U.S. Troops Uncover Baghdad Bomb Factory, Weapons Caches
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 3, 2004 U.S. soldiers in Iraq discovered an apparent bomb- making facility and several weapons caches, senior U.S. military officials announced today at a Baghdad news briefing.
Army 1st Cavalry Division troops found the site in Baghdad recently, the official told reporters, noting the makeshift factory seemed to specialize in outfitting vehicles with explosives.
He explained that four vehicles were being outfitted as VBIEDs, shorthand for "vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices." Baghdad and other areas in Iraq have been hit recently by such car bombings.
The military official added that the soldiers also discovered 12 million dinars in Iraqi currency at the site.
According to a U.S. Central Command press release, the U.S. soldiers also found other ordnance at the bomb-making facility, including five AK-47 assault rifles plus 500 bullets, various timing devices, computer boards, wires and one sight for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. American troops also detained three individuals there for questioning, according to the release.
Other U.S. troops in Baghdad, the release said, recently found several weapons caches. One cache yielded partially assembled improvised explosive devices, RPG launchers, eight rocket rounds, 50 pounds of C-4 explosives, TNT, five blasting caps, one detonator and various other munitions. Thirty individuals at the cache site were brought in for questioning.
During interrogations, detainees identified eight more suspected insurgent operations sites. At one site, U.S. troops found three assembled IEDs, and 18 more suspects were detained and brought in for questioning.
"Denying the enemy of the Iraqi people the weapons he uses to kill Iraqi civilians is always a remarkable success," 1st Cavalry Division spokesman Lt. Col. James Hutton noted in another news release. "These discoveries deal a blow to anti-Iraqi forces."
The situation in Iraq has been relatively quiet after the June 28 handover of Iraqi sovereignty, a senior U.S. military official noted at today's Baghdad briefing.
It's apparent, the official said, that the insurgents in Iraq "are taking a very careful look at this new (Iraqi) government" and how coalition troops operate after the transfer of sovereignty.
Therefore, the official noted it'll likely take a week or so until U.S., coalition and Iraqi officials can ascertain if insurgents will increase or decrease their anti-government efforts.
For now, "we continue our long-term plan of transferring the responsibility to Iraqi security forces, as and when that capability occurs," the senior U.S. military official pointed out.
The official predicted it would likely take "months and years" until Iraqis are ready to assume complete responsibility for their security.
The rules for engagement and the use of force for U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq remain in effect, just as they were before the sovereignty handover, the official pointed out.
He also noted that U.S. and coalition officials have been meeting with senior Iraqi government authorities daily since the transfer of power to coordinate anti-insurgent military activities.
"Any insurgent that somehow thinks that after June 28 we're going to be pulling back into the base camps will be disappointed," the official noted.
In other news, reports say five Iraqi National Guard troops were killed and several wounded today at a checkpoint outside Baghdad.
Other news reports from Iraq said renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is again stirring up opposition to U.S. and coalition forces stationed in Iraq. Sadr, who'd often called for the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces from Iraq, had been relatively quiet in recent days, as he reportedly had been seeking support to run for political office.
However, the U.S. military official in Baghdad called Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi "the top terrorist target" inside Iraq.
"We've got intelligence looking for him every day, we have (military) forces looking for him every day," the official pointed out.
Eventually, Zarqawi will be captured or killed, the official predicted.