Published July 16, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. soldiers in Iraq have discovered intelligence from the Iraqi secret police (search), known as the Mukhabarat, stating that the current rash of postwar attacks, ambushes and organized chaos against coalition forces were planned months before the war in Iraq even began, senior defense officials have told Fox News.
Though these documents have not been officially confirmed, senior officials say the documents map out how to battle coalition troops after the fall of Saddam Hussein's (search) regime, and that these secret police orders were the plan all along.
In a marked escalation in attacks, suspected insurgents tried to shoot down a U.S. transport plane with a surface-to-air missile Wednesday, killed an American soldier in a convoy and gunned down the mayor of an Iraqi city.
The new American commander in Iraq acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that coalition forces are facing a "classical guerrilla-type war situation" against opponents ranging from members of Hussein's Baath Party (search) to non-Iraqi fighters from terrorist groups. Gen. John Abizaid (search) spoke on the eve of a banned holiday Saddam loyalists could use to demonstrate their power.
The U.S. military said one surface-to-air missile was fired on a C-130 transport (search) as it landed at Baghdad International Airport. It was only the second known missile attack on a plane using the airport since Baghdad fell to U.S. forces on April 9, said Spc. Giovani Lorente. He said he did not know where the plane came from or whether it was carrying passengers, cargo or both.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Nayil al-Jurayfi, who had actively cooperated with U.S. forces as the new mayor of Hadithah, was killed when his car was ambushed by attackers firing automatic rifles as he drove away from his office in the city 150 miles northwest of Baghdad, police Capt. Khudhier Mohammed said. One of the mayor's sons also was killed.
Mohammed said the mayor, who took office after Saddam's fall, was slain because he was "seizing cars" from Saddam loyalists who used to work in the deposed Iraqi leader's offices in Hadithah, a city in the restive "Sunni Triangle" that is home to many supporters of the ousted dictator.
The American soldier was killed and three others were injured in a rocket-propelled grenade attack west of Baghdad near the Abu Ghraib prison, a U.S. military spokesman said. In a separate attack, an 8-year-old Iraqi child died when an assailant threw a grenade into a U.S. military vehicle guarding a bank in west Baghdad.
The American driver of the vehicle was wounded along with four Iraqi bystanders, according to Army Maj. Kevin West.
"They're killing more Iraqis than they are Americans," West said, shaking his head.
Abizaid, the new head of the U.S. Central Command, said in Washington the attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq resemble a "classical guerrilla-type war situation." But, he added, "They're not driving us out of anywhere."
Abizaid said U.S. troops should be ready to spend a year on duty in the region, though military planners are working to bring home some units quickly, such as the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.
U.S. soldiers have come under increasingly ferocious attacks by suspected Saddam loyalists in recent weeks -- reaching an average of 12 attacks a day. More than 30 U.S. soldiers have been killed in hostile action since President Bush declared an end to major hostilities on May 1.
The Pentagon said that as of Monday, 144 U.S. personnel had been killed in combat since the start of the Iraq war. At least two U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraqi attacks since then, bringing the total just short of the 147 killed in combat during the 1991 Gulf War.
One American was killed Tuesday in an accident, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. A U.S. Marine fell off the roof of a building he was guarding in the southern city of Hillah, the statement said.
The Hadithah police captain, whose station is next to the mayor's office, told The Associated Press some government employees received a leaflet Wednesday warning them not to go to work.
The leaflet was signed "Liberating Iraq's Army." On Tuesday, a member of the previously unknown group went on Al-Arabiya TV and promised retribution against any country sending peacekeeping troops to Iraq. A letter addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned peacekeepers would be attacked even if they were sent under a U.N. mandate.
The Arab satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera reported that residents of Hadithah had accused the slain mayor of collaborating with coalition forces.
Hadithah shopowner Amir Jafar concurred, saying: "This mayor is an unwanted person ... He doesn't belong to this city. He is from another city and he was cooperating with the Americans."
The attack was certain to have a chilling effect on other Iraqi officials. Samir Shakir Mahmoud, one of the members of the new Governing Council hand-picked by Iraq's U.S. administrator, hails from Hadithah.
Former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who is now running the Iraqi Interior Ministry and working to rebuild Iraq's police force, was asked if he thought Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terror network was behind the attacks.
"Nobody is identified as Al Qaeda yet. Could they be out there? It's possible. The bottom line is I don't care if they're Al Qaeda, I don't care if they're Fedayeen. I don't care if they are Baathists, I don't care who they are. If they attack the coalition and they attack the police they're gong to be arrested or they're going to be killed," Kerik said.
Thursday is the anniversary of the 1968 Baathist coup that led 11 years later to Saddam taking power. The July 17 celebration was one of six holidays outlawed by the Governing Council in its first official action.
In Wednesday's attack on the convoy, a rocket-propelled grenade blasted into a U.S. soldier's truck, hurling him out, as the 20 vehicles passed along a main highway. Soldiers at first believed a bomb was detonated as the convoy passed.
Sgt. Diego Baez, who escaped injury, wept over his comrade's death, saying: "We slept next to each other just last night. He was my best friend."
The dead man's name was not made public until his relatives could be notified.
The convoy, made up of reservists from a supply unit based in Puerto Rico, had been heading to a U.S. base near the Jordanian border.
"We need more protection. We've seen enough. We've stayed in Iraq long enough," said one serviceman on the convoy, Spc. Carlos McKenzie.
Fox News' Bret Baier and the Associated Press contributed to this report.