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Iraqis fear being next target after US strikes

By Hassan Hafidh Reuters BAGHDAD — Iraqis denounced the Western military campaign against Afghanistan on Monday and some feared their country could be the next target of US attacks. “US aggression on Afghanistan is one form of organised terrorism,” said Babel, the newspaper of President Saddam Hussein's son Uday. The United States and its allies will fail in Afghanistan as they did in Vietnam, Somalia and in their aggression and sanctions on Iraq.”

A senior Iraqi MP said Washington might next attack Iraq.

“We expect America to attack (more) Arab and Muslim countries and Iraq could be one them,” Abdul Saheb Nasir told Reuters. “But they should know that Iraq is now much stronger than it was in the 1991 Gulf War.”

Iraq's National Assembly condemned the strikes on Afghanistan, calling them unjustified, illegal and immoral.

“The US is launching a criminal aggression against a Muslim nation and a Muslim people who... are the poorest among all the world's countries and peoples,” the parliament said in a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency (INA).

The assembly said the strikes contravened international law and the United States attacked Afghanistan without presenting convincing evidence to all countries of the world.

US and British forces bombed targets in Afghanistan on Sunday opening a military campaign against Osama Ben Laden, prime suspect for the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, and the ruling Taleban.

Threat to world peace

The Iraqi assembly said stability could be achieved by recognising people's rights, especially the Palestinians,' lifting sanctions and halting aggression against Iraq.

“History testifies that America... and its strategic ally Israel have been threatening world peace and security for more than five decades,” it said, accusing them of “adopting terrorism” to achieve their objectives.

Iraq has denied any link to Ben Laden or the suspected suicide attackers on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.

Saddam convened an emergency cabinet as soon as Washington began its strikes on Sunday. “America might increase the use of force and include other countries, according to its will and to settle scores,” he said in a statement.

Some senior US officials and legislators have advocated attacking Iraq as part of the “war on terrorism” declared by Washington, which has Iraq on its official list of state “sponsors of terrorism.”

The United States led a multi-national force in 1991 which drove Iraqi occupation troops out of Kuwait. US and British warplanes regularly raid Iraqi targets in “no-fly” zones covering large swathes of Iraqi territory.

Iraqis expressed sympathy with the people of Afghanistan.

“I feel sorry for them. The Afghan people are experiencing the same thing we did in 1991,” taxi driver Abu Ahmad said.

“Thank God it is not us this time, but who knows, we might be next,” Ali Khalil, a schoolteacher, said.

Kareem Hamzah, a labour union official said: “Attacking Afghanistan and surely killing innocent people is not the right way for the United States to react.”

-- Martin Thompson (, October 09, 2001


I find it utterly amazing that these people seem to think that it is OK to kill 6000+ people in a sneak attack and not expect some type of reaction.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 09, 2001.

US hints Iraq in its sights

By Mark Riley and Mark Baker, Herald Correspondents in New York and Islamabad and agencies

The United States has placed its Gulf War enemy Iraq firmly back in its sights with a blunt warning that the war on terrorism may soon shift from Afghanistan to other countries that harbour terrorists.

Its Ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, said in a letter to the UN Security Council that his country reserved the right to pursue a wider war in its efforts to protect itself from further terrorist attacks.

The warning came as the US stepped up the air war against terrorist targets in Afghanistan yesterday with daylight bombing raids, and officials signalled renewed preparations for the eventual deployment of ground forces in what they warned would be a protracted campaign.

Afghanistan's Taliban rulers vowed yesterday to sacrifice 2 million lives to protect their independence.

"We are determined to offer 2 million more martyrs for independence and sovereignty if need be," its Ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, said in Islamabad. "In this unipolar world, Washington cannot tolerate our independent nature."

US bombers struck sites north of Kabul and around the Taliban headquarters in the southern city of Kandahar throughout the morning, reinforcing another night of intensive attacks on cities and suspected terrorist camps.

Three big explosions were reported by residents of Kabul about dawn after fresh assaults on positions near the northern cities of Mazar-i- Sharif and Kunduz, where thousands of Taliban fighters are deployed.

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press agency quoted a Taliban official as saying raids on Monday had destroyed the airport at Jalalabad, close to a number of suspected training camps run by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network - blamed for the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US which triggered the assault in Afghanistan.

Ten US long-range bombers and 10 fighter aircraft were used in the second wave of attacks. The fighters were launched from the two US aircraft carrier battle groups deployed at undisclosed locations in the Indian Ocean.

Officials said 15 Tomahawk missiles had been fired during attacks on 31 targets, including airports and air defences, command and control facilities and Taliban troop positions.

Taliban sources quoted in the Pakistan media said at least 25 people died during the first night of bombing, but there was no independent confirmation of casualties. Hospital staff in Kabul said four locally engaged staff of a UN-funded landmine-removal operation were killed when a building they were occupying was hit overnight.

Three anti-US protesters were shot dead yesterday by Pakistani police in the town of Kuchlak near the Afghan border as they tried to storm a bank, police said.

Mr Negroponte's statement was seen by leading diplomats, Iraqis among them, as a veiled attempt to add Saddam Hussein's regime to the list of targets in an extended campaign.

"We may find that our self-defence requires further actions with respect to other organisations and other states," he said.

It elicited an instant response from Baghdad, where the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri, said the terrorist attacks on the US should not be used as an excuse to settle old scores.

"Should the United States and its ally Britain wish to expand the range of their aggression on Iraq under the pretext of terrorism that means they want to settle their accounts with Iraq," he said.

The US has not produced any evidence linking Iraq to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and widening the campaign to encompass Iraq would put a heavy strain on the delicate coalition of Islamic states supporting the US-led strikes.

Britain, the only ally that took part in the first strikes on bases in Afghanistan on Sunday, insisted that military action would be confined to Afghanistan, appearing to contradict the US statement.

The British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, told reporters after an European Union foreign ministers' meeting on Monday: "The agreement at the moment is that [strikes] are confined to Afghanistan. That is where the problem is and that is the military action in which we are involved."

The White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, tried to play down the significance of Mr Negroponte's reference to possible future attacks against "other states" as a routine notification that was required of nations contemplating self-defence actions under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

But senior UN officials later told the Herald that Article 51 made no such requirement. It asks only that nations report self-defence actions immediately after they are launched, not before.

In Florida, the FBI took over the investigation into a man's death from anthrax after the germ was found in a co-worker's nose and on a computer keyboard in their office. Hundreds of people who worked near the men lined up for medical tests.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 09, 2001.

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