Enemy Operations in Baghdad and Fallujah

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 5 months ago

There have been additional deployments to the Diyala Province due to the flight of AQI and other insurgents from Baghdad just prior to the increase in U.S. force size.  But there currently appears to be two foci – two points of importance in the counterinsurgency campaign – that are shaping up.  The first is Baghdad, where radical Shi’a are running out of patience even at the beginning of the security plan.  The second is Fallujah where radical Sunni, being squeezed in Ramadi and other parts of the Anbar Province, are wreaking violence and causing intimidation.

Al Sadr, believed to be in Iran, recently issued a statement explaining exactly where he and his leadership stood regarding the security plan for Baghdad.

“The occupiers want to harm this beloved (Sadr City) and tarnish its name by spreading false rumors and allegations that negotiations and cooperation are ongoing between you and them,” the statement said. “I am confident that you will not make concessions to them and will remain above them. Raise your voices in love and brotherhood and unity against your enemy and shout ‘No, No America!”

In tempo, a Sadr City official who has cooperated with the U.S. security plan was attacked, the attack wounding him and killing his two body guards.

An attack against the top Sadr City official has created tension in the ranks of Shiite militiamen with some blaming a faction unhappy about cooperation with Americans, a local commander said Friday.

Gunmen opened fire on the convoy carrying Rahim al-Darraji Thursday in eastern Baghdad, seriously wounding him and killing two of his bodyguards on Thursday, police and a local official said.

Al-Darraji was the principal negotiator in talks with U.S. officials that led to an agreement to pull fighters off the streets in Sadr City, a stronghold of the feared Mahdi Army, and a local commander said suspicion fell on a group of disaffected militiamen who are angry about the deal.

‘This is a faction that enjoys some weight,’ the Mahdi Army commander said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

He said the attack has created tension within the ranks of the militia and renewed a debate on the merits of allowing the Americans to operate in Sadr City without resistance during a security sweep aimed at ending the sectarian violence that has raged since a Feb. 22, 2006, bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra.

Some Mahdi army members have splintered off from al Sadr, and notwithstanding this splintering the Mahdi army is a loose knit organization anyway.  But it is clear now that al Sadr has given marching orders to his loyal followers, and his orders do not include participating with any security plan for Baghdad.  Not missing an opportunity to spin the events in a positive light, the Multi-National Force said:

“We’re very encouraged by what we’re seeing on the ground right now in Sadr City,” said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the U.S. military’s chief spokesman in Baghdad. “There is a tremendous amount of cooperation and dialogue ongoing. It’s proven to be very beneficial to both sides.”

Some reports have even gone so far as to suggest that Sadr is losing his grip on the Mahdi army.  We do not believe that this is so, any more than we believe that there is a “tremendous amount of cooperation” between the hard line Sadrists and the Multi-National Force.  What we believe concerning Sadr is summed up previously in Intelligence Bulletin #3.

General David Petraeus said that discussions are ongoing with Sadr’s organization, adding that “over time the Mahdi Army, as with all the militias, has to be disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated into society in some fashion.  The militia will not be allowed to join the Iraqi security forces as an organization.?  We would dryly observe that unless Moqtada al Sadr himself is out of the picture, this is probably not possible.  It must be remembered that Sadr is not merely the spiritual leader of a movement.  He essentially commands the largest voting bloc in the Iraqi parliament.

Further, if Sadr returns to Iraq, his arrest or disappearance might incite such a firestorm of problems that the Baghdad security plan is brought to a halt.  The Mahdi army doesn’t like even the presence of combat operation posts or bases in Sadr City.  Sadr will never be convicted in a court in Iraq, and a show trial that exhonerates him would be the worst of all possible outcomes.  The U.S. is tracking the whereabouts of Sadr.  Major General William Caldwell said that Sadr was still inside Iran as of 24 hours ago.  This seems like a confident report, and assuming its accuracy, it gives lattitude for the appropriate action to remove Sadr from the political and spiritual scene, thus enabling the security plan to succeed.  We highly commend the notion of a strategic disappearance of Sadr as one key to the overall success of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Recent events and al Sadr’s statement have only strengthened this view.

Turning our attention to Fallujah, it is helpful to read a report from an embedded reporter directly from the front in Fallujah.  Andrew Lubin gives us a first hand account of recent kinetic operations in Fallujah.

“AQI is both feared and hated,? Capt Broekhuizen said, referring to Al Qaeda in Iraq.  “They’ve been running a brutal terror campaign.  No city leaders are left here who will take a leadership role.? Marines from Golf Company said they recently fished two bodies out of the local river: a man had been decapitated, and his 4-year old tied to his leg before both were thrown into the river and the little boy drowned.  The killings were a product of Al Qaeda terror …

Last night, 4th Platoon won a small victory in the battle against AQI.  Under the command of Lieutenant Anthony Friel, four Marine humvees on patrol spotted a white Toyota parked close to a house along the Euphrates River.  Both the Toyota and the house looked suspicious.  Quickly, the Marines surrounded the latter, and knocked on the door.

Inside the house were several young men (with dubious identification), women and children, as well as an older man.  The squad leader, Corporal Jon Bates, and his Marines thoroughly searched the young Iraqis.  After discovering one ID marked in English “Progressive Mosque Security,? a subsequent search of the young man’s Toyota turned up sophisticated IED triggering devices, a pressure plate and an AK-47. Two were detained.

At the same time, another pair of locals were pushing a small skiff up the river, and seemed to be moving to land at the house.  The Marines on the riverbank spotted an AK-47 in the boat’s bottom, and they fired a pyrotechnic flare.  The locals turned the boat around and fled downriver.  The Marines chose not to pursue.

As it turned out, the older gentleman was the real prize. He was Sheik “X?, the local Okhash tribal elder, and he was fully aware of how the Marines and Sheiks were cooperating in rebuilding Ramadi thirty miles west (ON Point reported from Ramadi last week).  Having tribal connections in the Ramadi area, Sheik X said that he wanted to use it as a model for Marine assistance to drive AQI and the others from his city.  He said that he had been “biding his time? before contacting them.

Calmly, the Sheik watched as the Marines detained the two young men in the house, volunteering that if they were “bad guys? he was happy to see them go.  “You and I are going to find a way to work together to make this area better,? he told Lt Friel, “like Ramadi.?  The Sheik added that it was “Iranians and foreigners? who were destabilizing his tribal area. “Iranians are forcing out the doctors and teachers.  Soon this town will look like Afghanistan.?

This report from Dr. Lubin is thematically consistent with our discussions, including the themes of brutality as the primary tactic of the insurgency, security as a necessary pre-condition for political solutions to take effect, the necessity to prevent Iranian influence inside Iraq, and the global jihadist war on educators.

Consistent with the first theme, chlorine attacks are becoming more commonplace in the attempt to terrorize the tribal leaders into submission to al Qaeda in Iraq (more from Foxnews).

Suicide bombers sent another chilling message to Sunni Arab tribal leaders who have rebuffed Al Qaeda, blowing up three trucks rigged with chlorine-laden explosives in Al Anbar province, the military said Saturday. At least two people were killed, and more than 350 were sickened by the noxious clouds, including seven U.S. troops.

Since January, suspected Sunni insurgents have waged six attacks involving a combination of explosive devices and chlorine, killing 26 people. One of the bombings, in the provincial capital Ramadi, left 16 people dead.

The latest bombings appeared to be part of a vicious campaign by Sunni insurgents against local sheiks who had once harbored them but turned against them last fall in the face of relentless attacks against civilians.

Caught in the middle is the province’s overwhelmingly Sunni population, whose mosques, homes and roads have been targeted in retaliation for their elders’ decision to work with the Iraqi government and the U.S. military.

Last month, at least 37 Iraqis were killed in a bomb attack as they were leaving a Sunni mosque in the province. A preacher at the mosque in Habbaniya, 40 miles west of Baghdad, had delivered a blistering sermon a day earlier condemning Al Qaeda activities in Iraq, an official in the town said at the time.

Witnesses say one of the latest attacks targeted the home of a sheik who is part of the newly formed Anbar Salvation Council, a Sunni group that has led calls to oppose Al Qaeda.

The effects of acute exposure to chlorine inhalation can range from mild irritation to death, but given that explosive ordnance is far more effective in destruction and loss of life than chemical weapons, along with the fact that airborne contaminants disperse per Guass’s law with the square of the radius from the point of origin (with no wind), it is obvious that chlorine attacks are being used as an instrument of terror rather than for their usefulness as a weapon (and with wind, the contaminants still disperse according to meteorological theory, possibly in the unintended direction).  While the force due to conventional explosive ordnance also decreases with the square of the radius, conventional ordnance can be delivered directly to the desired point (given the weapons currently available to the insurgents), whereas the trucks used to deliver the chlorine can be interdicted.  If the insurgents continue to use these means, we predict that it will instill terror but yield meager tactical results.

In further action in Fallujah, today on March 18 “an Iraqi army base was fully destroyed on Sunday morning when a truck crammed with explosives detonated in eastern Falluja, leaving an unidentified number of casualties, a police source said. An Iraqi army base was fully destroyed on Sunday morning when a truck crammed with explosives detonated in eastern Falluja, leaving an unidentified number of casualties, a police source said.”  In other action slightly east of Ramadi in between Ramadi and Fallujah, “armed tribesmen in the Eastern Husayba village (5 km east of Ramadi) in the Anbar Governorate managed to drive out a local insurgent group associated with the Al-Qaeda in Iraq organization from their village.”  Sunday also saw the capture of five suspected terrorists with alleged ties to vehicle-borne IED and rocket attacks against Coalition Forces.

We continue to believe that the strategic disappearance of Moqtada al Sadr is a cornerstone of the success of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and without it, any surge of coalition troops, no matter how long it lasts, will be waited out by the more loyal Sadrists.  Further, recent terrorism and combat action shows that robust kinetic operations against al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al Sunna is necessary to provide security and thus pacify the Anbar Province, with Fallujah being a current hot spot of action.



  • Fred Beloit

    May I boil down the last paragraph? We need to kill or arrest Sadr; should have a long time ago. Attacking the enemy is the best way to win a war.

  • http://www.fumento.com Michael Fumento

    Exactly right on chlorine. If those trucks had been filled with high explosives the death toll could have been staggering. That’s why even though the Germans invented Sarin gas they decided not to use it. Hitler’s generals convinced him that HE was far more effective in causing deaths, not to mention that all the poison gas in the world can’t destroy material objects. That said, gas IS a good terror weapon because most people have a more innate terror of being gassed than of being blown up or shot. But I think the more they use chlorine the less the terror effect will be.

  • Pingback: The Captain's Journal » The Stupidity Of Chemical Weapons As Justification To Attack Syria


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This article is filed under the category(s) al Qaeda,Ansar al Sunna,Iran,Iraq,Islamic Facism,Jihadists and was published March 18th, 2007 by Herschel Smith.

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