi civilian death count is projected to decline for the second consecutive month. At the current pace, October would have a death count of fewer than 900, down from 1,023 in September and 1,956 in August, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press.

The AP tally is compiled from hospital, police and military officials, as well as accounts from reporters and photographers. Insurgent deaths are not included. Other counts differ and some have given higher civilian death tolls.

U.S. and Iraqi military commanders said a security crackdown had succeeded in sharply reducing the violence.

Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar, the Iraqi in charge of the operation, said overall terrorist acts in Baghdad had decreased by 59 percent and the number of Iraqi casualties by 77 percent since the crackdown began in February. He also said car bombs in the capital were down by 65 percent and the number of people killed in bombings was down by 81 percent.

“All sectors in Baghdad have witnessed a decrease in terrorist activities,” Qanbar said. “This has brought life to normal in many parts of Baghdad.”

The American military has reported 29 military deaths in October, down sharply from the month before. The latest fatality reported occurred Wednesday when a land mine exploded in Salahuddin province north of Baghdad, the U.S. military reported.

The U.S. second-in-command said attack levels in Baghdad were on a “steady downward trend” and were now at the lowest level since January 2006.

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said he expected the U.S. military to make steady progress over the next year in turning over large parts of Baghdad to Iraqi forces. “I think it’ll be somewhere between 40 and 50 percent by the end of the year,” he told reporters.

Related:

Armed Civilian Security Personnel In Iraq Held to Military Rules