- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 29, 2003

BAGHDAD — FBI investigators probing attacks on U.S. forces and their allies said yesterday that they see “no evidence” of a link between Mondays coordinated wave of suicide attacks and the previous days missile assault on Al Rasheed Hotel.

Chris Swecker, the senior agent in Iraq, said he has examined the scenes of the bombings as well as the hotel where Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowtiz escaped injury, and that investigators are “making good progress” in their probe.

He declined to say whether any organization or group had been identified as behind the crimes. “Lets just say were developing the evidence, and we have a lot of smart people working on it.”

Mr. Swecker has visited all the Baghdad sites attacked this week, including three police stations and the local Red Cross headquarters. He was also seen at a hospital, where doctors saved the life of a young attacker who was shot after failing to detonate his explosive charge, in the hope he will identify the organizers of the assaults.

“Were being very methodical, but I dont want to be too specific. You can say were looking for matches and differences,” Mr. Swecker said. It was the first time any top U.S. investigator has spoken for attribution since the wave of spectacular bombings began with an attack on the Jordanian Embassy almost three months ago.

Meanwhile, CNN, quoting Pentagon sources, reported last night that Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, vice chairman of Iraqs former Revolutionary Command Council, is believed to be behind the recent series of attacks on U.S. troops.

The cable network said the suspected involvement of al-Duri in the wave of violence came to light during last weeks questioning of captured members of Ansar al-Islam, a militant group active in northern Iraq.

Al-Duri is ranked sixth on the 55-member most-wanted list compiled by the U.S.-led coalition forces.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whose office was damaged in Monday mornings suicide attacks, announced yesterday it would not end its 29-year presence in Iraq but would cut back on its foreign staff.

Those numbers had already been reduced to 36 from more than 100 after the organization disclosed in August that it had received warnings of a threat, a Red Cross spokesman told the Associated Press in Geneva on Monday.

Despite the warning, no defensive cordon was built around the Red Cross building, which was protected only by unarmed guards, two of whom were killed in the explosion.

Insurgents yesterday destroyed an American Abrams tank north of Baghdad and killed two U.S. soldiers, authorities reported. A spokesman was quoted saying the soldiers were gunned down after getting out of the tank, which had struck a land mine.

The deaths brought the number of U.S. servicemen killed by hostile fire since May 1 to 117, compared with 114 U.S. soldiers killed during the major combat phase of the war.

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