Saturday, August 09, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A team of FBI agents is being sent here to lead the investigation of the bomb attack on the Jordanian Embassy, U.S. officials said on Friday. The move appeared to underscore concerns among U.S. officials that the attack might have been the work of organized terrorists aiming to kill civilians rather than by the insurgents who have been striking at soldiers.

The decision to call in the FBI was made by Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, who has been leading the effort to retrain Iraq's police force.

"The Iraqi investigative ability is not capable of handling an investigation of this type," Kerik said. "We need specialized assistance in the area of forensics, blast issues and explosives."

Kerik expressed skepticism about the widespread reports on Friday that the attack appeared to be the work of Ansar al-Islam, a terrorist group formerly based in northern Iraq, or al-Qaida.

"It's all a guessing game right now," he said. "Nothing is leading us in that direction."

Investigators said that the attackers had left behind important clues and that several witnesses had provided information that could be valuable in finding the bombers.

Meanwhile, this story goes a bit further.

Iraqi and U.S. investigators have enough clues to track down the culprits behind a truck bomb attack on the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad that killed 17 people and wounded scores, a senior Iraqi politician said yesterday.

Iyad Allawi, head of the security committee of Iraq's U.S.- appointed Governing Council, said those responsible for Thursday's blast could be identified within days.

"Investigations are under way to identify the perpetrators," he said. "Luckily some clues about the crime were left behind and we believe that within a few days will produce results towards identifying the attackers."

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