Here is still more evidence of the impossibility of distinguishing jihadists from anti-jihadists in Iraq. This is of course exacerbated also by the stubborn unwillingness of the American leadership even to address this problem properly, and to begin speaking out about the jihad ideology of Islamic supremacism and the necessity for Iraqis to renounce and restrict political Islam, the way Ataturk restricted it for the Turks in the 1920s, if they really have any desire (which in itself is doubtful) to establish a viable republic.
By Lee Keath for The Associated Press (thanks to Diana West):
BAGHDAD (AP) “” U.S. forces battled Iraqi police and gunmen Friday, killing six policemen, after an American raid captured an Iraqi police lieutenant accused of leading a cell of Shiite militiamen, the military said.
Seven gunmen also died in the fight, a rare open street battle between American troops and policemen. Washington has demanded the government purge its police force of militants, and U.S. and Iraqi authorities have arrested officers in the past for militia links. But the Bush administration said in an assessment Thursday that progress on that front was “unsatisfactory.”
The lieutenant was captured before dawn in eastern Baghdad, but the soldiers came under “heavy and accurate fire” from a nearby Iraqi police checkpoint, as well as intense fire from rooftops and a church, the military said in a statement.
No doubt this was intended to draw return fire that could be portrayed before an eager international media as “American forces fire on church.”
As the Americans fired back, U.S. warplanes struck in front of the police position, without hitting it directly, “to prevent further escalation” of the battle, it said. There were no casualties among the U.S. troops, but seven gunmen and six of the policemen firing on the Americans were killed, the statement said.
The captured lieutenant was a “high-ranking” leader of a cell suspected of helping coordinate Iranian support for Shiite extremists in Iraq as well as carrying out roadside bombings against mortar attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces, the military said. The lieutenant is believed to be linked to the Quds Force, a branch of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, it said.
A spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry, which controls the police, said he had no immediate information on the clash and refused to comment.
The U.S. military accuses Iran’s Quds Force of organizing Shiite militants into so-called “special groups” and arming them with weapons and explosives “” including a particularly deadly form of roadside bombs called explosively formed penetrators. Iran denies the claims.
Infiltration by Shiite militias is pervasive in the Iraqi police, fueling a deep mistrust of the force among Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority, who often accuse policemen of involvement in kidnappings and slaying of Sunnis “” or at least ignoring them.