Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Fasting can be good for health, study shows
New research with mice indicates several benefits

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Periodic fasting can be just as good for the health as sharply cutting back on calories, even if the fasting doesn't mean eating less overall, a new study indicates.
Researchers are planning to see if what works in mice is also good for people.

Several recent studies have reported a variety of benefits from a sharply restricted diet, including longer life span, increased insulin sensitivity and stress resistance.

In the new report, mice that were fed only every other day - but could gorge on the days they did eat - saw similar health benefits to ones that had their diet reduced by 40 percent, a team of researchers reports in today's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Scotsman - International - German Official: Killing ants is punishable by law

GERHARD Schr�der�s unpopular government has acted decisively to protect workers� rights - worker ants� rights, that is.

In an effort to protect the humble German ant from the nation�s over-zealous gardeners, 85 ant-protection officers have been appointed.

German homeowners and gardeners who attempt to destroy an ant hill or subterranean nest will be subject to hefty fines if caught.

They must now apply for a permit from their local forestry office to have the ants carefully moved to local woods.

"People with an ant hill in their garden must under no circumstances resort to the use of poison," said ant officer Dieter Kraemer. "This is a violation of federal nature protection laws and punishable with hefty fines."

He said ants are highly valued by German foresters for eating insects which attack trees. A high ant population can prevent costly and environmentally unfriendly woodland spraying aimed at pests, such as the nun moth which attacks pines and other conifers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Yahoo! News - Baghdad crowd scorns Saddam's birthday with donkey fete

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Joyous crowds in Baghdad showed their scorn for Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), mocking his birthday by dressing up a donkey as the fallen strongman and giving him a cake made of excrement.

"Today marks the commemoration of oppression and we will celebrate this anniversary every year," said Jaafar Saadun, the donkey's owner.
"We are no longer afraid for the first time in decades," said Saadun, speaking in the impoverished Sadr neighborhood formerly known as Saddam City, home to about two million Shiite Muslims.
WorldNetDaily: Eye in the sky targets illegals Civilian border group tests high-tech remote surveillance vehicle
By Jon Dougherty
� 2003
A civilian border-patrol group has enhanced its surveillance capabilities by employing a high-tech, remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, to assist in spotting illegal aliens attempting to sneak into the U.S.
Glenn Spencer, head of American Border Patrol, says his organization has successfully field-tested "Border Hawk," a UAV the group hopes to employ as a surveillance tool.
WND profiled the potential utility of UAVs in patrolling border areas last month.
The purpose of Saturday's test, which took place over a section of the San Pedro River near the U.S./Mexico border, was not to spot border-jumpers but to "test the ability of the system to operate remotely," ABP said.
UAVs are increasingly becoming more popular as surveillance tools for the U.S. military and for law-enforcement agencies. Also, the idea of employing UAVs to help the U.S. Border Patrol and other immigration agencies police the border has been suggested � an idea catching on with some lawmakers.

"I am extremely supportive of the idea," says Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., a member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. Two recent border visits demonstrated "we don't have anything approaching control of that border," he said.
Free media blossom in Iraq city | "Now I am a free man," says Salih in halting English. "How could we have lived under this regime?"
In the two weeks since Kirkuk fell to a mix of Kurdish and US forces, free media outlets have been busting out all over: An Internet cafe opened its doors; a radio station called the Voice of Kirkuk started broadcasting part time; a newspaper called New Kurdistan, published in the autonomous northern city of Sulaymaniyah, started circulating here; and people are tuning into several Kurdish television channels broadcasting from the self-rule zone, an offense which in the past could have landed a person in jail, at best.
The race to let new voices be heard is also on in Baghdad, where a new newspaper began its first run on Tuesday. The offices of what was the state-run Al-Iraq newspaper are being used to put out a new daily called Al-Ittihad, meaning unity. But that paper - as well as the radio, television, and newspaper outlets here in Kirkuk - are all being sponsored by one Kurdish political party, the PUK [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan], which has been spreading its resources from its quasi-capital in Sulaymaniyah to other parts of Iraq.

Monday, April 28, 2003

United Press International: Feature: German salute to U.S. warriors
By Uwe Siemon-Netto
UPI Religion Editor

GURAT, France, April 28 (UPI) -- The German government may be at odds with the United States over the Iraq War but German soldiers and civilians welcome wounded U.S. warriors with an outpouring of solidarity, warmth and respect.
But suddenly, two U.S. military medical buses approached, taking wounded GIs from the air base to the hospital. The lights inside the vehicles were on and McLean could see "I.V. bags hanging."

"I certainly wasn't prepared for what happened next," the chaplain went on. "All of the German soldiers ... began walking toward the concrete barriers that divide the inbound and outbound lanes of traffic. As the blue lights neared, more German soldiers appeared from nowhere, lining the road shoulder to shoulder.

"Right on cue, without a word spoken, these soldiers snapped a sharp salute as the buses droved past."

McLean continued, "I was speechless and deeply moved. What a show of respect for fellow soldiers! Our allies, our comrades, those who know the price that some have to pay for freedom did not have to be asked or prompted, it came from their character and soldiering heart. May God bless and watch over all soldiers and their loved ones as they stand in harm's war for us."

In an interview Monday, McLean told United Press International that at least 50 German soldiers were involved in this show of comradeship, which has since become the standard welcome to wounded U.S. military personnel, as they are being brought in from the war.
But this is not all. McLean spoke of an "incredible warmth" in the encounters between U.S. and German soldiers as they meet in the American mess halls. "The injured men and women I see are deeply moved by the show of affection from the Germans," McLean said.

Germans -- both military and civilians -- deposit flowers and toiletries, chocolates and other gifts for the patients at the gate of the U.S. installation. They have strung up banners welcoming the wounded men and women. One such banner reads, "Thank you for 50 years of German-American friendship. God bless America and the Iraqi people."
Not only Germans but also French and Belgian civilians have sent flowers and chocolates, according to Shaw. German generals have visited the wounded at their bedside, politicians, too. "As far as I could make out they were all Christian Democrats," said Shaw.

The Scotsman - Top Stories - Secret war that undermined Saddam ALEX MASSIE IN WASHINGTON

AS THEY roared north to Baghdad, US forces knew that they had a powerful secret weapon on their side - finely-honed insults that would make Iraqi troops� blood boil.

Through enormous loudspeakers mounted on their humvees, troops broadcast messages proclaiming that Iraqi men were impotent.

The insult had been carefully chosen to so enrage Iraqi troops that they could not resist rushing from their defensive positions to attack the American troops in open battle, with terrible consequences.

According to Newsweek, US Central Command was delighted that the carefully constructed plan "to mess with their heads" seemed to be working so well. The strategy is one of many aspects of a war that went almost un-noted - the hidden psychological and special forces operations that helped win the war.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

DEBKAfile, Political Analysis, Espionage, Terrorism Security DEBKAfile Exclusive: Iran�s Shiite authority is hit hard by exodus of prestigious religious clerics from Khomeinist ideological center of Qom to Iraqi holy cities of Najef and Karbala. Lebanese Hizballah ideologue Fadlallah joins traffic.
Tehran-based Iraqi Shiite ayatollah Muhammad Bakir al-Hakim attacks incitement of Shiites against American presence in Iraq, opposes Shiite theocratic regime in Baghdad. Al Hakim�s pronouncement reduces prospects of anti-US Shiite uprising
Glad to see this guy leave! Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage U.S. Imposes Will on Iraq's Kut After 'Mayor' Flees
Sun April 27, 2003 08:27 AM ET
By Saul Hudson
KUT, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. forces have imposed their will on the strategic eastern Iraqi city of Kut, forcing out a cleric who had taken charge and seizing the mayor's office in a symbolic show of power.
Marines stood guard on the perimeter walls at Kut city hall on Sunday and a U.S. administrator held meetings inside it, after self-styled mayor Abbas Abu Ragef -- also known as Saed Abbas -- quit town.
Calling himself "the father of the people" and removing a portrait of Saddam Hussein from the mayor's office, Abbas had until late on Friday taken up residence as leader of the 380,000 people in Kut, an agricultural hub near the Iranian border.
Instruction and Methods From Al Qaeda Took Root in North Iraq Instruction and Methods From Al Qaeda Took Root in North Iraq

ARGA SHARKHAN, Iraq, April 22 � The two-inch-thick manual on killing, discovered in an abandoned bomb laboratory here early this month, offers instruction in Al Qaeda's array of lethal demolition skills.

With a text in Arabic complemented by diagrams taken from American military manuals, the document offers lessons for rigging explosives, setting and concealing booby traps, and wiring an alarm clock to detonate a bomb.


The book is a photocopy of one volume of the Jihad Encyclopedia, the technical manual that American officials have said is used by Al Qaeda in its war against the West. Other copies were found in terrorist training camps and guest houses in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban in 2001.

This copy, though, was found not in Afghanistan but in this valley in the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq. It was recovered by Kurdish security officials accompanied by a reporter in a training center operated by Ansar al-Islam, a local armed party.
Telegraph | News | The proof that Saddam worked with bin Laden
By Inigo Gilmore
(Filed: 27/04/2003)

Iraqi intelligence documents discovered in Baghdad by The Telegraph have provided the first evidence of a direct link between Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terrorist network and Saddam Hussein's regime.
Papers found yesterday in the bombed headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, reveal that an al-Qa'eda envoy was invited clandestinely to Baghdad in March 1998.
The documents show that the purpose of the meeting was to establish a relationship between Baghdad and al-Qa'eda based on their mutual hatred of America and Saudi Arabia. The meeting apparently went so well that it was extended by a week and ended with arrangements being discussed for bin Laden to visit Baghdad.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Lay Off Chalabi - Iraq could do much worse. By Christopher�Hitchens In news stories as well as in opinion columns, it is repeatedly stated that Chalabi hasn't been in the country for many years�or since 1958. This contradicts my own memory and that of several other better-qualified witnesses. They recall him in northern Iraq many times and for long periods in the 1990s, helping to organize opposition conferences and to broker an agreement between the opposing Kurdish factions. He frequently risked his life in this enterprise; indeed it was for criticizing the CIA's own ham-fisted efforts in Kurdistan at the time that he incurred the lasting hatred of the agency. And since his activity on Iraqi soil was reported on several occasions in such journals of record as the New York Times, it must be something more than objectivity (or, dare I hint, something less) that informs the current animus.
This minor but persistent warp in the coverage is congruent (if a warp can be congruent) with another larger one. Obviously, a reporter hoping to get attention must now put due emphasis on Shiite fundamentalism. And many Shiite Iraqis are under the impression that Dilip Hiro was once under: that a society can be run out of the teachings of a holy book. However, the majority of Iranian Shiite voters have concluded in the past few years that this attempt has been a failure. The contradiction here deserves a little more attention than perhaps it has been receiving. And the contact between the Iraqi National Congress and the secular forces in Iran may be of more significance than we are being told.
AP Wire | 04/25/2003 | Captured Iraq spy may have al-Qaida link Captured Iraq spy may have al-Qaida link
Associated Press

Later in the decade, Hijazi entered the diplomatic corps -Farouk Hijazi was not among the U.S. military's 55 most-wanted Iraqis, but as a one-time spy for Saddam Hussein's regime, he may hold key information: Some call him the main link between Saddam and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.
The former intelligence chief, whose capture was announced Friday, is suspected of meeting bin Laden in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, according to Washington officials.
He also may be linked to an Iraqi plot to assassinate former President George Bush in Kuwait in 1993.
Former CIA director James Woolsey said Hijazi was a "big catch."
"This man was involved in a number of contacts with al-Qaida," Woolsey told CNN.

Friday, April 25, 2003

General Strike Set in Iran In Bid To Topple Mullahs Date of July 9 Puts U.S. on the Spot REZA PAHLAVI: �THIS COULD BE A MAJOR TURNING POINT�
By ADAM DAIFALLAH Staff Reporter of the Sun

WASHINGTON � Mark the date: July 9. That�s when op-ponents of the Iranian regime have called a general strike that they hope will expand to topple the government there and bring freedom and democracy to the Iranian people.

The strike is being organized by profreedom student groups to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the last student uprising in Iran that saw thousands of students take to the streets against the Islamic Republic�s ruling mullahs.

The planned event � indeed, the Iranian freedom movement as a whole � could take on a new dimension now that Iran�s western neighbor, Iraq, is free from Saddam Hussein�s tyranny.

Policy experts have speculated that a liberated Iraq could embolden Iranian freedom fighters to rise up and mount a serious challenge to the ruling mullahs.

The July 9 strike is also putting Washington on the spot, as policymakers scramble to decide how the American government should respond. : Sources: Al Qaeda Fractured, Ineffective Sources: U.S. Intelligence Finds Bin Laden�s Network Splintered, Ineffective

By ABCNEWS Investigative Unit

April 24 � The al Qaeda terrorist network is becoming increasingly ineffective, according to a written assessment produced by the U.S. intelligence community, sources told ABCNEWS.

Analysts who track al Qaeda for the intelligence community believe that evidence is mounting that the terrorist organization may lack the command and control, the resources and coordination to conduct an operation of the same magnitude as 9/11.

According to analysts, the terror network has split into two leadership committees. One is said to be operating in Iran and remains in contact with Osama bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan's lawless frontier region.
Chalabi Scrambles for Position as the Political Land Rush Begins AFTER THE WAR
The returned exile is trying to get ahead of the crowd by signing up scores of recruits. But keeping their loyalty may be the challenge.

BAGHDAD � In the jockeying for control of postwar Iraq, few men have the name recognition � in Washington at least � of Ahmad Chalabi, the businessman whose return to his homeland after nearly half a century in exile was made possible by a Pentagon aircraft.

As new political parties spring up across the nation, Chalabi's Iraqi Democratic Conference is attempting to stay ahead of the crowd by signing up scores of recruits every day.
One town's test of Iraqi democracy
How the 'founding fathers' of Umm Qasr went from tyranny to town council in days.

By Warren Richey | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

UMM QASR, IRAQ - Shortly after US and British forces pushed through this dusty port town in southern Iraq at the start of the coalition invasion, a school administrator got a crazy idea.

It was the kind of inspired thought that might have gotten him jailed, beaten, even killed a few days earlier. But now, Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party operatives were on the run, and in Umm Qasr, Najim Abed Mahdi could suddenly think the unthinkable. He and a handful of other Iraqis banded together to form their own town council.

They did it because their community needed fresh water, electricity, ice, garbage collection, security from looters, and other essentials. But by taking up the mantle of leadership in a fashion banned by Hussein, the Umm Qasr council may have made history - creating what US officials see as the first Iraqi model of a grass-roots democracy in a once-barren political landscape.

It is an example they hope will be replicated across Iraq. And, analysts say, it is the essence of what must happen for the US and Britain to win the peace.

"We are the first," says Mr. Mahdi, sitting at a conference table with the nine other members of the newly formed Umm Qasr town council. "Now we are the capital of free Iraq."

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage Garner: Work on New Iraq Government to Start Soon
Thu April 24, 2003 11:15 AM ET
By Mona Megalli
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Formation of a new Iraqi government will start next week, the country's U.S. administrator said on Thursday, after American forces netted four more senior members of Saddam Hussein's old guard.
Speaking after talks with some of the country's prospective new leaders, retired U.S. general Jay Garner told a Baghdad news conference: "I think you'll begin to see the governmental process start next week, by the end of next week. It will have Iraqi faces on it. It will be governed by the Iraqis."
Thousands of Iranian agents organizing anti-U.S. rallies in Iraq
World Page

U.S. officials said the flow of Iranian agents into Iraq began several months prior to the start of the U.S.-led war against Iraq. They said the agents were mostly Shi'ites who held Iraqi citizenship and infiltrated Shi'ite communities in Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf.

Iran, the officials said, was suspected of having ordered the assassination of Abdul Majid Al Khoei on April 10 in Najaf. They said Al Khoei, a pro-Western cleric who returned from exile in London a week earlier, was killed by a rival Iranian-backed Shi'ite group that has formed a large militia to control both Karbala and Najaf.

Fleischer stressed that Iraq would be reconstructed in accordance with the principles of a democratic society. He said this rules out the formation of a government modeled after neighboring Iran or Syria. Iran is a Shi'ite country and Iraq's population is said to be 60 percent Shi'ite.

"The interests of Syria and the interests of Iran have not always proved to be the interest of peace or stability or freedom or democracy," Fleischer said. "And we have always said that one of the principles of the liberation and the government that would follow would be a government that is based not on an Iranian model or a Syrian model, but based on a model of freedom, democracy, tolerance, openness, rule of law."

"There is no love lost between the Iraqi people and the Iranian people," Fleischer said. "The Iraqi Shiite community is a very capable community, a very large community and a very diverse community. And I think that any efforts or anybody outside of Iraq to try to create an outsider's version of what should take place for the Iraqi people, by the Iraqi people, will not have much chance of success."

So far, officials said, Iran has not succeeded in controlling the Shi'ite majority in Iraq. The officials said U.S. Central Command has deployed marines to patrol the Iraqi border with Iran to prevent the entry of Iranian agents.
Thousands of Iranian agents organizing anti-U.S. rallies in Iraq World Page
The United States has formally warned Iran against interference in Iraq.
U.S. officials said the warning came in wake of intelligence reports that thousands of Iranian agents are organizing the Shi'ite majority in Iraq to oppose the U.S. military presence in that Arab country. The officials said Iran, with the help of Hizbullah insurgents who arrived from Lebanon, is suspected of playing a leading role in the huge anti-U.S. demonstrations by Iraqi Shi'ites over the last week. The Turks Enter Iraq The Turks Enter Iraq
A Turkish Special Forces team is caught by U.S. troops in Kurdistan

Thursday, Apr. 24, 2003
Even as the U.S. works to stabilize a postwar Iraq, Turkey is setting out to create a footprint of its own in the Kurdish areas of the country. In the days after U.S. forces captured Saddam's powerbase in Tikrit, a dozen Turkish Special Forces troops were dispatched south from Turkey. Their target: the northern oil city of Kirkuk, now controlled by the U.S. 173rd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade. Using the pretext of accompanying humanitarian aid the elite soldiers passed through the northern city of Arbil on Tuesday. They wore civilian clothes, their vehicles lagging behind a legitimate aid convoy. They'd hoped to pass unnoticed. But at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kirkuk they ran into trouble. "We were waiting for them," says a U.S. paratroop officer.
By Wednesday U.S. paratroopers were holding 23 people associated with the Turkish Special Forces team. Some were drivers and aid workers. But a dozen of them, says Col. Mayville, were identified as soldiers. "We held them for a night, brought them in, fed them and watched their security. After all," he says wryly, "they are our allies." Early Thursday morning American troops escorted the Turkish commandos back over the border.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Jonah Goldberg's Goldberg File on National Review Online Exporting Switzerland
The model Iraq needs to follow.

fter a brief, almost bloodless war we have an ethnically and religiously divided nation. Mischievous neighbors on all sides can claim common cause with one or more of the major ethnic and religious groups vying for power. The largest ethnic faction has strong cultural ties to a powerful and expansionist neighbor, and is feared by other great powers nearby. Certain groups within the country are taking orders from religious authorities outside their borders in an attempt to impose a state reflecting their theology. Other nationalist radicals and many minorities are determined not to allow the creation of anything other than a secular state, because that's the only way to guarantee their own security.

Iraq 2003? Nope. Switzerland 1847.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - Middle East
Even if Iraq never becomes the Silicon Crescent, big money is at stake. Rebuilding the country's telecommunications networks and constructing new facilities from scratch would cost billions.
American and international companies that want to take part say the biggest beneficiaries would be the Iraqi people, whose connections to the outside world were stunted by Saddam's dictatorship and ravaged by war.

"Iraq is now the land of opportunity," said Loay Abu-Osbeh, who oversees the Baghdad office for Abu-Ghazeleh Intellectual Property, a Jordan-based technology consulting firm.

"People who were outside Iraq ... have come back to Iraq to make money in Iraq, and I can see it happening. This is a business everybody is interested in, doing Internet, Internet cafes, connecting to big servers (elsewhere) in the world."

While Saddam's regime had a now-shuttered Web site, Uruklink, Iraqis had little Internet access other than in government centers, which offered slow connections routed through "proxy servers" that tried to filter out content the regime didn't like.

Even before the recent war, the cost of rehabilitating Iraq's phone system was estimated at $1 billion over seven to 10 years.

That project will now include repairing bombed Baghdad phone exchanges, although Marines say 95 percent of the networks are intact - they just lack electricity. Some neighborhoods' exchanges are working again, but only for local calls.

All this could amount to a huge feast for Western telecom and technology companies that have been starving since the 2000 dot-com crash.

Some technology aficionados say whatever communications work is done in Iraq should include hot new wireless technologies and equipment that routes long-distance calls inexpensively over the Internet, so Iraq can leapfrog other developing countries.
If paying for such projects proves difficult, there's a coalition of the willing: the London-based Committee for Information Technology Reconstruction of Iraq.
The nonprofit's founder, Ben Fitzgerald-O'Connor, suggests auctioning off Internet addresses with the ".iq" suffix that was assigned to Iraq but is now in limbo.
Assuming enough people - geniuses, presumably - would want "iq" in their e-mail or Web addresses, Fitzgerald-O'Connor estimates $10 million could be raised for Iraqi Internet projects.
"It would be a little thing the (technology) community could do to help," he said. "Something like `Geeks Without Borders.'" : Iraqi Shiites Fast Filling Power Vacuum
Winning Shiite support is key to U.S. efforts to block the influence of Iran and there are signs this may be possible. Senior Shiite clerics have insisted they want to share power with Iraq's Sunnis and Kurds.

Iraqi Shiites are Arab, not Persian like their Iranian counterparts, and have a strong sense of Iraqi nationalism. During the Iran-Iraq war from 1980-88, they did not rise up against Saddam. Many Shiites oppose the idea of an Islamic state run by clerics, including Iraq's top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Hussein al-Sistani.

Iraq's largest Shiite group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, has its headquarters in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

The group's leader, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, is still in Iran. But his brother, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, who commands the group's armed wing, has come back to Iraq to pave the way for the ayatollah's return.

He told al-Jazeera television on Wednesday that the group opposes any foreign presence in Iraq. Its fighters the Badr Brigades are present around Iraq but have been ordered not to confront U.S. forces, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim told al-Jazeera television.

"We do not want any fighting ... as this would only harm the interests of the Iraqi people," he said.

Iranian political analyst Saeed Leylaz doubted Iran could have much say about its neighbor.

"Iran doesn't have the strategic ability to greatly influence the situation in Iraq or sway it in its own favor due to its own economic problems and lack of international or regional support for an Iranian project," he said.

Jay Garner, the retired U.S. general overseeing postwar reconstruction, told reporters in northern Iraq Wednesday that the Shiite demonstrations in Karbala and elsewhere are "the first part of democracy the right to disagree."

"I think the bulk of the Shia, the majority of the Shia, are very glad they are where they are right now. Two weeks ago they wouldn't have been able to demonstrate," he said.
Fayetteville Online 82nd holds men in bombing plot
By Kevin Maurer
Staff writer
KARBALA, Iraq - Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division took custody Monday of six men accused of plotting to bomb two Shiite mosques in the center of town.
Five of the men are suspected of having ties to the Baath party; the other is allegedly linked to al-Qaida.
The local police arrested the men, and the police chief wanted a public execution. An Army Special Forces team persuaded the police chief to turn the men over to the paratroopers.
It is unclear how the men planned to carry out the bombing. The suspected al-Qaida member is accused of poisoning food that was distributed to pilgrims, who are in Karbala to mourn two Shiite Imams killed in the 660s. - American troops arrest U.S.-backed Iraqi fighters from Chalabi's wing American troops arrest U.S.-backed Iraqi fighters from Chalabi's wing

By CHRIS TOMLINSON, , Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. troops arrested fighters of the U.S.-backed Free Iraqi Forces on Tuesday after they were found looting abandoned homes of former members of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Fighters of the group have been caught repeatedly while looting homes in an enclave in Baghdad where members of Saddam's Baath Party lived, said Army Staff Sgt. Bryce Ivings, of Sarasota, Fla.
On Tuesday, soldiers from A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment detained four suspected looters dressed in the group's desert camouflage uniforms and carrying rocket-propelled grenades, Ivings said.

Monday, April 21, 2003

funny! Flash Fun - The Real Hussein Flash Fun - The Real Hussein
A Wartime Parody to the Tune of Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady"
Telegraph | News | Galloway was in Saddam's pay, say secret Iraqi documents Galloway was in Saddam's pay, say secret Iraqi documents
By David Blair in Baghdad
(Filed: 22/04/2003)

George Galloway, the Labour backbencher, received money from Saddam Hussein's regime, taking a slice of oil earnings worth at least �375,000 a year, according to Iraqi intelligence documents found by The Daily Telegraph in Baghdad.
A confidential memorandum sent to Saddam by his spy chief said that Mr Galloway asked an agent of the Mukhabarat secret service for a greater cut of Iraq's exports under the oil for food programme.

George Galloway: 'I have never in my life seen a barrel of oil, let alone owned, bought or sold one'
He also said that Mr Galloway was profiting from food contracts and sought "exceptional" business deals. Mr Galloway has always denied receiving any financial assistance from Baghdad.
Asked to explain the document, he said yesterday: "Maybe it is the product of the same forgers who forged so many other things in this whole Iraq picture. Maybe The Daily Telegraph forged it. Who knows?"
"Let me just get this off my chest," Rumsfeld said in response to a question about the article. "I have no idea who these people talked to. But I'll tell you, if I were a journalist, I would ... remember who they are, and I'd write their name down, and I would rank them right at the bottom in terms of reliability, credibility, judgment [and] knowledge."
"The people peddling that stuff are wrong, and the people writing it should check things out better," he added later.
Citing "senior Bush administration officials," the Times reported that U.S. military planners were hoping to gain permanent access to as many as four military bases inside Iraq, which would project American power in the region much like the troops stationed in Germany, Japan and South Korea after earlier wars.
Such a move would fuel Arab suspicions that the war was launched in Iraq to increase American military and economic influence in the Middle East.
"The impression that's left around the world is that we plan to occupy the country, we plan to use their bases over the long period of time, and it's flat false," said Rumsfeld. "Now, what is going on? There are four bases that the U.S. is using in that country to help bring in humanitarian assistance, to help provide for stability operations. And are they doing that? Sure. But does that have anything to do with the long term footprint? Not a whit."
Discover Current Issue In an industrial park in Philadelphia sits a new machine that can change almost anything into oil.
"This is a solution to three of the biggest problems facing mankind," says Brian Appel, chairman and CEO of Changing World Technologies, the company that built this pilot plant and has just completed its first industrial-size installation in Missouri. "This process can deal with the world's waste. It can supplement our dwindling supplies of oil. And it can slow down global warming."
World News Headlines from Reuters UK U.S. troops slay four escaped Iraqi lions

By Rosalind Russell
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Crazed with hunger, four lions in Baghdad zoo escaped from their enclosures at the weekend and were shot dead by U.S. troops.
The lions, who hadn't been fed for days, clawed their way out of their outdoor pen through a crumbling wall, and two of them made a charge for American soldiers, said Sergeant Matthew Oliver.
"Two of them charged our guys," said Oliver of the 3rd Infantry Division. "We had to take them down."
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Saddam 'alive and in Iraq'

Saddam Hussein - still noticeable by his absence
Saddam Hussein and at least one of his sons are being tracked as they move around Iraq, an opposition leader has told the BBC.
Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress says his supporters have not yet caught up with the ousted dictator but reports of his movements arrive within "12 to 24 hours".
In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Chalabi said his intelligence suggested Saddam Hussein was still in Iraq, and was on the move.

While supporters had not yet managed to catch up with the wanted former leader, Mr Chalabi said: "We are aware of his movements between 12 and 24 hours after he has been there."

"We received intelligence about his son Qusay yesterday," he said.

"The night before he was seen in Aadhamiya."
Mr Chalabi said the apparent rise of Shia clerics as local leaders and political organisers was a "distorted view".

"No-one has control over towns... over streets. It is a euphoria of expression [where] piety becomes a political act because [the people] have been denied that."

It was a transitory movement with "no momentum", he said.

'Smoking a cigar with Saddam'

Any UN ambition to take a role in rebuilding Iraq would not be popular, Mr Chalabi said.

"The Iraqi people view the UN as a de facto ally of Saddam" because they had seen UN Secretary General Kofi Annan "smoking a cigar with Saddam", he said.

"The reality of the situation will imply that the UN cannot have a role."

Officials Argue for Fast U.S. Exit From Iraq ( Officials Argue for Fast U.S. Exit From Iraq
By Jonathan Weisman and Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, April 21, 2003; Page A01

Confronting cost estimates of at least $20 billion a year and fears that Iraq could become permanently dependent on a U.S. military presence, senior officials in the White House and Pentagon are questioning the Bush administration's most ambitious, long-term plans for Iraq's reconstruction.

These officials are leaning toward a quick exit from a country that U.S.-led forces conquered in less than a month. The administration remains committed to repairing and rebuilding war-damaged infrastructure, in many cases to standards considerably higher than before the war started, a senior defense official said. Indeed, San Francisco-based Bechtel Group was just awarded an initial $34.6 million contract to rebuild airports, water and electricity systems, roads and railroads.

But the far larger task of ensuring that Iraq emerges as a representative democracy friendly to U.S. interests and operating with a free-market economy would be left to an Iraqi interim authority, which could control key aspects of Iraqi governance within months.

"I don't think it has to be expensive, and I don't think it has to be lengthy," a senior administration official said of the postwar plan. "Americans do everything fairly quickly."

Concerns about the costs and duration of rebuilding Iraq are being raised by senior civilian planners at the Pentagon, as well as senior aides to President Bush. The president's budget director, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., maintained in a recent report that Iraq "will not require sustained aid."
Yahoo! News - U.S. Does Not Recognize Baghdad 'Governor' U.S. Does Not Recognize Baghdad 'Governor'
Mon Apr 21, 2:24 PM ET Add Top Stories - Reuters to My Yahoo!

By Mona Megalli

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United States does not recognize a former exile who says he is governor of Baghdad and Washington thinks his deputy cannot represent Iraq (news - web sites) at an OPEC (news - web sites) meeting this week, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.

Barbara Bodine, coordinator for central Iraq in the U.S. civil administration overseeing reconstruction, said the United States did not recognize Mohammed Mohsen al-Zubaidi, who said last week he was made chief of an interim council to run the capital.

"We don't really know much about him except that he's declared himself mayor," said Bodine, a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen. "We don't recognize him. There hasn't been a process of selection. Once there's a process, then whomever."

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Here's a strange one! A statuete of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed rotting in a squalid prison cell. Brightens up any area! Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
Click Images to Enlarge
Get this Cast Sculpture of this terrorist who helped mastermind the horrific attacks of 9/11.
This sculpture is 6" high X 6" long X 2" wide. Each cast is hand made & painted by our artisans.
so there could be some positive changes in Shi'a Islam as its center of gravity shifts west towards Iraq">Philadelphia Inquirer | 04/16/2003 | Shiite changes in the works Hussein's fall has diminished Iran's influence on the sect. Analysts see U.S.-friendly leaders emerging.
By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson
Knight Ridder News Service

For a quarter of a century, Iran and its top religious leader, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, have defined Shiite Islam for its 120 million followers and for the world. But the liberation of Najaf, Shiite Islam's holiest city, by U.S. forces in Iraq threatens to weaken Iran's influence.

Theologians and analysts say a new Arab Shiite face may emerge, represented by spiritual leaders prepared to be friendly to the United States so long as President Bush leaves Iraq to the Iraqis.

Since Iran's Islamic revolution brought Khomeini to power in 1979, this minority Muslim sect has been harsh and anti-Western, advocating the destruction of Israel, seeking to export the revolution to Lebanon and elsewhere, sponsoring terrorism and assassinations, and pledging allegiance to a single, supreme leader.

A shift is palpable in Iran's holy city of Qom, where clerics feel the pull of a Najaf that's no longer under the thumb of a tyrant in Baghdad. Thousands of religious teachers and students, as well as several important ayatollahs, are talking about relocating to the central Iraqi city, about 100 miles south of Baghdad

A silenced majority

Shiites make up about 60 percent of Iraq's 24 million people.

Exiled Iraqi religious leaders who fled to Qom over the last three decades to escape the tyranny of Hussein are abuzz with the comings and goings of the revered Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who was kept under house arrest by the Iraqi president for 15 years. On Monday, armed supporters rushed to Najaf to rescue Sistani after a rival faction threatened to kill him.

"Shiites worldwide are going to shift their view to Najaf," moderate Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Majid al Khoei said by satellite phone from Najaf on April 8. "The holy city will be as prominent as it was before" Hussein's reign, the pro-Western cleric predicted. Two days later, he was slain in a melee at Shiite Islam's holiest shrine. A second Shiite cleric also was killed.

The shrines of its two most revered imams, the Shiite successors to the Prophet Mohammed, are in Najaf and nearby Karbala. Shiite Islam's oldest hoezeh, or seminary, was established in Najaf more than 1,300 years ago. Qom in Iran is a relative latecomer, founded in the ninth century with Fatima, the sister of an imam, enshrined there.
Najaf's reemergence could offer a freer voice to Shiite theologians, especially those who don't accept Khomeini's concept of a single supreme Shiite ruler.
"It's only natural when there is freedom that it's much easier to express yourself in a much louder voice," said Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah, one of the sect's senior religious authorities and the onetime spiritual leader of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. "But the question is, can we be sure that there will be freedom in Iraq following the fall of Saddam?" His fear, shared by other Shiite leaders, is of American interference.
and on the lighter side!Welcome to
really good article about Iranian politics. Amir Taheri on Iran on National Review Online Iran's decision-making elite, consisting of some 100 mullahs and their non-clerical prot�g�s, is divided into two camps with regard to Iraq.
One camp, led by former prime minister Mir-Hussein Mussavi, with Khatami as figurehead, could be labeled "accommodationist." Its main argument is that Iran's best interest lies in a partnership with the United States in toppling the Iraqi regime.
Saeed Hajjarian, Khatami's chief strategist, recently explained the accommodationist position in a long article.
"Change in Iraq has become inevitable," he wrote. "And it is clear that we can neither stop nor go against it. We must thus go along with it and seek two things: a guarantee that the next regime in Baghdad will not be hostile to Iran, and a guarantee that we are not [Washington's] next target."
Facing the accommodationists is the faction one could call "the confrontationists," led by Rafsanjani. The "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei, who lashed out against the U.S. in an address to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards on March 11, represents the public face of the faction.

Khamenei's chief foreign-policy adviser, former foreign minister Ali-Akbar Velayati, recently spelled out the confrontationist position in a series of speeches, interviews, and articles in Iran.

"The American Great Satan will never accept an Islamic system. It is coming to Iraq to complete its encirclement of our Islamic Republic before it moves against us. To help the Americans conquer Iraq easily would be suicidal for our revolution."
Another front, according to Velayati, will be Afghanistan, where Iran has forged close ties with Ismail Khan, the "emir" of Herat, and is arming the Hazara Shiites in Bamiyan and Maydan-Shahr. Still another front could be Azerbaijan, where Iran has won influence in the Talesh region on the Caspian Sea.

Ironically, Iran's allies in Azerbaijan are Sunni Muslims opposed to the Shiite majority whose leaders have opted for a pro-American foreign policy complimented by close ties with Turkey. Iran also has considerable influence in Armenia, where, in tandem with Russia, it helped Armenian forces capture the Azerbaijani enclave of High Karabagh a decade ago.

Velayati insists that Iran should avoid direct confrontation with the U.S. He recommends "the lighting of countless small fires here and there" designed to stretch U.S. forces and, in time, persuade American public opinion that Pax Americana in the Middle East is not worth the price.
The accommodationists reject such strategies as dangerous. "The overthrow of Saddam Hussein would be good news for everyone, the Iraqis, the Iranians and the entire Muslim world," says Ali-Muhammad Abtahi, an assistant to Khatami for parliamentary affairs.

"The end of Saddam must be the start of a period of peace and understanding in the region, not of new adventures."

The fight between the accommodationists and the confrontationists has split Shiite religious opinion with regard to Iraq.

The Australian: N Korean scientists defect [April 19, 2003]N Korean scientists defect
By Martin Chulov and Cameron Stewart
April 19, 2003
A SWATH of North Korea's military and scientific elite, among them key nuclear specialists, has defected to the US and its allies through a highly secret smuggling operation involving the tiny Pacific island of Nauru.

The defections have taken place since last October and have been made possible through the help of 11 countries that agreed to provide consular protection to smuggle the targets from neighbouring China, according to sources close to the operation, which has now been wound up.
Lots of people, lots of chaos. All Shi'ites. Looks like a prime target for a foreign suicide bomber to me, if they haven't all been killed or run out of the country by now. Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News CoverageBaghdad Shi'ites Taste Freedom on Pilgrimage Road
Sun April 20, 2003 01:46 PM ET
By Huda Majeed Saleh

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Thousands of Shia Muslims marched along Baghdad's streets on Sunday, setting out in freedom for the first time in years on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Kerbala, a few days' walk away.

Under Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, Iraq's majority Shias whom he mistrusted could only carry out their rites, if at all, under tight controls that often barred most men.

Security forces cracked down on any religious gathering that took on political overtones, as the pilgrimage looks set to now.

"Down USA, Down USA," men shouted in English, raising their fists as tanks rumbled past throwing up dust over them.

The pilgrims carried political banners saying: "Let the Iraqi people choose its government."

Observers said it was the first time since the late 1970s that Shias could freely go on the pilgrimage.

Columns of them from all over the Shi'ite heartland of southern Iraq are converging on Kerbala, one of their holiest sites and scene of heavy fighting during the U.S.-led invasion.

The U.S. military says it will provide "appropriate" security for the pilgrimage which Shi'ite sources said could attract as many as a million people. Near Kerbala, things are already heating up.

"It's a sea of humanity," said Marine Lieutenant Matt Ufford, gazing from the turret of his tank as men in green headbands streamed past, chanting and beating their chests.

Fadhil said there was no real difference between Sunnis and Shias, whose original split comes from disagreements over Mohammad's succession.
"Saddam was the one who sowed division," he said.
The roots of Shi'ism date back to the deaths in 661 of Imam Ali, Mohammad's son-in-law and first leader of the Shi'ites, and of his son, Imam Hussein, 19 years later. Sunni Muslims also mourn his death but less fervently.
Hussein was killed by Sunnis in a battle in Kerbala, and the pilgrimage -- Arbaiin -- marks the 40th day after his death, the actual anniversary of which is marked with the Ashura holy day.
This blog is going to become the Chalabi blog soon! I am very interested in Chalabi and the INC. They really seem to have a lot of political saavy, and seem to be a moderating influence. I'll be watching them closely.Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage Iraq Opposition Says Saddam Son-In-Law Surrenders
Sun April 20, 2003 02:19 PM ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The long-exiled Iraqi National Congress said on Sunday that Saddam Hussein's son-in-law Jamal Mustafa Sultan had surrendered to them and would be handed over into U.S. custody within hours.
"He is the first close member of the family to be detained," INC spokesman Zaab Sethna told Reuters by telephone.
He said that Sultan had been in Syria but the INC had persuaded him to come back to Baghdad and give himself up.
Sultan is the nine of clubs on the U.S. list of 55 most wanted Iraqis.
Telegraph | News | German spies offered help to Saddam in run-up to war
By David Harrison in Baghdad
(Filed: 20/04/2003)

Germany's intelligence services attempted to build closer links to Saddam's secret service during the build-up to war last year, documents from the bombed Iraqi intelligence HQ in Baghdad obtained by The Telegraph reveal.

During the meeting, on January 29, 2002, Lt Gen Haboosh says that the Iraqis are keen to have a relationship with Germany's intelligence agency "under diplomatic cover", adding that he hopes to develop that relationship through Mr Hoffner.
The German replies: "My organisation wants to develop its relationship with your organisation."
In return, the Iraqis offered to give lucrative contracts to German companies if the Berlin government helped prevent an American invasion of the country.
Russia briefed Iraq on US tactics to justify invasion - War on Iraq -
Russia briefed Iraq on US tactics to justify invasion
By David Harrison in Baghdad
April 21 2003

Russian agents reported to Iraq that the US President, George Bush, hoped to justify war by provoking a conflict with United Nations weapons inspectors, according to Iraqi intelligence documents.

The documents were found in the smoking ruins of the headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service in Baghdad and showed that only months before war began, the Russian Federal Security Bureau briefed Saddam that the White House was pinning its hopes on Iraq obstructing the weapons inspection teams.

The information, which appears to draw on intelligence from Russian agents and diplomats around the world, is likely to have helped Saddam formulate his strategy of "hide and seek" with weapons inspectors, rather than obstruct them openly as he had done during previous inspections.
Baghdad's Self-Proclaimed Mayor Promises Islamic Law
Sunday, April 20, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq � A longtime Iraqi exile who has proclaimed himself in charge of Baghdad pledged Sunday that the country's new constitution would be derived from Islamic law and promised to try anyone whose "hands are stained with the blood of the Iraqi people."

Mohammed Mohsen al-Zubaidi also announced ambitious plans get Baghdad's civil administration moving again.

"We have met with lawmen to create laws, and to open the courts so that life can begin to take on legitimacy," he said at a news conference. "The security situation in Baghdad is considered first priority in our agenda."

Days after al-Zubaidi essentially proclaimed himself mayor, it remained unclear where his authority comes from or if it exists at all. No U.S. forces or officials were present at his news conference, held in a sweltering room that was once the coffee shop of the battle-pocked Palestine Hotel.

"I was chosen by tribal leaders and educated people, the doctors of the city and other prominent figures," al-Zubaidi said. "We are not a transitional government. We are an executive committee to run Baghdad."

The Iraqi capital currently has no government. Invading U.S. forces, together with returning Iraqi police, are keeping the peace until they can arrange for an interim civil authority, ostensibly to be led by retired American Lt. Gen. Jay Garner.

Al-Zubaidi is a deputy of Ahmad Chalabi, a top figure in the Iraqi National Congress, the opposition group long backed by the United States.

As al-Zubaidi spoke, one of his associates also said police had discovered a house used by Saddam Hussein's intelligence apparatus that contained documents about "people responsible for killing innocent people all over the world." He offered no details.

Al-Zubaidi said � also without elaborating � that Iraq's new constitution would be based on Islamic law, as are many Arab nations' constitutions to varying degrees. According to the U.S. State Department, Iraq's current constitution makes Islam the official religion but provides for freedom of religion. Saddam's government limited that right in reality.

The balding, goateed al-Zubaidi, acting as if he was already running the place, congratulated Iraq's Christians on Easter Sunday and expressed sadness to Shiite Muslims about the 7th-century martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Hussein's death is being mourned this week.

"Iraq was deprived of these rituals, and people are now free to practice them," al-Zubaidi said.

He said 22 committees had been formed to administer Baghdad, and people had been appointed to lead them. He also urged people working in Iraq's ministries to return to work and predicted radio, television and the Iraqi News Agency would all be working on Monday.

He said enough funds remain in government coffers to pay civil servants' salaries, though he didn't say for how long.

Gen. Jawdat al-Obeidi, whom al-Zubaidi described as his deputy, outlined the discovery of what he called a secret intelligence service house found after a tip from a "good citizen."

He said police opened safes there and they found "many documents, lists of terrorist networks, intelligence elements, officers responsible for killing innocent people all over the world, assassination attempts, lists of their payments and bank accounts to finance those terrorist networks."

"We kept these documents and are looking at legal procedures," al-Obeidi said. He had no further information. Behind him stood a former intelligence officer from Saddam's regime who is handling al-Zubaidi's press.

Added al-Zubaidi: "Every person whose hands are stained with the blood of the Iraqi people will be put on trial."

Uh, is this really a good idea? Turkey Agrees to Send Peacekeepers to Iraq
VOA News
20 Apr 2003, 11:43 UTC

Turkey has agreed to send troops to Iraq for peacekeeping missions, while a long-time Iraqi exile who has proclaimed himself in charge of Baghdad says committees have been set up to run the capital.
As the effort in war-torn Iraq turns toward reconstruction, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Sunday that Ankara has agreed to a U.S. request to help in peace-keeping efforts, and will inform Washington of its readiness in the coming days.
GoMemphis: America At War Iraqis work on writing guarantee of rights Among those at the Ur conference was Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi exile who lives in Boston and is affiliated with the Iraqi National Congress, headed by Ahmad Chalabi. Makiya, whose writings have focused on the horrors under Saddam, has been a prime mover in trying to shape a new constitution.

He is also a favorite of the Bush administration.

In Makiya's view, a new constitution should be based on an amended form of the 1925 Iraqi Constitution that was adopted under the monarchy.

This was his favorite template, he wrote in the report, because the 1925 document was discussed among Iraqis and included important basics: no torture, a right to property, no discrimination, freedom of expression and community rights.

He also proposed procedures for establishing a permanent new constitution. A committee within a constituent assembly of jurists and constitutional experts should be established to begin drafting it, he said. It must be given deadlines so that the process did not drag on, he wrote. A census would have to be completed under international supervision to demarcate the boundaries of the federal states, he suggested.

After he completed the report last fall, the State Department put it aside.

"They did not want a report that lays a path, they wanted a sounding board," he said. "I said the big issues are about laws and rights, that it's not a touchy-feely exercise."

Last week, after the Ur conference, Makiya said he was more confident that his ideas were likely to prevail.

Like some allies in the Bush administration, Makiya has little patience with a role for the United Nations. "I fear the great hand of the United Nations," he said. "It will bend and kowtow to the lowest denominator in the region. The legitimacy comes from inside Iraq."
News Independent UK Foreigners who came to fight for Saddam turn guns on Shias
Sectarian violence
By Kim Sengupta in Saddam City
20 April 2003

"What is your first name?" the young man with blood on his face was asked. "Saddam," came the answer. What is your family name? Again: "Saddam." Who do you fight for? "Saddam."

The man being questioned, with his arms tied behind his back, admitted to being a Fedayeen, but he refused to say which country he was from. His captors, Shia Muslim militia in Saddam City, thought his accent was that of a Yemeni. In the past 10 days, they claimed, they had also captured Algerians, Palestinians and Pakistanis � Sunni Muslim "Wahabi terrorists" sent to carry out murderous sectarian attacks.

A vicious secret war is taking place in Saddam City, the vast Shia slum just 20 minutes' drive from the centre of Baghdad. Local people say they are the victims of the "Wahabis", Sunnis who came to fight for Saddam Hussein against the Americans, and have now turned their guns on them.

US officials in Baghdad acknowledge privately that Sunni fighters, financed from Saudi Arabia, are in Iraq and have been attacking Shia areas. On the other side, they say, Iranians are backing Shias. The Americans, however, do not appear to be doing anything about this emerging civil war. Not one soldier or tank could be found in Saddam City. - The Age Banker in, cleric out in struggle to create leadership
April 19 2003

Picking Iraqis who are capable of running the country acceptable to the population is proving a delicate task. Robyn Dixon reports from Basra.

A week ago, British military commanders chose a Shiite religious leader to help steer the future of this southern city of 1.5 million, describing Sheik Muzahim al-Tamimi as a unifying figure.

But the selection sparked demonstrations and rock-throwing outside Sheik Muzahim's house. Residents decried his links to Saddam Hussein's regime and some complained that a religious figure would prove divisive.

This week, the British quietly nudged him aside in favour of the city's wealthiest businessman, Ghalib Kubba, who was named to head an interim council advising the British commander. Yet some residents immediately criticised Mr Kubba - saying he was also too close to Saddam's regime.

The reactions underscore the delicate task confronting British and American military officials. They are struggling to find people who can rebuild the nation yet maintain some distance from the regime that controlled it for 35 years.

What is clear, said a Western observer, is that it had been impossible to do business in Iraq without close links with the regime, and now it is difficult to get the country running again without their expertise. "I don't think the British are naive," he said. "I believe they think they can't run it any other way."
U.S. general brings tribal leaders together to lay down law U.S. general brings tribal leaders together to lay down law

BURT HERMAN, Associated Press Writer Saturday, April 19, 2003


(04-19) 13:30 PDT KUT, Iraq (AP) --

A U.S. Marine commander called tribal leaders together Saturday to seek their support in running their city but emphasized that he considers himself to be in charge. Patrols of low-flying attack helicopters drove home the point.

Kut, about 45 miles west of the Iranian border, has been of particular concern to U.S. officials since a Shiite Muslim cleric occupied city hall and claimed to control the city. They contend he is backed by Iran and has only minority support.

U.S. officers had said they planned to force cleric Said Abbas out of City Hall, which has been surrounded by his followers, to deprive him of symbolic standing in the community. Now, the strategy seems to be to ignore and marginalize him. At Saturday's meeting, he was not at the main table but sat toward the rear of the room.

The city of 380,000 has been relatively calm compared with the pandemonium that has greeted the regime's collapse in other cities.

So far, there has been relatively little looting here. Hospitals are still working, and trash is being collected -- even though the trash collectors aren't getting paid.
Hundreds of Abbas supporters gathered at the end of the street running past the hotel, which was blocked off by concertina wire, armored vehicles and Marines with machine guns behind sandbag bunkers.

"Go home U.S.A.!" the crowd chanted, the first time Abbas' supporters have directly expressed anti-American feelings. Previously, their chants focused on denouncing Ahmad Chalabi, an Iraqi exile whom they believe Washington wants to install as Iraq's leader.

One man held a framed portrait of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni, the late leader of Iran's Islamic revolution.

American concern about Kut has grown since the recent arrival of the deputy leader of the Iran-based Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq -- the largest Iraqi opposition group and one that opposes U.S. plans for a new government. Abbas is a member of the Supreme Council, and the arrival of one of its senior officials is seen as encouragement for his cause.

Other leaders at the meeting said they supported the U.S. military, and Marines who attended said no one inside had asked how soon the Americans would leave.

One leader, Mubarak Ali az-Zubaidy, offered to build a golden statue of President Bush to thank him for freeing the Iraqi people.

"The Americans had their say. They want democracy and they will do it," az-Zubaidy said
Telegraph | News | America nervous as militant cleric's rallies attract mass supportAmerica nervous as militant cleric's rallies attract mass support
By Julian Coman in Washington and Sean Rayment in Kuwait
(Filed: 20/04/2003)

Every day, the rallies held by Battle to prevent Chalabi taking power grow bigger. Every day the American marines in the eastern Iraqi town of Kut, close to the Iranian border, become more nervous.

Mr Abbas is a militant Shia cleric with an unnervingly fine grasp of the political possibilities of post-war Iraq. Some days ago, he walked into Kut town hall and simply took it over, accompanied by hundreds of supporters, many of whom had crossed the border from Iran.

Now thousands attend his meetings, while the marines consult with rival tribal leaders on how to get him out. Yesterday's rally was bigger than ever. As he spoke, Mr Abbas voiced what are quickly becoming the standard demands: an Islamic, Shia-dominated state for Iraq, and an end to American occupation.

Similar events are occurring in towns and cities throughout the centre and east of Iraq. Shia fundamentalists, long cowed by Saddam's brutal methods of crowd control, are striving to exploit a power vacuum yet to be filled by Gen Jay Garner, America's designated civil administrator for Iraq.
In Najaf, the principal seat of Shia learning, a fierce battle is going on between radical and moderate clerics. On April 10, as factionalism took hold, two rival clerics died there in pools of blood - one of them Ayatollah Abdul Majid al-Khoei, a religious moderate previously cultivated by Tony Blair.

Now another of the holy city's moderate religious leaders, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Alo al-Sistani, refuses to leave his house. Aides say that he is making a protest against the murders. Others say that he fears for his own life.
Certain options are, however, out of bounds. "There are certain guiding principles that we want the Iraqi people to acknowledge," said Maj Gen Cross. "We do not want them to hold weapons of mass destruction, we don't want them to be a threat to their neighbours."

Clerics such as Syed Abbas, who is believed to receive funding from neighbouring Iran, are hardly likely to threaten the religious regime in Teheran. In fact, he represents precisely the kind of cross-border Shi'ite alliance that Washington fears will develop as an unintended consequence of the war against Saddam.

Nerves are beginning to jangle in Washington at the prospect that "democracy" in Iraq may produce a militant religious regime which strengthens the regional hand of Iran, also part of President George W Bush's "axis of evil".
"Clearly, the United States would not wish for a strengthening of militant Islam in the region," said a US government official. "But we're hopeful that won't happen."

In the Pentagon, great hope has been invested in the controversial figure of the Iraqi exile, Ahmad Chalabi. The leader of the Iraqi National Congress and commander of the Free Iraqi Forces exile army is in Baghdad, but has been greeted coolly and, on occasion, violently.

On Friday, driving through the capital, a car carrying the flag of the Iraqi National Congress and a large photograph of Mr Chalabi was sprayed with automatic gunfire. After Friday prayers at the Salati Jimad mosque, when thousands of militant supporters of the late Ayatollah Mohammed al Sadr, who was killed by Saddam in 1999, spilled onto the streets Mr Chalabi's name was openly derided.

According to Col Ted Seel, a member of US Special Forces who was air-lifted in with the Free Iraqi Forces, the Pentagon is having doubts about Mr Chalabi. "They're getting colder and colder and colder towards us," said Col Seel, who added that the group was being given no useful intelligence or American protection. As Saddam Hussein's regime crumbled, Mr Rumsfeld warned that the ensuing months could be chaotic. "Freedom is untidy," he said, "and free people are free to make mistakes."

As militant forces that consider themselves the enemies of Saddam and America gain influence across Iraq, Mr Rumsfeld's noble sentiments will be tested to the full.

Islam Online- News Section Talk about betrayal by some Iraqi army members were also rumored among the thick palls of smoke that turned reality of the situation there as blurry.
"Arab volunteers were put in the frontlines while the Republican Guard units were in the back in the battle around Baghdad�s Saddam International airport," said Al-Assad Jirad in disgruntle, adding 400 Arab volunteers breathed their last during the fighting.
We were stun-founded when a Yemeni was about to "fire on a U.S. Apache helicopter gunship only to be ordered by an Iraqi officer 'Do not shoot� it is an Iraqi aircraft', he recalled.
To add up to the plight of people leaving their country for the defense of another, the inhabitants of southern town of Nassiriyah welcomed Arab volunteers with nothing but gunfire.
"We were fired at by the town residents, who killed three of us. They just shouted asking us 'why you are here? Did you came to defend Saddam?'" Emad, another volunteer, asserted.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Train to Basra restarts, to be aid link into Iraq Train to Basra restarts, to be aid link into Iraq

By Paul Casciato

UMM QASR, Iraq, April 19 � British forces in southern Iraq relaunched a train service from the port of Umm Qasr on Saturday and aim to use it as an aid supply lifeline into the heart of Iraq.
The train will be a key link between Iraq's only major port -- where thousands of tonnes of food aid is sitting -- and the southern town of Basra. British forces hope the track beyond Basra will soon be secure enough to carry on up to Baghdad.
''The aspiration is to open the line from Umm Qasr through Basra and all the way to Baghdad,'' said Lieutenant Colonel Paul Ash, commanding the regiment which has been working with Royal Engineers and local Iraqis to make the train and tracks usable.
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Footballers who paid the penalty for failure Footballers who paid the penalty for failure

How Uday's terror made the game a matter of life or death

Suzanne Goldenberg in Baghdad
Saturday April 19, 2003
The Guardian

It was a qualifying match in Jordan, and at full time Iraq were drawing three-all against the United Arab Emirates. Arab League rules called for a penalty shoot-out. Abbas Rahim Zair walked up to the penalty spot with a prayer on his lips and his heart in his boots.
Any player knows the pain of missing a penalty, but for a member of the national team, it carried the certainty of ritual humiliation, imprisonment, and torture. Only three Iraqis dared to take penalties, and Zair was one of them.

Friday, April 18, 2003 - Irish pub kickstarts Kabul nightlife - Apr. 17, 2003 Irish pub kickstarts Kabul nightlife
Thursday, April 17, 2003 Posted: 2:30 AM EDT (0630 GMT)

Kabul's new Irish Club -- the country's only bar -- is a booming business.


Story Tools


Our families know what we do, but we tell other people we just work in a restaurant or a guesthouse selling food and soft drinks
-- 'Paddy', Afghan member of bar staff

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- In Taliban times, it would have been unimaginable: a fully stocked Irish pub serving whiskey and cold beer in the heart of Afghanistan's ultra-Islamic capital.

In the post-Taliban era, Kabul's new Irish Club -- the country's only bar -- is still unthinkable, at least for Afghans. But it's a huge success with the many foreigners who are desperate for a little bit of nightlife.

"Walk in that front door and you'll find a very different world in here," says Allan Ferguson, a 57-year-old Australian businessman sitting on a barstool as Irish folk tunes blare from speakers overhead.

"You could be anywhere -- Ireland, Australia, America. But walk outside, and you'll be back in Afghanistan."

The Irish Club opened on a secluded side street in central Kabul last month on -- what else -- St. Patrick's Day.
US marines hunt gazelles with rocks

US marines in Iraq are hunting gazelles with rocks and pistols - to avoid having to eat ready-made US army meals.

The soldiers at a base outside Tikrit say they are enjoying eating the unusual meat from Saddam Hussein's personal hunting preserve.
Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 are venturing into the woods to hunt the animals before hauling them back as a welcome substitute for the pre-packaged Meals Ready to Eat rations.
"It was delicious. I don't know if it's because we have been eating MREs for two months, but everyone has enjoyed it a lot," said army cook Cpl Joshua Wicksell, 26.
Each of the squadron's platoons has been limited to killing one gazelle a day to make sure the herd is not depleted.
The soldiers have been allowed to use 9mm pistols to hunt after initially being forbidden to use firearms for fear that gunshots in the woods might be mistaken for enemy fire.
"We hunted them with rocks (at first), as Stone Age as that sounds," Wicksell said. "We gutted them and skinned them and pretty much carried them over our shoulders barbarian-style."
The preparation is almost as primitive: a fire pit dug in the ground, covered by a radiator grill from one of the marines' trucks.
Cpl Wicksell tenderises the meat with a fork and rubs in salt, pepper, sugar and seasonings scavenged from MREs.
DID RUSSIANS USE BLOG TO AID IRAQIS? by Daniel Forbes in Progressive Review
Daniel Forbes
The U.S. and British military won't have the Russian secret services to contend with in Iraq anymore, at least not on the Net. Early last week, the Russian military analysis Web site,, discontinued its daily "Russian military intel update."
The three-week-old, daily feature - was it real-world intelligence useful to the Iraqis or merely the product of a fertile imagination? - claimed to be based on leaks from senior Russian intelligence officials.
It offered detailed predictions about coalition troop movements many hours or even days in advance. It also quoted "intercepted" U.S. radio traffic, toted casualties on both sides and - with what perhaps its raison detre, the rest conceivably nothing but necessary ballast - provided strategic advice to the Iraqi military. It was a combustionable mix that was enjoying steadily increasing traffic, applause, and scorn.
In the first two weeks of the war, as stalled coalition generals pondered different routes of attack, and the Iraqi military retained functioning command and control apparatus, a close reading yields some stark go-here, do-this advice.
The three lead items in the April 7 update, the day before the feature was killed, offered particularly unabashed intelligence, including projections about American moves later that day in Baghdad.
Victor Davis Hanson on Iraq on National Review Online

Anatomy of the Three-Week War
It was more that we were good rather than they were bad.

n the aftermath of the incredible three-and-a-half week victory we should not post facto make the mistake of assuming that Operation Iraqi Freedom was necessarily an easy task.

The Soviets learned that trying to take an Islamic city is not an easy thing and can lead to thousands of dead and hundreds of lost tanks, planes, and armored vehicles. More Americans were killed in Lebanon in a single day than all those lost in the present campaign. In 1991 six weeks were necessary to soften up Iraqi troops � along with nearly a million allied soldiers. The British learned that attempting an invasion of the Dardanelles against a supposedly "weak" Turkey led to a bloodbath.

A fair historical assessment will soon emerge that attributes our victory not to Iraqi weaknesses per se. Rather it was the American ability on the ground and air in a matter of hours to decapitate the command-and-control apparatus of the Baathist regime that alone allowed bridges, oil wells, power plants, and harbors to be saved, and chemical weapons not to be used.

There were a number of inherent � indeed deadly � risks in the operation. Much is made of having few troops on the ground. But a greater worry was the need to deploy from the rather narrow staging area in Kuwait, once access was denied in Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Assembling 300,000-400,000 ground-combat troops in such a small area over such a long period of time in essence would have left half the available aggregate land forces of the United States vulnerable in a few thousand square acres to missile or chemical attacks. And such a Gulf War I-type mobilization � given the deep cuts of the 1990s � would have left the U.S. army scarcely able to have met a sudden attack from North Korea.

Another problem was the geography of Iraq itself. Ostensibly it is a wide country with few obstructions. In fact, the actual inhabited areas resemble Egypt more than France, in that almost all the population centers and roads to Baghdad are concentrated in the narrow Tigris-Euphrates corridor, land that is marshier than desert, where dozens of bridges span tributaries and wetlands. In short, it was not an easy task to drive 400-500 miles northward to Kurdistan from a single base in a long, narrow thrust that could be stalled by a few carefully blown bridges and mined highways.

But the lethality of the military is not just organizational or a dividend of high-technology. Moral and group cohesion explain more still. The general critique of the 1990s was that we had raised a generation with peroxide hair and tongue rings, general illiterates who lounged at malls, occasionally muttering "like" and "you know" in Sean Penn or Valley Girl cadences. But somehow the military has married the familiarity and dynamism of crass popular culture to 19th-century notions of heroism, self-sacrifice, patriotism, and audacity.

The result is that the energy of our soldiers arises from the ranks rather than is imposed from above. What, after all, is the world to make of Marines shooting their way into Baathist houses with Ray-Bans, or shaggy special forces who look like they are strolling in Greenwich Village with M-16s, or tankers with music blaring and logos like "Bad Moon Rising?" The troops look sometimes like cynical American teenagers but they fight and die like Leathernecks on Okinawa. The Arab street may put on shows of goose-stepping suicide bombers, noisy pajama-clad killers, and shrill, masked assassins, but in real battle against gum-chewing American adolescents with sunglasses these street toughs prove to be little more than toy soldiers.

By the same token, officers talk and act like a mixture of college professors and professional boxers. Ram-road straight they brave fire alongside their troops � seconds later to give brief interviews about the intricacies of tactics and the psychology of civilian onlookers. Somehow the military inculcated among its officer corps the truth that education and learning were not antithetical to risking one's life at the front; a strange sight was an interview with a young officer offering greetings to his fellow alumni � of Harvard Business School. So besides a new organization and new technologies, there is a new soldier of sorts as well.
Helicopters are, of course, vital for fast-moving airborne operations, but when they go down with critical special-forces operatives or a half-dozen soldiers the losses are more than material, but are grievous in a psychological sense as well. The public can accept soldiers who fall in battle, but are traumatized when they die in groups of three, four, six, or seven from mechanical failure rather than enemy fire. We need clearly to invest in a new generation of transport, stressing good old-fashioned backup systems and reliability over enhanced speed and high technology. Tankers, transport, and other logistical craft � what Cicero would probably now call the sinews of war � deserve more investment and concern.

The United States military is now evolving geometrically as it gains experience from near-constant fighting and grafts new technology daily. Indeed, it seems to be doubling, tripling, and even quadrupling its lethality every few years. And the result is that we are outdistancing not merely the capabilities of our enemies but our allies as well � many of whom who have not fought in decades � at such a dizzying pace that our sheer destructive power makes it hard to work with others in joint operations. In that context, we might reassess the need to take technology to its theoretical -nth degree: How many new sophisticated stealthy $1.5 billion bombers do we need, when the equivalent expenditure would pay for a more mundane but vital mechanized Division for an entire year?
Iraqi Shiites protest against Chalabi
NASIRIYAH, Iraq, (AFP) - Dozens of Shiite Muslims in the heart of this tense southern city staged Tuesday an angry protest against Iraqi opposition leader Ahmed Chalabi.

"No, no Chalabi," about 150 protesters chanted as US troops tried to clear a lane of at least three vehicles near Haboby Square, a gathering point with markets and a bus station close by.

The US soldiers were on the verge of using tear gas as the protesters grew increasingly agitated and closed around the vehicles to prevent them from leaving, but the troops finally pulled back as the tension eased.

"He (Chalabi) knows nothing about here," one of the protesters, Muhsin Fiadh, told AFP.

"He came with America to control our country. We don't know Chalabi. We want someone who knows us."

Chalabi is a wealthy Shiite Muslim who lived in exile during Saddam's reign and heads the umbrella Iraqi National Congress.

He recently returned to Iraq and set up on the outskirts of Nasiriyah, drawing a high profile because of strong backing from sections of the US government to be the nation's next president.

Muhsin said the protesters wanted to be governed by the premier Shiite school of Islamic leaders in Najaf, the Hawza.

The protest echoed a much larger rally earlier in the day through Nasiriyah which was attended by up to 20,000 people, journalists estimated.

However other people in Nasiriyah said the political process was being hijacked by Islamic groups who did not really want democracy, with some agitators coming from neighbouring countries.

"There are strangers who come from outside the country and want to make violence," Amer Al Obidi, who is the president of a small political movement calling itself the Liberal Democratic Party, said just metres from the anti-Chalabi protest.

"They want to blacken the name of Mr Chalabi."
The rallies appeared to have been ignited by a US-sponsored meeting of Iraqi opposition groups at a secured airbase less than 10 kilometres (six miles) from Nasiriyah.
Direct democracy in action
By Pepe Escobar

HILLA - Mr Iskander, a lawyer and former officer in the Iraqi air force, married with four sons and five daughters, sits behind his desk in a nondescript building formerly used for religious meetings for Sunni and Shi'ite alike, now guarded by five Marines. He receives a non-stop string of visitors, juggling between as many as four conversations simultaneously. Iskander is now the de facto mayor of Hilla, a poor sprawling city of 2 million, 80 kilometers south of Baghdad, chosen through consensus by the local population. This is Iraqi democracy in action, the post-Saddam Hussein version.

Hilla is now largely peaceful. People are still intrigued by the meaning of the letters "TV" spelled out in black tape all over our car. Kids play soccer oblivious to a passing sandstorm and next to a miraculously non-defaced mural of Saddam, where he is pictured between al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and Ishtar Gate in Babylon. Splendid, elegant (in a dusty way) Shi'ite couples carry green flags with the inscriptions "Ali" and "Hussein". Police officers now patrol the streets and locals swear that there has been no looting in Hilla. Food distribution has started - from a local food warehouse, and organized by the same managers who once worked for the Saddam government ("But now they are free," said a grinning official at the new mayor's office).

Iskander is in the middle of the process of forming a new government.
Sheikh Salim Saed, an imposing figure in robe and keffiah (head scarf) contrasting with his sparkling blue eyes, is also in the room. He is the supreme sheikh of the tribes of Shurfa (which means "honesty" in Arabic). The sheikh's father was hanged by Saddam's henchmen in 1991, after the failed Shi'ite uprising following the Gulf War.
The sheikh is clutching a stack of black and white copies of a photo of Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi National Congress (INC) leader and self-styled new regime strongman who stormed into Baghdad on Wednesday. For Iskander, Chalabi "is known for his history of working with people against Saddam Hussein. And he has a very strong character." The sheikh's opinion is tinged with slightly more subtlety: "As far as I'm concerned, I don't know anything about Chalabi, but I consider a suitable person who will govern Iraq must provide freedom in order to deserve this position." The sheikh's ideal ruler would be "anyone that is not Saddam Hussein".
The new Iskander government is practically in place: it lists 14 members, including Sunni, Shi'ites and Kurds. But where will the money come from? Their only source of finance is "managers of Iraqi banks", who have already had a meeting with the Americans. The new government will start collecting taxes, but not now: "Our intention is to lower taxes," Iskander swore. "Our banks were not looted. There are some thieves who are returning money to mosques." He said that "for the last 35 years there was no money here, Saddam took it all. But there are 4 million Iraqis living outside the country. We are very rich. They should absolutely come back to rebuild their country."
Political Party in Mosul Emerges With Own Army By DAVID ROHDE

MOSUL, Iraq, April 17 � Across this battered city, Iraqi political parties have slowly begun opening up new offices this week. But only one group shares a base with American Special Forces soldiers, has a private army trained by the Americans and is guarding a local hospital alongside American troops.

"I believe the I.N.C. will succeed," predicted Nabeel Musawi, the 41-year-old deputy director of the Iraqi National Congress. "I believe the I.N.C. is the future of Iraq."
But in Mosul and other cities, local leaders have already expressed vehement opposition to a government headed by exiles.

Two weeks ago, the American military airlifted Mr. Chalabi and 600 of his self-declared Free Iraqi Fighters into southern Iraq near the city of Nasiriya. Earlier this week, military officials appointed Dr. Muhammad Zobaidi, a representative of the Iraqi National Congress, to manage Baghdad and serve as its de facto mayor.

In the north, about 230 of Mr. Chalabi's fighters have undergone training at an Iraqi military hospital turned by the Americans into a special operations base. On the outside wall of the base, the words "Iraqi National Congress" have been painted.

Mr. Chalabi, a 58-year-old banker who has not lived in his country for more than 40 years, pays the salaries, weapons and food of the fighters out of his own pocket, Mr. Musawi said. The Pentagon, which commands the fighters, is providing the training and transportation.

The soldiers are paid $150 a month, a small fortune for Mosul, where the city's chief judge, for instance, makes $50 a month.

Mr. Musawi, 42, a software developer and Iraqi exile from London, has big plans for the group. Joint patrols with American forces. Joint patrols with the local police. And projecting the I.N.C. as a local authority in town.

"I was very pleasantly surprised by the reception our people are getting here," Mr. Musawi said as he sat in a compound guarded by American soldiers. "People not only know who we are, they are very pleased to see us."

But in a series of interviews over the last several days, few people in Mosul seemed to have heard of the congress. Gen. Abdul Aziz Omar, Mosul's new police chief, said he knew nothing about joint patrols with the group.

"We have no idea about the I.N.C.," he said. "They entered with the agreement of American forces."

Told they were an opposition group, General Aziz shrugged and said dozens of groups had opened offices in the city. "Anyone can come here and raise a flag," he said.

So far, the fighters' activities have been limited to guarding the city's general hospital and a munitions dump. At the hospital, where Mr. Chalabi's troops stand guard alongside Americans, workers seemed confused by them. Some referred to them as coming from southern Iraq. Others said they were American troops.

That can be a double-edged sword. Being closely associated with American forces appears to give the congress additional clout on the ground. But it also makes them vulnerable to being depicted as American puppets.

Most of the 230 fighters being trained here are from the Basra region in southern Iraq. Many had moved to Iran and lived as refugees following a failed Shiite uprising against Mr. Hussein in 1991. One trainee said he was 16.

"I don't believe in others," said Saleh Farhood Abdullah, 43, one of the fighters here. "I like this organization because it is democracy."

Mr. Musawi insisted the group was here to help all Iraqis and would not be used as political leverage by Mr. Chalabi. But he pointed out that the party was perfectly positioned to help lead a new government.

"The only political entity on the ground is the I.N.C.," he said. "All the rest are just political groups."

Telegraph | News | Chalabi's fighters accused of lawlessness
By Sandra Laville in Nasiriyah
(Filed: 18/04/2003)

Elements of Ahmad Chalabi's Pentagon-backed army have been accused by American troops of lawlessness.
US marines stationed in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah complain that they have been ordered to hand assault rifles taken from groups of looters and remnants of the old regime to members of Mr Chalabi's Free Iraqi Forces.
"You can imagine, it's a bit of a heartbreaker," said a sergeant. "We take the weapons off one lot and hand them over to these guys."
Mr Chalabi, the former banker favoured by the Pentagon to lead post-Saddam Iraq, has left his headquarters in an old Iraqi army base near Ur, where more than 600 of his fighters were stationed, to set himself up in Baghdad.
While many of his men are Iraqi exiles trained by the Americans others have been hired since the war ended.
Local people say young men hired for $200 (�130) each have been tearing through the streets in pick-up trucks, carrying assault rifles chanting pro-Chalabi slogans. Some say they have been stealing cars at gunpoint.
Chalabi sets up base in Uday's palace
By Sharon Behn

Iraqi opposition leader Ahmed Chalabi, who spent years fighting for the ouster of Saddam Hussein, yesterday moved into one of the playground palaces of the deposed dictator's brutal son Uday. Top Stories
Mr. Chalabi, a wealthy Shi'ite businessman who fled Baghdad with his family 45 years ago, returned to the capital, where he settled into the exclusive party house with a contingent of bodyguards and his armed fighters, known as the Free Iraqi Forces.
"I think he wanted to show that he can do many things and that he runs the show in Baghdad," said Mohammed Sabir, Washington-based spokesman for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which contributed fighters to Mr. Chalabi's force.
Mr. Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress umbrella opposition group that until recently was based in London, rolled into Baghdad from the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on Tuesday, filling a power vacuum left by the fall of Saddam's Ba'ath Party regime.
"He's a smart man, and he's trying to run the show. Baghdad is important. That's the key," said Mr
Another Iraqi exile, Aiham Alsammarae, denounced Mr. Chalabi's decision to set up shop in property formerly controlled by Saddam's family, as well as the apparent U.S. support of his efforts.
"He's going there and taking over � in my view it's like a process of stealing, taking things without legitimacy. He's promoting himself, and [the Department of] Defense is promoting him like crazy," Mr. Alsammarae said in a telephone interview from Chicago.
"All this is a mistake. ... It's a joke. Who's Chalabi? What authority does he have? I'm sure someone [in the U.S. military] gave them the green light," Mr. Alsammarae said.
Ayatollah al-Hakim and other religious leaders yesterday arrived in the southern city of Kut in Iraq, staking their claim to participate in a future Iraqi government.
"People are welcoming him and consulting him and are ready to move as he calls them to do," SCIRI's London-based spokesman, Hamid al-Bayati, said in a telephone interview. "We'd like to see the Shi'ites have a similar percentage in government as they do in the population."
The Shi'ites, harshly oppressed by Saddam, make up roughly 60 percent of Iraq's 25 million population.
Ayatollah al-Hakim, Mr. Alsammarae and Mr. Chalabi belong to the 65-member opposition Iraqi Leadership Council established in London by Iraqi opposition groups last year.
But the unity of that council has come under increasing strain as different factions push for a role in a post-Saddam Iraq.
Mr. Chalabi already has announced a meeting of the council in Baghdad within the next few weeks to select a one- to three-person executive council, which would become the core of an Iraqi transitional government until general elections are held.
The council's initiative to form a government is separate from the U.S.-sponsored meeting in Nasiriyah earlier this week.
Other exiles also are incensed by self-declared Iraqi National Congress officials throwing their weight around Baghdad, such as Mohammed Mohsen Zubeidi, who has told reporters that he has been chosen to head a provisional council to run the capital.
Mr. Zubeidi, according to one leading London-based exile, "is not a very savory character" and lived in northern Iraq under the pseudonym Abu Hayder Lal Karradi