Iraqi general: Mosul suicide bomber was not Iraqi guard
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The head of Iraq’s armed forces said Sunday that last week’s suicide bombing on a U.S. base was not carried out by a member of Iraq’s security forces, and video issued by Islamic militants showed a man purported to be the bomber, wishing his comrades farewell before the attack.
The video from the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, posted on an Islamic Web site Sunday, showed masked guerrillas describing their plans for last Tuesday’s attack, saying the bomber would slip into the base during a change of guards.
The video ends with images taken from a moving car apparently from the attack itself, showing an explosion and fireball and the tattered roof of a white tent – the dining hall that was struck by the bomber during lunchtime, killing more than 20 people, mostly American soldiers and civilians.
In an interview with Iraqi chief of staff Gen. Babaker B. Shawkat Zebari said “certainly he (the bomber) was not a member of the National Guards because all of our men stationed in the base have been accounted for.”
The U.S. military said earlier that investigations suggested the bomber likely wore an Iraqi military uniform, and a general suggested there may have been infiltration into the Iraqi armed forces.
Zebari said it was possible the bomber was wearing a National Guard uniform, which he said “are available in the market … It is not difficult for a person to wear one.”
Asked about comments by President Bush, who said members of Iraq’s fledgling military force were fleeing from combat, Zibari replied: “I think the president received misleading information.”
The general said none of his soldiers had deserted from the battlefield, but acknowledged that some recruits undergoing training decided to quit after being told they would be posted to the restive city of Fallujah, which U.S. and Iraqi troops retook from insurgents last month.
The U.S. military has launched an investigation into how the bomber got onto Marez base, on the outskirts of Mosul, to carry out his attack, which killed 18 American servicemembers and civilian contractors, three Iraqi guardsmen and one unidentified “non-U.S. person.” Sixty-nine people were wounded.
The video released by Ansar al-Sunnah – which earlier claimed responsibility for the attack – was dated Dec. 20.