Saturday, March 24, 2007

WSJ: Iraqi Police May Have Helped Murder 5 American Soldiers

The Bush administration first blamed an assault on a U.S.-Iraqi compound in Karbala in January that killed 5 American soldiers on Iran. Administration officials claimed that the American soldiers were killed in retaliation for U.S. forces recent detention of five Iranian diplomats in Iraq.

But today the Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. military now believes the attack was carried out by insurgents who had infiltrated the Iraqi police force:

Stoking concerns that insurgents have infiltrated Iraqi forces, an account by four witnesses suggests that a brazen January attack that killed five U.S. soldiers may have been aided by Iraqi police.

The assault on a U.S.-Iraqi compound in Karbala has become the subject of intense scrutiny by military investigators, in part because of its brazenness and in part because of the sophisticated tactics used in the raid.

Initially, it was thought to have begun at the front gates of the compound, which serves as Karbala's provincial headquarters, when English-speaking gunmen, dressed in U.S.-military uniforms, stormed the gates. But the four witnesses, two of whom are U.S. soldiers, all have said that the first sounds of fighting came from inside a building on the compound in which both U.S. and Iraqi forces worked, not at its front gate. That is just one piece of evidence raising questions about the role of some of the Iraqi forces inside the compound.

The witnesses' account has heightened worries in the U.S. military about infiltration of Iraqi soldier and police ranks. The recently launched U.S. plan to boost security in Iraq, which included an increase in U.S. troops of more than 20,000, also calls for much-closer coordination between U.S. and Iraqi forces. Infiltration of those forces by insurgents would increase the danger for U.S. soldiers and make the security plan far harder to implement.

The U.S. military has completed its investigation of the Karbala incident but hasn't released details of its findings. On Thursday, officials said they had detained two Iraqi brothers in connection with the raid, Qais and Laith Khazali. The military said both are closely tied to Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose powerful Mahdi Army is blamed for some of the violence in Iraq and has often been at odds with U.S. forces. But no details of their alleged roles in the raid were disclosed.

"The precision of the attack, the equipment used and possible use of explosives to destroy the military vehicles suggest that the attack was well-rehearsed prior to execution," said Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, spokesman for the Multi-National Division in Baghdad, in a statement.


Fears about infiltrators were underscored again Friday when Salam al-Zubaie, one of Iraq's two deputy prime ministers, was seriously wounded in a suicide bombing that killed nine people and injured 14. The Associated Press reported that Iraqi state television said the attacker was one of Mr. Zubaie's bodyguards, but the AP couldn't confirm that claim.

Convenient that the administration blamed the Karbala attack on Iran at the very same time they were trying to deflect from all the problems besetting them in the Iraq war by stoking fears that Iran was behind much of the violence aimed at U.S. forces.

But as usual with this administration, what they were saying was wrong (perhaps a mistake, more likely a purposeful and convenient lie.)

The real perpetrators of the slaughter were our "Iraqi allies".

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