BAGHDAD -- The US military revealed parts of a planning memo attributed to Al Qaeda in Iraq yesterday that outlines plans to ignite sectarian war by targeting Shi'ites and to shift the battle toward the capital and religiously mixed parts of the country.
The memo, which the military said was seized during a raid last month, ordered followers to ''Make the struggle entirely between Shi'ites and the mujahideen," or holy warriors, and lambasted moderate Sunni groups. It included a call for insurgents to ''displace the Shi'ites and displace their shops and businesses from our areas. Expel those black market sellers of gas, bread, or meat or anyone that is suspected of spying against us."
Military officials also provided unflattering outtakes from a recently released propaganda video that show a flustered Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the group's self-proclaimed leader, wearing American-style running shoes and struggling to get his machine gun to fire automatically. Another shot shows a Zarqawi deputy grabbing the hot muzzle of a recently fired machine gun and apparently scalding his hand.
Major General Rick Lynch, spokesman for US-led forces in Iraq, said Zarqawi's bloopers and the strategy memo were discovered in a raid on an alleged Al Qaeda in Iraq safe house in Yusufiya, a village south of the capital that US military planners say is being used as a staging ground for stepped-up insurgent operations in Baghdad.
US officials acknowledge that Zarqawi's foreign fighters make up only a small part of the Sunni Arab insurgency, but say their attempts to start a civil war represent the greatest threat to Iraq's stability.
The release of the outtakes afforded the US military an opportunity to mock the tough-guy image Zarqawi tried to project in a 34-minute propaganda video that was broadcast on the Internet and Arab-language television last week.
''What you saw on the Internet is what he wanted the world to see: 'Look at me, I'm a capable leader of a capable organization,' " Lynch said in a briefing.
Lynch said 31 suspected foreign militants loyal to Zarqawi were killed in five raids, including the one in Yusufiya, since April 8. The US military said it killed eight suspected insurgents yesterday in a gun battle in central Ramadi, west of the capital.
At least nine Iraqis and two US soldiers were killed yesterday in bombings and shootings throughout the capital.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden belt in a crowd yesterday morning, killing at least nine Iraqis outside a courthouse in northern Baghdad, police and hospital officials said. Another 44 were wounded in the blast. Iraq's criminal court has convicted 12 suspected insurgents during the week of April 19 to 25, sentencing three to life in prison.
A roadside bomb in south-central Baghdad killed two US soldiers shortly before noon. The military did not disclose the exact location of the blast, but a Los Angeles Times employee witnessed a huge explosion on the double-decked highway leading from southern to western Baghdad.
The explosion destroyed an armored US military vehicle, scattering rubber and metal on the highway. Soldiers in nearby vehicles shouted and took up defensive positions as casualties were evacuated by helicopters.