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Today: Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Iraq on highest alert for terror attacks 28-08-2010
BAGHDAD ? Iraq's prime minister put his nation on its highest level of alert for terror

attacks, warning of plots to sow fear and chaos as the U.S. combat mission in the country

formally ends on Tuesday.
The Iraqi security forces who will be left in charge have been hammered by bomb attacks,

prompting fears of a new insurgent offensive and criticism of the government's

preparedness for the American troop drawdown.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Friday that Iraqi intelligence indicated an al-Qaida front

group and members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party are collaborating to launch

attacks to create fear and chaos and kill more innocents.
We direct the Iraqi forces, police and army and other security forces, to take the highest

alert and precautionary measures to foil this criminal planning, al-Maliki said in a statement

to state-run television.
A senior Iraqi intelligence official said security forces believe suicide bombers have entered

the country with plans to strike unspecified targets in Baghdad by month's end. The official

did not know how many bombers or where they would attack, and spoke on condition of

anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, used his weekly radio address to reaffirm his

campaign promise to end the war in Iraq and refocus on Afghanistan as home to the top

threats against America.
The bottom line is this: the war is ending, Obama said from the Massachusetts island

retreat of Martha's Vineyard, where he was on vacation. Like any sovereign, independent

nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course.
Al-Maliki said insurgents would try to exploit widespread frustration with years of frequent

power outages and problems with other public services by staging riots and attacks on

government offices.
They will also work on taking advantage of some of the crises of services ... to spread

chaos, he said.
Hours after his remarks, the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for

more than two dozen bombings and shootings across the nation this week that killed 56

people ? more than half of them Iraqi soldiers and policemen.
In a statement posted on a militant website Saturday, the group said the coordinated

attacks targeted the headquarters and centers and security barriers for the army and the

apostate police.
Insurgents have intensified attacks on Iraqi police and soldiers, making August the deadliest

month for Iraqi security personnel in two years: On average, five were killed each day.
Under a security agreement between Washington and Baghdad, all U.S. troops are to be

out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Last year, as a benchmark toward that deadline, Obama

ordered the end of unilateral U.S. combat missions and the return of all but 50,000 troops

by Aug. 31. After that, the U.S. military will focus on training and advising Iraqi troops,

although Americans can still go on combat patrols with Iraqi soldiers and police if asked.
But the primary responsibility for protecting the nation is in the hands of an Iraqi security

force that has largely failed to win the country's confidence.
In a major embarrassment this month for Iraq's U.S.-trained forces, a suicide bomber was

able to walk up undetected to an army recruitment station crowded with hundreds of

applicants and kill 61 people. The Aug. 17 attack was the single deadliest act of violence in

the capital in months.
More than half of the 445 Iraqi security personnel killed this year ? including soldiers, police,

police recruits and bodyguards ? died between June and August, according to an

Associated Press count.
The prime minister seemed to recognize that security forces alone would not be able to

stop the attacks, and he appealed to citizens to be vigilant.
We call on the nation to have open eyes to monitor the movements of those terrorists

and keep such criminal gangs from halting the progress of our nation.
Al-Maliki is locked in a power struggle to keep his job nearly six months after a

parliamentary election that failed to produce a clear winner.
The political coalition led by al-Maliki, a Shiite, narrowly came in second place to a

Sunni-backed alliance in the March 7 vote.
Iraq's political factions have been battling since to work out a power-sharing agreement.

U.S. and Iraqi officials fear the political impasse could lead to increased violence.
Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said the prime minister's statement

aimed to embolden security troops who will face challenges after the withdrawal of the

American combat forces.
The terrorist groups are intending to escalate their terrorist operations during the coming

days to influence the process of the American withdrawal, to cast doubt on the ability of the

Iraqi forces taking charge of the security and to take advantage of political instability,

al-Moussawi said.
Associated Press Writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Bushra Juhi contributed to this report.
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