Profile of the resistance
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Sep 2 06:30:38 MDT 2003
LA Times, Sept. 2, 2003
Resistance in Iraq Is Home Grown
Nationalists and Islamists are among diverse groups joining the attacks.
Foreign fighters are present in moderate numbers.
By Tracy Wilkinson, Times Staff Writer
BAGHDAD — The men attempting to recruit a former soldier in the Fedayeen
Saddam militia for today's war against the Americans took him to a
bearded sheik seated in a pickup truck.
They appealed to the mortar expert's sense of nationalism and then to
his religious conviction. The Americans have done nothing for Iraqis.
They defile the homeland. Attacking the American occupiers is the only
way to make them leave, the recruiters argued.
In their shadowy guerrilla war to drive American forces out of Iraq,
hundreds of insurgents have organized into cells, especially in Al Anbar
province west of Baghdad and Diyala province to the northeast, both
strongholds for Saddam Hussein, the Sunni tribes that supported him and
Wahhabi and other Islamic fundamentalists.
Despite the U.S. government's insistence that Iraq has become the new
battlefield of global terrorism, most of the resistance is home grown.
The guerrillas are militants from the deposed regime, but they are also
ordinary Iraqis opposed to occupation. They are ex-intelligence officers
and farmers, militiamen and merchants, bombers and fishermen, according
to more than a dozen interviews with Americans and Iraqis.
Added to this mix of Iraqis are the Islamic fundamentalists, especially
Sunnis who have stepped into the power vacuum created by the war and its
aftermath to take leadership roles in the resistance. Foreign fighters
from Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia have infiltrated in moderate numbers,
working alongside some of the Iraqi groups. The first arrests in last
week's bombing of the Imam Ali Mosque in the Shiite holy city of Najaf,
for example, were said to be of two Saudi nationals allied with two
The Najaf attack and the bombings in Baghdad at United Nations
headquarters and the Jordanian Embassy, all within 22 days, reflect a
new, higher level of coordination. For the dozen or so daily ambushes
targeting American troops, however, there is little indication of an
overarching coordination uniting cells.
Instead, the groups remain largely localized and their weapons of choice
remain readily available from the Hussein government's leftover
arsenals, according to Iraqis familiar with the resistance as well as
U.S. field commanders battling it day in, day out. Bombs are made of
dynamite or plastic explosives planted in discarded canisters, bottles
or, more recently, the bodies of dead dogs left on the side of the road
and detonated by remote control.
A guerrilla fighter from Fallouja, 35 miles west of Baghdad, said in an
interview that his cell was not working with foreign fighters but is
willing to do so in the future. For now, he said, his unit is adequately
equipped and trained.
"The former regime left behind a huge military arsenal, and it's enough
to fight for tens of years," he said.
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