Is Insurgency Thriving Since Zarqawi?

A U.S. Army Spc. Anthony Black, of Philadelphia, Pa., who serves in the 101st Airborne Division, searches for a sniper who fired on an Iraqi home used as an outpost in Ramadi, Iraq, June 20, 2006.
AP
Less than two weeks after insurgent mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed, 85 workers were kidnapped, Saddam Hussein's attorney was dead and at least one U.S. soldier was brutally beheaded — and that's in just 48 hours.

For those looking for change in the insurgency since its leadership shake-up, the spate of violence sends a message of stagnancy — or even heightening brutality.

In other violence, about a dozen people were killed across Iraq, and an al Qaeda-led insurgent group announced that it will execute four Russian hostages.

As for the 85 people kidnapped Wednesday north of Baghdad, gunmen later released about 30 of them — all women and children.

Saddam and his seven co-defendants went on a hunger strike Wednesday to protest the shooting death of an attorney on the ousted Iraqi leader's defense team — the third such killing in the 8-month-old trial.

Lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi, a Sunni Arab who represented Saddam and his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim, was abducted from his home Wednesday morning by men wearing police uniforms, his colleagues said. His body was found riddled with bullets on a street near the Shiite slum of Sadr City. Police provided a photo of al-Obeidi's face, head and shoulders drenched in blood.

This third brutal killing of an attorney has raised the question of whether Saddam's trial is really fair, reports CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan.

Saddam's chief attorney, Khalil al-Dulaimi, blamed the killing on the Interior Ministry, which Sunnis have alleged is infiltrated by so-called Shiite death squads.

"We strongly condemn this act, and we condemn the killings done by the Interior Ministry forces against Iraqis," he said.

There was no comment from the ministry. Hit squads and other gangs are known to often disguise themselves as police officers.

In the United States, seven Marines and a sailor were charged with murder in the April death of an Iraqi civilian, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.

All eight also were charged with kidnapping, according to a Marine statement issued at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Other charges include conspiracy, larceny and providing false official statements.

Separately, the U.S. military in Iraq announced that murder charges have been filed against a fourth Army soldier in the shooting deaths May 9 of three civilians who had been detained by U.S. troops. Spc. Juston R. Graber, 20, of the 101st Airborne Division was charged with one count of premeditated murder, one count of attempted premeditated murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and making a false official statement.

On Monday the military had announced that three soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division were charged with murder and other offenses in connection with the May 9 killings. It was not clear why charges against the fourth soldier were not announced until Wednesday.

In the case of the April killing of an Iraqi civilian, the allegation is that Marines pulled an unarmed man from his home on April 26 and shot him to death without provocation.