“How America Gets Away with Murder” III

If the American war over Iraq in the spring of 2003 truly was “illegal,” as the UN Secretary-General asserted yesterday during an interview with BBC World Service radio—“it was not in conformity with the UN Charter,” were his exact words, and “From our point of view and from the Charter point of view it was illegal”—then doesn’t every postwar Security Council resolution to have accommodated the outcome of this illegal war make the Security Council and its member states accomplices after the fact in an illegal war?

Or does my logic suffer from some kind of paralysis here—paralyzed in the sense that the Australian Prime Minister John Howard intended when, having been informed of Kofi Annan’s comments to be BBC, he responded (“PM rejects UN criticism that Iraq invasion was illegal,” AAP Newsfeed, Sept. 16):

[T]the legal advice that we have, and I tabled it at the time, was that the action was entirely valid in international law terms, and that was a legal opinion that we obtained from the relevant people in Australia. There had been a series of security council resolutions and the advice we had (was) that it was entirely legal….The problem with the United Nations—it is a wonderful body in many respects and it does great humanitarian work—is that it can only proceed at the pace of the collective willingness of the permanent members. You are seeing it now, tragically in Sudan. The body is paralysed. It is not doing much and the reason is you can’t get agreement among the major powers. And people are dying, thousands of people are dying every month in Sudan.

(Quick aside. Howard, recall, is Commander-in-Chief of one of the four states to have admitted, after the fact, that his state’s prewar “intelligence” on Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” and “ties” to the organization that perpetrated the hijacker-bombings of 9/11 was everything from bunk to garbage to deliberate lies through their official teeth.—The other three: The United States, Britain, and Israel.—Howard also happens to be seeking re-election to a fourth consecutive term this coming October 9. At least his pretty horrible regime—unlike its truly horrific counterpart in the States—faces a severe grilling over its decision to participate in the war over Iraq while claiming fraudulent grounds. (See Report of the Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies, July, 2004.)—And as for the severity of the grilling given the regime in Washington? Forget it.)

Prior to the American war over Iraq, Annan’s single most important and widely quoted statement came on March 11, 2003, in answer to a question while visiting The Hague (“Netherlands—Secretary-General’s press conference (unofficial transcript)“):

Question: Mr. Secretary-General, you said that an attack on Iraq without a second Council resolution would not be legitimate. Would you consider it as a breach of the UN Charter?

Secretary-General: I think that under today’s world order, the Charter is very clear on circumstances under which force can be used. I think the discussion going on in the Council is to ensure that the Security Council, which is master of its own deliberations, is able to pronounce itself on what happens. If the US and others were to go outside the Council and take military action it would not be in conformity with the Charter.

Pretty lame stuff, in my opinion. But this, after all, is diplomatese, and at its highest level. And when dealing with the phenomenon of American Power, it’s as forceful as Annan gets, I’m afraid. Still, it does serve to frame the issue at hand: Namely, that according to the Secretary-General’s reading of the UN Charter, the American war over Iraq violated the Charter. That is to say, was a criminal war.

But then what about everything else subsequent to the launching of this criminal war? What about all of the postwar Security Council resolutions, for example, including the crucial Res. 1546 of June 8, 2004—crucial because absolutely devastating from the standpoint of the UN Charter and customary international law, the Security Council assenting to the occupying power’s installation of the puppet regime in Baghdad’s Green Zone, and loaning this process a cloak of legitimacy? What about other postwar resolutions like this one that date all the way back to May, 2003? What about the scramble-for-Iraq-type decisions the UN began taking with the Security Council’s passage of its first postwar resolution on May 22 (Res. 1483), followed by Annan’s naming of Sergio Vieira de Mello as his Special Representative to Iraq five days later? What about everything else thereafter? The vaunted heights of the UN Charter? Customary international law? And earlier proclamations not only of the right to self-determination of peoples, but of peoples forcibly deprived of this right to struggle against colonial, racist, and other forms of alien domination and foreign military occupation? Hasn’t the Security Council been turned into a collaborator in all of the bloody affairs of this criminal war, right alongside Iraq’s foreign military occupiers?

And what about Kofi Annan himself? Where does the Secretary-General fit into this joint criminal enterprise among the American, British, and Australian states and their legions of followers to wage an illegal war?

Well. If you turn to the official webpage of the Secretary-General, and look under the heading Statements (as in statements made by Kofi Annan in his official capacity as the UNSG), and then choose Today’s Statements (today being Thursday, Sept. 16—please note well), you will find not a single word posted here expressing anything about the American war over Iraq. Legal or otherwise.

Instead you will find a “Statement to the Press on Darfur” (Sept. 16), the Secretary-General’s last statement on Iraq already having been as long ago as September 8.

And what about the people living in the states that launched this criminal war? But, especially, what about the people living in the one state without which there would have been no war in the first place?

As best I can tell, the one major news medium in the States to have reported Annan’s comments to the BBC on Wednesday was the Boston Globe, a 450-word-long article titled “Annan Says Iraq War Was ‘Illegal'” (Sept. 16). Aside from this—nothing. Silence. (For a copy, see below.)

“Victory forgives dishonesty,” as a character in a play that’s been running in the U.K. called the Pugilist Specialist recognizes.

Whenever that Eminent (or High-Level) Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change finally releases its report on behalf of the Secretary-General some day soon, how much would you like to bet me that the report singles out the case of the “Crisis in Darfur” 2003-2004 as a framework for assessing the successes and failures and collective action, both by the United Nations and by “international community,” but leaves unmentioned the abject failure of the same to deter or to contain the threat or use of force by the Americans—not only against Iraq, but against pretty much the entire world?

Charter of the United Nations, 1945

Excerpts: Annan interview,” BBC News Online, September 16, 2004

UN Security Council Res. 1483, May 22, 2003
UN Security Council Res. 1546, June 8, 2004

How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity, Michael Mandel (Pluto Press, 2004)
“How America Gets Away With Murder, by Michael Mandel” (book review), Edward S. Herman, Z Magazine, July/August, 2004

“How America Gets Away With Murder” I, ZNet Blogs, August 25
“How America Gets Away With Murder” II, ZNet Blogs, September 1
“Power Harnessed to Legitimacy,” ZNet Blogs, September 2
The United Nations According to New York Time, ZNet Blogs, September 15

FYA (“For your archives”): The BBC World Service has yet to make available a transcript of Owen Bennett Jones’s September 15 interview with Kofi Annan. Though they certainly are promoting the audio-stream of the interview on their website. Outside the States, Annan’s comments during the interview also were reported (to name a few) in Canada (Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star), in the U.K. (Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, The Independent, The Scotsman, and the London Times among them), as well as in Australia (e.g., The Australian, running an Agence France Presse wire-service report). No doubt among others that I haven’t checked.

The Australian
September 17, 2004 Friday All-round Country Edition
HEADLINE: Annan casts doubt on ‘illegal’ war
BYLINE: Correspondents in Baghdad

THE coalition’s hold on Iraq weakened further yesterday with the abduction of two Americans and a Briton from their upscale Baghdad home and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s description for the first time of the US-led invasion as “illegal”.

Interior Ministry spokesman Colonel Adnan Abdul Rahman said the three hostages worked for a Gulf-based private equipment firm. Armed men drove up in a minibus shortly after dawn and burst into the trio’s home in the upmarket Mansur neighbourhood of the capital.

British and US diplomats were scrambling to obtain hard information on the abduction after initial reports described all three hostages as British.

The raid on the trio’s private home was reminiscent of the way two Italian women aid workers and two Iraqi colleagues were snatched at gunpoint from inside their house in a quiet residential area of Baghdad this month.

It was likely to further deplete an already dwindling expatriate community whose knowledge is seen as essential to plans to revive the war-shattered economy and build a new Iraq.

Two French journalists kidnapped almost a month ago are still being held by a Sunni militant group despite relentless efforts by their Government to secure their release.

More than 100 foreigners are thought to have been abducted in Iraq since April, as insurgents have adopted a new tactic alongside their longstanding diet of mortar and rocket-propelled grenade attacks and roadside bombings.

A massive car bomb attack against the capital’s main police station killed 49 people on Tuesday and a new explosion rocked the capital yesterday.

The surge of violence coincided with the publication by The New York Times of extracts from a US intelligence report painting a bleak picture of Iraq’s future. One official who had read the National Intelligence Council report said it contained “a significant amount of pessimism”.

In another blow to the US administration, Mr Annan gave an interview to the BBC in which he described last year’s invasion as “illegal”.

“I’ve indicated that it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, and from the charter point of view it was illegal,” he said.

Mr Annan also said it was unlikely that Iraq would be able to hold “credible elections” as planned in January 2005 “if the security conditions continue as they are now”.

His comments came as US officials told Congress that just $US1 billion ($1.43 billion) of more than $18 billion set aside to rebuild Iraq had been spent. “Violence and the threat of violence has slowed down the rate of progress on reconstruction,” Ron Schlicher, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Foreign Relations Committee chairman Senator Richard Lugar said the slow pace of reconstruction “means that we are failing to fully take advantage of one of our most potent tools to influence the direction of Iraq”.

The Boston Globe
September 16, 2004, Thursday THIRD EDITION

UNITED NATIONS The US decision to go to war in Iraq without the approval of the UN Security Council was “illegal,” Secretary General Kofi Annan told the BBC yesterday.

“I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time without UN approval and much broader support from the international community,” he said in an interview with the BBC World Service.

The UN Charter allows nations to take military action with Security Council approval as an explicit enforcement action, such as during the Korean War and the 1991 Gulf War.

But in 2003, in the buildup to the Iraq war, the United States dropped an attempt to get a Security Council resolution approving the invasion when it became apparent it would not pass.

At the time, Annan had underlined the lack of legitimacy for a war without UN approval, saying, “If the United States and others were to go outside the Security Council and take unilateral action, they would not be in conformity with the Charter.”

Yesterday, after being asked three times whether the lack of council approval for the war meant it was illegal, he said: “From our point of view and the [UN] Charter point of view, it was illegal.”

He also said the wave of violence engulfing Iraq puts in doubt the national elections scheduled for January. There could not be “credible elections if the security conditions continue as they are now,” he told the BBC.

On Tuesday, Annan’s top envoy to Iraq, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, said the security situation will be the overriding factor in determining how many UN international staff members can return to Iraq. There is now a ceiling of 35 UN staff in the country.

Qazi spoke Tuesday at a Security Council meeting called to discuss Annan’s latest report on Iraq, which warned that violence could make it more difficult to create the conditions for successful elections. Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has said he is determined to hold the election by Jan. 31.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, John Danforth, all but ruled out any delay beyond the Jan. 31 deadline for elections in Iraq’s interim constitution.

“Let there be no doubt: We are committed to this timetable,” he told council members Tuesday.

The White House, meanwhile, recently received a pessimistic assessment of Iraq’s prospects through the end of next year, The New York Times reported today. The Times, citing government officials, said a classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President Bush in late July described a best-case scenario of only tenuous stability and a worst case raising the possibility of civil war. The Times quoted an official who read the 50-page document as saying it contained “a significant amount of pessimism.”

September 16, 2004, Thursday
SECTION: News; International Pg. 14
HEADLINE: War on Iraq was illegal, says Annan
BYLINE: By Alec Russell in Washington

KOFI Annan, the United Nations secretary general, said last night that the war in Iraq had been “illegal”, and “in conformity” with neither the UN Security Council nor the UN Charter.

Asked on the BBC World Service if the war was illegal, he replied: “Yes, if you wish.” He also said the planned elections could not be held in Iraq next January if the unrest continued.

“You cannot have credible elections if the security conditions continue as they are now,” he added.

His remarks made clear that President George W Bush will face a hostile audience next week when he addresses the UN General Assembly.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said last night: “The Attorney General made the Government’s position on the legal basis for the use of military force in Iraq clear at the time.”

Financial Times (London, England)
September 16, 2004 Thursday
London Edition 3
HEADLINE: US warns Baghdad’s Green Zone is unsafe

US military officers in Baghdad have warned they cannot guarantee the security of the perimeter around the Green Zone, the headquarters of the Iraqi government and home to the US and British embassies, according to security company employees.

At a briefing earlier this month, a high-ranking US officer in charge of the zone’s perimeter said he had insufficient soldiers to prevent intruders penetrating the compound’s defences.

The US major said it was possible weapons or explosives had already been stashed in the zone, and warned people to move in pairs for their own safety.

The Green Zone, in Baghdad’s centre, is one of the most fortified US installations in Iraq. Until now, militants have not been able to penetrate it. But insurgency has escalated this week, spreading to the centre of Baghdad. The zone on Sunday came under the heaviest attack since it was established. Up to 60 unexploded rockets were found inside its perimeters after a five-hour barrage. On Tuesday, a car bomb outside a Baghdad police station killed 47 people.

The violence in Iraq continued unabated yesterday when 10 Iraqis were killed in clashes with US troops in Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

The decapitated bodies of three men, believed to be Arab kidnap victims, were separately found on a highway north of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, last night told the BBC that the war on Iraq was “illegal” and there could not be credible elections in Iraq if the current unrest continued.

The Independent
September 16, 2004
BYLINE: Colin Brown and Patrick Cockburn

TONY BLAIR last night suffered a fresh blow after Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, said the war in Iraq was “illegal”.

Speaking on the BBC World Service, Mr Annan said the war was “not in conformity” with the UN Security Council or with the UN Charter.

Asked if there was legal authority for the war on Iraq, Mr Annan said: “I have stated clearly that it was not in conformity with the security council, with the UN charter.”

He also said there could not be credible elections in Iraq next January if the current unrest continued.

His remarks are certain to provoke demands by anti-war Labour MPs at Westminster today for a statement by the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith. The UN weapons inspection team, led by Hans Blix, found little evidence of weapons of mass destruction, but this is the first time that Mr Annan has been so outspoken in his criticism of the grounds for going to war.

The Foreign Office last night sought to play down Mr Annan’s comments, saying: “The Attorney General made the Government’s position on the legal basis about the use of military force clear at the time.”

However, both Robin Cook, the former Foreign Secretary, and Clare Short, the ex-Secretary of State for International Development, resigned from the Cabinet over the war, challenged the legality of the war and Lord Goldsmith’s ruling.

There has been continuing doubt about the legality of the war. Ms Short has claimed that the chiefs of staff of the armed forces were reluctant to go to war until Lord Goldsmith gave a ruling on the eve of battle that there was legal justification for the war.

Lord Goldsmith argued that the threat from weapons of mass destruction was one of the reasons for justifying action under UN resolution 1441. However, the Iraq Survey Group is expected to confirm that no evidence of WMD has been found.

Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the number two in the Foreign Office legal team, resigned in protest at the case for attacking Iraq in a pre-emptive strike, a week before the war began. It has also been claimed that the Foreign Office fears that its legal justification for the war on Iraq could be open to legal challenge as a result of the ruling in the International Court of Justice against the construction of Israel’s security wall.

Mr Annan’s question over the Iraq elections could prove more damaging for the US and the UK alliance

The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told a private meeting of Labour MPs this week that the purpose of the attacks by insurgents in Iraq was to prevent elections taking place. He said the stakes were high because a peaceful democratic Iraq would be a model for the Middle East.

Mr Annan said last month that UN staff returning to Iraq after two suicide bomb attacks last October would have to rely on US-led multinational forces for their protection. The small team led by Ashraf Jehangir Qazi of Pakistan is due to arrive in Baghdad on 22 September with the UN election team.

Mr Straw told the MPs attempts were made to get non-multinational force countries to provide security for the team but, apart from Canada, that was unsuccessful. Mr Straw said the failure to close the borders to insurgents after the war was the major failing of the post war period.

Meanwhile, the US sought yesterday to defend the two helicopter pilots who fired seven rockets into a crowd in Baghdad on Sunday, killing 13 people and wounding 41, saying they had come under “well-aimed ground fire”. This is different from the first statement by the US military claiming that they opened fire with rockets to prevent a Bradley fighting vehicle which had been hit by a bomb from being looted of arms and ammunition.

The US account of the incident in which Mazen al-Tomeizi, a Palestinian television producer working for al-Arabiya satellite channel was killed, was contradicted by the film taken by his cameraman at the moment the rocket struck. There is no sound of firing from the crowd in the moments before the helicopters attacked.

The US military’s accounts of incidents in which it claims to have targeted insurgents but only civilians have died are frequently discredited by Arab television pictures of the incident, which US officers apparently do not watch before issuing statements. At the weekend the US claimed to have hit insurgents in a precision raid in Fallujah while Iraqis were watching pictures on television of an ambulance attacked from the air in which a driver, a paramedic and five patients died.

The war in Iraq continues to intensify, with a sharp increase in the overall death rate. Three headless bodies were discovered yesterday on a road north of Baghdad and appeared from tattoos to be Iraqis whose hands were tied behind their backs.

While insurgents have often beheaded foreign hostages in their fight against the government and coalition forces, it is not a tactic usually used against Iraqis.

In Ramadi, west of Baghdad, there was an upsurge of fighting in which 10 people were killed, including two women.

Meanwhile, the US has dashed Iraqi hopes that money would at last be invested in the country’s crumbling infrastructure and no longer spent on arms and security services as under Saddam Hussein. The State Department has announced that it is switching $ 3.4bn of US funds from water and power projects. Most of the money will be reallocated to boosting security and oil output.

Iraqis had expected that 18 months after the invasion they would get continuous electricity supplies. Instead, many districts in Baghdad get only 14 hours a day. Polluted water is one of the chief killers of children but even in an important city such as Basra only 18 per cent of the supply is clean.

Marc Grossman, the US under-secretary of state for political affairs, said earlier in the week that $ 1.8bn of the diverted money would go to recruit 35,000 Iraqi police officers, 16,000 border guards and 20 Iraqi national guard brigades.

Ottawa Citizen
September 16, 2004 Thursday
Final Edition
HEADLINE: Iraqi bombs claim two Canadians: Men’s identities protected under Privacy Act
BYLINE: Mike Blanchfield, The Ottawa Citizen; with files from Citizen News Services

Two Canadians have been confirmed killed in a Baghdad bombing, but the Foreign Affairs Department will release few details about the deceased men because it says it does not want to violate their rights under the Privacy Act.

The two were among 47 people killed in a car bombing in Baghdad on Tuesday. More than 100 people were injured. A group linked to al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility.

A man by the name of Munir Toma was identified as one of the Canadian fatalities, but Foreign Affairs would not give other details about the man, such as his age, home town or his reason for being in Iraq.

Foreign Affairs would not identify the second man killed or give any details about him.

Spokeswoman Marie-Christine Lilkoff said the department was withholding the information at the request of the deceased’s families.

CTV Newsnet identified the second man killed as Andrew Shmakov, 43, and said he was a businessman working in Iraq.

“I cannot confirm the name of this person,” said Ms. Lilkoff.

Asked why the government could not give out the names of the dead Canadians, she said:

“We provide consular assistance to Canadians. In order to provide this service, we have to get some personal information that is used only within that consular mandate, so we’re not at liberty to disclose this type of information without the specific authorization of the family. This type of information would come under the Privacy Act.”

Ms. Lilkoff said the government is reminding Canadians that it has no embassy in Iraq and has “extremely limited capacity” to offer any help to Canadians in the war-torn country.

“We’re still advising Canadians they should not travel to Iraq. Canadians in Iraq, including humanitarian aid workers, should leave.”

At least five other Canadians have been killed in Iraq since April 2003 — Vatche Arslanian, an International Red Cross worker, UNICEF employee Christopher Klein-Beekman, Gillian Clark of the Christian Children’s Fund, Andrew Bradsell, a private security company employee, and Cpl. Bernard Gooden, who was fighting with U.S. marines.

In Iraq yesterday, villagers found three decapitated bodies north of Baghdad and a car bomb killed two people at an Iraqi military checkpoint south of the capital, in attacks that appear to be increasingly targeting Iraqis rather than the U.S. and its multinational force allies.

The bodies were found in nylon bags, the heads in bags alongside them, near Dijiel, about 40 kilometres north of Baghdad. They are believed to be Turkish hostages.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq without the approval of the Security Council was “illegal.”

“I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time — without UN approval and much broader support from the international community,” he said in an interview with BBC World Service.

The Scotsman
September 16, 2004, Thursday
BYLINE: James Hall

THE United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, placed further pressure on Downing Street and the White House last night by claiming that the war in Iraq was “illegal”.

Speaking to the BBC World Service, he said the war was “not in conformity” with the UN Security Council or with the UN Charter. He also said there could not be credible elections in Iraq next January if the current unrest continued.

Asked if there was legal authority for the war in Iraq, Mr Annan said: “I have stated clearly that it was not in conformity with the Security Council, with the UN charter.”

His statement will represent a serious embarrassment for George Bush in the build-up to the US presidential election, amidst claims by left-wing Democrats that his administration went to war with little evidence of weapons of mass destruction. The same will be true of Tony Blair, who has undergone constant criticism over his government’s decision to back the US-led campaign.

Mr Annan said last night that there should have been a second UN resolution before the war in Iraq. He added that the UN Security Council had warned Iraq there would be “consequences” if it did not comply with its demands – but it should have been up to the council to determine what those consequences were.

Asked if the war was illegal, he replied: “Yes, if you wish.” He added: “I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal.”

Mr Annan also said there were “painful lessons” to be learnt from the Iraq conflict, claiming that future operations should have either UN approval or much broader support from the international community.

He added: “I think there have been lessons for the US and lessons for the UN and other member states. I think in the end everybody’s concluded that it is best to work together with our allies and through the UN to deal with some of these issues. I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time.”

The Times (London)
September 16, 2004, Thursday
SECTION: Overseas news; 19
HEADLINE: Security soaks up money to aid Iraq
BYLINE: Roland Watson in Washington

The White House has responded to the bloodiest week in Iraq for months by seeking to divert $ 3.5 billion (£1.95 billion) from reconstruction to security.

About half the money would go towards recruiting 82,000 Iraqi police officers and border guards. The move has been given added impetus by a death toll that has topped 150 since Sunday.

The decision was seen as evidence that the United States had woken up to the scale of the insurgency. Analysts said the move marked the recognition that Washington’s plans to restructure Iraq’s economy had failed.

Democrats blamed poor planning by the Bush Administration for endangering its whole project. Even friends of the White House issued warnings. Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Washington would forgo any future goodwill if it defaulted on its reconstruction projects.

Mr Lugar urged the Bush Administration not to relegate the rebuilding effort below day-to-day security concerns. “Security and reconstruction must be achieved simultaneously,” he said. Mr Lugar was responding to a request from the White House to Congress to transfer the money away from water, sewerage and electricity projects.

The request, likely to be approved despite misgivings, shows how far off track the United States has gone in Iraq. Of the $ 18.4 billion authorised 11 months ago for reconstruction, only $ 1.1 billion has been spent. The $ 3.5 billion that President Bush wants to be diverted means that, together with previously transferred funds, 20 per cent of the reconstruction cash has been shifted to security.

Of the $ 3.5 billion requested, $ 1.8 billion would be for recruiting police andborder guards. The rest will be spent on oil production, elections, debt forgiveness and short-term reforms to boost job creation and to help to develop the private sector.

Joe Biden, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, blamed the “incompetence” of the Administration in failing to plan for anything other than that US forces would be welcomed as liberators and that revenue from Iraq’s oil would pay for reconstruction.

John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, said that the move was necessary, but was too little, too late.

In another sign of deteriorating security, three decapitated bodies were found yesterday north of Baghdad. A US military official said that the victims appeared to be Iraqis.

Sir Mike Jackson, the UK Chief of Defence Staff, was more sanguine about security yesterday. On a visit to Iraq, he said that the January elections could go ahead despite this week’s spate of bombings.

Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, said yesterday that the American decision to invade Iraq in March last year was “illegal”.

He told the BBC World Service: “I’ve indicated that (the invasion) was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, and from the charter point of view it was illegal.”

The Toronto Star
September 16, 2004 Thursday
HEADLINE: Canadians among dead in Iraq blast

Two Canadians were among the dead in Iraq following four days of co-ordinated attacks and bombings that targeted the country’s capital.

Munir Toma and Andrew Shmakov were killed on Tuesday when a car bomb exploded near a Baghdad police station, killing at least 47 people and injuring 114 others.

Relatives of Shmakov, who were contacted at their Toronto home yesterday, told The Star’s Michelle Shephard they did not want to comment. Television news reports said Shmakov and Toma were in Baghdad on business, but the Department of Foreign Affairs refused to confirm any details as to why the Canadian citizens were in the country.

Iraqis angrily mobbed the blast site Tuesday, denouncing interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the U.S. forces for providing insufficient security.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday called the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq an illegal act that contravened the U.N. charter.

In an interview with the BBC, Annan said the decision to take action in Iraq should have been made by the Security Council, not unilaterally.

“Painful lessons” have been learned by the international community since the war in Iraq, he said. And he feared elections planned for January would not go ahead unless security improved considerably.

In other developments yesterday, Iraqi villagers found three decapitated bodies north of Baghdad and a car bomb killed two people at a military checkpoint south of the capital.

The bodies were found in nylon bags, the heads in bags alongside them, near Dijiel, 40 kilometres north of Baghdad, said Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman of the Interior Ministry. A U.S. military official said the victims appeared to be Iraqis and had their hands tied behind their backs.

The executions follow a surge in violence across Iraq that has killed more than 200 people in the past four days in a brazen and co-ordinated campaign focused increasingly on the capital, the centre of authority for Allawi and his American allies.

Yesterday’s car bomb targeted a guard checkpoint in Suwayra, about 65 kilometres south of Baghdad, Abdul-Rahman said. One guardsman was among the two dead; 10 civilians were wounded.

Ten people were killed and six wounded in clashes between insurgents and U.S. forces in Ramadi, a predominantly Sunni Muslim city west of the capital where anti-American sentiments are high, said Saad al-Amili, a senior Health Ministry official in Baghdad.

Militants released a Turkish man identified as Aytulla Gezmen, an Arabic language translator who was taken hostage in late July, according to a videotape obtained by Television News. Since the war started in spring, 2003, at least six other Canadians have been killed in Iraq.

In March, Andrew Bradsell, 33, was working as a security guard at a power station in Mosul when he was killed Richard Flynn, 54, of Mississauga, a retired RCMP officer, was killed in an explosion near Falluja on Jan. 5.

Christopher Klein-Beekman of British Columbia and Gillian Clark of Toronto died in the August, 2003, car bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. Cpl. Bernard Gooden, a Jamaican-born Canadian fighting with the U.S. Marines, was killed in April, 2003.

Vatche Arslanian of Oromocto, N.B., also died in April, 2003, after being caught in crossfire between U.S. and Iraqi forces while working for the International Red Cross.

Ottawa has warned Canadians not to travel to Iraq. Meanwhile, a Canadian military writer who says he was kidnapped and tortured for five day in northern Iraq has returned to Ottawa, crediting the Turkish government with securing his release.

Scott Taylor of the military magazine Esprit de Corps arrived from London yesterday.

Taylor said he and a Turkish journalist were taken captive by insurgents and held for days before they were released without explanation over the weekend.

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