WMD Search Ended

The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein, the Washington Post reports today. Members of the Iraq Survey Group, tasked with leading the search for the weapons, said in interviews that violence in Iraq, together with a lack of new information, led the operation to fold shortly before Christmas.

And the Guardian reports that the British intelligence service, the MI6, has appointed a senior "quality control officer" to monitor the credibility of its secret intelligence, in efforts to pacify critics disappointed over the methodology used in the government's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The senior official, who will be known as "R" — for reporting officer — will be responsible for reviewing secret information provided by British spies and agents in the field, according to intelligence insiders.

IRAQ NEWS

Search for Banned Arms In Iraq Ended Last Month

Violence in country and a lack of new information led group to give up efforts. (Washington Post)

Allawi Admits Nationwide Polls Impossible as 20 Die

Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi admitted yesterday that some parts of the country would not be able to take part in elections on Jan. 30 as deadly strikes killed at least 20 people, six of them in a car bombing in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. (Arab News)

General On Iraq Security Mission

A retired U.S. army general heads to Iraq to conduct a security review as the country prepares for its poll. (BBC)

Falluja Residents Hold Off Return

The UN's refugee agency estimates that about 8,500 Falluja residents have returned to their homes since the US bombardment ended two months ago. (BBC)

Baath Party Statement Says Resistance Was Planned

A statement allegedly issued by Saddam Husseins former Arab Socialist Baath Party which is now outlawed in Iraq, said the resistance faced by the U.S. forces in Iraq was planned for by the Baath party. The statement, which was received by Asharq Al Awsat, criticized the U.S. for trying to establish a "political Islam" in Iraq. (Asharq Al Awsat)

Muslim Clerics: "Stopping Attacks in Return for Scheduled Withdrawal of U.S. Forces"

The Committee of Muslims Clerics said in talks with the U.S. ambassador Saturday that it would ask the insurgents to stop the attacks against U.S. forces in return for a gradual withdrawal by the U.S. from Iraq, reports Al Hayat. (Al Hayat)

INVESTIGATIONS

Kuwait

Six Suspects Held in Kuwait

Kuwaiti authorities have detained at least six Islamists as part of investigations into Monday's deadly shootout between suspected militants and state security forces, a security source said yesterday. (Arab News)

Pakistan

Manhunt After Jailbreak By Militant Accused of Musharraf Murder Attempt

Pakistani officials have launched a nationwide manhunt for an Islamic militant implicated in an assassination attempt on President Pervez Musharraf after he escaped custody. (The Guardian)

U.S.

FBI Probes More Cases of Lasers, Airplanes

The FBI said Tuesday it was investigating several more reports of lasers being beamed into aircraft cockpits following a rash of similar incidents at the end of 2004. (AP)

U.K.

MI6 Acts to Curb Rows Over Spying

MI6 has taken the unprecedented step of appointing a senior 'quality control officer' to monitor the credibility and veracity of its secret intelligence, the Guardian can reveal. (The Guardian)

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