ABU DHABI Ñ The United States has warned that ships transiting the
Persian Gulf are in danger of attacks by Iraqi suicide squads.
Officials said Iraqi speedboats filled with explosives are moving
through the northern Gulf area seeking civilian and military targets. They
said at least four Iraqi suicide vessels have been spotted and one was
On Tuesday, Iranian naval vessels stopped an Iraqi fast-patrol boat
packed with 500 kilograms of high explosives, Middle East Newsline reported. The Iraqi vessel was captured
when it ran aground at the mouth of narrow Shatt-al-Arab waterway, near the
Officials said three other Iraqi vessels escaped in the clash with
Iranian naval boats. Iranian forces removed the explosives.
Western intelligence sources reported that Iraq has been negotiating
with companies in the former Yugoslavia for 100 Zodiac-type rubber and
wooden boats for suicide missions. The sources said a small number of boats
have been purchased and suicide squads were trained by Iraqi intelligence
units near Baghdad.
The multinational naval force in the Gulf has made the capture of the
Iraqi suicide boats a priority. The naval force is composed of 30 vessels
from Australia, Britain and the United States.
In a related development, U.S. Central Command has begun employing
dolphins for mine-detection missions. On Wednesday, the allies began using
two dolphins to detect mines around the port of Umm Qasr. So far, several
mines have been detected and neutralized.
"Our maritime forces are hard at work supporting air operations,
maintaining security to the Arabian Gulf for all shipping and completing the
difficult task of demining Iraqi waters," Maj Gen Victor Renuart, a senior
officer at Central Command, said. "We have some specially trained dolphins
that are out there helping us to determine where mines may be in the