BAGHDAD — Wisam Younis’ sole ambition in life, he said Friday, is to kill Americans. So he claimed surprise when he discovered his car bomb had killed eight Iraqis and wounded more than 80 outside a Baghdad restaurant.
Younis and brothers Badr and Yassin Shakir are charged with murder and face the death penalty in the May 23 attack.
“We did not know that the attack would target innocent people and we were deceived. We were (deluded) by enthusiastic ideas and money,” said Younis, barefooted and with bruised and swollen hands. An insurgent leader promised him $1,500 for the bombing, he said.
“Our doctrine is to wage jihad against the Americans,” Younis, wearing a stained beige traditional robe, told an Associated Press reporter as police stood over him. “Driving out the occupiers is the demand of all Iraqis. … I wish to die in the battlefield instead of prison.”
Baghdad police paraded out the three Sunni Arabs to put a face to the deadly insurgency, and to show that Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari means business with a plan to encircle Baghdad with tens of thousands of security forces.
The display also was meant to reassure a public whose discontent with the Shiite-led government has been high because of its seeming inability to provide security and crush the insurgency.
Car bombings and other violence have led to more than 650 deaths since al-Jaafari’s government was announced April 28, according to an Associated Press count.
A Marine was killed while taking part in a counterinsurgency operation in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, the military said Friday. He died Thursday, making him the second Marine killed in Operation New Market, which involves more than 1,000 Marines, sailors and soldiers.
In other violence Friday, a policeman and a bystander were killed in an ambush in the northern city of Mosul, police Brig. Saeed Ahmed said.
A suicide car bomb attack on a police patrol instead killed two civilians Friday in Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, police Lt. Khudhair Ali said. Six policemen were among 18 people wounded, Dr. Mohammed al-Zubaidi said.
In Baghdad, a factory guard was killed when four mortar rounds landed on the building, said police 1st Lt. Sadoun Abdul Ridha. Four other people were wounded.
Iraqi authorities are preparing for what a U.S. general described as “a very large operation” involving more than 40,000 Iraqi police and soldiers backed by American troops and air support.
Operation Lightning has received planning and logistical support from U.S. troops who are keen to train and equip Iraqi security forces so they can eventually take over security in the capital.
“This is a significant move by the Iraqi leadership. It is a transition from a defensive posture to an offensive posture. It is raising the profile of the Iraqi security forces in pursuit of attacking terrorism in Baghdad,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Don Alston, spokesman for the multinational force in Iraq.
Operation Lightning aims to single out attackers such as the three brothers who police said confessed to bombing the Habayibna restaurant in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood.