IN THE IRAQI DESERT March 29 —
A bomber posing as a taxi driver summoned American troops for
help, then blew up his vehicle Saturday, killing himself and four
soldiers and opening a new chapter of carnage in the war for
An Iraqi official said such attacks would be "routine military
policy" in Iraq and, he suggested chillingly, in America.
"We will use any means to kill our enemy in our land and we will
follow the enemy into its land," Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan
said at a Baghdad news conference. "This is just the beginning.
You'll hear more pleasant news later."
U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, said the bombing occurred at
about 10:40 a.m. The bomber struck at a U.S. checkpoint on the
highway north of the city of Najaf, U.S. military officers said.
A taxi stopped close to the roadblock; the driver waved for help.
When soldiers approached the car, it exploded, Capt. Andrew Wallace
told Associated Press Television News, killing the driver and four
soldiers from the Army's 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
The names of the Americans were not immediately released. But
Ramadan identified the bomber: Ali Jaafar al-Noamani, a
noncommissioned army officer and father of several children.
He said Iraq, like many other nations, cannot match American
weaponry. "They have bombs that can kill 500 people, but I am sure
that the day will come when a single martyrdom operation will kill
Thousands of Arab volunteers have been pouring into Iraq since
the start of the war, he said, adding that Iraq will provide them
with what they need to fight the allied forces.
"The Iraqi people have a legal right to deal with the enemy with
any means," he added.
This was the first such attack since the invasion began. It was,
said Maj. Gen. Gene Renuart of the U.S. Central Command, "a symbol
of an organization that's starting to get a little bit
At a Pentagon news conference Saturday, Maj. Gen. Stanley
McChrystal of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said suicide attacks would
not change the way U.S.-led forces proceed in the war, except that
they would take more care in vulnerable locations like
"We're very concerned about it. It looks and feels like
terrorism," he said.
Col. Will Grimsley, commander of the brigade that was hit, said
force protection remained the highest priority, "but that doesn't
mean we're going to back into little holes and hide."
"The local population that's here and happy that we're here they
tell us all the time, they've been feeling the same kind of
terrorist repression for years and now unfortunately it's hit
American soldiers. I think it only tightens the resolve of why we're
Saddam Hussein's "incredibly repressive regime," he said, "is
being fueled by fanatics like this who have now killed American
soldiers and continue to terrorize their own population."
The attack did not come without warning.
Iraqi dissidents and Arab media have claimed that Saddam has
opened a training camp for Arab volunteers willing to carry out
similar bombings against U.S. forces in Iraq.
"We have prepared ourselves for all kinds of war," Iraqi Foreign
Minister Naji Sabri said in a mid-March television interview.
"For many months, tens of thousands have volunteered to serve as
martyrdom-seekers (suicide attackers) in the battle with the
American enemy. We trained them and readied them. We have prepared
ourselves for street fighting and desert fighting."
Al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden also urged Iraqis in an audio
tape aired on Arabic television last month to employ the tactic,
which has been frequently used by Palestinian militants against
Israeli soldiers and civilians.
The biggest suicide attack against the U.S. military abroad was
in Lebanon, when a truck packed with explosives drove into a U.S.
Marine base in Beirut and exploded in the early morning of Oct. 23,
1983, as the troops slept. The attack killed 241 American servicemen
and leveled the base. A simultaneous suicide attack on a Beirut base
for French soldiers killed 58 paratroopers.
The Americans and the French were in Lebanon as part of an
ill-fated peacekeeping mission to end Lebanon's civil war.
Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim militants were blamed for the
In 1996, a truck bomb at the U.S. Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi
Arabia killed 19 U.S. servicemen.
|A suicide bomber in a taxi
killed four American soldiers in an attack Saturday, March 29,
2003. The suicide bombing was the first against U.S. and
British forces since the invasion began. The bomber struck at
a U.S. checkpoint on the highway north of the city of Najaf.
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