Iraq's ruling council said today it received warnings of an attack before Tuesday's bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, and FBI investigators found evidence the explosive device was packed with military munitions.
FBI agents led the hunt in Iraq today to identify those responsible for detonating an explosives-packed truck outside the U.N. offices. The blast killed at least 20 people, including the U.N. special representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Of the more than 100 people who were injured, many were evacuated to hospitals in neighboring Jordan. Rescue work continued today, as officials said people were believed to be still trapped in the rubble of the crumbled building. But with temperatures soaring in the searing Iraqi summer, hopes of finding survivors faded.
Today, as FBI agents began their investigation, Ahmad Chalabi, a prominent member of Iraq's U.S.-picked Governing Council, said the council had received information Aug. 14 that there would be a terror attack in Baghdad using a truck bomb against "a soft target." The council, he said, had warned the United States.
"It [the warning] specifically said that this attack will take place using a truck, to be detonated either using a suicide mechanism or electronic detonation," he said.
Later, Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress issued a statement clarifying his comments, saying it did not warn of an imminent attack on the United Nations and "did not have any specific information related to this criminal act."
Long List of Potential Suspects
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the list of potential suspects is long. Speaking today on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America , Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, said suspects included foreign fighters from countries such as Syria, Sudan and Yemen; forces loyal to ousted dictator Saddam Hussein; and militants from Ansar al-Islam, a group believed to have connections to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
Members of the Governing Council suspect Saddam loyalists. After a council meeting today, member Mouwafak Al-Rabii told reporters, "There are fingerprints indicating that the act was committed by remnants of the former regime and there are early investigation reports confirming that."
Chalabi said Iraqi intelligence reports showed that Saddam's dreaded Fedayeen militia had allied itself Ansar al-Islam.
"There is evidence of links between Fedayeen Saddam and Ansar al-Islam," he said at a news conference. "Ansar are now in Baghdad and they are compromised of Iraqis from all sects and non-Iraqis."
A ‘Huge and Ambitious’ Explosive Device
An FBI team had already been in Iraq to investigate the Aug. 7 bombing of the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad. Those agents and technicians turned their attention toward the U.N. attack. They will be joined by more in the coming days.
Investigators in Baghdad focused today on establishing the identity of the owner of the truck, which was driven down an unsecured road running right by the U.N. building in the eastern part of the city to a spot just under Vieira de Mello's office, where it exploded, said FBI Special Agent Thomas Fuentes.
According to Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner responsible for rebuilding the Iraqi police force, there were "two good witnesses that got a good look at the driver."
FBI agents in Iraq said human remains had been found in the truck, suggesting it was a suicide bombing.