[Marxism] Inside the resistance
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
By CHRISTINE HAUSER and WARZER JAFF
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.
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