‘Basra Police Chief Abd-al-Jalil Khalaf revealed that there is a conspiracy to assassinate religious figures in Basra Governorate during the holy month of Ramadan,’ Al Sharqiah television in Iraq has reported.
In a press conference, Khalaf said those accused of carrying out assassinations against representatives of Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani, and a number of imams and mosque preachers, were being sought and arrested.
He added that investigations were still ongoing.
‘In another development,’ reported Al-Sharqiah, ‘Abd-al-Jalil Khalaf admitted police directorates in the governorate are divided, either loyal to a certain party or a certain side.
‘The issue does not allow the implementation of security measures in an independent manner.
‘Khalaf said that most of the police vehicles are not under the control of police departments but are under the control of many sides, whose political affiliation was not identified.
‘The Basra Governorate Council decided to secure all worship places, standardise all police attire, and take other security measures against the backdrop of the latest security deterioration taking place in the governorate.
‘In a press conference, Muhammad Sa’dun al-Abadi, head of Basra Governorate Council, explained that the police attire will be standardised according to the police units.’
This was ‘so as to distinguish policemen from the sides that are carrying out assassination operations.
‘He added that the council decided to protect university professors as well.
‘Al-Abadi revealed that there will be a forthcoming meeting with chieftains so as to stop any threats made against policemen or any attempt to involve them in tribal conflicts.’
The channel went on to say: ‘There were conflicting reports by the Iraqi government on the destiny of Blackwater Company, as investigations are being conducted on the involvement of company members in opening fire on 11 Iraqi people in Al-Nusur Square.
‘The civilian spokesman for the Law Enforcement Plan stressed that Iraq will not take any immediate measures to expel the company.
‘In a press conference, Tahsin al-Shaykhali said that Blackwater Company and other private security companies are doing an important job in securing foreign diplomats.
‘He added that if the Iraqi government expels this company immediately, then there will be a security vacuum.
‘This will result in withdrawing soldiers from the field to secure officials working in embassies.
‘Meanwhile, the Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman said that the investigations that were conducted on the Blackwater incident revealed that members of the company are responsible for killing 11 civilians and wounding 12 others.
‘A videotape showed that members of the company started opening fire without being provoked.’
Meanwhile, in the northern city of Kirkuk, al-Shariqah reported that two booby-trapped cars had exploded.
‘One of them targeted an Iraqi police patrol and the other one targeted the motorcade of an Iraqi official.
‘Police sources said that the first car targeted an Iraqi police patrol in a popular working-class area resulting in the martyrdom of a soldier and the wounding of four others.
‘The sources added that the second car exploded after a short while, and targeted the motorcade of Al-Multaqa District Officer Abd-al-Karim Nusayyif, resulting in the wounding of four bodyguards and two civilians.
‘A member of the National Accord Movement in Al-Najaf, south of Baghdad, survived an assassination attempt in eastern Al-Najaf.
‘A security source said that three unidentified gunmen inside a civilian car opened fire on Abd-al-Al al-Isawi, member of the National Accord Movement, in front of his house in Al-Mutanabi neighbourhood, in Al-Kufah, and then escaped.
‘The source added that Abd-al-Al sustained serious wounds and was admitted to hospital.
‘A security source in Al-Qut said that Major General Abd-al-Halim al-Imarah, Wasit police chief, survived an assassination attempt that targeted his motorcade while passing through Anwar al-Sadr neighbourhood in southeast Al-Qut.
‘The source added that Al-Imarah survived the attack but that two of his bodyguards were wounded and admitted to hospital.’
Al-Sharqiah also quoted Iraqi puppet government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh welcoming the expansion of the United Nations mission in Iraq.
Al-Dabbagh said the assassination of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN envoy in Iraq, had made the United Nations reluctant to expand its presence.
Iraqi politician Qays al-Azzawi said that the Iraqi government was incapable of providing security to the UN envoy in Iraq.
‘In statements made to Al-Sharqiyah, Al-Azzawi called for expanding the United Nations’ role in Iraq.
‘(But) he pointed out that the security tension that is affecting all will not help achieve this expansion.’
In a separate report from the Awene website, a spokesman for the Kurdish region in northern Iraq said the Iranian authorities had closed all borders between Iran and the region.
The ‘official spokesman’ for the Kurdistan Region said the Iranian authorities closed the five border points between Iran and Kurdistan Region, in protest at the arrest of an intelligence officer in Iraq’s Sulaymaniya governorate by US occupation forces.
‘The Kurdistan regional government (KRG) spokesman has said the Kurdistan Region was paying for something the US and not the Kurdistan regional government had done.
‘The KRG spokesman, Jamal Abdallah, told Awene website that the KRG was concerned about the closure of the border checkpoints by the Iranian government “as residents of the area would be the only ones to suffer from this.’’
‘The statement came after the Iranian government had closed down Penjwin’s Bashmakh and Haji Umaran checkpoints earlier this morning (Monday September 24).
‘Abdallah said: “The Iranian government’s excuse is Mr Farhadi’s arrest. We have neither arrested him nor do we know where the Americans have taken him.’’
‘Abdallah said there were two ways through which the KRG could work for the re-opening of the border checkpoints, saying “First, we could talk with Iranian senior officials through the KRG representatives (in Iran) and try to explain to them that this was an unfair stance and that the Kurds have nothing to do with the arrest, and that we have respected all Iranian trade delegations.
‘ “What happened is related to the Americans and the (Kurdistan) government and the population should not pay for the US action.’’
‘He added: “Second, the Iraqi government can summon the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad and explain the situation to him.’’
‘The KRG spokesman said if Iran continued its stance “it would undoubtedly affect the historical friendship between the Kurds and the Iranian government.’’
‘Abdallah also said the KRG continued its efforts to make the Americans understand that their action had disadvantaged the area and told them to resolve the problem.
‘It is worth noting that a US commando unit arrested a member of the Iranian Kermanshah trade delegation, Mr Farhadi, on Thursday (September 20) in the Sulaymaniya Palace Hotel.’