[Marxism] Inside the resistance

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun May 2 17:00:17 MDT 2004

NY Times, May 2, 2004
After Days in Wait, the Tip-Off, Ambush and Explosion, Followed by Dancing 
in the Streets

BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 1 — He calls himself God's Fighter and says he is from 
Falluja, the town west of Baghdad where Americans and guerrillas have been 
embroiled in battle.

His role as a resistance fighter, the Iraqi said, was to drive a getaway 
car on Thursday after a fellow fighter fired a rocket-propelled grenade at 
a fuel convoy supplying the American-led military occupation.

"We were hiding day after day, waiting for the right moment to strike," 
said the Iraqi, who identified himself as a former soldier pressed into 
Saddam Hussein's army and who refused to give his name.

"My fellow fighter had tried about a week ago but missed his target," he said.

"Today we planned it so that I was the driver. We waited in hiding," he 
said, scanning the street as he described the moment late Thursday morning 
when their opportunity finally arrived.

"Suddenly we were tipped off by our men down the street that a convoy was 
approaching. He launched the weapon. Then he jumped into the back seat of 
the car and I sped off."

The attack on the convoy, on a major highway next to a teeming west Baghdad 
neighborhood called Shula, is a measure of just how dangerous this city has 
become for the Americans, whether in combat patrols or supply convoys.

This incident offered a rare glimpse into the planning and execution of an 
ambush by a tight network of fighters who hide near major convoy routes in 
crowded districts, attack, then slip away undetected into dusty side 
streets or chaotic markets. Their motive is simple, the Iraqi said: to get 
rid of the military occupation of Iraq.

There were no casualties in Thursday's attack, said a military spokesman, 
Lt. Col. James Hutton, who reviewed a report on the incident in Baghdad on 
Friday, more than 24 hours after the attack.

The thunderous slam of the explosion, and thick coil of black smoke 
drifting into the skyline, drew huge crowds of Iraqis who jostled for 
position, dancing around the burning truck, shouting anti-American slogans 
and posturing for the cameras.

Iraqis in cars and trucks honked and waved as they passed the burning 
skeleton of the vehicle, which took up a lane on the overpass of the 
north-south beltway known to local residents as the "fast road" through 

But the man who claimed to be God's Fighter surveyed the result of the 
attack from the edge of the crowd. At first he watched journalists speaking 
with groups of angry Iraqis, some of whom waved posters of the fiercely 
anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

He approached their car and leaned in through the open window. "Are you 
Iraqi?" he asked one of the journalists inside. The answer was affirmative. 
A curious group of onlookers had gathered around him as he spoke to the 
journalists, but he waved them away. "Go away, I have something to tell 
them in private," he shouted at them.

He said he wanted to tell a story about the role he said he had played in 
the attack. While the details of his story were impossible to verify, he 
said he wanted no cameras, no attention from the crowds and no credit.

The man led the journalists onto a service road on the edge of Shula where 
they could park. He spoke in broad daylight and in view of three cars that 
had trailed him and circled the place where he stood, as if on lookout.

"The Americans say that the Iraqi resistance is composed of former 
Baathists, and intelligence and security officers," he said, alert to the 
movement of the traffic and passers-by. "That's not true. Saddam was an 
oppressor, and I lost a brother because of him."

He said the resistance worked in a network of coordinated groups, dispersed 
in hiding along known convoy routes. "We use cars without license plates, 
and never use men who are from the neighborhood where the operation is 
taking place, for fear of them being recognized," he said.

Some of the fighters act as lookouts, tipping off the others by telephone 
when a string of vehicles approaches, he said.

"In the next few days, I will prove to you again how we strike the 
Americans," he said.

Roadside bomb attacks and ambushes are an almost daily occurrence in Iraq, 
striking the underbelly of the reconstruction and strategic supply effort 
so central to the occupation of the country.

The sight of dozens or sometimes hundreds of Iraqis rejoicing around a 
burning American military vehicle is almost an everyday sight on the 
streets of Baghdad.

Sometimes, American troops arrive quickly and search suspects among the 
crowds that gather to dance and shout slogans amid the wreckage, as scores 
did that day in Shula.

Using a hand-held detector, the Americans can sometimes identify men who 
have recently handled explosives or fired a weapon, as they did when they 
arrested two men on Thursday near the scene of a car bombing near 
Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, in which eight American soldiers were killed.

But at other times, their troop strengths stretched thin by the violence, 
the soldiers appear only briefly to retrieve those wounded or killed, and 
then withdraw, leaving Iraqis to celebrate. Such was the case on Thursday, 
allowing one of the men who pulled off the attack to come forward.

One man, Bassim Chumakh, was among dozens who tore up the vehicle and 
burned it, prancing around and speaking with the bravado typical of those 
wanting to claim a part in a story they see as a victory against their 

"It was an American truck," he said, as crowds of men gathered around him, 
almost completely blocking the southbound lane and all trying to speak at 
once. "We took four burned people out. One of them was alive."

Suddenly several American military vehicles crested the top of the 
overpass, swooping down on the crowd. They dispersed in all directions, 
panicked. The sound of explosions went off, prompting some to hit the road 
and lay flat. One little boy crouched close to the asphalt, his face 
twitching with fear.

"Percussion grenades!" someone yelled from the ground. Men rose to their 
feet and reconstituted into a crowd.

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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