Iraq Rewards Family of Suicide Bomber

Iraq gave $34,000 to the family of an Iraqi army officer who killed four US soldiers in a suicide attack, and the leader of the militant group Islamic Jihad said Sunday its volunteers had gone to Baghdad for similar bombing missions against the "American invasion."

Ali Jaafar al-Noamani, a noncommissioned officer with several children, was promoted to colonel and awarded two medals for the attack in Najaf that killed the unidentified Americans, Iraqi state television reported.

His family reportedly was given a fortune by Iraqi standards: 100 million dinars, the equivalent of $34,000.

Baghdad warns that more such attacks will follow. In the Israeli coastal town of Netanya on Sunday, an Islamic militant blew himself up in a crowded pedestrian mall, wounding 30 bystanders in what Islamic Jihad called "a gift to the heroic Iraqi people."

Ramadan Shallah, Islamic Jihad's leader in Damascus, Syria, also said the group already had "martyrdom seekers" in Iraq.

"This is fulfillment of the call of sacred duty ... an opportunity for Jihad and martyrdom is available now for the Islamic nation," he said.

"We say to all sons of Jihad and supporters, to our nation, our people, wherever they are, that whoever is able to march and reach Iraq, Baghdad, Najaf and blow himself up in this American invasion. ... This is the climax of Jihad and climax of martyrdom."

Shallah urged "the entire (Islamic) nation, including the Jihad and resistance in Palestine, if they were able to get there, to fight side by side with the Iraqi people against this butcher Bush."

Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan indicated Saturday's attack in Najaf was "just the beginning" and even raised the specter of terrorism on US or British soil. "We will use any means to kill our enemy in our land and we will follow the enemy into its land."

Thousands of Arab volunteers ready for martyrdom have been coming to Iraq since the start of the war, Ramadan said. A prolonged stay of US and British forces in Iraq could turn the country into a magnet for Muslim militants seeking a new jihad.

The bomber who killed the Americans had posed as a taxi driver, pulled up close to a roadblock north of Najaf, and waved to the troops for help. He blew up his vehicle when they approached. The names of the four Americans were not released, although they were from the Army's 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.

Coalition officials said it would not change the way the US-led forces proceed except that they would be more cautious in vulnerable locations like checkpoints.

"It's just a reminder that there are some very desperate people out there. We've got to be on our toes," Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday.

Maj. Gen Buford Blount, commander of the US 3rd Infantry Division, said troops would probably have to restrict the movements of Iraqis and shut down roads while troops move through.

"That's unfortunate but it's going to be necessary to ensure the safety of our soldiers," he said.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday he didn't know anything about Islamic militants "flooding across the borders into Iraq."

"There's no question but that a terrorist that's willing to die can kill other people. We've seen that here in the United States," Rumsfeld said. "Is it going to change the outcome? Not a chance."

Source: agencies

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