Army sets up hotline for tips on insurgents

BAGHDAD, Iraq – In its latest effort to throttle the tenacious
insurgency plaguing Baghdad, the U.S. Army has set up a telephone
hotline where Iraqis can phone in anonymous tips.

In two interviews with Arabic TV networks yesterday, Brig. Gen. Jeffery
Hammond assumed the role of a big city American police chief, squinting
into the camera and beseeching Iraqis to phone in anything they know
about planned attacks.

"When you see this terrible insurgent about to do something, pick up
your phone and call me. I'll do something about it," said Hammond,
deputy commander of the 1st Cavalry Division. "We can fight this war
together. You can help me fight – in secret."

In a series of messages, Hammond lambasted the insurgents for killing
women and children. He said Iraqis could put the brakes on the

"The choice is simple," Hammond continued. "You can choose the choice
of the insurgent, which is death. Or you can choose the path of the
interim government, which is life."

"I understand that you're scared. I'd be scared, too," Hammond said.
"But someone in Baghdad sees the insurgent, knows the insurgent. Tell
me what it is you know."

The division has received as many as 30 calls per day since setting up
the line two weeks ago. One caller declared he was a terrorist out to
get Americans.

The 1st Cavalry has no arrests or operations to report that stemmed
from phoned-in tips. But division spokesman Lt. Col. James Hutton said
the line was useful for vetting intelligence and generating leads.

"It's giving us information that helps connect the dots," Hammond said.

Hammond said the hotline is part of an Arabic media blitz organized by
the division.

Saturday's car bombing of the offices of Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based
satellite TV news network, was the most dramatic of many attempts to
intimidate Arabic-language media in Baghdad to deter them from covering
the U.S. military's announcements, Hammond said.

Hammond said he has received a death threat for serving as a regular
guest of a call-in radio program on a Baghdad radio station.

"We hit a raw nerve," he said. "It's my ambition to get into all the
living rooms in Baghdad and tell our story by putting the commanding
general on Arab TV.

By Jim Krane ASSOCIATED PRESS November 2, 2004

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