• BANDIT DETOUR: There are two ways to get to Baghdad these days, says the Monitor's Scott Peterson: fly, or drive. Since most of the few flights are booked solid by UN and relief workers, Scott drove in earlier this week from Jordan - a road he knows well, but one that is increasingly plagued by bandits and thugs.
Sure enough, not far from Ramadi - one of the hotbeds of resistance to the US presence in Iraq - Scott saw a pale blue car with curtains over the back windows sidle up to his convoy on the highway. It slowly checked out each of four late-model GMC vehicles, and then made a call on a hand-held satellite telephone. Scott and his colleagues figured there was a strong likelihood that the call was to bandits on the road ahead, to alert them that prey was on its way.
"To avoid them, we turned off the main highway and drove right through the heart of congested, hot, and sticky Ramadi," says Scott. Local Iraqis seemed surprised to see them pass, but Scott's convoy passed on the traffic-ridden back roads without incident. "That's the last time I drive," Scott says emphatically. "From now on, it's the plane."
David Clark Scott
Follow-up on a Monitor story