We’ll probably be spared a beheading video or a Tucker/Menchaca mutilation montage here, but only because the cavalry was in hot pursuit.

Contrary to U.S. military statements, four U.S. soldiers did not die repelling a sneak attack at the governor’s office in the Shiite holy city of Karbala last week. New information obtained by The Associated Press shows they were abducted and found dead or dying as far as 25 miles away.

The brazen assault 50 miles south of Baghdad was launched Jan. 20 by a group of nine to 12 militants. They traveled in black GMC Suburban vehicles – the type used by U.S. government convoys, had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues and spoke English

Two senior U.S. military officials as well as Iraqi officials now say three of them were found dead and one mortally wounded in locations as far as 25 miles east of the governor’s office.

The U.S. officials said they could not be sure if the soldiers were killed as the attackers drove them to the place where they abandoned the Suburbans or afterward. Iraqi officials said the men were killed just before the vehicles were abandoned.

Didn’t the Iraqi guards at the checkpoints notice that all the “Americans” in the GMCs were Arabs? Probably — but they might have been instructed to let them through anyway. My pal Zeyad, blogging at Iraqslogger, is following the Iraqi media coverage on this and says the leading theory is that it’s an inside job.

Babel Police Commander General Qais Al-Ma’mouri revealed today that the gunmen abducted four other Americans before they retreated to the Sadda area, east of Karbala, in the Babel Governorate, but killed them later after security forces chased them. There have been other contradicting details by Western news sources over the last two days, but [the Sadrist website] Nahrain said that the Babel Governor made a phone call to the Karbala Governor that day and informed him that a top U.S. military delegation was on its way to Karbala, asking him to fully cooperate and allow the convoy to enter the holy city unchecked. Iraqi security sources have maintained that it was very unlikely for insurgents to effectively disguise themselves as U.S. troops and to pass several Iraqi checkpoints to the Shi’ite holy city, especially at this time of heightened security measures during the holy days of Muharram. Even less likely the fact that they would spare Iraqi security officials in the attack. Sunni websites have made allegations that the attack was an Iranian or SCIRI operation, ruling out the Sadrists because the attack was too sophisticated for them.

I can’t find any current information about the political leadership in Babel, but the fact that the Sadrists are pointing the finger at the governor and the Sunnis aren’t pointing the finger back at the Sadrists makes me think it’s probably a rival Shiite party like SCIRI. Why SCIRI, whose leader met with Bush at the White House in December, would want to antagonize the U.S. with the surge set to begin makes less than zero sense to me.

Petraeus was confirmed by the Senate this morning, 81-0. Chuck Schumer celebrated his appointment yesterday by predicting that the surge will fail. Meanwhile, Madam Speaker is in Baghdad with Murtha on a surprise fact-finding mission. She’ll meet with Maliki and then give a solemn press conference about escalation and political solutions and our brave troops using talking points that were already written before the “fact-finding” began. It’s the political equivalent of the Rick Bragg toe-touch.

There is some good news, though: the jihadis heroically liberated a Baghdad market this morning from the clutches of Zionist parakeets. 14 dead.

Update: More good news. The Iraqi VP who almost became prime minister earlier this year and and has since been touted as a replacement for Maliki calls the U.S.’s invasion in 2003 an “idiot decision.” He’s also a member of SCIRI.

Tags: White House