Iraqi leader threatens military action

A suicide attack and roadside bombings killed six American
soldiers, and Iraq’s prime minister warned residents of
insurgent bastion Fallujah yesterday to hand over terror mastermind
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or face military action.

Al-Zarqawi’s Tawhid and Jihad group has claimed
responsibility for beheading several foreign hostages and for car
bombings throughout the country, and a videotape posted yesterday
on an Islamic website showed militants linked to al-Zarqawi
beheading two Iraqis they accused of being intelligence

The attacks, at a time when U.S. forces are putting pressure on
insurgent strongholds in the Sunni heartland, occurred in the
run-up to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which Iraqi television
said would begin here Friday. Some extremists believe they earn a
special place in paradise if they die in a jihad, or holy war,
during Ramadan, when Muslims believe God revealed their holy book
the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

Iraq’s deteriorating security, including bombings, mortar
and rocket attacks, kidnappings and shootings, has slowed
reconstruction efforts and forced the United States to divert funds
from rebuilding to security.



Plan for NATO in Afghanistan rejected

Germany’s defense minister rejected a U.S proposal to have
NATO take over the U.S.-led military mission in Afghanistan, saying
yesterday that his country wants to focus on stabilization.

Peter Struck spoke on the opening day of a meeting of NATO
defense ministers. The proposal would combine the NATO peacekeeping
force in Afghanistan with the 18,000 strong U.S.-commanded combat
mission fighting remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaida. “We
are against a merger of the two mandates,” Struck told German
radio. “The German government sees its engagement primarily
with the … stabilization mandate.”

NATO currently commands the International Security Assistance
Force in Kabul, the Afghan capital, and it has set up five
Provincial Reconstruction Teams in northern Afghanistan. Its troops
do not conduct combat missions as U.S. forces do.

Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, had told reporters
traveling with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday that
the United States wants the two missions combined under an alliance
commander, possibly as early as 2005.



Iraq pleads for donors to fulfill aid promises

Iraq’s deputy leader pleaded with donors yesterday to
fulfill their promises of aid to help rebuild his war-ravaged
nation, while U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage
acknowledged that Washington was initially too slow in channeling
money to Iraq.

Of the $13.6 billion in grants and loans promised last year by
nations and lending institutions, only about $1 billion has been
deposited in World Bank and U.N. funds for Iraq.

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh and four other members of
Iraq’s interim Cabinet were at the 55-nation conference that
opened yesterday in Tokyo in hopes of convincing participants that
their country is both in need of donations and safe enough for the
money to be effective.



FDA OKs chip to be inserted in patients’ arms

Medical milestone or privacy invasion? A tiny computer chip
approved yesterday for implantation in a patient’s arm can
speed vital information about a patient’s medical history to
doctors and hospitals. But critics warn that it could open new ways
to imperil the confidentiality of medical records.

The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that Applied
Digital Solutions of Delray Beach, Fla., could market the VeriChip,
an implantable computer chip about the size of a grain of rice, for
medical purposes.

With the pinch of a syringe, the microchip is inserted under the
skin in a procedure of less than 20 minutes and leaves no stitches.
Silently and invisibly, the dormant chip stores a code that
releases patient-specific information when a scanner passes over


— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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