Skip to comments.Islamic Fighters Tighten Control Of Rebel City (Falluja)
Posted on 09/10/2004 6:36:46 PM PDT by blam
Islamic fighters tighten control of rebel city
Four months after the US failed to pacify Falluja, religious laws rule the stronghold of Iraq's insurgency
Rory McCarthy in Baghdad
Saturday September 11, 2004
The Guardian (UK)
Islamic militants in Iraq are strengthening their grip on the insurgent stronghold of Falluja, four months after American commanders struck a ceasefire deal that was supposed to pacify the city and return it to government control, residents said yesterday. Militants have imposed religious law on communities, issuing edicts and executing those accused of spying and even stealing.
US patrols no longer enter the city, 40 miles west of Baghdad, and the Falluja Brigade, a government force established in May to maintain security, was disbanded this week.
Large areas of Falluja are now entirely under the control of the insurgents, while other parts are patrolled by police units that sympathise with the militants.
A mujahideen shura (or council) has been established, bringing together about 20 leaders from various insurgent groups, often with different aims and tactics. Together, they organise guerrilla tactics against US troops and enforce a hardline Islamic rule of law.
"Nobody can say they are controlling Falluja," said Muhammad Hassan al-Balwa, a businessman who was the head of the city council until he resigned when the US launched a major military operation against Falluja in April. "There are many sectors of power and there is nothing in common between their aims and their slogans."
"I told the Americans, 'If the people do not see any change then the resistance will become bigger and stronger'."
He said the insurgents were divided into three groups: the largest comprises Islamist militants, some following an extremely hardline vision similar to the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, in which they seek to establish an Islamist caliphate, a second group contains former Ba'ath party members, particularly from the military and elite security forces, and the third is made up of tribal nationalists fighting military occupation.
All three agree they want the US military to withdraw from Iraq, but their visions of the country after occupation are unclear and often at odds with each other.
For the past year, the city has been at the centre of the Sunni Muslim insurgency that has shaken the US military occupation. More than 600 Iraqis were killed when US troops launched a three-week offensive there in April, but this failed to curb the militancy.
"Falluja is sitting on a volcano, and unless someone tries to release the pressure from the inside it will explode," said Dr Balwa.
Earlier this week, seven US marines and three Iraqi national guard soldiers were killed just outside Falluja when their convoy was attacked by a car bomber. It was the heaviest death toll in a single attack for months.
For three consecutive days this week, the US military has bombed houses in Falluja, targeting what it describes as safe houses linked to the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is blamed for many of the car bombings and assassinations of the past year. But at the same time, the insurgency has imposed its own law within its community.
Several people have been executed for stealing and robbery, said Dr Balwa. Edicts have been issued against theft and car-jacking. For some Iraqis, security has improved. But those seen as collaborators or spies have been punished with kidnapping and execution.
On Wednesday, Bassem Muhammad Munajed, the deputy governor of al-Anbar province, which includes Falluja, was kidnapped from his home by masked gunmen. Last month, the militants forced the provincial governor, Abdul Karim Birjis, into a humiliating resignation after his three sons were kidnapped.
Days later, US marines arrested the provincial police chief, Ja'adan Muhammad Alwan, who had defected under threat to the insurgency. US military officials said that he was suspected of corruption and possible links to kidnapping and murder.
The militants also recently executed Colonel Suleiman Hamad Ifaikhan, the head of the 506 Brigade of the Iraqi national guard, which was based in Falluja.
Some observers say the city has become a focal point for foreign anti-American fighters coming to Iraq from states such as Syria and Saudi Arabia.
"Half the people of Falluja don't like these people being there," said Sadeq al-Moussawi, a member of the Monarchy party, which has strong connections with local tribes. "If we want to finish this off, we need intelligence to give us information about each house they use, but the intelligence men they use are from Saddam's regime and we can't trust them."
Other towns have gone the same way as Falluja. US troops no longer patrol in Ramadi, 20 miles to the west, nor in Tal Afar, a small town just west of Mosul in the north. US troops entered Samarra, just north of Baghdad, only on Thursday for the first time in weeks after an agreement with local officials.
To accompany their growing position of strength, Falluja's militants have released a macabre video disc, sold in markets in Falluja and Baghdad, showing prominent captives of the insurgents.
One scene shows the sobbing resignation of the provincial governor, Mr Birjis. However, the most disturbing scene, presented by a hardline group said to be run by Mr Zarqawi, shows the execution of an Egyptian man who gives his name as Muhammad Fauzi Abdul Aíal Mutwali.
He admits spying for the Americans in Falluja and says he was given 45 computer chips that he was told to place in target houses to direct US air strikes. For each chip planted, he was paid $150 (£83).
Three men stand behind the Egyptian - two armed with Kalashnikovs and the third with a knife. "Blessings and peace upon he who implements the judgment by the sword," says the third man.
"We are on top of the shoulders of the unclean and the spy traitors, the police and the soldiers who are on the convoy of Satan. Here today we are taking the right of God by slaughtering this criminal."
He then leans forward and, with the words "God is greatest", beheads the Egyptian, placing his severed head on his slumped body.
So let them have their taliban style islamic regime. They deserve it. In a year they'll be begging us to come back.
My guess is we are about to move in.
Now allies attacking there .
Fence the rabid beasts in. Let them starve.
Instead of fighting the guerillas one by one as they set up roadside bombs, we allow them to concentrate thereby making it easier to take them out when the time comes.
The Guardian is the CBS of Great Britain. I guess they never heard of the island hopping strategy of WW2 as you bypassed Japaneese strongholds to go for the throat of Japan itself. We will mop up Falluja in due time. Just be patient. I bet the Marine snipers have a target rich enviroment. Hehehe. Parley
If we don't end this foolishness, we will lose Iraq. While I am no fan of Sadaam, Iraq is a hard country to rule--I can see where he needed an iron fist. I sincerely hope that we are waiting for the election to be over before acting. The reason is simple--taking control back will probably result in a bloodbath. One problem is the fact that we have granted sovereignty to the Iraqis--the people in charge have not shown alot of backbone. If when we finally leave Iraq it devolves into a Taliban like state, then we have (tragically) boosted Bin Laden immensely.
Bingo! Benign neglect.
Anybody but me remember when, not very long ago, this was the daily coalition death statistic, not the 'highest in months'?
This is the most important paragraph of this article, although the author does everything he can to bury it. The Coalition is winning, and the area controlled by 'insurgents' (that is, al Qaeda) is shrinking. Sorry, Rory, but no matter how hard you try to spin it, the news is good.
Calling off the dogs when we had them on the ropes was a serious mistake. I thought that this would be the result. Unfortunatly, this proved to be correct. We lost a lot of lives for nothing there. To paraphrase the war criminal Gen. Sherman.........."(PC) War is hell".