Sunday, August 31, 2003

US forces and Iraqi police have arrested 19 men in connection with the car bomb attack that killed a top cleric and scores of his followers, a senior Iraqi investigator said yesterday...

Prominent among the dead was Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer Al Hakim, a moderate religious and political leader who had advocated cautious co-operation with the occupiers.

The official said two Iraqis and two Saudis were detained shortly after the bombing on Friday, admitted Al Qaeda ties and gave information leading to the arrest of the 15 others. They include two Kuwaitis and six Palestinians with Jordanian passports. The remainder were Iraqis and Saudis the official said.

"Initial information shows they (the foreigners) entered the country from Kuwait, Syria and Jordan," the official said.

In a related story, this:Iraqi police have arrested four men for the bombing of Iraq's most holy Shiite Muslim shrine, and all four have connections to al-Qaida.

CBS News reported Saturday that the suspects, two Iraqis and two Saudis, were caught shortly after the car bombing that also killed one of the most important Shiite clerics in Iraq. The dead cleric, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, had been cooperating with the American occupation force.

CBS News, in Baghdad, said the alleged involvement of Saudis "in itself reinforces what the Bush administration and Iraqi officials have been saying, that the terrorist attacks are the work of outside groups in league with pro-Saddam Iraqi conspirators."

A senior police official told CBS that the prisoners told of other plots to kill political and religious leaders and to damage vital installations such as electricity generation plants, water supplies and oil pipelines.

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