Web site warning to Arab nations in Iraq
A Web site message purportedly from a group linked to suspected terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi warned Muslims and Arab countries against sending troops to Iraq and specifically threatened Japan, CNN reported.
Two Islamist militant Web sites posted a message said to be from Unification and Jihad's military wing, the Khaled ibn Waleed Brigade.
CNN cannot authenticate the source of the message, which was dated Tuesday.
"We in the Unification and Jihad warn Arab and Muslim governments from sending troops to Iraq and supporting the American forces and its allies," said the message, adding that the group "will not stand still if any Arab or Muslim troops are sent."
The message also said that the militants "are warning for the last time" that they will "hit with an iron hand all those who will support the Americans/Allawi and his group," referring to interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
Allawi said last week he had sent formal requests to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Morocco and Oman for troop contributions.
The other message addressed the Japanese government, which has 550 humanitarian troops in Iraq.
"Do like what the Philippines did," the posting said, referring to this week's Filipino troop withdrawal. "No one will help you if you don't and we will not forgive or disregard anybody who came to Iraq. You didn't come to support the Iraqi people but to protect the Americans; your fate will be exactly the same as the Americans and others."
The Philippines removed its humanitarian troops a month early, a demand set by the abductors of Angelo de la Cruz, a 46-year-old Filipino truck driver.
"And for Arab and Muslim forces, we advise you not to obey if you are forced to be sent to Iraq and if you don't, then, the laden cars will be waiting for you and we will not stop."
Unification and Jihad claims Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi as its emir or leader. The network is suspected of many attacks against U.S.-led forces in Iraq.
The United States has raised the bounty on the head of al-Zarqawi from $10 million to $25 million.
Basra official gunned down
A council member in the southern Iraqi city of Basra was shot and killed early Tuesday, a British military spokesman said.
Hazem Ainachi was coordinator of the Basra Provincial Council. He previously was the deputy governor of Basra.
Two others were killed and another wounded in the attack.
Elections for local governor had been scheduled for Tuesday but were postponed after the shooting, according to The Associated Press.
"Many threats have been directed to the eight council members nominated to the post," council head Abdul Bari Faiyek told the AP. He said another councilman escaped an assassination attempt Monday, the news service reported.
The attack marked the third straight day that suspected insurgents have killed a prominent government or political figure.
On Monday, Laith Hussein Ali, a member of the Turkmen National Front, was assassinated in a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Mosul, a police colonel said. The Turkmen National Front is an ethnic umbrella group for a number of Turkmen political parties and Turkmen groups.
On Sunday night, Issam Jassem Qassim Al-Dijali, an official in the Iraqi Defense Ministry, was killed near his house in Baghdad.
U.S. deaths top 900
Two Marines and two U.S. soldiers were killed in action Tuesday in Anbar province, according to coalition statements.
Their deaths bring the number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war to 902, including 669 in combat.
Two Marines assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force were killed while conducting "security and stability operations."
The slain soldiers were attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, the coalition said.
The coaliton says the two Marines were killed in separate incidents. It's not clear if the soldiers' deaths were connected to either of those incidents.
Sprawling Anbar province, which includes the restive cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, has been the scene of fierce fighting.
The names of the those killed were being withheld pending next of kin notification.
De la Cruz, the Filipino hostage, was freed Tuesday after the Manila government fulfilled his kidnappers' demands, Philippine and United Arab Emirates officials said. He was released a day after the Philippine government completed the withdrawal of its 51-member humanitarian contingent in compliance with kidnappers' demands. (full story)
British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons on Tuesday that the war was "an act of liberation for the Iraqi people." Blair also said it was clear that Saddam Hussein had every intention of carrying on developing weapons and procuring materials to do so.
Six Iraqis were killed and two wounded Tuesday when a bomb struck a bus west of Baqubah, a city north of Baghdad, a 1st Infantry Division spokesman said. The bus was near Ghalibiyah when the bomb detonated. It was unclear whether the bomb was on the bus or buried in the ground. The spokesman said the 1st Infantry Division troops helped Iraqi police secure the area.
U.S. soldiers and Iraqi National Guard personnel arrested 13 suspected insurgents and confiscated munitions Tuesday in northern Iraq, the U.S.-led multinational forces said.