Interview with an Iraqi guerrilla
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 10 13:09:41 MDT 2003
Newsday, July 10, 2003
A Promise To Fight On
A leader in Iraqi militia group tells of plans for extended guerrilla war
By Mohamad Bazzi
MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT
Fallujah, Iraq - He is a leader in Saddam's Fedayeen, the militia group
that put up some of the strongest resistance to U.S. forces as they
swept through Iraq, and he says he has organized recent attacks on
American troops occupying Iraq.
The militia fighter is now living on the run and working toward the day
when an Iraqi insurgency would drive American soldiers out of his
country and return Saddam Hussein to power.
"We have many more people and we're a lot better organized than the
Americans realize," said Khaled, 29, who gave an hour-long interview
yesterday on the condition that only his first name be published. "We
have been preparing for this kind of guerrilla war for a long time, and
we're much more patient than the Americans. We have nowhere else to go."
Khaled described the workings of a loosely organized network of former
Baath Party members, Iraqi soldiers, intelligence officers and other
die-hard Hussein supporters who have been responsible for an unknown
number of the attacks that have killed 29 U.S. soldiers and injured
dozens since May 1.
He said the network operates in cells of five or six members that answer
to a secret leadership structure. It goes by various names - the
Fedayeen, the Iraq Liberation Army, Muhammad's Army - and Khaled said
only a handful of people know its full reach. He said its members draw
inspiration from Hussein and from the belief that the ousted Iraqi
leader is alive and will regain power once U.S. troops are forced to leave.
Propped against cushions on the floor of a friend's sparsely furnished
living room, Khaled described himself as a former operative for one of
Hussein's intelligence services, although he would not say what he did.
His account offers details that may help explain the 6-week-old
escalation in anti-U.S. attacks throughout central Iraq. It adds to the
evidence that U.S. forces face an organized movement that aims to drag
them into a long guerrilla war fed by a combination of nationalist and
Khaled described cells that are studying the tactics of Palestinian
militant groups and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which drove Israeli
forces from southern Lebanon after a 22-year occupation. While suicide
attacks have not been a significant tactic in Iraq, he said his network
is planning to send suicide bombers to attack American military convoys
and installations. And he said a network of Iraqis provide food, shelter
and other help to militia members trying to evade U.S. forces.
It is an account that contradicts statements by several U.S. officials,
including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who argue that the Iraqi
insurgency is a disorganized movement of former Baathists and thousands
of criminals who were released from prison by Hussein last year.
"There seems to be a widely held impression that the regime loyalists
are operating freely throughout the country attacking coalition forces
at will," Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.
"That's clearly not the case."
Khaled said remnants of the Fedayeen, intelligence services and the
elite Special Republican Guards are regrouping throughout Iraq and
digging in for a long underground war.
"We know each other and we have ways of communicating with one another,"
said Khaled, a tall, muscular man with a trim mustache and short-cropped
hair. "The Americans made a big mistake by thinking that we all
disappeared after the war."
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