Not quite ready to play nice in Baghdad:
Iraqi antiterrorist forces stormed a church where gunmen had taken close to 100 hostages on Sunday in an afternoon of chaos that became a bloodbath. At least 30 hostages and 7 security officers were killed, and 41 hostages and 15 security force members were wounded, according to a source at the Ministry of the Interior…
Abdul-Kader Jassem al-Obeidi, the minister of defense, said that most of the hostages were killed or wounded when the kidnappers set off at least two suicide vests as they took over the church. He defended the decision to storm the building, saying, “This was a successful operation with a minimum of casualties, and killing all the terrorists.” He added that an unspecified number of suspects were also arrested.
The source at the Ministry of the Interior said that the police had arrested eight gunmen believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant organization connected to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia…
The violence began shortly after 5 p.m. on Sunday. The gunmen first attacked the Baghdad stock exchange in the Karada neighborhood, killing two security guards and wounding four others, setting off two bombs and then taking refuge in the nearby Sayidat al-Nejat church.
The church — one of six bombed in August 2004 — was filled for Sunday services. A local television channel, Baghdadiya, reported receiving a telephone call from someone claiming to be one of the attackers and demanding the release of all members of Al Qaeda imprisoned in Arab countries.
Because that would happen.
Looks like the Iraqi security services and anti-terror forces have a ways to go, as well. You’d think they’d have the knack of it by now, practice making perfect. Perhaps it’s an issue of motivation.
Here’s a PBS report from last summer entitled, “Disappearing Christians in Iraq.” A professional class mostly, never many in number, now dwindling rapidly.
In the Soviet times, Ronald Reagan pressured Gorbachev to expand the number of visas given to Jews, a persecuted minority. In response to steady US pressure, many of them were allowed to emigrate to the US and contributed greatly once here, like Google’s Sergei Brin. There’s no strategic reason to do so now for Iraq’s Assyrian and Chaldean minorities, of course. It would be tantamount to an admission of guilt in the breaking of the Iraqi civil society, such as it is, and embarrassing to our Iraqi “allies” in government.
But it would still be the right thing to do, quietly of course: You wouldn’t want to antagonize anyone.