2005-07-03

Morning Report: July 3, 2005

Government by suggestion box. Omar at Iraq the Model reports that the new Iraqi government will be installing suggestion boxes throughout Iraq for citizens to submit ideas for the new constitution: 'Baha' Al-'Araji, a member of the constitution drafting committee told Al-Mada paper yesterday that there are going to be 5 spots in each Iraqi province where citizens can find designated boxes where they can put their opinions and suggestion as to the process of writing the constitution. Only Baghdad will be an exception due to its high population so there will be 5 spots in each main quarter in the capital. One million "suggestion forms" are planned to be distributed nationwide soon and there will be specialized teams to read, sort the received forms and prepare summaries that will eventually be submitted periodically to the main committee. He also mentioned-according to the paper-that the committee has already purchased air time on satellite channels and columns space on papers (ten in total) to publish/broadcast materials of value to constitutional education to help people get a better understanding of the process.' The post also provides a link to the draft for the bill of rights (PDF - Arabic). Omar's suggestion: 'there were probably too many clauses that contained something like "…has the right to…unless that contradicts with the basic values and teachings of Islam and the traditions of the Iraqi society".' Also in the Iraqi blogosphere, via ITM comments, please welcome "What is truth?" by Abu Yusef, an American soldier stationed in Iraq. (ITM, Abu Yusef)

Iran: Terrorist chief may have links to Kurdish assassination. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, newly appointed head of the terrorist organization known as the "Islamic Republic of Iran", may have been connected with the murder of an Iranian Kurdish activist in Vienna in 1989, according to this article from Iran Focus via Free Iran. 'The information comes after Iran Focus revealed last month in a detailed biography of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he had been involved in the assassination of Iranian Kurdish leader Abdorrahman Ghassemlou in Vienna. The daily Der Standard reported that Austria's Interior Ministry and the public prosecutor's office are in possession of documents pointing to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's alleged involvement in the attack. An Interior Ministry spokesman said the case has not yet been investigated. “"But that doesn't mean there couldn't be one in the future”, Reuters quoted spokesman Major Rudolf Gollia as saying. Information obtained by Iran Focus from sources inside Iran and Iranian exiles shows that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played a direct role in the assassination. In 1989, the Iranian government lured Ghassemlou to his death by offering to negotiate an autonomy agreement for Iranian Kurdistan. Ghassemlou, 59, readily accepted the offer and arrived in Vienna on July 11, 1989, to meet high-level emissaries of the Iranian government, who turned out to be commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. The next day, at about 7:30 p.m., Vienna police discovered the bullet-riddled bodies of Ghassemlou and his two associates in a flat. Within hours, the police had recovered the murder weapon, detained two suspects and identified a third. The two detainees were Mohammad Jaafar Sahraroudi, a brigadier-general of the Revolutionary Guards and commander of the Guards’ Ramezan Garrison in western Iran. The second suspect was Amir Mansour Bozorgian, an under-cover officer of Iran’s secret police, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). ' The article goes on to state that Sahraroudi and Bozorgian were escorted to the airport under Austrian police protection and repatriated to Iran; the IRI regime rewarded Austria for this with favorable trade deals. (Iran Focus via Free Iran)

Senior Al-Qaeda terrorist reported killed in shootout. A key member of al-Qaeda was killed in Saudi Arabia, according to reports from Voice of America: 'Officials in Saudi Arabia say al-Qaida's leader in the kingdom has been killed in a shootout with Saudi police in Riyadh. The Saudi Interior Ministry says Moroccan-born Younis Mohammad Ibrahim al-Hayari was killed early Sunday in the al-Rawdah neighborhood of the capital. Two other wanted militants were wounded in the overnight clash. The dead suspect tops a list of 36 wanted militants issued by the kingdom's Interior Ministry on Tuesday.' Debka adds: 'He entered the kingdom in 2000 on a pilgrimage to Mecca and after that his trail went dead.
Between 2000 and 2003, al-Hayyari acted as main communications link between al Qaeda’s Saudi, Moroccan and Kuwaiti networks. This link was part of the logistical machine serving the Moroccan terrorist groups operating in West Europe. It laid on arms, funds, passports and safe houses. From 2003, the same set-up backed up operations in Saudi Arabia and then Iraq. Al-Hayyari then received orders from his al Qaeda commanders to set up a sleeper cell near the Saudi capital Riyadh that would spring into action if the organization’s structure in the kingdom was fatally damaged. The cell al-Hayyari gathered had 11 members who were based at Kharj, an isolated desert oasis some 75 kilometers east of Riyadh. They escaped the notice of Saudi security services because the location appeared too small to support a large and dangerous gang. But al-Hayyari chose the spot because of its convenience for hit-and-run attacks in the capital. In early 2005, the group vanished. It is now believed they scattered to enter Riyadh and embark on fresh terrorist strikes. The clash Sunday with Saudi security troops was their first with the al-Hayyari group and indicates that it was already poised for action inside Riyadh. Now the other 10 cell members must be hunted down before they strike.' (VOA, Debka)

Egypt's ambassador to Iraq reported kidnapped. CNN reports: 'Egypt's ambassador to Iraq has been kidnapped in Baghdad, according to a source in the Egyptian Embassy there. The source said Ihab al-Sherif was abducted near his home on Saturday. The Egyptian Embassy was sealed off by security forces. The ambassador had just arrived in Iraq in June and was the first to represent an Arab country in post-war Iraq. Al-Sherif had not yet formally presented his credentials to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.' (CNN)

Updates from Afghanistan. Stratfor (subscription service) reports: '[July 1] 1801 GMT - Fighting in central Afghanistan from June 29 through July 1 left 25 people dead, Uruzgan province Gov. Jan Mohammed Khan said July 1. The violence began June 29 when Taliban fighters attacked a police checkpoint in the province's Tirin Kot district. Seven militants were killed in the ensuing hour-long battle. The next day, militants stormed the village of Saiban and kidnapped nine tribal elders, whom they later executed. On July 1, militants attacked another police post, resulting in the death of four police officers and five militants. ... [July 2] 1322 GMT - An explosion in the southeastern Afghan province of Paktika on July 2 targeted a 20-vehicle convoy that included U.N. and peacekeeper vehicles. The blast left at least four Afghan police officers and two soldiers dead, U.N. officials said. The explosion appeared to be caused by an anti-tank mine rigged to be a roadside bomb.' Waheed at Afghan Warrior writes: 'Three Afghan policemen were killed and a senior officer wounded when unknown gunmen ambushed their vehicle in the Dawlat Shah district of eastern Laghman Province on Monday night. Laghman Governor Shah Mahmood Safi told the media that Rahim Mukhlis, the police chief of Dawlat Shah, was on a daily patrol along with his squad when some unidentified gunman opened fire on them. Three policemen died on the spot, while their officer was injured and rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment. One attacker was also killed in an exchange of fire from police, but the rest of the attackers managed to escape from the area. He did not mention anyone responsible for the killing, saying they are investigating the incident. It's not clear who planned the attack and as of now no-one has taken responsibilty for the attack. ... According to the reports from eastern province of Kunar, the police chief of Sarkano district was killed along with two of his sons on Tuesday when a roadside bomb blew up their vehicle south of Asad Asadabad, the capital of the eastern province of Kunar. ... Two other police officers were killed and two were injured when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle in Naish district in the southern province of Kandahar.' Full details at Afghan Warrior's post. Meanwhile, Afghan Lord is reluctantly taking a break from posting due to some threats from a rather curious source. (various)