Skip to comments.Al-Qaeda terror chief runs Iraqi hit squads
Posted on 08/09/2003 6:25:59 PM PDT by saquin
AL-QAEDA terrorists who have infiltrated Iraq from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have formed an alliance with former intelligence agents of Saddam Hussein to fight their common enemy, the American forces.
The alliance, known as Jaish Mohammed the army of the prophet Mohammed is believed to be responsible for increasingly sophisticated attacks on US soldiers. In the past four months it has smuggled millions of dollars, weapons and hundreds of Arab fighters across the desert border with Saudi Arabia.
Details of the alliance have emerged from Iraqi intelligence and US military sources, and from local supporters in a belt of restive Sunni Muslim towns to the west of Baghdad.
Influenced by Wahhabism a fundamentalist strain of Islam followed in Saudi Arabia and by Osama Bin Laden it represents a new force for Al-Qaeda in its holy war against the US. The group is led by a top Saudi Al-Qaeda officer, while most of the lieutenants and foot soldiers are Iraqis, who can move easily among the locals.
The Sunday Times has obtained the name of the leader but has been asked not to publish it for fear of jeopardising security operations. He does not direct every attack, but oversees training and ensures cells follow his commands about targets.The Saudi relies for planning, logistics and recruitment on two former Iraqi intelligence officials, including Mohammed al-Kudier, a former director of special operations in Saddam's Mukhabarat security service.
According to the sources, they run a training camp at Razaza, 30 miles from the town of Ramadi, at a former lakeside resort that Saddam turned into a base for army manoeuvres. Last Friday a driver was shot and killed on a nearby road.
The new threat to the Americans was disclosed yesterday as British troops in Iraq's second city of Basra came under attack from a mob complaining about petrol and power shortages in temperatures of 57C (135F). Three soldiers from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment were hit by stones but were not seriously injured.
Jaish Mohammed seems to analysts to be an improbable alliance. Al-Qaeda was formed by Bin Laden to drive American forces from Saudi Arabia, home to the two holiest sites in Islam. Saddam's ruling Ba'ath party was deeply secular.
There was deep scepticism in the run-up to the war when the administration of President George Bush alleged that there were links between Saddam and Bin Laden, who directed the September 11 terror attacks.
But a different kind of co-operation is emerging in Iraq, driven by a mutual hatred of the West, particularly the Americans and British.
For the Arab foreigners in Jaish Mohammed, the alliance is a jihad, similar to that forged by Bin Laden and his allies to expel Soviet forces from Afghanistan. According to those who know them, the Iraqis have joined for a combination of religious and nationalist reasons.
The Saudi Al-Qaeda officer, who moves across the border but was believed to be in Iraq last week, is supported by wealthy Saudis rather than the Riyadh government. His Iraqi partners recruit from the pool of security and intelligence officers who are unemployed and embittered by their loss of status.
Recruits are selected for their religious tendencies and weapons skills. After vetting, they begin Al-Qaeda-style training, such as how to make remote-controlled bombs. They then stay in safe houses. "They are spread out so it's difficult to arrest them," said an Iraqi source. "When there is an operation they are brought to collection areas either mosques or a training camp." Messages are passed by word of mouth.
Jaish Mohammed is the most dangerous of Iraq's diverse elements of resistance and its presence is increasingly potent.
On Thursday in the Karadeh area of Baghdad an American Humvee pulled up as it did daily on the main street, where the soldiers bought cold drinks. At 2.15pm, a remote-controlled bomb buried in a dirt square exploded, seriously injuring two soldiers and killing two Iraqis.
Foreign fighters were also suspected of organising Thursday's truck bomb attack on the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, which killed 19 people.
Yesterday America's top military officer said the continued incursion of foreign fighters into Iraq could lead to a diplomatic showdown between America and Iraq's neighbours.
"It's a serious issue," said General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff. "We have to convince these countries surrounding Iraq that it is not a good idea to allow foreign fighters in."
The Americans confirm they believe Al-Qaeda is operating in Iraq. Paul Bremer, the civilian administrator, said the military had found strong links between Al-Qaeda, other Iraqi groups and guerrilla attacks that have killed 55 US soldiers since Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1.
As the disturbances spread in Basra, British troops in riot gear struggled to control mobs burning tyres and attacking cars.
Don't fall into a routine guys.
At some point, the saud is going to hit the fan.
Most liberals don't even know that al Qaeda is composed of many groups yet. They seem to think it is one rigid asnd uniform organization.
Saddam loyalists ally with Islamists
By Paul Martin
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
BAGHDAD A shadowy group of Saddam Hussein loyalists calling itself al Awda, meaning "the Return," is forming an alliance with Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda for a full-scale uprising against the U.S.-led occupation in mid-July.
The information comes from leaflets circulating in Baghdad, as well as a series of extended interviews with a former official in Saddam's security services who held the rank of brigadier general.
Al Awda is aiming for a spectacular attack and uprising on or about July 17 to mark the anniversary of the Ba'athist revolution in 1968, the former general said.
The Islamists have indicated they are willing to join forces to battle the Americans, even though they dislike Saddam and his secular Ba'ath Party ideology.
A leaflet by Jaish Mohammed, one of two Islamist groups operating in Iraq, said it was willing to work with the Ba'athists despite Saddam's repression of Islamic fundamentalism.
The leaflet, obtained by The Washington Times, makes a direct appeal for former intelligence officers, security personnel, Fedayeen Saddam members, Republican Guard troops and Ba'ath Party members to join forces.
"The first act will be spectacular, possibly smashing an oil refinery near Baghdad," said the former general, who has been urged by al Awda to join the leadership of the planned anticoalition front.
The former officer said the effort goes well beyond the sporadic shootings in the past three weeks that have left at least 10 Americans dead.
Al Awda is well-financed, he said. It uses money stashed away by Saddam and his supporters well before the coalition's invasion, and its funds are enhanced by bank robberies and the removal of huge quantities of cash from the central bank early in the conflict.
The former officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he had agreed to join al Awda, though still may avoid full commitment, because "otherwise they'll come tomorrow and throw hand grenades into my house and at my wife and kids."
Among al Awda's membership were a considerable number of former Iraqi commandos and well-trained soldiers, who now had no jobs or prospects of employment, the informant said.
"The coalition pushed them into the Ba'athists' arms by disbanding the whole army and security services.
"That left these men with despair and hatred and so easy pickings for Ba'athists with money and propaganda," he said.
He claimed that his own growing contempt for the American occupation led him a week and a half ago to shoot a U.S. solider through the neck using a Russian-made sniper rifle.
He said he was the third-best sniper in the armed forces in his younger days and that he believed the American solider died.
Less-experienced fighters are being trained in guerrilla-warfare skills and assaults using abandoned buildings and remote locations, the informant said.
"At first, they were offering between $500 and $600 to anyone killing an American. Now it's up to 1 million dinars [more than $700]," he told The Times.
Copies of a handwritten, signed letter purported to have been composed by Saddam urging an uprising were scattered in several Baghdad neighborhoods yesterday.
The two main Sunni Muslim Islamist groups are Jaish Mohammed, or "Mohammed's Army," in the north, which began operating in Jordan even before the war, and Islamic Jihad in the west.
Each has similar commitment to the hard-line Wahhabi philosophy, originating in Saudi Arabia, that places them within the al Qaeda sphere.
One band from Jaish Mohammed was eliminated by U.S. troops through combined helicopter and land action, killing about 70 in an encampment on the Euphrates River last week.
From the camp, soldiers captured handwritten pages from lined notebooks showing diagrams to make bombs and grenades. The papers, seen by The Times, bear the slogan "Either victory or martyrdom."
They state that C-4 should be "mixed with RDX, half put into a can of [gasoline], and close it carefully." C-4 and RDX are plastic explosives.
For grenades, the instructions say, "Place nails inside to have a bigger explosive effect, and strongly tighten the lid."
Other scraps of paper urged fighters to change their names.
"Get ready to take action. ... You have to seize the chance to gain intelligence," it advised, and elsewhere added the warning "Beware of traitors and hypocrites."
That the Ba'athist al Awda has been wooing the Islamists in recent days is evident from some of the Islamic terminology it is using.
It is referring in its underground leaflets to al Awda fighters as mujahideen, a term used for Muslim rebels in Afghanistan and in other conflict zones.
The al Awda propaganda is venomously anti-Western.
"Teach your children to hate all foreigners," and "all foreigners are enemies," said leaflets distributed in Fallujah and other Ba'athist strongholds.
The Islamic groups have been spreading an even more vicious form of propaganda.
In attempting to demonize the coalition, its adherents have been calling L. Paul Bremer, the chief administrator, "Bremer Hussein" and using the slogan "One dictator goes, another dictator comes."
In a recent sermon in a Fallujah mosque that was packed with adherents and broadcast by loudspeakers to many more outside, a preacher demanded, "Fight the Americans. Don't deal with them. Don't shake hands with them. They are dirty."
The preacher added that Mr. Bremer was encouraging Jews to return and reclaim their houses, and any Arab businessman helping this process should be killed.
In Baghdad yesterday, a 12-year-old schoolboy asked his father if all Americans as he had been told were carriers of AIDS.
He said adults had told him this was evident from blood seemingly coming out of the ear of a female U.S. soldier who had visited the school.
A Western reporter saw a recent gathering at which men in Western garb sat in rows of white plastic chairs alongside others in white robes another apparent sign that Ba'athists and Islamists were holding joint meetings.
The reporter was unable to hear what was said at the meeting, which took place in the yard of a home near Baghdad airport.
Both parties are portraying the uprising as a chance to regain the wealth of the country, its oil fields, from the American invaders.
They also are exploiting widespread resentment at U.S. forces' raids on private homes, where doors have been kicked in and women's rooms entered, and this week's stringent stop-and-search policy at roadblocks.
Few weapons have been found in these operations, locals say. So far, the uprising plans have been confined to Sunni Muslims and Ba'athist sympathizers.
"If they can persuade the Shi'ite Muslims to join in, the Americans will not be able to survive two months," said the former general.
The Shi'ites, who make up about 60 percent of the Iraqi population and have been treated the worst of all segments under the old regime, remain on the sidelines, he said.
"They are also resentful, but their masters have told them to wait so far," the former general said.
Not true, though touted often enough. Al Qaeda was formed in 1988, years BEFORE US forces were based in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. Even then it was just another splinter off of a larger group based in Pakistan with whose other leader bin Laden had had a disagreement over the prioritization of the issue of palestine, verses the issue of Arab governments not being sufficiently Islamic. The US presence in Saudi Arabia didn't become one of al Qaeda's big issues until the Gulf War. It was most likely considered just another issue useful to recruit more warm and disgruntled bodies.
Several militant groups have claimed responsibility for the blast but none so far has been credible.
One of these was Jaish Mohammed (Mohammeds Army), a name previously associated with a group known to be active only in Chechnya and Dagestan, in Russia. It is curious that the claim of responsibility was received by phone by Omar Bakri Mohammed, the leader of Al-Muhajiroun, a London based militant group known for his ties with bin Laden.
However, in December 1999 Jordan arrested 13 suspects thought to be linked to Osama bin Ladens network and thus thwarted plans to carry out a series of attacks on Jordanian territory. The leader of the group, Khader Abu Ghoshar, and his 12 associates had received training in Afghanistan on the manufacture and handling of bombs. He set up a group called Jaish Mohammed, comprising veterans of the Afghan conflict, which was responsible for several explosions in Jordan. It is possible that this, rather than the Chechnyan group, is the Jaish Mohammed claiming the attack on the Cole.
Nope, no Iraq ties to al Qaeda, the dims they tell us soooooo.
Speaking of Al Muhajiroun: the group has a North American chapter. Its spokesman is Kamran Bokhari, from the University of Texas.
Speaking of Al Muhajiroun: the group has a North American chapter. Its spokesman is Kamran Bokhari, from the University of Texas.
On The Net...AS-SABEEL.com - AS-SABEEL AGENCY - "INTERVIEWS" (PAGE SNIPPET: "In this section, read some interviews with Mujaahideen such as the martyred commander Ibn Al-Khattaab, Usamah Bin Laden, Mullah 'Umar and many more. We will Insha Allah also be adding our own exclusive interviews with brothers who have trained/fought fee sabeelillah from various countries.")
They set up a camp and its location is known to the press and the US military apparently, according to the conclusions the reader must draw, just sits and does nothing.
I didn't have that JM link to the article.