avatar
Najaf and the Art of War


FYA ("For your archives"): Am depositing here several wire service reports on the dangerous situation within the militarily-besieged city of Najaf. (See below.) "A senior US military official said Monday [Aug. 9] that marines had been given permission by the Najaf governor to enter the shrine to launch an attack," one of the Agence France Presse reports informs us. The shrine, of course, is the Iman Ali Mosque. (See CALL TO ACTION, or, alternatively, Najaf and the Shrine of Ali (Voices in the Wilderness).) Yet another innovation in the Art of War. Associated Press Worldstream August 11, 2004 Wednesday 8:13 PM Eastern Time HEADLINE: One of largest Muslim cemeteries in world becomes battlefield for U.S. troops BYLINE: TODD PITMAN; Associated Press Writer DATELINE: NAJAF, Iraq Unexploded rockets stick out of tombstones. Booby-trapped artillery shells lie buried on narrow lanes lined with crypts. Guerrilla fighters hide in a vast sea of pockmarked graves filled with underground tunnels, letting loose with rocket-propelled grenades and mortar fire. One of the largest cemeteries in the Muslim world has become an eerie battleground for U.S. troops who have fought Shiite guerrillas for nearly a week in Najaf. For dozens of Iraqis and a handful of Americans, it's also become a graveyard. "It's bad luck, but we gotta do what we gotta do," Staff Sgt. Jose Resto said Wednesday while walking behind a Bradley fighting vehicle in the Valley of Peace cemetery, cradling an M-4 carbine as explosions echoed in the distance. Hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – are buried in the graveyard, which covers nearly 5 square miles (8 square kilometers) sprawling out from the outskirts of the Imam Ali shrine, one of the holiest in Shia Islam. Fierce fighting erupted in Najaf on Aug. 5 between U.S. troops and militants loyal to firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. U.S. commanders accused al-Sadr's militiamen of launching attacks from the cemetery and swept though it, killing hundreds, according to the military. Al-Sadr's forces put the death toll only in the dozens. Five U.S. troops have also been killed, along with about 20 Iraqi officers. As fighting raged in Najaf for a seventh day Wednesday, the U.S. military said it was holding joint exercises with Iraqi national guardsmen in preparation for a major assault to crush the uprising, and al-Sadr told his followers to fight on even if he is killed. Early Wednesday, a convoy of 18 Humvees and Bradley fighting vehicles carrying 97 men from the 1st Cavalry Division – whose soldiers write their blood types on their helmets in case they are wounded – rolled up to a low wall on a deserted street outside the cemetery. Almost immediately, they started fighting al-Sadr's men. The soldiers climbed to the top of a blown-out single-story tomb and shot briefly at insurgent positions in buildings on the cemetery's far side, with Bradleys adding fire from their automatic cannon. "Target destroyed," a voice crackled over the radios. "Never in my life would I have expected we'd be fighting in a graveyard," said the company commander, Capt. Patrick McFall, 30. "Every day I think about the families whose loved ones are buried here." Dirt paths crisscross the cemetery, which is filled with heavy tombs, some made of concrete, others of brick. Some have rounded brown clay domes with Arabic inscriptions. The more elaborate tombs feature green and blue domes, locked doors, even stairs that lead to underground rooms. Framed black and white photographs of the dead hang inside caged, turquoise crypts. The graveyard is so congested many tombs sit side by side, some inches apart, some leaning into each other. For guerrilla fighters, it's a perfect place to hide. "You can hear 'em, but you can't see 'em," McFall said. "They're hiding down in the catacombs. All you hear is 'phsssst'," he said, mimicking the sound of a passing bullet. As parts of McFall's company pushed slowly south, it crossed narrow, sandy lanes strewn with rocks and bullet casings. Some were so narrow, tombstones scratched the sides of the Bradleys. Soldiers found a roadside bomb: an artillery shell in the road and wires leading away from it. They blew it up. Later, al-Sadr militiamen started firing mortars, sending up gray plumes of smoke across the skyline. One round slammed into a tomb 10 yards (9 meters) from McFall, shaking his armored Humvee. No one was injured. On Tuesday, U.S. helicopter gunships had pummeled a multistory hotel 400 yards (360 meters) from the cemetery with rockets, missiles and 30 mm cannons. The military said about 20 people were killed inside the building. By Wednesday, more militants were in the scorched building, firing at the Americans. "We keep pushing south and they just keep coming," McFall said. "I think they got a reproduction facility down there. I think they're cloning." A Bradley in front of McFall began pounding the charred building with a 25 mm cannon, sending up sparks and blasting away chunks of concrete. The hotel's roof soon caught fire – soldiers said from either fuel or weapons caches – darkening the sky with smoke. Resto, the sergeant, said that when his Bradley unit swept through tombs this week, they found some tunnels and collapsed them with fragmentation grenades. "We don't risk American lives," he said. "When we see there are tunnels, we throw down grenades." On Wednesday, he searched one crypt with a blue door. It was empty when he examined it on Tuesday, but now he found empty cans, water basins and RPG boosters. "Somebody crept back in there overnight," he said. Later, Resto and several other U.S. soldiers sat against the light green wall of a mausoleum, eating military rations and discussing the wisdom of war and whether George W. Bush or John Kerry would make a better president. Two rocket-propelled grenades whooshed overhead, exploding nearby. None of the soldiers flinched. "We've been out here a few days," said Pvt. Henry Salice, 24. "This is an eerie place. … You get used to it." Agence France Presse — English August 11, 2004 Wednesday HEADLINE: US planes pound Najaf as US debate over war intensifies DATELINE: BAGHDAD, Aug 11 US planes pounded Najaf in a bid to dislodge militia loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr from the center of the holy Iraqi city, after US soldiers took to the streets to urge civilians to leave town. Heavy artillery fire and explosions were heard near the inner sanctum of Najaf, not far from the revered Imam Ali shrine. Earlier, US troops drove through the centre of Najaf, using loudspeakers to order civilians to flee the combat zone immediately and militiamen to leave. Residents said it was the first time US troops had called for evacuation and feared a massive attack on bastions of Sadr's Mehdi Army in the city's huge cemetery and around the Imam Ali mausoleum. A senior US military official said Monday that marines had been given permission by the Najaf governor to enter the shrine to launch an attack. On Tuesday, the military accused insurgents of kidnapping people and taking them to the cemetery for "torture, execution and burial". "We will not allow them to continue to desecrate this sacred site, using it as an insurgent base of operations," said Colonel Anthony Haslam, commander of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The statement came one day after Sadr vowed to defend Najaf "until my last drop of blood," rejecting calls from the prime minister for his men to lay down their arms and leave the city. As fighting raged in Najaf, debate over the Iraq war intensified in the United States, with President George W. Bush claiming political vindication after his Democratic rival for the White House, John Kerry said he would have authorised military action in Iraq even knowing what he knows today. "Almost three years after he voted for the war in Iraq, and almost 240 days after switching position and declaring himself the anti-war candidate, my opponent has found a new nuance," Bush told a campaign rally here. "He now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq," said Bush, whose handling of the military operation has been a major issue in his quest for re-election in November. Kerry voted to authorise force in Iraq but later turned critical of the war, lambasting Bush for the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and establish a link between Baghdad and al-Qaeda terrorists. Under pressure to say whether he would vote the same way today, Kerry told reporters Monday: "Yes, I would have voted for the authority, I believe it's the right authority for a president to have." But speaking to reporters while campaigning at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Massachusetts senator said that as president he would have used the authority "very differently from the way President Bush has." Kerry said Bush had rushed to war without a plan to win the peace and on faulty intelligence. He said the president had failed to "bring other countries to the table" to support American troops. In Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf has said his country would not send troops to Iraq at present, but has not ruled out a change in policy if conditions improved. Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi gave the party of disgraced Pentagon favourite Ahmed Chalabi 24 hours to leave its Baghdad headquarters. An interior ministry spokesman insisted that similar eviction orders would be issued to parties which he said had seized state property after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, but acknowledged that this was the first. An official from Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress party charged that the order was part of a continuing conspiracy against the group, after its leader was charged with banknote forgery late last week. "The order was signed by the Iraqi government and delivered to us by an American soldier. The conspiracy continues," said Mithal al-Alusi. Following threats against key oil infrastructure from at least two Sadr aides, the state-owned Southern Oil Company announced on Monday that it was halting the pumping of crude "for security reasons." The southern oilfields around the city of Basra have been Iraq's sole source of crude exports since an attack on a pipeline artery to Turkey halted deliveries from the north last week. Limited loading continued at Basra but a terminal official said exports were down to an average of 35,000 barrels per hour from 80,000 barrels an hour previously. The Southern Oil Company refused to say whether pumping had resumed Tuesday. "We are closed today and I can say no more," an official said. The disruption helped push New York crude prices above 45 dollars a barrel for the first time ever Tuesday, although they later fell back. A Jordanian businessmen was snatched in Baghdad by an unknown group demanding a 250,000-dollar ransom, Amman's official Petra news agency said. However, Beirut said a truck driver, kidnapped in Iraq, was heading home after becoming the third Lebanese hostage to be released in 24 hours. Kidnappers of a Turkish driver also promised to release him in 24 hours if his company declared publicly that it worked for US troops and would no longer op in Iraq, in a videotape shown to reporters in the city of Samarra.erate Agence France Presse — English August 11, 2004 Wednesday 9:42 AM Eastern Time HEADLINE: Arab League urges dialogue as US poised for offensive in Iraq holy city DATELINE: CAIRO, Aug 11 Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa called for dialogue in Iraq Wednesday, as US troops prepared to launch a new offensive against Shiite militiamen holed up in the central holy city of Najaf. "Political dialogue is the only way to put Iraq back on the right track and obtain the departure of foreign troops," his spokesman Hossam Zaki quoted him as saying. The US military said Wednesday it was poised to launch "major assaults" in Najaf against the militia of radical leader Moqtada Sadr, raising fears of more bloodletting after dozens were killed in fighting there over the past week. "Building a new Iraq requires from all sides the logic of dialogue and not that of military might," Mussa said, voicing hope that the Arab League could play a part in "achieving national reconciliation through a national assembly grouping all the sons of Iraq." Deutsche Presse-Agentur August 11, 2004, Wednesday HEADLINE: Arab League chief "deeply concerned" about Najaf clashes DATELINE: Cairo Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mussa is following up the week-long confrontations in Iraq with "deep concern" and is offering an Arab League role to achieve dialogue, his spokesman said Wednesday. Spokesman Hossam Zaki said Mussa urges all concerned parties in Iraq to "work towards calming the situation and resorting to dialogue instead of military force." "The secretary-general urges that the Iraqi interest be the top priority to any other interest. Given the current situation, dialogue is the basis to achieve unity and have foreign military forces out of Iraq," Zaki said. Mussa, he added, "is looking forward for an Arab League role that can contribute in achieving these aims." Followers of radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr have been in confrontation with multi-national forces and Iraqi police for a week now, with al-Sadr adamant on continuing to fight occupying forces. Deutsche Presse-Agentur August 11, 2004, Wednesday HEADLINE: Mass demonstrations in Iran against attacks on holy sites in Iraq DATELINE: Teheran State-organized demonstrations are to be held throughout Iran against attacks by allied forces on holy sites in south Iraq, the students'news agency ISNA reported Wednesday. The Islamic Propagation Office said that the rallies are scheduled to be held after mass prayer ceremonies on Friday. The shrines of the two Shiite Imams Ali and Hussein are located in the two holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in southern Iraq and are considered as two of the most sacred sites for Shiite Moslems in Iran. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday harshly condemned the actions by U.S. forces in Najaf and warned that neither the Iraqi nation nor the Islamic world would forget the alleged violation of Islamic sanctities. "Is this the way of the United States and its president to create democracy in Iraq or rather a way to deprive the Iraqi people of their right for democracy," Khamenei said on state television. President Mohammed Khatami on Wednesday categorically denied any Iranian interference in the ongoing tensions in south Iraq. Referring to remarks Monday by Iraqi Defence Minister Hazim al- Shalan accusing Iran of providing Shiite rebels in Najaf with weapons, Khatami criticized Baghdad officials for raising baseless accusations.

 

Jay The Joke – Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006 

"Jay The Joke – Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006 

"Jay The Joke – Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006 

"Jay The Joke – Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006 

"Jay The Joke – Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006 

"Jay The Joke – Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006 

"Jay The Joke – Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006 

"Jay The Joke – Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006 

"Jay The Joke – Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006 

"Jay The Joke – Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006 

 

Leave a comment