© St. Petersburg Times, published April 2, 2003
SHUAIBA PORT, Kuwait -- The first major reinforcements for U.S. and British forces roared off ships Tuesday, adding a major new punch to the campaign to take Baghdad.
Soldiers began unloading the hundreds of tanks, helicopters, armored vehicles and missile launchers that make up the Army's 4th Infantry Division soon after the first ship arrived at 6 a.m.
They'll be ready for battle "in a matter of weeks," said Brig. Gen. Stephen Speakes, assistant division commander for support.
As many as 30 ships will unload in Kuwait in the next month, but the port can handle only three at a time. Military planners intend to unload ships in 12 to 18 hours, about a quarter of the time it usually takes.
AMMAN, Jordan -- Authorities have foiled Iraqi plans to bomb a luxury hotel in Amman and poison water used by Jordanian and U.S. troops, sources familiar with the investigation said Tuesday.
Jordanian and Western officials speaking on condition of anonymity said that five Iraqi diplomats who have since been expelled from the country were behind the failed plan to spike the water line that runs from Zarqa, 17 miles northeast of Amman, to military bases in eastern Jordan where U.S. forces are in place.
They added that four Iraqis arrested last week intended to bomb a luxury hotel. Western diplomats identified it as the Grand Hyatt in western Amman, where some 70 journalists are staying.
Madian al-Jazerah, the Hyatt's marketing communications manager, said the hotel was unaware of the alleged plot. But other sources said the Iraqis set off a primitive incendiary bomb in the hotel's executive lounge. The flames were extinguished by the building's sprinkler system.
NEW YORK -- Two Newsday journalists and two freelance photographers who had been missing for seven days in Iraq reached Jordan safely Tuesday after spending a week inside Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, an editor at the newspaper said.
Correspondent Matt McAllester and photographer Moises Saman called the newspaper early Tuesday afternoon with the news that they were free and about to cross the Jordanian border, said Charlotte Hall, Newsday's managing editor. Freelance photographers Molly Bingham and Johan Rydeng Spanner were traveling with the two newspaper journalists.
"We are fine, we are well," McAllester told editors, adding that he and his colleague were tired from their confinement but physically sound. Saman, sounding equally relieved, told editors, "We're in good spirits and happy to be safe and looking forward to a nice meal."
The four journalists disappeared from their rooms at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad on March 25, when Iraqi security agents questioned them and confiscated their belongings, including computers, notebooks, tape recorders, mobile phones and other equipment.
RIVERA OUT OF IRAQ: Fox News Channel's Geraldo Rivera left Iraq on Tuesday after a Pentagon investigation into his Sunday report in which he drew a diagram in the sand showing the location of the U.S. troops he was traveling with and their strategy, a violation of "operational security."
Fox said in a statement that Rivera "volunteered" to leave and that the network believes "Geraldo did not knowingly disregard the rules," noting that he didn't attend the Pentagon's training for journalists.
When reports first surfaced that the military was upset about his actions, Rivera blamed "rats" at NBC, his former employer, for "spreading some lies about me," and said he wasn't leaving Iraq. But now, instead of reporting from the front lines, Fox said, he will be based in Kuwait.
ANKARA, Turkey -- Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday that the United States is preparing a new request for help from Turkey in sustaining U.S. military operations in northern Iraq. He said a cooperative response would help win congressional approval of the $1-billion in aid for Turkey requested by President Bush.
Arriving in the Turkish capital for meetings with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other leaders, Powell said he would also press Ankara to speed food, medicine and other relief supplies from U.N. organizations through its territory to Iraq.
Meanwhile, the United States is withdrawing warplanes from a Turkish air base and sending some to the Persian Gulf for the war, U.S. officials said Tuesday. They had been used for patrols over northern Iraq.
The withdrawals began last week and are expected to continue until later this week, Maj. Bob Thompson, a spokesman at Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, said Tuesday. He would not be more specific for security reasons.
IN SOUTHERN IRAQ -- Two Kenyan truck drivers captured by Iraqi forces last week have been rescued by British troops.
Kenya's foreign ministry had identified the two men, David Mukuria and Jacob Maina Kamau, as truck drivers for a Saudi-owned, Kuwait-based company contracted by coalition forces.
The men were captured by Iraqi forces in Zubayr, near the southern city of Basra. The drivers were abducted after becoming separated from a supply convoy.