It’s been one month since the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad (search) were reduced to a shattered shell, the result of a brutal homicide bombing which also left 12 people dead and many injured, most of them Iraqis.
Fadhel Mohammed Ali was one of them. He lives across the street from the Red Cross and suffered a leg injury. He told me, "I saw the ambulance packed with explosives drive up to the building, and then my body was thrown to the side!"
The Red Cross incident was just one of many strikes against Iraqis at police headquarters and other locations in recent weeks. This wave of attacks is the result, according to coalition officials, of a more aggressive approach by the military here, as well as a search for easier "hits" by the terrorists.
Just this week, Chief U.S. Civilian Administrator L. Paul Bremer (search) noted, "They have failed to intimidate the coalition. They have now begun a pattern of terrorizing innocent Iraqis."
The question is, have attacks, which are causing so many Iraqi casualties, affected the attitude of Iraqis toward the people behind the acts? Could they, in fact, have a backlash effect, drying up what’s thought to be slim support in the Iraqi population for anti-coalition forces?
According to Dr. Jalal Massa, who runs a clinic next door to the shattered Red Cross building, the answer is "yes." He told me, "the more Iraqis that are being killed, the more they feel they are being targeted …by a lost cause."
Away from the bomb site, in the sometimes-restive Shiite Muslim (search) neighborhoods, the mood of some we talked to was even angrier. One man looked up from his backgammon game in a smoky café and told me, "Iraqis don’t like terrorists, we like peace!"
And even in a Sunni Muslim area of Baghdad, where its thought there's support for anti-coalition attacks, the blame is shifted. "This is not resistance," one man told us, "the people doing these things come from outside of our country."
But does revulsion to the attacks mean more intelligence, now deemed so vital to the coalition in tracking down the terrorists? Lt. Mohammed Haza’a Jasim, who works at one of the police headquarters bombed by the terrorists, told me there are mixed results. "Some people are coming in," he said, "but some aren't. They are afraid."
And amid the negative comments about the attacks, Iraqis still grumble about perceived reconstruction shortcomings. There even seems to be a distinction made by a few between attacks on essentially Iraqi civilian locations and coalition military targets, the former deemed totally unacceptable, the latter justified by some.
All the while, defenses continue to go up around sensitive sites all around Iraq, high walls and barbed wire to guard against any further attacks as officials work to build-up the country and box-in the enemy.