Thursday, June 22, 2006

Iraq News: Hussein Lawyer Killed, Mass Kidnapping of Gov't Workers,

After the Zarqawi killing, the administration said the United States is making progress in Iraq though it warned there would still be difficult days and terrible violence. Yesterday was another one of those difficult days full of terrible violence:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 21 — Saddam Hussein's trial on crimes against humanity was struck by new violence on Wednesday when a senior lawyer on his defense team was abducted, beaten and shot to death. The defense lawyer was the third to be killed since the trial began in October, and the 10th person associated with the court trying Mr. Hussein to be killed in the last 18 months.

According to his widow, the lawyer, Khamis al-Obeidi, 39, was asleep when at least 10 gunmen in civilian clothes stormed their home in the mostly Sunni Arab district of Slaikh at 7 a.m. and pulled him from bed within view of his three school-age children.

Witnesses said men linked to a Shiite militia, the Mahdi Army, drove the lawyer through the streets of the Shiite slum of Sadr City shouting, "Terrorist!" before shooting him on a stretch of wasteland, then gathered around his corpse shouting, "Let Saddam save him now if he can!" and, "This is the fate of those who defend Saddam Hussein!"


Only hours after Mr. Obeidi's killing, an Islamic militant group said in a Web posting that it had killed four kidnapped Russian Embassy workers. The Mujahedeen Shura, or Council of Holy Warriors, a group that says it represents Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and other insurgent groups in Iraq, said its Islamic court had "carried out God's judgment" and executed the men. Rita Katz, director of the SITE Institute, a Washington-based group that tracks Islamic militant Web sites, said the posting was characteristic of previous Qaeda announcements in Iraq and appeared authentic.

Also on Wednesday, as many as 50 armed men, some wearing police uniforms, abducted between 50 and 100 workers as they ended their day's work at a government-run industrial zone at Taji, a town on Baghdad's northwestern outskirts that is the site of a major American military base and an area where Qaeda groups have been active.

The Associated Press reports that 17 of the kidnapped workers were freed when Iraqi police stormed a farm where they were being held. As many as 30 others had been released earlier by the kidnappers. There is also some doubt about the Web posting announcing the death of the four Russians. As of mid-day, the AP reports there have been no major terrorist attacks or insurgent activity in Baghdad on Thursday.

That's the good news from Iraq today.

The bad news is the military announced the deaths of four marines in Anbar province on Tuesday and a soldier south of Baghdad on Wednesday. Coalition casaulties are actually down to less than 2 a day for the month of June. 40 coalition troops have been killed in Iraq this month. 38 have been Americans. 2,511 Americans have been killed since the war began.

The deaths continue to mount. The GOP parrotheads in Congress continue to read from the RNC talking points and talk about "Staying the Course," but "Staying the Course" is not changing conditions on the ground in Iraq. The situation is not getting better. Mike at Crest calls the current Iraq policy "Stand and Bleed". John Murtha calls it a "failed policy wrapped in illusion."

Whatever you want to call it, it certainly is bloody.

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