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Analysis: First U.S. case for Iraqi terror

US says enemy fire caused deadly air collision in Iraq
Baghdad (AFP) Feb 27 - The US military said on Friday that four soldiers killed last month when two helicopters crashed in northern Iraq had been the target of enemy fire. An investigation "determined that the two OH-58 helicopters involved in the January 25 incident in Kirkuk province were engaged and struck by hostile fire," army spokesman for north Iraq Lieutenant Colonel David Doherty told AFP. "While executing evasive manoeuvres in response to the hostile fire, the two OH-58s collided, resulting in the catastrophic loss of both aircraft and crews," he said, without elaborating on what had been fired at them. An insurgent group claimed responsibility for downing the helicopters which were on a reconnaissance mission at the time, but the US military initially denied they had come under fire. The Nakshabandiya group, close to executed president Saddam Hussein's still fugitive deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, said it had shot down the aircraft. The group handed out leaflets on the streets of Iraq's disputed oil hub of Kirkuk, saying that they had downed two helicopters and "would soon show a video," an AFP correspondent witnessed. The claim was repeated in a statement posted on the group's website. The death of the four US troops was the worst single toll in more than four months, although the deadliest single crash was on November 15, 2003, when two Blackhawks collided near Mosul, killing 17 soldiers. At least 4,252 US military personnel have died in Iraq since the March 2003 US-led invasion, according to an AFP tally based on the independent website On Friday President Barack Obama announced his intention to end US combat operations in Iraq by August 31, 2010 and said all American forces would be pulled out by the end of 2011. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Shaun Waterman
Washington (UPI) Feb 27, 2009
An Iraqi-born naturalized Dutchman is the first man ever convicted by a U.S. criminal court for his part in the Iraq insurgency.

Wesam al-Delaema, 36, pleaded guilty to six charges of conspiring to murder American nationals outside the United States by planting roadside bombs targeting U.S. forces in Fallujah -- and by videotaping himself showing how the bombs would be set off to destroy U.S. vehicles and kill their occupants.

The plea agreement and other court documents said Delaema created instructional and recruitment videos to support the insurgency and urged others in Iraq to participate in the fighting and videotape themselves.

The Justice Department said that Delaema had also agreed to plead guilty next week to one count of aggravated assault in which he is accused of kicking a Washington, D.C., prison guard unconscious in December 2007. The guard was hospitalized with "significant injuries, including a subdural hemorrhage," Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said.

"This guy was not a nice customer," he added.

Delaema is expected to serve 25 years for the conspiracy charges and 18 months concurrently for aggravated assault. Sentencing has been set for April 15. The terms of the plea deal mean that Delaema will be returned to the Netherlands, which extradited him in January 2007. There, he will be resentenced by a Dutch judge and serve his sentence in a Dutch prison.

Boyd said that Delaema remains, as far as he knows, the only person to be criminally charged in the United States with actually taking part in the insurgency in Iraq -- although there had been several convictions of people conspiring to train and travel there for that purpose.

In June 2008 and in a separate case in January, a total of five people were convicted of or pleaded guilty to such charges, he said.

Court documents said Delaema, who was born in Fallujah, returned there in October 2003, driving in his Opel Omega.

While Delaema was in Iraq, the documents said he "met with at least six other individuals. Delaema and his associates, each of whom wore a hooded mask over his head, created a video of their meeting," during which "Delaema gave a speech in Arabic" proclaiming him and his associates as "the Mujahedin of Fallujah."

Delaema and his associates also videotaped themselves demonstrating how to bury improvised explosive devices under the road and set them off with remote-controlled detonators. In the video, they discussed separating charges by 50 feet or more, so as to strike more than one vehicle in the target convoy, according to portions of a transcript provided in the court documents.

The video and other recordings were seized at Delaema's apartment in Amersfoort, Netherlands, in May 2005, when he was first arrested.

Dutch media reported at the time that authorities there had been originally been tipped to Delaema by U.S. intelligence. He was extradited to the United States after U.S. prosecutors submitted charges that were not eligible for the death penalty.

Excerpts from his videos and from recordings of his telephone calls, transcribed in court documents, give a chilling glimpse into the shadowy networks that distribute, on the Web and via DVD, video of attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.

According to the court documents, after his return, Delaema took part in telephone conversations monitored by Dutch authorities "with various individuals, known and unknown, in Iraq."

In one, Delaema promises to buy a video camera for his interlocutor so it can be used to videotape attacks on U.S. forces.

In another, he urged, "Take the camera … and do live broadcasting for them" when he heard of a plan to go and see wreckage, supposedly of a U.S. aircraft, that insurgents were parading through town.

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Obama deferred to military's advice on Iraq: Gates
Washington (AFP) Feb 27, 2009
President Barack Obama heeded the US military's advice in deciding to postpone by three months the pullout of most US troops from Iraq beyond a promised 16-month deadline, his defense secretary said Friday.

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