Iraq situation desperate – Saddam Hussein rejects American offer of freedom in exchange of calling insurgency off?
Balaji Reddy
May 1, 2005

The situation in Iraq has reached complete extreme with insurgents attacking every hour everywhere. London-based Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, quoting sources, reported May 1 that U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld secretly visited former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and allegedly offered him freedom in return for a televised request to militants to cease attacks against allied forces in Iraq. The report said Hussein rejected the offer.

Militants have taken hostage a 63-year-old Australian citizen in Iraq, according to a videotape delivered to news agencies May 1. Douglas Wood -- who lives in California and is married to an American -- appears in the tape between two armed, masked men. In the tape, Wood admits that he has done work with the U.S. military and pleads to "[U.S.] President [George W.] Bush, [Australian] Prime Minister [John] Howard [and Californian] Gov. [Arnold] Schwarzenegger ... to take the troops out of here and let Iraq look after itself."

A drive-by shooting occurred May 1 in the Iraqi city of Al Hillah. No one was injured, but police arrested the four gunmen. In a separate attack, a roadside bomb detonated on a road north of Al Hillah, wounding four civilians.Iraqi police reported several insurgent attacks in Baghdad on May 1. Insurgents ambushed security forces with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at a checkpoint in the city, leaving five policemen dead and one wounded. In a separate attack in the Zafaranniyah neighborhood, a car bomb exploded, killing four Iraqi civilians and wounding 12 others. In the western Jihad neighborhood, militants in three parked cars fired on a police patrol with handguns, wounding four policemen. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Clifford Kent said that a suicide bomber attacked a water pump station in southeastern Baghdad.

Five militants confessed to kidnapping and killing British aid worker Margaret Hassan, Iraqi police said May 1. U.S. and Iraqi forces led a May 1 raid into an insurgent cell in Madaen, where they uncovered Hassan's clothes, ID and handbag. Hassan was kidnapped Oct. 19, and a video of her death was aired one month later. Her death was never verified.


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