Iraq Parliament Meets in "Defiance" of Terror

Iraq's parliament met in an extraordinary session of "defiance" Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, and declared it would not bow to terrorism. A bouquet of red roses and a white lily sat in the place of Mohammed Awad, the lawmaker killed in the parliament dining hall suicide bombing claimed by al-Qaida.

Parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani opened the session and asked lawmakers to recite verses from the Quran in honor of Awad, whom he called a "hero."

The unprecedented Friday meeting was called to send
"a clear message to all the terrorists and all those who dare try to stop this (political) process, that we will sacrifice in order for it to continue,"
said al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Muslim.

"We feel today that we are stronger than yesterday," he said. "The parliament, government and the people are all the same - they are all in the same ship which, if it sinks, will make everyone sink."

An al-Qaida-led amalgam of Sunni insurgents claimed one of its "knights" carried out Thursday's suicide bombing in Baghdad's Green Zone and warned the "monkeys in parliament" to brace for more attacks. The U.S. military revised the death toll sharply downward, saying one civilian was killed. Late into Thursday the military had said eight people were killed and 23 wounded.

While the attack was widely believed to have been an al-Qaida mission, investigators said Friday they were focusing on security guards inside and outside the parliament building. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.

Iraq's Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry, which runs the police and national paramilitary force, on Friday took over security for parliament.

Regardless of the security breach, Odierno said, U.S. forces did not intend to assume responsibility for parliament security.

"It doesn't help them for us to provide that security, they have to do that," said Odierno, who declared his confidence in the Iraqi security forces.

Brig. Gen. Robert H. Holmes, deputy director of operations for U.S. Central Command, told The Associated Press in London that it was unfair to say the parliament bombing meant the failure of the U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown in Baghdad, now in its ninth week.

"That would not be a fair indictment. This incident is still under investigation. The Iraqi police or the Iraqis had responsibility for security of that target, albeit that there were lines of security around it. Ultimately it will come down to their investigation to see what happened there," Holmes said.

Hassan al-Sunnaid, a member of the parliament's Security and Defense Committee, told state-run Iraqiya television that three cafeteria employees were being questioned by security agencies, although it was unclear what their involvement in the bombing might have been.

In the special session Friday, lawmakers took the podium one after another to denounce the bombing. One legislator had his arm in sling and a woman lawmaker wore a neck brace.

"The more they (terrorists) act, the more solid we become. When they take from us one martyr, we will offer more martyrs," Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi said. "The more they target our unity, the stronger our unity becomes."

Talk Show America 4/16/2007

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Thanks For Listening -- Jay Are

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