The Happy Arab News Service

Sunday, April 8, 2007

It's not Good . . .

The surprising fallout between Al Kaida and its allies in Afghanistan and Iraq may signal a new stage in the war on terror. In Iraq the attack on Ramadi this week left the Sunnis shaken.

The attacker in Ramadi struck in the late morning of the Muslim day of prayer, when children off from school usually play in the street and adults run errands and visit before going to the mosque at midday.

. . .

Sabir Muhammad al-Rishawi, a shopkeeper who sells mobile phones, was close to the explosion.

“There were many people outside their homes because usually on Friday, you see a lot of activity in our area,” he said. “Then we saw a fuel tanker come close to the police checkpoint. The policemen shot at the driver and he exploded his truck to destroy the building close to the area he was trying to bomb. I felt my temperature start to rise and then we knew that there was chlorine in the bombs.”

There is no antidote for chlorine, large quantities of which can destroy lung tissues causing victims to suffocate to death.

The explosion burned victims’ lungs, eyes and skin. Dr. Ali Abdullah Saleh, of the main Ramadi hospital, said 30 people had been admitted with shrapnel wounds and 15 had been sent to a second hospital in the city. He said 50 people had been admitted for breathing problems.

It's not clear whether the explosion was triggered by the police gunfire or the bomber has detonated the truck himself.

The truck, a fuel tanker loaded with the toxic gas, sped toward an Iraqi police checkpoint, according to witnesses and Col. Tareq al-Dulaimi, the head of security for Anbar Province. The police officers opened fire and the truck swerved toward a residential area, where the bomb exploded, he said.

. . .

“God was helping families in Ramadi today, because the wind was blowing away from the residential area and toward an empty area,” he said “If the wind direction had not been like this, there would have been a huge tragedy in Ramadi today.”


This is certainly not the first time the Sunnis in Anbar come under attack from their own. Neither it is the first time chlorine is used against them. In mid-March three truck bombers sent to hospitals about 250 people in the province with various degrees of exposure to the gas.

Yet the chemical attack on Ramadi was a milestone. A major town in the province, a hotbed of the Sunni insurgency, Ramadi was mostly off limits for the US and government forces. Hundreds of local militants were greeting any US approach to Ramadi with a barrage of bullets and RPG rockets.

Al Kaida went quite a way since 9/11. From flying planes into the twin towers to igniting a bloody Sunni Shia war in Iraq, and now to staging chemical attacks on the Sunnis themselves. One Sunni insurgent group has been recently accusing Al Kaida of killing Sunni insurgents who refused to pledge loyalty to or criticized some of the more sinister practices of Al Kaida in Iraq. Now that the Sunnis in Anbar are learning on their own skin (and lungs) the importance of being selective in the choice of friends, it remains to be seen whether the lesson will be learned indeed.

While the Sunnis in Anbar are licking their wounds pondering the strange ideas their yesterday's allies got about 'how to make friends and influence people', hundreds of miles to the East the Al Kaida folks are learning their own lesson. Thousands of Waziri tribesmen, Taliban supporters, raided Al Kaida camps and bunkers along Pakistan's border recently, killing hundreds of Chechens, Arabs and Uzbeks who came there with Al Kaida. On the run and caught between the rock of the NATO forces in Afghanistan and the hard place of the Waziri tribes in Pakistan, some of these guys may be catching here and there glimpses of what should be actually a pretty trivial truth. After all whether one is a Muslim fundamentalist or not, why is it so hard for some people to figure out that it's not good ... i mean it's really not good ... it's not good to be so mad ?


. . .a pickup truck loaded with artillery shells exploded Sunday near a hospital south of Baghdad, killing at least 15 people. The blast left a crater 10 yards wide, the Iraqi military said.

Three mortars sailed into houses in eastern Baghdad, sending six people to the hospital with breathing difficulties from a possible chemical agent, police said.

Doctors said the victims' faces turned yellow and they were unable to open their eyes. One hospital official said the chemical was chlorine, and that the victims were expected to recover.

. . .

The renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged Iraqi forces to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters to concentrate their attacks on American troops rather than Iraqis, according to a statement issued Sunday.


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