Sunday, June 27, 2004

Bad Guy du Jour

The baddest of the bad. Jordian bad guy, beheading maniac Fadel al-Khalailah, better known as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Al Douri had fallen off the radar screen as coalition and media focus has shifted to Zarqawi and his ilk, but now senior officials are telling Fox News that al Douri — whom they describe as an avowed and "fanatic" Islamist whose two sons have sworn 'fealty' to Usama bin Laden — is in league with Zarqawi and Al Qaeda elements. Fallujah is the center of their universe, officials said.
  Fox News article

German police intelligence reports say that Zarqawi's al-Tauhid group was set up, not as a branch of al-Qaeda, but in competition.

...Reports that the dictator's surgeons amputated an injured leg in Baghdad are now known to be incorrect.
  Guardian article

The Guardian offers nothing to back that up.

So can he dance or not?

I wonder if we'll ever know.

This weekend, sources in America believe Zarqawi's capture is imminent...

Of course.

'He has become Iraq's bin Laden,' said Charles Pena, of Washington's Cato Institute. 'His role is more inspirational than operational. Killing him won't end radical violence in Iraq any more than killing bin Laden will end it globally.'

Ah, the voice of reason.

Falluja Resistance

Days ahead of the handover of power to a new Iraqi government on Wednesday, tension is rising again in Fallujah. U.S. forces have mounted three airstrikes against suspected terrorist hideouts in the past week.

...On Saturday, Abdel-Azeem and a handful of other mujahedeen - or holy Muslim warriors, the phrase Fallujah fighters prefer - mused to a reporter on the occupation, Iraq's future and whether Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is truly behind a series of horrific bombings as the Americans claim - or whether he exists at all.

..."Does al-Zarqawi really exist? Or do they just use the name to bomb our homes?" asked Baha'a, the turbaned fighter.

...They stopped and thoroughly searched the car that brought the reporter to their spot, a few yards away from a house destroyed Friday in a U.S. airstrike. The military said the strike hit a hideout of al-Zarqawi.

The fighters later apologized for the search and offered the reporter and his companion ice water served in metal cups from a clay pot kept in the shade.

Speaking with zeal as intense as the midday heat - 110 degrees - they cited their faith as the main motivator for fighting the Americans and dismissed claims by the U.S. military that al-Zarqawi or members of his group are in Fallujah.

...The area's mukhtar, or mayor, later took the reporter on a tour of the destroyed house that the Americans said was an al-Zarqawi safehouse.

The U.S. military said Saturday that 15 people were killed in Friday's airstrike, but the area's mayor, Hussein Ali, said the house was empty. Its owner, Youssef Kanash, his wife and seven children vacated the house the previous day to move into a safer part of the city, said Ali.

"If this animal is a member of the al-Zarqawi group, then I congratulate the Americans on their victory," said Ali, pointing at the Kanash family pet, a black rabbit lying dead in the front yard.

Yes, I was picturing just this morning the alliance of possibly dead or captured Izzat al-Douri and possibly dead or captured, not to mention one-legged, Zarqawi, taking on the United States – and apparently winning so far. (Where Saddam and his WMD failed.)

....but hey, think what you will anyway.

What About Al-Douri?

Now there's a name I haven't offered up lately.

But there've been some little stirrings and mentions once in a while. Which is what I expected when I first posted about Saddam's deputy and one of the biggest baddest in the deck of cards - #6, the highest card number still (allegedly) at large.

But is he really that big and bad? And is he really still at large?

June 24, 2004 - Fox News

Al Douri, the highest-ranking of the coalition's most-wanted 55 Iraqis still at large, was the deputy chairman of Saddam Hussein's Revolutionary Command Council, and was cited for several months as the most capable and dangerous Baathist for his ability to coordinate, plan and finance attacks, as well as his ability to recruit fresh insurgents.

Al Douri had fallen off the radar screen as coalition and media focus has shifted to Zarqawi and his ilk, but now senior officials are telling Fox News that al Douri — whom they describe as an avowed and "fanatic" Islamist whose two sons have sworn 'fealty' to Usama bin Laden — is in league with Zarqawi and Al Qaeda elements. Fallujah is the center of their universe, officials said.


A handy little package justifying the total annihilation of the city, which seems to be our goal.

December 17, 2003 - Sydney Morning Herald

He was once the butt of jokes, but now he is the most wanted man in Iraq.

...Many Iraqis were bewildered when the $US10-million reward was announced, because al-Douri was the subject of much ridicule during Saddam's regime. Atwan Rasul, 38, a Baghdad fish seller, said: "You couldn't tell jokes about Saddam himself, but you could tell jokes about Izzat al-Douri. No one respected him. This man can't be the leader of the Iraqi resistance."


Well, maybe. The Chowderhead in Chief is the butt of a lot of jokes, and unfortunately, and incredibly, he's the leader of the world's alleged superpower.

I say alleged because from some things I've been reading, it appears that we could be a giant patsy to the much wilier Israeli and Iranian intelligence agencies, unwittingly and ignorantly (or are there traitors in high places?) doing their bidding in the Middle East.

December 16, 2003 - Xinhuanet, China View

BAGHDAD, Dec. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam Hussein's top lieutenant, has surrendered to the US forces in Iraq,Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV channel reported Tuesday.


Very interesting. A number of captures have been claimed and refuted, so it's possible that this was one of those reports that jumped the gun. But it might also be one that coincided with the idea that the value of keeping quiet about captures for use later might be greater than the value of immediate reports. The fact that it was reported in every Murdoch-owned Australian newspaper, but not on Fox News (which is also owned by Murdoch) makes it very suspect. Whether that indicates the truth or the inaccuracy of the report might be a toss-up except for the fact that the Australian press reported that they got the story from Al Arabiya TV. They say he surrendered. And other reports say he is riddled with cancer and needs medical attention, so he couldn't go into hiding. Plus, the Americans kidnapped his wife and daughter on December 1, 2003 (yes, I know, that's illegal).

I've decided to keep a page listing al-Douri posts, to follow this along for a possible surprise "capture". Interestingly, only one of the links in my posts back at the time of that reported surrender works any more, and it's an archived article, which doesn't bear the date. However, at the time, I thought I might need the December 17, 2003, report later, so I archived a copy of it myself. I had to go to Lexis/Nexis to find the Xinhuanet article, where I also found the following. I can't seem to get it from a search engine other than LexisNexis, which is not freely publicly accessible, so I'll have to copy and paste it without a link:

BAGHDAD, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- The current rotating president of the Iraqi Governing Council, Jalal Talabani, admitted on Wednesday that he had been asked to mediate between the US military and Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, former Iraqi regime's second figure.

"After the downfall of former regime, one of the relatives of al-Douri came to me and asked me to negotiate with coalition forces so that he could surrender on three conditions," Talabani told reporters.

Al-Douri had offered to surrender provided he was not handed to Kuwait, was given special medical care and had his name scrapped from the US most wanted list of former Iraqi officials, Talabani said.

The US-led coalition had agreed on the first two conditions but denied the third one because he was the number two in the former regime and his crimes could not be spared, Talabani stressed.

Al-Douri was reportedly in bad health when the US-led war began last March, probably suffering from blood cancer, but his current condition is unknown....

LOAD-DATE: November 6, 2003

I say he surrendered in December 2003, and is either dead now, or preparing to be "captured" before November 2. And if anybody wants to make bets, I'm putting my money on the latter.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Another Head

As the Incompetent Evil Little Prince has declared that heads should roll, another unfortunate has lost his.

Islamic militants Tuesday beheaded a South Korean who pleaded in a heart-wrenching videotape that ''I don't want to die'' after his government refused to pull its troops from Iraq. He was the third foreign hostage decapitated in the Middle East in little over a month. article

And of course the only logical response is another airstrike on Falluja.

Hours later, the United States launched an airstrike in Fallujah on what the U.S. military said was a safehouse used by followers of the country's most-wanted terrorist: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian whose Monotheism and Jihad movement was believed behind the beheading of the hostage, Kim Sun-il.

That and the Idiot in Chief repeating that we will not be intimidated by barbarians.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Mass graves, torture, rape rooms. All those Saddam horrors we had to liberate the Iraqis from.

We've seen plenty of the torture and heard about the rapes (pictures of which we have yet to see released. Supposedly they're coming soon.)

Mass graves?

Go to Falluja. Try what used to be their soccer fields before April this year.

Or this latest...

The latest airstrike on this town that we've been bent on destroying was purportedly an attempt to get Bad Guy Zarqawi. And if you believe that....

Speaking at the rally, local Sunni cleric Abd al-Hamid al-Jumaili urged Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr to continue with his uprising against the occupation.

"The myth of Zarqawi is similar to that of weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"It is a pretext to strike peaceful towns, to hit mosques and patients and orphans. We should recognise the plot hatched against Falluja, Karbala and Najaf."
  Aljazeera article

Saturday, June 19, 2004

So now we're back to air strikes on civilians?

A U.S. military plane fired missiles Saturday into a residential neighborhood in Fallujah, killing at least 20 people and leveling houses in the restive Sunni Muslim city, police and residents said.

...U.S. Marines declined comment and referred queries to the U.S. command, which said it had no comment.
  Iraq Net article

I'm sorry, but I think this deserves some serious comment.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Losing Falluja

A top Marine officer here says the compromise that gave control of Fallujah to an Iraqi brigade in exchange for the withdrawal of Marines may be a failure.

"This was a noble experiment that may not work out," Col. Larry Brown, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's operations officer, said this weekend. "The brigade has not performed as well as we had hoped."

His comments were the strongest indication from the U.S. military that the effort to contain the insurgency by depending on the Fallujah Brigade was failing. It also was a sign that the model — turning to former Iraqi military including those who served Saddam Hussein — would not solve security problems after the U.S.-led coalition hands sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30.

The Fallujah Brigade was established to end three weeks of combat in April that killed 600 to 700 insurgents and 10 Marines. The Marines withdrew to the outskirts of Fallujah after Sunni members of the now-disbanded Iraqi Governing Council objected to the bloodshed. Led by former members of Saddam's military and made up largely of insurgents who had been fighting the Marines, the brigade was supposed to bring peace to the city and meet several demands.
  USA Today article

Are we winning?

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Falluja Update

I don't have more on the US move into the city again, other than this Juan Cole comment:

Insurgents killed 12 Iraqi soldiers of the Fallujah Brigade in Fallujah on Wednesday. This is the first time that insurgents targeted the indigenous Iraqi brigade.

The story he links says this:

The attack will put General Latif's security forces through their first major test and raise questions over whether the Americans will redeploy their positions closer to the town.

US troops are still within striking distance of Fallujah but the American military has tried to keep a low profile to give attempts to calm Fallujah an Iraqi face.

Members of the force say a joint patrol with American troops had been scheduled to pass through Fallujah at the time of the attack.
  ABC Australia article

As I understand it (which could be wrong), US troops are supposed to stay out of Fallujah. Certainly they are not welcome. So, I can't imagine that they thought a patrol through the City would go without incident.

Maybe that's the "test" of General Latif's forces - perhaps he's expected to be able to provide protection for the American troops to make their appearance as a show that we are still in charge. Not working, huh?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Fallujah, again!?!

This is a very direct, repeated, specific mission. People seem to forget (or maybe never knew) that those contractors whose bodies were desecrated by Iraqis in Fallujah were not the opening salvo in the war on Fallujah. Several civilian bombings and many instances of degrading treatment of civilians where Coalition soldiers used excessive force preceded that. In fact, according to local reports, the opening salvo was in the early stages of the Iraq invasion when Americans fired on a group of protestors outside a school, killing 15 unarmed people.

I guess the big dicks couldn't take the sting of suggestion that they got run out of Fallujah with their tails between their legs after going in their to exact vengeance for those four dead contractors. (Bush wanted heads to roll.) We'll flatten the whole damned town before we leave, because it has been successfully repelling our attacks since we started, and we cannot let that go unanswered. And that is just how ignorant our military planners are.

US tanks have taken up positions around Falluja and appear to be preparing to enter the Iraqi city.

At least 15 tanks were seen on Wednesday taking up temporary stations one kilometre past the US checkpoint that leads into the city.

Iraqi officials in Falluja confirmed that American troops had asked local authorities to provide them with safe passage through the city.
  Aljazeera article

It should be interesting to hear what story they make up about why they went in this time.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, June 4, 2004

Fallujah - after the dust has settled

We really kicked ass there, didn't we? That'll teach 'em to roast Americans. See if they try anything like that again.

Wearing an American-supplied uniform and armed with a battered AK47 rifle, Abdullah lounged at the checkpoint on the outskirts of Fallujah.

A month ago he probably had his face masked by an Arab headscarf, and was launching attacks against US marines. Now, as a member of the US-sponsored Fallujah Brigade, he controls access to the city.

...US marines pulled out last month and an Iraqi security force hastily formed from Saddam Hussein's old army moved in. The fighting was over as abruptly as it had begun, with US commanders lauding the peace deal.

"It's an Iraqi solution to an Iraqi problem," said a marine general optimistically. Fallujah has since become a model for dealing with the Shia uprising in the south.

But few on the ground share such optimism. There may be peace, but officers say Fallujah has simply been handed over to the insurgents.

A US officer said: "All we've succeeded in doing is paying off the mujahideen to stop shooting at us. There's a cauldron of hate out there and its going to boil over."

The town is currently a no-go area for US troops, and by extension, any westerner. Despite lucrative rebuilding contracts, none has entered the city since four contractors were killed and their bodies mutilated in March, prompting the American incursion.

...Many American military officials now privately accept that going into Fallujah was a mistake. Seventy marines and an estimated 800 Iraqis were killed in six weeks of clashes. The fighting inspired the Shia uprising in the south.

But officials also say that leaving the insurgents unbeaten may prove a greater problem.

"It's difficult to understand what's been achieved in Fallujah. We've got to start from scratch all over again," said a member of the civil and military affairs team outside the city.

...Abdul Razzak is a civil engineer who has spent the past month assessing the war damage for compensation claims.

So far he has a bill running into the multi-millions with thousands of claimants. The US military has agreed to hand out £650 million.
  Telegraph UK article

....but hey, do what you will anyway.