Insurgents Not Heroes to Iraqis

By Jim Garamone

Soldiers from the 278th Regimental Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, conduct an Iran-Iraq border inspection. The coalition is planning to shut down Iraqi borders and lengthen curfews for elections to secure the safety of the Iraqi people.

Photo by Shane A. Cuomo / U.S. Army Photo

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Any idea that the insurgency is a spontaneous rising of the Iraqi people is "hogwash," said a senior Multinational Force Iraq official.

The insurgents are people who stand to lose if the Iraqi people choose freedom and democracy, the official told American Forces Press Service. "There are no illusions about the insurgents," he said. "The people know they are immoral, vicious animals who want only their own power."

The insurgents generally are die-hard members of the Baath Party. They are bankrolled out of funds stashed by Saddam Hussein and senior members of the party before the coalition entered Iraq.

"The good news is, those funds are drying up," said the official. "The bad news is, they don’t need a lot of money to buy weapons. Iraq is littered with weapons and ammunition."

In addition to Iraqis, foreign fighters are operating in Iraq. Fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi is the best known. His network has been responsible for some of the most heinous acts of violence against Iraqis and coalition soldiers. Zarqawi took "credit" for attacks on the U.N. compound, attacks against Kurds in northern Iraq and many of the attacks against Iraqi security forces.

Coalition officials said some foreign fighters are entering the country and assuming Iraqi identities. Marines in Fallujah uncovered a building loaded with clothes and identification cards used for that purpose.

The recent battles of Fallujah and Samarra were huge loses for the insurgents. However, small cells of mostly senior members managed to evade the Marines and soldiers at those battles. The leaders managed to begin operations elsewhere. MNFI officials said that is where the insurgents launching attacks in Mosul, for example, came from.

Officials estimate that in all of Iraq, there are between 10,000 and 14,000 dedicated, die-to-the-last-man insurgents. These men – and they are mostly men – rule through intimidation.

Almost every soldier or Marine here has a story about insurgent intimidation. In one, a pharmacist set up a small business cleaning the buildings at Camp Victory. He and his brother and three women journeyed daily onto the camp. One morning, insurgents stopped his vehicle and killed all of them.

In Fallujah, Marines discovered torture chambers where insurgents inflicted unspeakable pain on Fallujans. "We found corpses that were horribly mutilated," said a Marine. "If this were truly a popular uprising, these people would not have to do this."

But the insurgents do recruit, and they are finding a willing pool. This has nothing to do with philosophy, and everything to do with economics, officials said. Unemployment in the nation is high, and the insurgents will pay people to launch attacks on Iraqi security forces or the coalition. "If someone is supporting a family and there is no money coming in, then $200 a month from the insurgents starts looking pretty good," said an MNFI official.

So rebuilding Iraq, getting people work, getting food, water and medicine to the people and clearing sewage is just as much a part of the war against insurgents as "kinetic operations" – actually killing or capturing them. "Take away the need, and you will take away the motivation for joining," said one official.

Another used the example of Sadr City – the Shiia neighborhood in Baghdad. The coalition began a major project to deliver electricity and clean water to the city. It started in the eastern part of the city and worked west.

"You could see the number of incidents drop along the line of the project," he said. "The people didn’t want insurgents taking away everything they had gained." Intelligence tips from the people in the city also increased, and Iraqi security forces and members of the 1st Cavalry Division were able to round up dozens of insurgents.

This is an example of affecting people where they live. Providing dependable and safe electricity in homes is almost more important than building new power plants, officials said. Iraqis typically wired their own homes and used everything from barbed wire to car-battery cables to tap into the electrical grid.

Water-borne diseases are a major killer in Iraq. Fixing the water distribution system to homes is almost more important than building new purification plants.

"People with raw sewage in their street or front yard don’t want to clean up the Tigris, they want the sewage out of their yards," said an official. Making these type of changes in the daily life of average Iraqis will go a long way to destroying the insurgency, he said.

Officials expect the level of intimidation to increase as the Jan. 30 election approaches. To that end, the Iraqi interim government, Iraqi security forces and coalition forces are working to increase the level of security. Up to election day, coalition and Iraqi forces will continue operations targeting the insurgents, officials said.

On election day, the Iraqi security forces will provide security around the almost 6,000 polling places in the country. Coalition forces will provide a quick-reaction capability to incidents.

Articles Related to the Insurgents in Iraq:

** Insurgents Attack Again from Eastern Mosul Mosque
** U.S., Iraqi Forces Detain More Suspected Insurgents

Insurgents Attack Again from Eastern Mosul Mosque


For the second straight day, insurgents firing from a mosque in eastern Mosul targeted multinational forces in Iraq, military officials in Baghdad reported Saturday.

Task Force Olympia soldiers with the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Combat Team), were patrolling when their convoy came under attack by insurgents firing rocket-propelled grenades and small arms from the Rashan Mosque.

Insurgents had attacked multinational forces and Iraqi security forces from the same mosque Jan. 14. No injuries were reported from the either attack.

Iraqi security forces have increased the number of troops in northern Iraq in an effort to provide "enhanced security and stability for the Jan. 30 elections," officials said. About 4,000 Iraqi security forces, including Iraqi National Guard soldiers, are in the Mosul area. The ING has been folded into the regular Iraqi army.

In Mosul, soldiers of the 106th Iraqi National Guard detained six people suspected on insurgent activity and confiscated weapons and ammunition.

On Jan. 14, Iraqi forces and soldiers from 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Striker Combat Team), detained 16 individuals and confiscated weapons, ammunition, and bomb equipment during operations in northern Iraq.

Military officials in Baghdad said in a written statement that "with each seizure and removal of dangerous weapons and detention of anti-Iraqi insurgents, the situation is becoming safer."

In news elsewhere, three suspected insurgents were detained in a raid on a house in Abayach, near the site where an improvised explosive device was found Jan. 14. A search of the house uncovered insurgent propaganda and a possible IED detonator. The suspects were taken to Multinational Force Iraq detention facilities.

The 2nd Iraqi Ministry of the Interior Commando Battalion detained another suspect in a raid near Samarra. The commandos confiscated two AK-47 assault rifles, a submachine gun and five AK-47 magazines in the raid. The detainee was taken in for questioning.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, coalition forces recovered two weapons caches Jan. 14. The first contained three RPG launchers, three RPGs, an RPK machine gun and an AK-47. The second cache contained four 25 mm anti-aircraft gun barrels, four 25 mm receivers and 130 cans of ammunition with 32 rounds per can. Both caches were turned over to Afghan police.

(Source: Multi-National Force Iraq and Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

U.S., Iraqi Forces Detain More Suspected Insurgents


Jan. 13, 2005 – U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces continue to detain suspected insurgents in the Baghdad, Mosul and Tikrit areas of Iraq.

On Jan. 12 in northern Iraq, members of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), and Iraqi security forces detained 13 people wanted for insurgent activity:

Three people wanted for insurgent activity in the village of Shekan were detained during a cordon-and-search operation by soldiers of the 102nd Iraqi National Guard. The driver of a vehicle that earlier had fired a mortar round at Iraqi Guardsmen was stopped and detained at a checkpoint east of Mosul. No one was injured during the incidents.

Acting on a tip from an Iraqi citizen, two people suspected of planting roadside bombs were detained during a cordon-and- search operation in Hamam Al Alil. Another three suspected insurgents were detained south of Hatra.

Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, detained four individuals during cordon-and-search operations in eastern and southeastern Mosul.
Two suspects were detained when members of the 10th Mountain Division "Commandos" conducted a search of the Khashab mosque in western Baghdad on Jan. 12 aimed at capturing insurgents believed responsible for assassinating the governor of Baghdad. Insurgent propaganda was found in the mosque.

The search was planned based on intelligence gathered from numerous citizens in the Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad, officials said. Residents witnessed insurgents leaving from the mosque then fleeing to the mosque after the assassination.

Weapons, ammunition and bomb-making equipment were confiscated, and five people were detained by 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) soldiers in northern Iraq on Jan. 12.

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, discovered a cache of weapons and ammunition at a house south of Mosul and detained three people. Soldiers of the same unit discovered found a large amount of dynamite in a vehicle at a checkpoint in Hammam Al Alil. The two vehicle passengers were detained and remain in custody.

An aerial observation aircraft identified suspicious activity near a home in Ash Sharqat, and soldiers from 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, swooped in and detained a suspected insurgent.

(Compiled from MFINR)