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Baghdad breach said to go for $10,000

Iraq’s chief military spokesman for Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, shows what he said is a confession of a man identified as the mastermind of one of last week’s bombings.

Associated Press

Iraq’s chief military spokesman for Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, shows what he said is a confession of a man identified as the mastermind of one of last week’s bombings.

BAGHDAD — Attackers paid $10,000 to get a bomb-laden truck past checkpoints and next to the Iraqi Finance Ministry in last week's attacks, one of the suspected masterminds said in a confession broadcast Sunday.

Seeking to fend off criticism over security lapses, the Iraqi military released what it said was the confession of a Sunni man it identified as the planner of one of the two suicide truck bombings targeting government buildings in Baghdad.

Iraqi lawmakers and other senior officials have traded blame and called for investigations into how the bombers were able to get the trucks so close to government institutions in the heart of the capital.

Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the chief military spokesman for Baghdad, said the man was a senior member of Saddam Hussein's ousted Baath Party who had confessed to supervising the attack against the Finance Ministry.

Wednesday's twin bombings, which also devastated the Foreign Ministry, have battered Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to portray himself as a champion of security before January's parliamentary elections.

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, said he was extremely concerned by the attacks.

"The key is whether this is an indicator of future sectarian violence. And certainly, many of us believe that one way that this can come unwound is through sectarian violence," he said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union. "The message is that the Iraqi leadership really has to take control and ensure security in their country."

The 57-year-old suspect identified himself as Wisam Ali Khazim Ibrahim and said he was a Baath Party member and former police officer.

The attackers paid $10,000 to a facilitator who knew the Iraqi security forces manning the checkpoints at the Finance Ministry, Ibrahim said. That blast caused part of an overpass to collapse and killed nearly 30 people.

Ibrahim said the operation was ordered a month ago by a Baath Party operative in Syria.

Moussawi aired only Ibrahim's confession but said more than 10 people comprising the whole network involved in the attacks have been arrested.

Public confidence has been badly shaken, dealing a major blow to a government eager to demonstrate that it can take over responsibility for security.

The confession was a boost to claims by Maliki and other Shiite politicians that an alliance of al-Qaida and Saddam loyalists known as Baathists was to blame. The U.S. military, however, said the attacks bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Baghdad breach said to go for $10,000 08/23/09 [Last modified: Sunday, August 23, 2009 11:59pm]
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