Senior U.S. defense officials indicate an al-Qaida-related terrorist
group may have been involved in a bloody bomb attack on the Jordanian
Embassy in Baghdad.
Pentagon officials say they are looking into the possibility
that the Ansar al-Islam terrorist group may have had a hand in
Thursday's deadly car bombing in Baghdad.
Lieutenant General Norton Schwartz, the operations director on
the military's Joint Staff, spoke to reporters at the Pentagon
about the group, which the Bush administration has said has close
links to and support from al-Qaida.
I think the one organization that we have confidence that we know
is in Iraq and in the Baghdad area is Ansar al-Islam," he said. "And
it is unknown whether this particular organization was associated
with the events of this morning. Perhaps that will become clear as
we go down the road, but that is an al-Qaida-related organization
and one that we are focusing attention on."
The blast outside the Jordanian Embassy killed at least 11 people
and wounded dozens. Five Iraqi police officers guarding the embassy
were reportedly among the dead.
The Pentagon indicates there are no immediate plans to bolster
security at sites like foreign embassies by deploying coalition
"It is far more likely that Iraqis will guard embassies of other
nations in Baghdad," General Schwartz said. "And in fact, as you
know, we have roughly 33 thousand Iraqi police on duty in Iraq,
and roughly - several thousand, anyway, in Baghdad. And that is
the way to address the problem, and that is internal security provided
in Iraq by Iraqis."
Despite the latest bombing, General Schwartz says security conditions
inside Iraq are improving, largely because of daily U.S. raids
targeting supporters of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.