Morning Report: February 4, 2007

Terrorists strike again in Baghdad, just ahead of the crackdown; Israel weighs its Iranian options; the good guys strike more blows against al-Qaeda and the Taliban; and an Israeli couple establish a "first".

Terrorist attack in Baghdad kills 130. Debka: 'A huge truck bomb kills 130 people, wounds 305, in a single attack on outdoor market in central Baghdad Saturday. The suicide bomber, driving a truck full of food, detonated explosives in the crowded outdoor market in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood, destroying many stores and stalls.' Reuters via Washington Times: 'A suicide bomber killed 135 persons yesterday in the deadliest single explosion in Iraq since the 2003 war began, driving a truck laden with a ton of explosives into a market in a mainly Shi'ite area of Baghdad. The blast, which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, blamed on supporters of the late dictator Saddam Hussein and other Sunni militants, shattered fruit and vegetable stalls, caved in shopfronts and left the smashed bodies of shoppers strewn in the street. It was the fifth major bombing targeting Shi'ites in less than a month, and it occurred as U.S. and Iraqi troops prepared for a planned offensive to halt the attacks. ... A senior Iraqi Interior Ministry official, Maj. Gen. Jihad al-Jaberi, told state television that the suicide bomber had driven a truck with an estimated one ton of explosives.' AP via MSNBC: 'A suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with a ton of explosives hidden beneath cooking oil, canned food and bags of flour obliterated a Baghdad food market on Saturday, killing at least 132 people in one of the most fearsome attacks in the capital since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.' AFP: 'A HUGE truck bomb killed 135 people and wounded 300 in a busy market in a mainly Shi'ite area of central Baghdad overnight, in the capital's deadliest single bombing in the capital since the 2003 US-led war. The blast in Sadriya shattered food stalls and smashed the facades of shops, setting some on fire. The area was attacked in December, when three car bombs ripped through the same market, killing 51.' Iraq the Model:
I was with a friend on our way home yesterday when we were shocked by the sound of a powerful explosion. We looked in all directions trying to figure out where it was but there was nothing to indicate where the bomb, or whatever it was, went off.

My friend's phone rang; it was his sister checking on him, she told him the explosion looked close to their place. Seconds later Omar was calling to make sure I was ok and he too thought the explosion was close to our home. Strange thing is despite the distance between my friend's home, my home and our location at that point everyone thought the explosion was too close and this suggests it was a massive one.

Soon a plume of thick smoke was rising from the ground and it wasn't close to any of the places above. Minutes later I saw the first reports on TV talking about a huge explosion in al-Sadriya market and casualty tolls were increasing every other minute—25, then 40, then 75…an hour later news was talking bout more than a hundred killed in what the media like to call a "predominantly Shia neighborhood".

Al-Sadriya doesn't belong to a certain sect; it's a commercial area where shoppers and shopkeepers are simply Baghdadis but sadly the media is keen on adding sectarian descriptions of the attacked targets in their reports. These descriptions draw the path for blind retaliators who in this case shortly responded by showering what the media calls "predominantly Sunni neighborhoods" with mortars to kill and wound dozens.

Mohammed adds that 'The security plan isn't at work yet and Baghdad is receiving heavy blows. This is not unexpected because the enemies recognize what Baghdad means to the outcome of this war. Life and stability in this city will mean defeat for terrorists of all backgrounds and they feel they must fight hard to stop this from happening.' Read the full post at the link. (various)

Will Israel bomb Iran? Via Israpundit (no source given): 'Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons. Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources. The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb. Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout. “As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources. The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad ’s assessment that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two years.' (Israpundit)

Did Mossad kill Iranian nuclear expert? Also from Israpundit: 'A senior nuclear physicist involved in Iran’s nuclear program who died under mysterious circumstances two weeks ago was killed by the Mossad, according to a report released on a U.S. website this weekend. The website - Stratfor.com - features intelligence and security analysis by former U.S. intelligence agents. Professor Ardashir Hosseinpour, a world authority on electromagnetism, was until recently working on uranium enrichment at the facility in Isfahan, one of the central processing sites in Iran’s nuclear program. The physicist died January 18, but news of his death only emerged six days later in two Iranian media outlets. A report released this weekend in Stratfor stated that the Mossad was behind Hosseinpour’s death. The report said the physicist died from “radioactive poisoning” as part of a Mossad effort to halt the Iranian nuclear program through “secret operations.” [”radioactive poisoning”. Hmmm, sounds familiar. Didn’t Mossad also kill the Canadian expert who was helping Saddam Hussein to build a BIG gun capable of firing on Israel from Iraq?]' The Times via Internet Haganah: 'A PRIZE-WINNING Iranian nuclear scientist has died in mysterious circumstances, according to Radio Farda, which is funded by the US State Department and broadcasts to Iran. An intelligence source suggested that Ardeshire Hassanpour, 44, a nuclear physicist, had been assassinated by Mossad, the Israeli security service. Hassanpour worked at a plant in Isfahan where uranium hexafluoride gas is produced. The gas is needed to enrich uranium in another plant at Natanz which has become the focus of concerns that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons. According to Radio Farda, Iranian reports of Hassanpour’s death emerged on January 21 after a delay of six days, giving the cause as “gas poisoning”. The Iranian reports did not say how or where Hassanpour was poisoned but his death was said to have been announced at a conference on nuclear safety.' (Israpundit, Internet Haganah)

Al-Qaeda figures killed, others detained in Iraq. MNF-Iraq:
Coalition Forces killed four terrorists and detained 29 suspected terrorists during raids targeting foreign fighters and the al-Qaida in Iraq network Saturday morning.

During a raid in Fallujah, Coalition Forces targeted a terrorist with known ties to a foreign fighter network. As ground forces approached the targeted building, three armed terrorists attempted to fire on them. Coalition Forces killed the three armed terrorists and detained 10 suspected terrorists.

West of Tarmiyah, Coalition Forces targeted terrorists with ties to the al-Qaida in Iraq network. Upon approaching the objective, one suspected terrorist began advancing towards Coalition Forces.

Coalition Forces told the man to get on the ground. The man complied at first and then got back up and charged toward Coalition Forces with what appeared to be a grenade. Coalition Forces used proper escalation of force to mitigate the threat.

Upon searching the man, Coalition Forces determined the man was charging at them with a rock in his hand instead of a grenade. The man died from his wounds. Coalition Forces detained eight suspected terrorists during this raid.

During an operation in Tarmiyah, five suspected terrorists were detained. Intelligence reports indicated that the suspects are involved in al-Qaida in Iraq kidnapping operations, improvised explosive devices emplacement and foreign terrorist safe house activities. Coalition Forces also uncovered a weapons cache consisting of numerous AK-47s, several pistols, wire spools, 60mm mortar rounds and a pressure plate. ...

Full post at the link. (MNFI)

NATO strike kills Taliban leader. AP via MSNBC: 'NATO-led troops killed a senior Taliban leader with a precision airstrike near a southern Afghan town overrun by militants, a spokesman for the alliance said Sunday. ... Musa Qala on Thursday was overrun by an estimated 200 Taliban fighters who disarmed local police, ransacked the district center and hoisted their trademark white flag.' (AP)

First gay couple registered in Israel. Israelity: 'Last week, Jerusalem residents Avi and Binyamin Rose returned to Jerusalem after having married in Toronto, Canada, in June. They were the first gay couple to registered their marriage in Israel following a Nov. 29 ruling by the High Court of Justice requiring the Israeli government to register same-sex marriages of gay Israelis legally wed abroad.' (Israelity)

Commentary. The murderers in Iraq must be getting panicky; with another 20,000 or so combat troops coming their way, there's a good chance that more of the blood shed in the coming weeks will be their own.

What's up with the leak about an impending Israeli strike on Iran? I think the strongest likelihood is that Israel is trying to pressure Washington to get in there and do something first. But the Bush Administration seems to want to leave that to Israel. It's an Alphonse and Gaston routine of "After you! - No, no, after you!"