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Daily Column
US Papers Sat: No Access to AQI Leader for US
3 American Troops Are Killed in Anbar
By DANIEL W. SMITH 05/02/2009 01:44 AM ET
There are only two original Iraq-related articles in the US paper roundup today, both from Baghdad, and both dealing primarily with the American military. Insurgent leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who Iraqi security officials claim they arrested one week ago, is featured. US military spokesman have repeatedly said they couldn’t confirm the identity of al-Baghdadi, but didn’t go into much detail. On Friday, they said the reason is that they have not been granted access to the detainee.

From Baghdad
The lack of access to prove or disprove the capture of al-Baghdadi gets the headline in Ernesto Londoño’s story in the Washington Post, but there isn’t too much new info about it that the headline doesn’t cover.

"We are in discussions with the Iraqis to determine how we can confirm or deny who he is," said Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, on Friday. "We have not had any access to him." Londoño explains the basic background about al-Baghdad which appears in stories about the arrest – that Iraqi forces have reported the capture or death of al-Baghdadi before, and that US forces aren’t even convinced he isn’t a fictional character.

The bulk of the article deals with topics also covered in a story by the New York Times’ Timothy Williams. Other than the statements concerning al-Baghdadi, the two stories are comparable, so I guess Londoño wins out as the better article, only for having that one extra element. Most information from both stories seems to come from Gen. Perkins, who called a “media roundtable” with a small number of western journalists on Friday afternoon at the US embassy in Baghdad.

The other points covered are as follows. Three US servicemen (two marines and a sailor) were killed in Anbar province on Thursday – no other information is available, except that April tallied out to become the deadliest month for US troops since September. Londoño writes...
However, a wave of suicide and car bombings over the past few weeks has sharply increased civilian deaths. At least 371 Iraqis and 80 Iranian pilgrims were killed violently in April, according to a tally by the Associated Press. The civilian death toll has increased every month this year. Five people were killed in a suicide bombing Friday at a coffeehouse near the northern city of Mosul, an Iraqi police official said.

Perkins said the recent bombings, most of which have targeted Shiites, were an effort by al-Qaeda in Iraq to foment sectarian violence. "The purpose is to generate ethno-sectarian violence, because ethno-sectarian violence is what generally escalates into an out-of-control situation," Perkins said. "The more chaos they generate here in Iraq, the better it is for them because they sort of thrive in a chaotic environment."
Also on Friday, two Iraqis were killed in a US raid on a house Tikrit. According to a US statement, an arrest warrant for the men had been issued by a local court, and the Americans were accompanied by Iraqi soldiers. Williams has the most details on the incident.
A member of the Iraqi police said that the raid had been conducted by members of an American Special Operations unit. The member of the police also said that one of the dead men, Imad Sulaiman, was a police officer, and that the second, Arkan Msir Sharji, was the officer’s cousin and a member of an Awakening Council.

Afterward, there was widespread anger over the deaths.

The episode was the latest of several house raids by American troops during the past week that have led to Iraqi deaths. On Sunday, American soldiers raided a house in the southern city of Kut and shot a police officer and a woman. The deaths set off protests, and later, an apology from the American military.

Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, no Saturday Editions.

Wall Street Journal, no Iraq coverage.

Comments on the US Papers roundup are welcome at ds@iraqslogger.com


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