Iraq Roadside Bombings Continue

A U.S. soldier stands guard on top of a Humvee in Baghdad's densely populated area of Karada Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2003, after their convoy was targeted with a roadside bomb. No U.S. troops were injured, but the bomb killed one Iraqi and wounded another.
Rebels detonated a roadside bomb as a U.S. convoy drove by in Baghdad Tuesday, killing one Iraqi and wounding another, police said.

No U.S. troops were injured in Tuesday's bomb attack in central Baghdad, police Maj. Khatan Jabir said.

The explosion cracked windows on the street lined with small shops selling vegetables and groceries. People nearby said the dead man worked in a nearby store.

"They've not killed any Americans, just Iraqis as usual. We consider it terrorism," shopkeeper Karim Abbas said bitterly.

Roadside bombs have become the preferred weapon of anti-American guerrillas who cannot match the overwhelming firepower of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, where the explosive appeared to have been planted.

Elsewhere, U.S. troops captured three suspected members of Ansar Al-Islam, an al Qaeda, linked group and arrested three former army and intelligence officers suspected of conducting anti-American attacks in a raid in Baqouba, north of Baghdad. The men appeared to be middle-level officials of the former regime, with the highest ranking a major.

In other developments:

  • A Syrian firm with ties to President Bashar Assad smuggled tens of millions of dollars of military hardware into Iraq on the eve of the U.S. invasion, the Los Angeles Times reports. The deals concerned conventional materiel like bullets, missile engines and communications gear, not weapons of mass destruction.
  • Far from facing a dead end, Saddam has legal options for his anticipated trial, say experts. He could follow the lead of Nazi suspects at Nuremburg and deny personal responsibility for atrocities. Or he could mirror the approach of Slobodan Milosevic and use the proceedings as a forum for broadsides against his enemies.
  • The first batch of officers who will head the new, coalition-approved Iraqi army were sent to neighboring Jordan for an 11-week training course. Some 560 cadets flew from Baghdad to Amman in 10 U.S. military transport planes.
  • In Bulgaria, government officials said they were committed to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq despite the deaths of five Bulgarian soldiers in a coordinated assault by insurgents in the southern city of Karbala on Saturday.
  • In Mosul, the military said Monday that American soldiers killed three suspected Ansar al-Islam militants during a firefight. Two U.S. soldiers were wounded, the military said. After the fight, U.S. troops seized two rocket-propelled grenade launchers, eight grenades and two assault rifles, the statement said. The injured soldiers were in stable condition.
  • A member of the Iraqi Governing Council said the interrogation of Saddam Hussein has yielded more information with the deposed leader acknowledging sending $40 billion abroad. In remarks published Monday, the official said Saddam had provided the names of people who know where the money is.

    The council is now searching for that amount deposited in Switzerland, Japan, Germany and other countries, council member Iyad Allawi told the London-based Arab newspapers Al-Hayat and Asharq al-Awsat.

    "Saddam has started to give information on money that has been looted from Iraq and deposited abroad," Allawi told Asharq al-Awsat. "Investigation is now concentrated on his relationship with terrorist organizations and on the money paid to elements outside Iraq."

    Allawi said Saddam, who has been questioned by U.S. interrogators since his capture this month, gave names of people who know where the money is deposited and also know the location of arms and ammunition depots used by insurgents in attacks against the coalition forces and the Governing Council.

    The U.S. State Department was helping search for the Saddam money, spokesman Adam Ereli said Monday in Washington, adding that some funds had already been found in Syrian bank accounts.

    Meanwhile, influential spiritual leaders from Saddam's hometown — a bastion of anti-American sentiment — are joining forces to persuade Iraqis to abandon the violent insurgency, one of the leaders said Monday.

    The effort marks a new, open willingness to cooperate with U.S. forces — a shift in the thinking of at least some key members of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority, which lost political dominance with the fall of Saddam and has largely formed the most outspoken and violent opposition to the U.S.-led occupation.

    Sheik Sabah Mahmoud, leader of the Sada tribe, said he and 10 other tribal elders have formed a reconciliation committee in Tikrit to speak to other Iraqi leaders about trying to persuade rebels to put down weapons. He said he took that message last week to a group of scholars, religious leaders and other prominent figures meeting in Baghdad.

    Sunnis ruled Iraq for centuries and dominated the country under Saddam's regime, filling high-ranking positions and reaping economic benefits. But they make up only 20 percent of Iraq's 25 million people, concentrated in Baghdad and villages to the north and west.

    With the U.S.-led occupation trying to install democratic government, the Shiite Muslim majority — long oppressed under Saddam — is positioning itself to hold sway in Iraq. Sunnis apparently are realizing they must cooperate with the occupation if they are to have a role in the country's future leadership.

    "It's about time we put our differences aside and looked to the future," Mahmoud said. "I told them, 'The reality is they (American forces) are here on the ground; the past is dead. Give the Americans a chance to see what they are going to give us."'

    "It's just the beginning," the sheik said during a meeting in the provincial government building with a U.S. Army commander and seven other spiritual leaders.
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