Al Qaida outfitting stolen ambulances for suicide attacks in Iraq
10 Decamber 2003
Al Qaida has prepared 15 cars filled with explosives for suicide attacks in Iraq.
Iraqi security sources said the vehicles include ambulances designed to penetrate protected facilities, such as police stations and Coalition Provisional Authority offices.
Some of the vehicles, outfitted with TNT and shrapnel, had been stolen or obtained along the Iraqi-Turkish border, the sources said.
Other ambulances have been stolen in Baghdad and have been prepared for suicide attacks in northern and central Iraq.
"The idea is for them to be disguised as service vehicles that would not normally be seen as suspicious," an Iraqi security source said. "They could include ambulances or even garbage trucks."
U.S. military commanders believe Saudi nationals supplied an increasing amount of Al Qaida logistics, including some of the ambulances. In November, U.S. troops captured and detained two Saudi paramedics from the Red Crescent Society on suspicion that they were working with Al Qaida.
The Iraqi sources said Al Qaida and Palestinian Islamic insurgency groups coordinated the suicide car bombs. They said elements from Hamas and Islamic Jihad have helped coordinate funding and provided expertise required for suicide car bombings.
Most of the finances required for suicide attacks appear to come from Saddam loyalists. The Iraqi website, Iraqi Al Ghad, reported that Saddam loyalists have offered $25,000 plus a lifetime monthly salary to the family of a suicide attacker.
U.S. officials have not confirmed the information of the Iraqi sources.
The officials said about 90 percent of the attacks stem from Saddam loyalists. But they acknowledge that an increasing number of strikes have been carried out in coordination with Al Qaida.
"We expect to see an increase in violence as we move forward toward sovereignty at the end of June," said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of coalition forces in Iraq. "We're going to have some periods where there will be an increase in violence in the coming months."