Arab News: Iraqi's call for Islamic state

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  • Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2003 15:35:43 +0100

Iraqis Call for Islamic State

BAGHDAD, 19 April 2003 - Tens of thousands of protesters demanded yesterday
that the United States get out of Iraq, as US troops arrested a fourth
wanted aide of Saddam Hussein.

The demonstrators poured out of Friday prayers in Baghdad mosques chanting
anti-American slogans and calling for an Islamic state to replace Saddam's
toppled government.

In the first Friday prayers since US tanks drove to the heart of Baghdad
last week, the imam of a mosque said the United States had invaded Iraq to
defend Israel and denied Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, a key
justification Washington offered for the war.

Supporters of Ahmed Al-Kubaisi carried copies of the Qur'an and waved
banners that read "No to America. No to Secular State. Yes to Islamic
State". "Leave our country, we want peace," one banner read.

"This is not the America we know. The America we know respects international
law, respects the right of people," Kubaisi said.

In Karbala, 80 km southwest of Baghdad, Sheikh Kaazem Al-Abahadi Al-Nasari
called the US occupation of Iraq a new brand of imperialism by

"We don't need the Americans. They're here to control our oil. They're
non-believers; but as for us, we have the power of faith," he said.

Organizers of the demonstration in Baghdad called themselves the Iraqi
National United Movement and said they represented both Iraq's majority
Shiites and powerful Sunnis. The protest served notice of the hostility that
the United States, which has appointed a retired American general to lead an
interim administration in Iraq, is likely to face from sectors of the
influential religious leaders.

US Central Command in Qatar said Iraqi Kurds had captured and handed over
Samir Abul Aziz Al-Najim, a senior Baghdad official of Saddam's Baath Party,
near Mosul in northern Iraq. He was the fourth person to be detained from a
US list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis.

The three other leading Iraqis held by US forces are Saddam's half-brothers
Barzan and Watban Ibrahim Hasan Al-Tikriti and top scientific adviser Amer
Hammoudi Al-Saadi. On top of the list are Saddam and his sons, Uday and

Abu Dhabi television yesterday aired footage said to show Saddam and Qusay
addressing a crowd in Baghdad from the top of a car on April 9 - the day the
city fell.

It was impossible to verify exactly when the scenes were filmed or whether
they showed Saddam himself. The Iraqi leader used several doubles during his

In Qatar, US Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said: "We want the governance of
Iraq to be handed over to, passed over to the Iraqi people as quickly as we

In a sign that combat operations are over in Baghdad, US Marines said they
would begin handing control of their sector of the capital to the US Army

The city is currently divided between Marines, who control the part east of
the river Tigris, and Army units occupying the western half, complicating
the job of US planners trying to end chaos and restore public services.
Marines see their role as an assault force only and are reluctant to be
involved in reconstruction or logistics.

Some of the hostility of Iraqis against the US invasion has focused on the
collapse of utilities. The commander of the US Marines in Iraq, Maj. Gen.
James Mattis, said that after a blackout lasting more than a week, some
electricity would be restored to Baghdad today.

For several days US forces did little to stop looting of public buildings,
shops and even museums. The international police authority Interpol launched
a worldwide hunt for priceless Iraqi antiquities looted during the chaos and
warned collectors not to buy art treasures they suspected had been stolen.

North of Baghdad, US troops launched an attack on an airfield after
intelligence data from an unmanned reconnaissance plane indicated that
paramilitary fighters were loading ammunition into pickup trucks at Balad
airfield. Col. Don Campbell, who commanded the operation, said the
paramilitary forces were using the airfield as an ordnance dump. One US
soldier was injured, and five Iraqis were taken prisoners.

In another operation, more than 30 paramilitary fighters were captured in an
attack Thursday north of Baghdad.

An Australian military spokesman said Australian forces have found 51 MiG
warplanes at an abandoned airfield in western Iraq. "In the last 24 hours,
we were asked to secure an airfield in the western Iraq region. We
encountered very little resistance, there were no casualties," said Lt. Col.
Mark Eliott. "We found 51 attack aircraft...well camouflaged, well
concealed, and a lot of small weaponry - all conventional," the spokesman

In Washington, a US defense official said the Anglo-American forces released
more than 900 Iraqi prisoners, beginning the process of sorting through the
thousands detained in the month-old war.

A total of 927 were released. Those freed were determined to be
noncombatants, Maj. Ted Wadsworth, a Pentagon spokesman, said. Taking into
account the releases announced yesterday, the invaders now hold 6,850

A tent city that could hold up to 24,000 prisoners is being constructed in
the southern Iraqi city of Umm Qasr, but not all prisoners have been
transferred there. Some remain at other holding facilities and some remain
with the coalition units that captured them, he said. At the prisoner
facility under construction, an interrogation facility is also planned,
officials have said, adding that not all prisoners have been identified.


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