[Homestead] Talked to Baha Al Amood today

tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Sun Sep 26 20:46:41 EDT 2004

He was enraged by the appointment of Guard Brig. Gen. Talib al-Lahibi, 
when it was made---it was so obvious to Iraqis that this Sunni  would be 
directing attacks on Americans instead of directing attacks on 
guerrillas in Fallujah.

Two Car Bombings, Arrest of Iraqi General Underscore Security 
Challenges; Family Says British Hostage Alive

*By Fisnik Abrashi* Associated Press Writer
Published: Sep 26, 2004


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Two car bombs wounded American and Iraqi troops 
west of the capital Sunday and a few hours later the U.S. military 
announced the arrest of a senior Iraqi National Guard commander on 
suspicion of ties to insurgents, underscoring the challenges to building 
a strong Iraq security service capable of restoring stability.

The two attackers who died in the twin blasts tried to ram their cars 
into a National Guard base in Kharma, a town on the outskirts of the 
insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, a U.S. military official said on 
condition of anonymity.

The number of U.S. and Iraqi casualties was not immediately clear, but a 
statement from the U.S. Marines said there were no serious injuries 
among American troops at the base.

The National Guard is the centerpiece of U.S. plans to turn over 
security responsibilities after elections slated for January and 
guardsmen have been targeted repeatedly by insurgents who are trying to 
undermine Iraq's interim government and drive out the U.S.-led coalition.

But the threat may not only come from outside the force. Guard Brig. 
Gen. Talib al-Lahibi, who previously served as an infantry officer in 
Saddam Hussein's army, was detained Thursday in the province of Diyala, 
northeast of Baghdad, a U.S. military statement announced.

The statement provided no details, but said he was suspected of having 
links to militants who have been attacking coalition and Iraqi forces 
for 17 months. Al-Lahibi was the acting head of the Iraqi National Guard 
for Diyala province, said Maj. Neal O'Brien, spokesman for the U.S. 
Army's 1st Infantry Division.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian diplomat and two British Muslim leaders urged 
religious leaders here to help secure the release of hostages.

Egyptian official Farouq Mabrouk sought help for six Egyptian 
telecommunications workers abducted with four Iraqis last week. Mabrouk 
refused to speak to reporters after his 30-minute meeting with Harith 
al-Dhari, who heads the Association of Muslim Scholars, a conservative 
organization that has helped win the release of other foreign captives.

Gunmen abducted two of the Egyptians on Thursday in a raid on their 
firm's Baghdad office - the latest in a string of kidnappings targeting 
engineers working on rebuilding Iraq. Eight other employees, four 
Egyptians and four Iraqis, were seized outside of Baghdad on Wednesday.

Two senior officials of the Muslim Council of Britain were in Baghdad 
seeking freedom for hostage Kenneth Bigley, a British civil engineer 
kidnapped Sept. 16 with two Americans who were later beheaded.

After meeting with Muslim and Christian leaders, Daud Abdullah and 
Musharraf Hussain told reporters, "We cannot hold a British citizen 
responsible for what (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair did."

A posting on an Islamic Internet site Saturday claimed followers of 
Jordanian terror mastermind Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi had killed Bigley, but 
the British Foreign Office said the claim was not credible.

Bigley's brother, Paul, said Sunday he was told the captive was still 

"I have received information this evening that Ken is alive," Paul 
Bigley said by video link to a gathering at the Brighton, England, 
conference of Blair's Labour Party.

He provided few details, but he urged Blair to make a personal plea for 
his brother's release.

"All I am asking is for communication," Paul Bigley said. "Just simply 
send a bloody fax pleading for my brother's life."

Earlier Sunday, Blair said his government was doing everything it 
"properly and legitimately" could to secure Ken Bigley's release. The 
prime minister's office said Blair phoned the Bigley family again 
Sunday, as he did earlier in the week.

Yasser el-Sirri, head of the London-based Islamic Observation Center, 
told The Associated Press his organization appealed Thursday to 
al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group to free Kenneth Bigley after the 
British government rejected its demands to free Muslim women from jail.

"We have received a positive answer that the group will consider our 
appeal when they decide his fate, and they confirmed that he is alive," 
said el-Sirri, whose organization often is a reliable source of 
information on Muslim militants.

Pressed on how he received the information on Kenneth Bigley, el-Sirri 
would only say it was "through a mediator in Iraq."

More than 140 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq - some by anti-U.S. 
insurgents and others by criminals seeking ransom. At least 26 have been 
killed, including the two American civil engineers, Eugene Armstrong and 
Jack Hensley.

Persistent violence, coupled with the coalition forces' lack of control 
in key parts of the country, have raised questions about the feasibility 
of holding elections by the Jan. 31 deadline.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that the United States is 
committed to allowing all Iraqis the chance to vote, but the top U.S. 
military commander in the region cautioned against expecting that sort 
of achievement.

Both Powell and Gen. John Abizaid spoke of a major political and 
military effort before the scheduled elections to take back areas that 
insurgents now control.

Powell said planning is under way for an Iraqi conference, possibly next 
month, that would include the leading industrialized nations and 
regional powers, including Iran and Syria.

"This was a way to reach out to Iraq's immediate neighbors and persuade 
them that this is the time to help Iraq, so that the region can become 
stable," Powell said on CNN's "Late Edition."

In other violence Sunday, U.S. troops and insurgents traded fire in 
Ramadi, west of Baghdad, resulting in at least three people being killed 
and four wounded, witnesses and hospital officials said. Insurgents 
fired mortar rounds and rockets at two U.S. positions west and east of 
the city, and U.S. forces responded with shelling, striking a house in 
Tamim neighborhood, witnesses said.

A rocket slammed into a busy Baghdad neighborhood, killing at least one 
person and wounding eight, hospital officials and witnesses said.

Hours after the attack, another loud blast shook the area near the Green 
Zone, site of the U.S. Embassy and the interim Iraqi government. Smoke 
rose above the zone and alert sirens sounded. It was not clear if 
anything had been hit

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