Iraq: quisling cleric targeted in bomb blast that kill three...
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Sun Aug 24 11:49:38 MDT 2003
Bomb Targets Key Iraqi Shiite Cleric
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By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A bomb exploded outside the house of one of
Iraqi's most important Shiite clerics on Sunday, killing three guards
and injuring 10 others. The fresh violence comes as the U.S.-led
coalition quietly recruits former Iraqi spies to work with American
intelligence officials in the country, according to Iraqis.
Also Sunday, the top U.S. official in Iraq (news - web sites) said
the United States needs better intelligence and more cooperation
from the Iraqi people to stabilize the situation. Terrorists bombed
U.N. headquarters this past week in Baghdad.
It's hard to tell if more terrorists are in Iraq now than before the war,
but a "large number" of foreign terrorists perhaps several
hundred have come into Iraq and some who had been in Iraq
before the war are returning, Bremer said on ABC's "This Week."
Bremer also reiterated a Bush administration claim of pre-war ties
between Saddam's regime and al-Qaida.
The deadly gas cylinder bomb was placed along the outside wall of
the home of Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim in Najaf, one of Shiite
Islam's holiest cities. It exploded after noon prayers.
The cleric suffered scratches on his neck, said Abdel-Aziz al-
Hakim, a member of Iraq's U.S.-picked Governing Council and
leader of what was the armed wing of the Supreme Council for
Islamic Revolution in Iraq, headquartered in Iran before the war.
Al-Hakim is one of the most influential families in the Shiite
Meanwhile, Iraqis with ties to Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s
once-feared Mukhabarat intelligence agency said former Iraqi
agents would work with Americans inside Saddam's former
presidential palace where the American-led coalition has its
"It was obvious they would have to turn to the Mukhabarat, they
knew everything in this country," said one of the Iraqis, who refused
to be named.
Coalition spokesman Charles Heatly, responding to questions
about recruitment of former Saddam intelligence officers, said U.S.
military intelligence and civilian authorities were "not leaving any
stone unturned to uncover the people who are conducting attacks
against the Iraqi people and the coalition forces. And they will
continue." The recruitment efforts were first reported in Sunday's
The Mukhabarat was the foreign intelligence branch of Saddam's
regime and its very name struck fear in the hearts of ordinary
Besides anti-U.S. violence, ethnic and religious rivalries persist in
Iraqi newspapers reported last week that the cleric al-Hakim had
received threats against his life. He also is one of three top Shiite
leaders threatened with death by a rival Shiite cleric shortly after
Saddam Hussein was toppled April 9.
Al-Hakim blamed "terrorist groups who belong to the former
regime," for the attack. Najaf residents rushed to the ayatollah's
house after the explosion, which shattered windows and damaged
a wall, he told The Associated Press.
In the north, the cities of Kirkuk and Tuz Kharmato were quiet
Sunday as Iraqi police and U.S. troops maintained a heavy
presence after two days of deadly violence between Iraqi Turkomen
A third Turkoman, injured in weekend ethnic violence in the north of
the country died from his wounds, Turkey's Anatolia news agency
The Turkomen claimed the violence started Friday after Kurds
damaged a newly reopened Turkomen Shiite shrine and spread the
next day to Kirkuk where two Turkomen hero statues were hit by
rocket-propelled grenade fire.
Two U.S. soldiers died in non-combat incidents, the U.S. military
reported Sunday .
A soldier from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad was
killed in a friendly fire incident on Saturday, while a second soldier
from the same regiment drowned in the Euphrates River, west of
Ramadi, also on Saturday.
At the battered Canal Hotel compound, the United Nations (news -
web sites) Baghdad headquarters, U.N. workers who had not left
Iraq after Tuesday's attack resumed work in a cluster of tents set
up in the compound.
Investigators and soldiers searched piles of debris for human
remains and clues in the truck bombing that killed at least 23
people, including top U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, whose
memorial was held Saturday in his native Brazil.
One of the envoy's dying wishes was for the United Nations to
remain in Iraq and continue work to establish democracy, U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) told mourners.
"Let us respect that," Annan said. "Let Sergio, who has given his
life in that cause, find a fitting memorial in a free and sovereign
On or since May 1, when President Bush (news - web sites)
declared major combat operations over, 137 U.S. soldiers have
died in Iraq, according to the latest military figures. Counting only
combat deaths, 65 Americans and 11 Britons have died since the
EDITOR'S NOTE: Associated Press writers Tarek al-Issawi in
Kirkuk, Hrvoje Hranjski in Tikrit, D'Arcy Doran and Sabah Jerges in
Baghdad contributed to this report.
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