Archive for the 'Terrorism' Category



The Mumbai Attacks and American Imperialism

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 11 months ago

While some speculation exists as to the possibility that the attacks in Mumbai are from home-grown terrorists, it appears that there was at least some involvement by foreign fighters, and specifically, from Karachi, Pakistan.

The terrorists who carried out multiple strikes in Mumbai yesterday landed on Indian shores on a boat that had set sail from Karachi before anchoring in one of the many barren islands in the Rann of Kutch along Gujarat’s coastline.

The 25-30 terrorists then used smaller boats to reach the Mumbai shores the same day they struck at 12 locations in the country’s financial capital. “They landed at Sasoon dock (off the Gateway of India) and reached the metropolis using rubber dinghies. We have information about their route, which we would share in time to come,” said the Special Secretary (Internal Security), Mr ML Kumawat.

The attacks have exposed India’s 7,516-km-long vulnerable coastline. It has shown that terrorists can create a Kargil-like situation along India’s coastline to harbour terror modules in the 1,200-odd barren islands and attack over 200 sensitive strategic installations spread across the country.

There is also a certain shock and dread among Indians that accompanies this attack.

India’s cities are no strangers to indiscriminate terror attacks. Such attacks have occurred regularly, and with steadily increasing frequency, in recent years. Mumbai, India’s financial capital, has been targeted before …

So what is new about Mumbai, November 2008? The obvious novelty is the use of frontal assault tactics instead of timed explosive devices.

This is new in the urban Indian context. There was one notable exception – an attack by a five-man squad armed with rifles and grenades on India’s Parliament in New Delhi in December 2001.

The attackers were narrowly prevented by alert staff from gaining access to the building, where hundreds of parliamentarians and ministers were attending a session.

They were gunned down near the entrance by security personnel after an hour-long battle. Nine guards and parliament stewards also died.

This attack led to the crisis of 2002 between India and Pakistan.

The Indian government blamed Pakistani religious radicals, and embarked on a major military build-up on the border with Pakistan, to which Pakistan responded with its own mobilisation.

The stand-off eventually wound down later in 2002 after months of tension and brinkmanship.

But frontal assaults, usually carried out by two-man teams firing semi-automatic rifles and lobbing grenades, were the favoured tactic of the insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir between 1999 and 2003 …

The tactic is thus not without precedent, but the mayhem in Mumbai may nonetheless mark a new chapter in the evolution of urban terrorism in India.

Bombs planted in markets and on commuter trains kill and maim working-class and middle-class Indians.

The gunmen who attacked two luxury hotels, and a fashionable cafe frequented by visiting Westerners, have brought the “war” – as they see it – to India’s elite class, and to affluent Westerners living in or visiting India’s most cosmopolitan city.

Analysis

There might be a sense of sympathetic understanding among Americans, as if we’ve seen this before with 9/11 and understand all about the war being brought to one’s doorstep. But when thoughtfully considered, this sentiment doesn’t stand the test of reasonableness, or even magnitude, for what could have been or what could be in the future.

This analysis doesn’t minimize the suffering of those who lost loved ones on 9/11, or the magnitude of effort and commitment to respond to the initial or delayed affects of 9/11. But considered analysis forces the conclusion that there is a nontrivial chance that we haven’t seen the worst yet. The so-called Hamburg cell, at the direction of al Qaeda command, attacked symbolic targets, but left face-to-face confrontations in the streets for engagements they had hoped would come later by other jihadists.

They fundamentally left important (and remarkably soft) infrastructure unmolested. Terror would be multiplied in the future by fighters targeting women and children in shopping malls. A few hundred fighters would cause untold death among innocent and unprotected civilians, and cause terror on a heretofore unparalleled level. New York is still far away from the heartland of America. The local shopping mall is not. A few hundred fighters could cause tens of thousands of deaths.

Furthermore, the basic infrastructure still functioned after 9/11, even if the economy suffered for a period of time. Targeting the right (relatively unprotected) medium or high voltage transformers on the electrical grid of America would literally shut down industry and business in America. These are components that don’t sit on the shelves in great numbers and which must be fabricated, and upon losing the electrical grid, the power wouldn’t even be available to manufacture these components, at least for weeks or months. What is now easy to Google and purchase over the internet would become very scarce upon thousands being destroyed. Granted, this would take involvement of more fighters than were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but Mumbai is in significant trouble over much fewer fighters.

Targeting the right infrastructure could lead to economic consequences more catastrophic than 9/11 by an order of magnitude or more. And hence, it takes a special naivety to dismiss so easily the issues surrounding so-called American imperialism, as if the actions of a “meddling” armed forces must necessarily be evil because they are anticipatory rather than reactionary.

There are certainly unintended consequences to American imperialism, and the practice of fighting wars on soil other than our own is a costly affair, both monetarily and in terms of the human sacrifice. But there are also unintended consequences to isolationism too, and one such consequence might very well be that the sacrifice is even more costly when the fight is in one’s own back yard.

The ones affected by tactics described above might be constrained to reconsider just who the evil one is after such attacks: the leader who meddled in the affairs of other nations, or the leader who failed to anticipate the danger and dire consequences of failing to act before the terror came to our own shores.

Postscript: In anticipation of the charge that articles such as this give the terrorists ideas, it isn’t the terrorists who need ideas. They already know which targets are hard and which ones are soft. Before making the charge, the reader should consider the question, “why is it that I don’t want to hear this information?” The terrorists already know it.

The Pakistan Border and Covert Operations

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 1 month ago

An unusually clear-headed letter appeared in Pakistan’s The Post concerning the Pakistan-Afghan border, ending with the following observation.

Ordinarily, coalition partners should not be concerned about border issues when they have a common objective and Former Ambassador Zafar Hilaly made a valid point that the enemy neither respects nor recognises borders, and yet the nation quibbles about border violations. The fact that militancy found a willing stronghold within the tribal belt shows how easily these people surrendered their ‘sovereignty’ to the enemy. Those who vow to defend our territorial integrity against the ‘Farangi’ invader forfeited the right when the first Taliban crossed over to Pakistan after 2001. But someone needs to clean up this mess and it is preferable to have Pakistan at the helm only because our national pride will not permit otherwise. If Pakistan can convince the Americans that they can sort out their side of the border, they must then convince this nation to let them.

For the last four years Pakistan has been gaming the campaign against extremists in order to continue to procure money from the U.S. They shoot at empty buildings, pretend to engage the Taliban fighters, and then “make agreements” with them through jirgas. Although the recent bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad has been called Pakistan’s 9/11, The Captain’s Journal is still skeptical. It is more than just the Pashtuns who have given up their right to defend Pakistan from U.S. incursions. The Pakistan Army’s gaming of operations against the Taliban for U.S. dollars has also lost them the credibility to conduct real operations against the Taliban or complain when the U.S. does.

The U.S. must take whatever action deemed appropriate by CENTCOM and its new head General Petraeus. But regular readers of The Captain’s Journal know that we do not advocate treating the campaign as a counterterrorism campaign against high value targets. Special forces, we have claimed, cannot win a counterinsurgency. This requires infantry. Steve Coll of The New Yorker recently made an analogous observation concerning covert policy.

On television shows and in the movies, we romanticize covert action of this kind as bold and daring, but military history suggests that it is usually of very limited strategic value. It is usually most effective, as it was during the Second World War, when it serves as a kind of extension or multiplier of a successful overt policy. This may have been the case, too, with the covert action arm of the “surge,” which Bob Woodward has highlighted in his recent book. But covert action fails, as at the Bay of Pigs, when frustrated and desperate Presidents seize on secret war as a substitute for a successful declared or open policy that also involves diplomacy, economic measures, and so forth. The problem with covert U.S. raids in the Pakistani tribal territories today is not that they are unjustified—the Taliban and Al Qaeda are vicious adversaries, and they pose what the national-security lawyers call a “clear and present danger” to the United States and to Pakistan. The problem is that in the attenuating months of the Bush Administration, covert policy has dominated U.S. policy, and often controlled it—and it obviously isn’t working.

As an editorial note, we don’t necessarily agree with Woodward’s characterization of anything concerning Operation Iraqi Freedom. Also, Coll’s assessment that more diplomacy and money are needed in order to consider our actions “policy” is amusing. Diplomacy and money – along with covert special forces and CIA operations – have been the cornerstone of our policy in Pakistan from the beginning.

“Dirty Bombs” and Proper Control of Radioactive Material

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 3 months ago

H/T to Ed Morrissey, the Canadian press has compiled a catalog of missing radioactive sources.

Radioactive devices — some of which have the potential to be used in terrorist attacks — have gone missing in alarming numbers in Canada over the past five years.

A new database compiled by The Canadian Press shows that the devices, which are used in everything from medical research to measuring oil wells, are becoming a favoured target of thieves.

At least 76 have gone missing in Canada over the past five years — disappearing from construction sites, specialized tool boxes, and generally growing legs and walking away.

Some of the devices could be used in a “dirty bomb,” where conventional explosives are used to detonate nuclear material, spreading the contamination over a wide area, said Alan Bell, a security and international terrorism expert from Globe Risk Security Holdings.

He told CTV Newsnet on Thursday that the problem isn’t new, but it has gained new attention as a result of the CP report.

“It’s come to the fore over the last couple of days but it has always been there. We’ve had this problem. It’s only a matter of time before terrorists use a dirty bomb process to attack the world,” Bell said.

The database compiled by CP tracks the rate at which the devices have gone missing in recent years.

It points to dozens of cases where hazardous materials have gone missing, been stolen or lost in a variety of mishaps.

Of the 76, 35 were stolen, three others were found in a ditch beside a road, in a dump and in a farmer’s field.

Dozens were still unaccounted for at last count.

Bell said there is a lack of streamlining among the different federal departments responsible for nuclear materials and a single agency should be set up to track the transportation of nuclear materials.

“But one of the biggest problems is yes, we do keep track of them to the best of our ability, but things fall through the cracks as they always do,” Bell said.

The CP report comes in the wake of the release of a federal study that said the detonation of a small dirty bomb near Toronto’s CN Tower would send radiation out over a four kilometre area, causing economic devastation and slamming the city’s emergency medical services.

Bell said such reports could actually help motivate terrorists to strike the city.

“I was surprised. Why tell the terrorists where to place the device? This is the ramifications of the weather, this is the area that’s contaminated or affected. I thought it was irresponsible to do that.”

For the benefit of the reader, the radioactive sources to which the report refers come from commercial applications such as medical uses (PET scans, radioactive tracers), radiography (of industrial welds with Co-60, etc.), and other fairly large scale industrial uses.  Mr. Bell’s concern about informing the terrorists of the best tactics is irrelevant.  The terrorists already know that atmospheric dispersion is important.  The communication of basic science in the media doesn’t constitute assistance to terrorists.  However, lack of control over radioactive sources does, and we might point out that the number of sources discussed in this report is very small compared to that existing in the U.S.  Amelioration of missing or stray sources has been an issue in the U.S. for some time, and there has been a concerted recovery effort over the past months.

Under the NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), excess, unwanted, or abandoned radioactive sealed sources and other radioactive material are recovered and secured by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL’s) Off-site Source Recovery Project (OSRP) from commercial firms and academic institutions. Sources containing radioactive plutonium, americium, californium, caesium, cobalt, iridium, radium, and strontium have been recovered from medical, educational, agricultural, research and industrial facilities throughout the USA.

Radioactive sealed sources packaged by NNSA’s OSRP include more than 15,000 curies of americium-241, 10,000 curies of plutonium-238, and 10,000 grams of plutonium-239, collected from more than 600 sites. The sealed sources were once used in applications ranging from nuclear-powered cardiac pacemakers to gauges used in the manufacture of paper.

The aim of the GTRI program is to remove and securely manage radioactive materials that could be at risk of theft or used in a radiological dispersal device (‘dirty bomb’).

The OSRP was initiated by the DoE in 1999 as an environmental management project to recover and dispose of excess and unwanted sealed radioactive sources. The NNSA was established by Congress in 2000 as a separately organized agency within the DoE responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. The OSRP was transferred to NNSA’s Office of Global Threat Reduction in 2003. In 2006, OSRP also began recovering unwanted or unused US-origin sealed sources distributed overseas.

Russia is planning on consolidating control over radioactive materials for the same reason that the U.S. has already been on this quest for recovery of sources, i.e., prevention of nuclear terrorism.  Russia is planning on this central authority also having responsibility for control over “special nuclear materials,” or fissile material (already under extremely strict controls in the U.S.).

None of the controls discussed above, whether U.S. or Russian, pertain to small radioactive sources such as calibration sources, “button” sources, etc.  For instance, if you pull your smoke detector down and read the back panel, you will see that it contains 1 microCurie of Am-241 (Americium 241).  Such sources are too small to warrant control, although they are widely distributed and readily available.

Use and effectiveness of such a device is subject to atmospheric conditions, amount of radioactive material, emergency actions such as evacuation, and other things not under the control of the terrorists.  The terrorists will also consider use of such a device in a confined area such as a subway.  The discussing of this tactic here is not tantamount to divulging operational security to the enemy.  The enemy already knows it.

The solution to this kind of terrorism lies in prevention.  First, the terrorists themselves must be found out, and second, radioactive sources must be controlled.  Finally, an effective emergency response must be fielded and an information campaign must inform the public as to the precise consequences of such an event (both projected and actual).  It is likely that the consequences will redound more to public fear and reaction than to real health effects.

“Dirty Bombs” and Proper Control of Radioactive Material

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 3 months ago

H/T to Ed Morrissey, the Canadian press has compiled a catalog of missing radioactive sources.

Radioactive devices — some of which have the potential to be used in terrorist attacks — have gone missing in alarming numbers in Canada over the past five years.

A new database compiled by The Canadian Press shows that the devices, which are used in everything from medical research to measuring oil wells, are becoming a favoured target of thieves.

At least 76 have gone missing in Canada over the past five years — disappearing from construction sites, specialized tool boxes, and generally growing legs and walking away.

Some of the devices could be used in a “dirty bomb,” where conventional explosives are used to detonate nuclear material, spreading the contamination over a wide area, said Alan Bell, a security and international terrorism expert from Globe Risk Security Holdings.

He told CTV Newsnet on Thursday that the problem isn’t new, but it has gained new attention as a result of the CP report.

“It’s come to the fore over the last couple of days but it has always been there. We’ve had this problem. It’s only a matter of time before terrorists use a dirty bomb process to attack the world,” Bell said.

The database compiled by CP tracks the rate at which the devices have gone missing in recent years.

It points to dozens of cases where hazardous materials have gone missing, been stolen or lost in a variety of mishaps.

Of the 76, 35 were stolen, three others were found in a ditch beside a road, in a dump and in a farmer’s field.

Dozens were still unaccounted for at last count.

Bell said there is a lack of streamlining among the different federal departments responsible for nuclear materials and a single agency should be set up to track the transportation of nuclear materials.

“But one of the biggest problems is yes, we do keep track of them to the best of our ability, but things fall through the cracks as they always do,” Bell said.

The CP report comes in the wake of the release of a federal study that said the detonation of a small dirty bomb near Toronto’s CN Tower would send radiation out over a four kilometre area, causing economic devastation and slamming the city’s emergency medical services.

Bell said such reports could actually help motivate terrorists to strike the city.

“I was surprised. Why tell the terrorists where to place the device? This is the ramifications of the weather, this is the area that’s contaminated or affected. I thought it was irresponsible to do that.”

For the benefit of the reader, the radioactive sources to which the report refers come from commercial applications such as medical uses (PET scans, radioactive tracers), radiography (of industrial welds with Co-60, etc.), and other fairly large scale industrial uses.  Mr. Bell’s concern about informing the terrorists of the best tactics is irrelevant.  The terrorists already know that atmospheric dispersion is important.  The communication of basic science in the media doesn’t constitute assistance to terrorists.  However, lack of control over radioactive sources does, and we might point out that the number of sources discussed in this report is very small compared to that existing in the U.S.  Amelioration of missing or stray sources has been an issue in the U.S. for some time, and there has been a concerted recovery effort over the past months.

Under the NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), excess, unwanted, or abandoned radioactive sealed sources and other radioactive material are recovered and secured by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL’s) Off-site Source Recovery Project (OSRP) from commercial firms and academic institutions. Sources containing radioactive plutonium, americium, californium, caesium, cobalt, iridium, radium, and strontium have been recovered from medical, educational, agricultural, research and industrial facilities throughout the USA.

Radioactive sealed sources packaged by NNSA’s OSRP include more than 15,000 curies of americium-241, 10,000 curies of plutonium-238, and 10,000 grams of plutonium-239, collected from more than 600 sites. The sealed sources were once used in applications ranging from nuclear-powered cardiac pacemakers to gauges used in the manufacture of paper.

The aim of the GTRI program is to remove and securely manage radioactive materials that could be at risk of theft or used in a radiological dispersal device (‘dirty bomb’).

The OSRP was initiated by the DoE in 1999 as an environmental management project to recover and dispose of excess and unwanted sealed radioactive sources. The NNSA was established by Congress in 2000 as a separately organized agency within the DoE responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. The OSRP was transferred to NNSA’s Office of Global Threat Reduction in 2003. In 2006, OSRP also began recovering unwanted or unused US-origin sealed sources distributed overseas.

Russia is planning on consolidating control over radioactive materials for the same reason that the U.S. has already been on this quest for recovery of sources, i.e., prevention of nuclear terrorism.  Russia is planning on this central authority also having responsibility for control over “special nuclear materials,” or fissile material (already under extremely strict controls in the U.S.).

None of the controls discussed above, whether U.S. or Russian, pertain to small radioactive sources such as calibration sources, “button” sources, etc.  For instance, if you pull your smoke detector down and read the back panel, you will see that it contains 1 microCurie of Am-241 (Americium 241).  Such sources are too small to warrant control, although they are widely distributed and readily available.

Use and effectiveness of such a device is subject to atmospheric conditions, amount of radioactive material, emergency actions such as evacuation, and other things not under the control of the terrorists.  The terrorists will also consider use of such a device in a confined area such as a subway.  The discussing of this tactic here is not tantamount to divulging operational security to the enemy.  The enemy already knows it.

The solution to this kind of terrorism lies in prevention.  First, the terrorists themselves must be found out, and second, radioactive sources must be controlled.  Finally, an effective emergency response must be fielded and an information campaign must inform the public as to the precise consequences of such an event (both projected and actual).  It is likely that the consequences will redound more to public fear and reaction than to real health effects.

Splits, Reorganization and Realignments Within the Insurgency in Iraq

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 6 months ago

From Adnkronos International:

It’s been a bad week for the al-Qaeda franchise in Iraq. While initial reports that its leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri or allied Islamist State of Iraq chief Abu Omar al-Baghdadi had been killed were proven false, it did lose one top man, ‘information minister’ Muharib Abdulatif al-Juburi. But far more damaging in the growing isolation of al-Qaeda has been the birth of a new alliance between part of Sunni insurgent groups Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic Army calling itself the Jihad and Reform Front.

The Ansar al-Sunna in a statement posted Friday to the internet made a scathing criticism of the new born front which comprises three groups, the Islamic Army the Mujahadeen and a breakaway cell of al-Sunna.

The declared cause of their anger is that inside the new formation is a group calling itself “Ansar al-Sunna Sharia Committee”.

“We write this letter on your first day of activity” said a statement from Ansar al-Sunna’s leadership “because we see that you have committed a horrible mistake. You say that among the founder members of the Front there is a so-called Sharia Committee of Ansar al-Sunna”.

“There is no such thing as a Sharia committee inside al-Sunna” the group complained. “What happened is that two leaders of our group, Abi Sajad e Abu Hind, who formed a new outfit with their name”

The damaging split within Ansar al-Sunna was first revealed by the Al Jazeera network two weeks ago, to the amazement of Islamist cybernauts who, not having found any trace of the news on Islamist forums asked whether the report was true or whether the Qatar based broacaster had got it wrong. Only the official launch of the new Jihad and Reform Front on Thursday provided proof of what was really happening inside the Sunni insurgent formation.

Though not explicitly stated in the foundation document posted to Islamist internet sites on Thursday, the group has a clear anti al-Qaeda role, challenging the principles and strategies of its armed struggle.

“The group’s aim is to continue the resistance in Iraq and throw out the occupiers but at the same time to restate that Jihadi operations will strike the occupiers and their agents and not innocent civilians whom we should protect,” reads the statement.

The new cartel goes on to ask the Islamist militiamen to think seriously about the consequences of their attacks before carrying them.

These words, and the final part of the document which refers to an interpretation of Sharia law which can change according to the requirements of a military strategy, appear to be a pointed criticism of al-Qaeda in Iraq which is increasingly isolated within the insurgency.

This report by AKI leaves some things in need of clarification.  The loss of senior al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) leadership was possibly at the hands of competing insurgent groups, but is has been speculated that the loss in AQI leadership was at the hands of insurgents who are now working with coalition forces.  This seems somewhat dubious, but be that as it may, this alignment with U.S. interests (if it exists) must be seen as temporary and tenuous.  In Counterinsurgency Paradigm Shift in Iraq, I said “The much-heralded tribal split with al Qaeda is a positive sign in the Anbar Province, but it must be remembered that even if AQI loses in this showdown, the insurgency is not defeated.  One side of the insurgency has merely gained supremacy over the other.”

Foreign fighters are still a significant influence in Iraq, especially concerning suicide bombers (crossing the Syrian border) and weapons supply (crossing the Iranian border).   It is certainly the case that should AQI diminish or even disappear from Iraq, the results will be positive.  But in the total absence of AQI and Ansar al Sunna (AAS), there would still be an insurgency among the hard line Baathists and Fedayeen Saddam (although it is now becoming apparent that the Baathists, as a political party, are beginning the process of self-destruction).  This reorganized insurgency will be opposed to the U.S. presence in Iraq, and in fact, the real purpose of the split in the current insurgency is made clear in their vision for the future.

The Islamic Army in Iraq, the Mujahideen Army and Ansar Al Sunna (Shariah Council), an offshoot of the established Ansar Al Sunna group, said they would avoid spilling civilian blood, according to an Internet statement.

“The Jihad and Reform Front … pledges to continue with the duty of jihad in Iraq until all objectives, including the complete withdrawal of the occupiers in all their guises and the establishment of God’s religion …. are met,? it said.

“The military actions of the mujahideen will target the occupiers and their collaborators and will not target the innocents whom jihad aims to lead to victory.?

Much of the internecine warfare among the insurgency is reorganization and realignment.  If the insurgency has become experienced enough to move on to what David Galula roughly describes as care and governance of the population rather than brutalization of them, the reorganization and realignment may be a harbinger of a transition in strategy and tactics.

The background of AAS is described in summary fashion for us by an expert on the subject.

“Ansar al-Islam was formed out of a merger of the majority Kurdish groups Hamas (inspired by but not identical to the Palestinian group of the same name), Second Soran Unit, and al-Tawhid. I think September 2001 was the last time that they were majority Kurdish, because after that they started receiving a heavy influx of “Afghan Arabs? – you know the drill – and they soon outnumbered the original Kurdish fighters.

Fast forward to OIF in 2003. Most of the group is killed by the US and the battered remnants flee to Iran. They reorganize under the protection of the IRGC, but there is a lot of internal controversy.

Some members want to go join Zarqawi (AMZ), while others blame him and the international attention he brought to their activities for their current plight. By November 2003, the split finalizes and about half join AMZ while the others go back into Iraq as Jaish Ansar al-Sunnah.

They are pro-AQ but anti-AMZ and keep sending nasty reports back to AQ HQ talking trash on AMZ. Right now with AMZ dead, the major concern is that they will merge with al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) since its new supremo doesn’t carry the personal baggage that AMZ did with the Ansar al-Sunnah leaders. If you look at the list of captured or killed AQI leaders that CENTCOM just released, you will note that at least one of them was an Ansar al-Sunnah leader who was discussing such a merger.

AQI has never been majority Kurdish, now or at any time in the past since its formation in October 2004. Its predecessor group al-Tawhid wal Jihad was the same thing, made up primarily of Palestinian Jordanians from AMZ’s Bani Hassan tribe with a healthy sprinkling of international jihadis, mostly Algerians and Saudis. After the capture of Saddam, they were able to use AMZ as an alternate “alpha male? for a lot rank-and-file Baathist henchmen and picked up most of Saddam’s former lapdogs.

Bottom line, the Kurdish component in Iraqi jihadis has always been small and is likely to remain so in the future. The only time when Kurds made up a majority of Iraqi jihadis was when there were only 500-800 of them back in 2001 and most of those are captured or dead.?

Insurgency Planned Bombs for Girl’s School

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 6 months ago

In another reminder of the real nature of the enemy, a plot was uncovered where bombs had been pre-deployed inside a girl’s school.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — American soldiers discovered a girls school being built north of Baghdad had become an explosives-rigged “death trap,” the U.S. military said Thursday.

The plot at the Huda Girls’ school in Tarmiya was a “sophisticated and premeditated attempt to inflict massive casualties on our most innocent victims,” military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said.

The military suspects the plot was the work of al Qaeda, because of its nature and sophistication, Caldwell said in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

The plot was uncovered Saturday, when troopers in the Salaheddin province found detonating wire across the street from the school. They picked up the wire and followed its trail, which led to the school. Once inside, they found an explosive-filled propane tank buried beneath the floor. There were artillery shells built into the ceiling and floor, and another propane tank was found, the military said.

The wire was concealed with mortar and concrete, and the propane tanks had been covered with brick and hidden underneath the floor, according to a military statement. Soldiers were able to clear the building.

“It was truly just an incredibly ugly, dirty kind of vicious killing that would have gone on here,” Caldwell said.

Iraqi contractors were responsible for building the school, which was intended to bring in hundreds of girls.

“Given the care and work put into emplacing this IED, it is likely it had been planned for a long time” and it is thought that “the IED was not intended to be set off until the building was occupied,” the military said.

We may speculate that since the planning was so detailed and (likely) time consuming, the Iraqi contractor (or more specifically, at least some of the workers) knew beforehand that this plot existed.  The possibilities are that the insurgency infiltrated the contractor, or that threats forced the silence of the balance of the uninvolved workers.

This is not atypical of the insurgency.  They have targeted children in the past, and there has been in radical Islam an ongoing war against education and those who conduct it.  See my article Radical Islam’s War on Education.

Watch Interview (YouTube)

Insurgency Planned Bombs for Girl’s School

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 6 months ago

In another reminder of the real nature of the enemy, a plot was uncovered where bombs had been pre-deployed inside a girl’s school.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — American soldiers discovered a girls school being built north of Baghdad had become an explosives-rigged “death trap,” the U.S. military said Thursday.

The plot at the Huda Girls’ school in Tarmiya was a “sophisticated and premeditated attempt to inflict massive casualties on our most innocent victims,” military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said.

The military suspects the plot was the work of al Qaeda, because of its nature and sophistication, Caldwell said in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

The plot was uncovered Saturday, when troopers in the Salaheddin province found detonating wire across the street from the school. They picked up the wire and followed its trail, which led to the school. Once inside, they found an explosive-filled propane tank buried beneath the floor. There were artillery shells built into the ceiling and floor, and another propane tank was found, the military said.

The wire was concealed with mortar and concrete, and the propane tanks had been covered with brick and hidden underneath the floor, according to a military statement. Soldiers were able to clear the building.

“It was truly just an incredibly ugly, dirty kind of vicious killing that would have gone on here,” Caldwell said.

Iraqi contractors were responsible for building the school, which was intended to bring in hundreds of girls.

“Given the care and work put into emplacing this IED, it is likely it had been planned for a long time” and it is thought that “the IED was not intended to be set off until the building was occupied,” the military said.

We may speculate that since the planning was so detailed and (likely) time consuming, the Iraqi contractor (or more specifically, at least some of the workers) knew beforehand that this plot existed.  The possibilities are that the insurgency infiltrated the contractor, or that threats forced the silence of the balance of the uninvolved workers.

This is not atypical of the insurgency.  They have targeted children in the past, and there has been in radical Islam an ongoing war against education and those who conduct it.  See my article Radical Islam’s War on Education.

Watch Interview (YouTube)

Insurgent Lies and Propaganda

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 7 months ago

In Enemy Operations in Baghdad and Fallujah, we pointed out that Fallujah was a current hot spot of enemy combat action, citing among other action recent chlorine attacks.  On Wednesday morning there was further action in Fallujah.

Iraqi Army soldiers and police repelled a complex attack at the Fallujah Government Center, including two suicide truck bombs containing chlorine, on the morning of March 28.

The attack began at 6:33 a.m. with mortar fire, followed by two truck bombs and small arms fire. Iraqi Police identified the first suicide attacker and fired on the truck, causing it to detonate before reaching the compound. Iraqi Army soldiers spotted the second suicide truck approaching the gate and engaged it with small arms fire, causing it to also detonate near the entrance of the compound.

Approximately 15 Iraqi Security and Coalition Force members sustained injuries from the bomb blast and were evacuated to the 2nd Iraqi Army Brigade’s aid station and a Coalition medical facility.

Numerous Iraqi Soldiers and Policemen are being treated for symptoms such as labored breathing, nausea, skin irritation and vomiting that are synonymous with chlorine inhalation.

We maintain the position we staked out in Intelligence Bulletin #4 concerning chlorine attacks.  As to the military value of gas versus conventional explosives, the insurgents have chosen the far less effective of the two tactics.  Furthermore, according to the Multi-National Force press release, while personnel from the Coalition force sustained injuries, there were no reported fatalities.

The usually biased but sometimes informative Azzaman has an article entitled Fallujah may slip out of U.S. control that, using primarily this incident, comes to unsubstantiated conclusions concerning the current state and future of Fallujah.

Iraqi insurgents have intensified their attacks on U.S. targets inside the restive city of Falluja and the outlying villages and towns.

Daring attacks have taken U.S. troops aback in a city where the majority of its nearly 300,000 people are not happy with the presence of U.S. invaders.

Falluja has become a symbol of anti-U.S. resistance not only in Iraq but across most of the Arab and Muslim worlds.

It took the mighty U.S. military more than a month to flush the rebels out in 2004. The battle to regain the city caused massive destruction and had turned most of it into heaps of ruins.

But the rebels, most of whom had retreated to the countryside to escape devastating U.S. firepower, have reorganized their ranks and are now using more sophisticated means to drive the Americans away.

Two trucks one loaded with explosives and the other with toxic gas penetrated the fortified U.S. military camp in the city. The first suicide bomber drove through the gate with his explosives-laden truck only to be followed by the second truck full of chlorine bombs.

The rebels see the massive 2004 falluja attack as a defeat for the U.S. and a turning point in the battled to force its troops out of the country.

In the attack on the U.S. base, the second truck with poisonous gas entered the camp. The U.S. has not yet released reports of casualties but Iraqi police sources say tens of people, mostly Iraqi police officers as well as U.S. servicemen, were killed or injured.

This hyperventilating account of what can only be seen as a failure by the insurgents shows Azzaman for what they are: a mouthpiece for the insurgency.  In this instance, the editors at Azzaman have allowed themselves to look similar to the jihadist propaganda web sites such as Jihad Unspun that had another hyperventilating account of this incident where they attempted to make it look like something other than a tactical failure.

The Strategy Page has an outstanding assessment of the history of suicide bombers and the track record of failure that marks their path.  It is most certainly the case that suicide jihadists can cause much damage and wreak much havoc, as well as be a catalyst for sectarian violence.  However, turning to this tactic is demonstration that they have lost the support of the population, at least to a large extent.

Turning east towards Sadr City, Moqtada al Sadr issued a statement that whipped up his supporters by blaming the violence in Iraq on the presence of the U.S.  By all sensible accounts, the absence of the U.S. would allow the Shi’a to engage in the final stages of genocide of the Sunni population, which is now only about ten percent of the population after the exodus of the Sunnis over the last year.  What Sadr wants is unrestricted freedom to implement his policies rather than equity and peace for Iraq.  He and his hard line followers in the Mahdi army are as much terrorists as al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al Sunna.

IRAQSlogger is reporting that there was recently an attempt on Sadr’s life.

Amid reports of heavy fighting in a raid on a Sadrist official in the Kufa district, a member of the Iraqi Parliament has said that the Sadrist current foiled an attempt on Muqtada al-Sadr’s life, also in Kufa, and fingered US involvement in the plot.

Baha al-’Araji, a member of the Iraqi parliament with the Sadrist current told the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi that aides to Muqtada al-Sadr had discovered a plan to assassinate the cleric during Friday prayers in Kufa, the newspaper reports in Arabic.

The attack was foiled when al-Sadr failed to appear in Kufa on the specified Friday. The al-Quds al-Arabi account does not refer to the date of the alleged foiled attack.

This account appears rather soft and unsubstantiated.  However, if true, this directly comports with the counsel we have given to effect the “strategic disapperance” of Moqtada al Sadr as a cornerstone of the security plan.  In Intelligence Bulletin #3, we argued:

… 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.

One casualty of war is truth.  The truth in these cases is that the chlorine attacks have been tactical failures, and cooperation with Sadr is the devil’s game.  We have no business believing the lies of the jihadists, any more than we have of promulgating their lies by seeking reconciliation between Sadr and the Sunnis.  Sadr is a criminal and a killer and wants nothing of reconciliation.

Intelligence Bulletin #4

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 7 months ago

The Intelligence Bulletin is an aggregation and commentary series, and this is the fourth entry in that series.

Intelligence Bulletin #4 covers the following subjects: [1] Petraeus addresses rules of engagement, [2] Iranian nuclear program, [3] Chlorine gas attacks in Iraq, [4] Continued insurgent activity inside Mosques, [5] Iranian and Syrian threats in the covert war, [6] Ongoing coverage of the covert war against the CIA, [7] Continuing coverage of Anbar tribesmen in their battles against AQI, [8] Insurgents use women and children as shields, [9] Sadr’s Long Game, and [10] Thoughts on Walter Reed scandal.

Petraeus Addresses Rules of Engagement

Glenn Reynolds informs us of a communication by General Petraeus to his reports concerning rules of engagement.

Rules of engagement (ROE), highly criticized as being too restrictive and sometimes endangering our troops, have been “clarified.” “There were unintended consequences with ROE for too long,” Petraeus acknowledged. Because of what junior leaders perceived as too harsh punishment meted out to troops acting in the heat of battle, the ROE issued from the top commanders were second-guessed and made more restrictive by some on the ground. The end result was unnecessary – even harmful – restrictions placed on the troops in contact with the enemy.

“I’ve made two things clear,” Petraeus emphasized: “My ROE may not be modified with supplemental guidance lower down. And I’ve written a letter to all Coalition forces saying ‘your chain-of-command will stay with you.’ I think that solved the issue.”

In our rules of engagement coverage, we have argued for seeing the problems with ROE under four rubrics: The written ROE, the communication of the ROE, the application of the ROE in a counterinsurgency where fighters hide behind the population, and the main stream media feeding frenzy every time another story hits the wires, true or not.

The communication by General Petraeus addresses only one of the four categories above.  In our coverage we have cited:

[a] instances where NCOs have given us stories of lack of engagement that ultimately led to U.S. casualties:

… the ROE is vague and limiting.  And every time “violations? of the ROE came up it caused our soldiers and marines to question their actions and sometimes cause casualties.

[b] intelligence gathering by insurgents whose car(s) happens to break down at strategically located points to observe FOB layout (and soldiers who knew what was happening and were prevented from taking action):

Just recently press coverage was given to a nonlethal weapon (ray gun that increases the temperature of the skin), and while the technology was interesting to most readers, there is a nugget of gold in the report that is far more important than the ray gun.  It was reported that Airman Blaine Pernell, 22, said he could have used the system during his four tours in Iraq, where he manned watchtowers around a base near Kirkuk. He said Iraqis often pulled up and faked car problems so they could scout U.S. forces.  “All we could do is watch them,? he said. But if they had the ray gun, troops “could have dispersed them.?

[c] and from David Danelo of insurgents who fired pre-staged weapons where U.S. forces could not act:

The vehicle commander, Corporal Ronnie Davis, is in front of me holding a pair of binos.  Three other Marines peer down a street where Mujahideen have been firing at us from multi-story buildings scarred by gunfire and explosions.  While we exchange fire with the Muj, other observation assets available to 1 st Battalion, 6th Marines are mapping enemy positions for future operations.

“That’s the same two guys.  They’ve crossed back and forth four times,? Corporal Davis announces, referring to a pair of unarmed Iraqis who have run for cover.  Because these men are unarmed, the Americans under the Rules of Engagement are not allowed to shoot at them—even though gunfire is coming at us from that direction.

While there are many more, this last example is perhaps the most interesting.  The sophistication of the tactics should not escape our notice.  The insurgents know that U.S. forces cannot fire upon unarmed persons, so weapons are apparently pre-staged, then fired, and then the insurgents relocate to another pre-staged weapon, and so on.  The instance above had the Marines observing long enough to see the same two insurgents running for cover across the street four times; the Marines were fired upon, yet never engaged the enemy.

To see the reflexive reaction to charges that arise against U.S. troops, we need to look no further than recent combat action involving a Mosque.

The U.S. military, Iraqi government officials and witnesses here offered conflicting accounts Tuesday of whether several people killed during a Baghdad raid Monday night were armed insurgents or civilians gathered at a mosque.

According to a U.S. military statement, Iraqi soldiers assisting in a search for insurgents entered the Imam al-Abass mosque in Hurriyah, a formerly mixed Baghdad neighborhood that is now a stronghold of the Shiite Mahdi Army, before 9 p.m. Monday. About 50 people were detained as a search of the area continued. They were later released, the military said.

After the search, the statement said, a separate group of about 20 armed men attacked Iraqi and U.S. soldiers with rocket-propelled grenades and guns. The soldiers returned fire, killing three insurgents; three other armed men were detained, the military said. Military aircraft participated in the raid but did not fire, the statement said.

But Col. Mahmoud Abdul Hussein of Iraq’s Interior Ministry said six civilians were killed and seven wounded when U.S. helicopters fired on homes after coming under attack from armed men. Another ministry spokesman, Sami Jabarah, said late Tuesday that the casualties had risen to eight killed and 11 wounded.

Two witnesses described indiscriminate shooting, but no helicopter fire, by U.S. forces that resulted in the deaths of at least six civilians, including some armed guards.

Lt. Col. Christopher C. Garver, a military spokesman, said in response to an e-mail query that the military would “research” the incident.

The U.S. has always claimed that the differentiation between our military and those of the balance of the world is the philosophy of the non-commissioned officer.  Indeed, the claim is made that this one approach is why the U.S. is militarily so powerful.  Yet we deny the truthfulness of these words every time another investigation or incident research is started, implying that only a report by an officer can bring authoritative closure to issues of engagement.  In the comments to our article Rules of Engagement and Pre-Theoretical Commitments (which was a catalyst for thoughtful and robust remarks concerning ROE), Theo Farrell, professor of war in the modern world at King’s College, London, commented:

I guess, given the Brit Army’s minimum force tradition, commands can feel confident that their soldiers will employ appropriate levels of restraint/force. And so, the real difference betw the Brit Army and USA/USMC may be down to differing org cultures rather than different ROEs.

But in this same article we detailed how Captain Robert Secher refused to fire indiscriminately.  The U.S. troops have been cautioned about so-called ‘overdefense’ of themselves, and the real difference it seems is not that there is a difference in culture of training, behavior or expectations, but rather, a difference in trust.  It also might be appropriate to point out that the British pullback from Basra has been confidently called a defeat, and the security situation in Basra has degenerated over the last couple of years.

It would appear that Petraeus has taken a good first step in the correction of the problems associated with ROE.  More is needed.

Prior:

Iranian Nuclear Program

The powers in Iran apparently don’t care much anymore about having a commercial light water nuclear reactor.

Iran no longer seems to be interested in the construction of its first nuclear power plant which Russia is helping it build in Bushehr, the chief of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) Sergei Kiriyenko told reporters in Italy’s southern port city of Bari, where Russian president Vladimir Putin held talks with Italy’s premier romano Prodi on Wednesday. “I’m taken aback,” Kiriyenko was quoted as saying by Russia’s Interfax news agency. “My impression is that the Iranian side has lost all interest in this project.”

“Not a single Kopeck has been transferred since the middle of January,” to end the 760-million-euro plant, said the head of Rosatom.

The Bushehr plant was scheduled to become operative at the end of this year but the project was repeatedly delayed over Iran’s failure to meet payment obligations.

See further coverage at World Nuclear News.  Yet Iran says it is is still determined to pursue the nuclear program, saying that this is merely a politically motivated business dispute.  But turning from the ruse to the real prize of enrichment, Iran adds that political pressure and meetings will end in failure.  “We have achieved the nuclear fuel cycle. We won’t give it up under pressure. You can’t stop the Iranian nation from this path through meetings,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by state media.”  This assertion is a reiteration of previous claims.

It is instructive to note that a poll conducted for Russian nuclear workers indicates what they feel will be the likely outcome of the current showdown with Iran.  When asked for the most likely of four possible outcomes, they voted that ”Iran would quit the IAEA safeguards regime.”  True to form, Iran stopped UN inspectors from visiting an underground bunker where it is building an industrial-scale plant to make enriched uranium.

Just to ensure that the message is not lost by any possible mis-speak from their puppet Ahmadinejad (although misinterpretation is hard to fathom), the Mullah’s have spoken and insist that they will strike out at their enemies who try to stop their enrichment program.  The message could not be clearer.  Commercial nuclear power is a sideline activity that holds no real interest for the Iranians.  The real prize is the “nuclear fuel cycle,” or in this case, enrichment.  But since commercial nuclear power holds no interest for the Iranians, the purpose of enrichment has no other purpose than to create weapons grade fissile material.  Rather than enriching to 3.5 – 5.0 percent U-235 (appropriate for commercial pressurized water reactors), they are certainly targeting 90+ percent, something that is only necessary for making weapons or naval reactors.  Iran has no naval reactors.  Weapons-grade fissile material is the only remaining use.

Chlorine Gas Attacks in Iraq

In Enemy Operations in Baghdad and Fallujah, of the recent chlorine attacks we said:

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.

Michael Fumento added his own observations on the gas attacks.

Insurgents launched three more chlorine truck attacks in Al Anbar province on March 17, killing two and sickening an additional 350. Is this a disturbing new trend? No. Had those trucks been filled with high explosives, each could have killed around 100 people. Instead, combined, they killed two. Probably all those sickened will recover with little or no lasting damage, as opposed to losing limbs and eyes. Chemicals have never lived up to their reputation as weapons.

That’s why even though the Germans invented Sarin gas, which is vastly more deadly than chlorine, they decided not to use it. Hitler didn’t forego its use because he was a nice guy. Rather, his generals convinced him that high explosives are 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 that’s primarily or exclusively because gas is such a rare threat. The more the terrorists use chlorine, the less the terror effect will be.

We continue to believe that as long as the insurgents are wasting their time and energy on trying to make chemical weapons effective, they give coalition troops a deserved reprieve in the hunt and kill.

Continued Insurgent Activity Inside Mosques

The insurgent activity inside Mosques discussed above is not the only recent example of such tactics by the enemy.  Maliki has directed robust action against Mosques and schools and the typical hiding places of the insurgents, and on January 12 there was combat action by U.S. forces against a Mosque, followed on by a statement from the Multi-National Force that the U.S. does not “enter mosques for the sole purposes of disrupting insurgent activities or conducting a show of force.”  This statement was issued immediately after U.S. forces conducted a raid on a Mosque for the sole purpose of disrupting insurgent activities.

The instance of kinetic operations involving a Mosque cited above shows a pattern, and statements from the Multi-National Force that we do not enter Mosques but we do enter Mosques will be seen for the duplicity that they are as the security plan moves forward.  The story needs to be straightened out and clarified.  Maliki apparently has no problem threatening robust action against all hiding places of the insurgency.  We should follow suit.  In the end, a clear and robust policy concerning Mosques will save lives.  If the insurgents know that a Mosque offers no protection and there are no apologies for kinetic operations to remove hostiles from Mosques, then the appeal of the Mosque as a safe haven will disappear.

Iranian and Syrian Threats in the Covert War

In The Covert War with Iran and Regional Wars in the Middle East we discussed the heatup of the intelligence wars in the Middle East, and it appears that Iran understands that the U.S. is not absent in the war.  Iran has engaged in some saber-rattling of their own, saying that they are prepared to engage in international kidnapping to meet the threat.

Iran is threatening to retaliate in Europe for what it claims is a daring undercover operation by western intelligence services to kidnap senior officers in its Revolutionary Guard.

According to Iranian sources, several officers have been abducted in the past three months and the United States has drawn up a list of other targets to be seized with the aim of destabilising Tehran’s military command.

In an article in Subhi Sadek, the Revolutionary Guard’s weekly paper, Reza Faker, a writer believed to have close links to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, warned that Iran would strike back.

“We’ve got the ability to capture a nice bunch of blue-eyed blond-haired officers and feed them to our fighting cocks,? he said. “Iran has enough people who can reach the heart of Europe and kidnap Americans and Israelis.?

The threat to match kidnapping with kidnapping is showmanship at its finest.  Even if the recent disappearances of senior Iranian intelligence and Quds officials was not voluntary, to imply that it was “kidnapping” to apprehend Jalal Sharafi on Iraqi soil while he was stirring up sedition along with Quds and the Badr Brigade is analogous to saying that a thief has a right to steal from your home.  True to form, Iran continues its involvement in the fomenting of terror inside Iraq.  On March 20 we learned that the Iranians have housed and trained Iraqi insurgents for several months.

Iran has been operating training programs for Iraqi Shi’ite militants at secret bases for several months as part of its efforts to destabilize Iraq, an opponent of the Iranian government said on Tuesday.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, who accurately disclosed important details about Iran’s nuclear program in 2002, said the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been running the camps with the full knowledge and approval of the Iranian government.

“Over the past few months the Iranian regime has stepped up its efforts to destabilize Iraq and further escalate the violence there,” Jafarzadeh said at a press conference.

Jafarzadeh provided names, dates and details of alleged training activities he said had been provided to him by Iranian opposition groups.

While at the camps, militants are instructed by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force and Lebanese members of Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Islamic militant group, in unconventional warfare, explosives and shoulder-launched anti-aircraft weapons.

Syria is not innocent in the regional war, as they are prepared to strike back if the U.S. hits Iranian enrichment facilities.

An American biodefense analyst living in Europe says if the U.S. invades Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions, Syria is ready to respond with weapons of mass destruction – specifically biological weapons.

“Syria is positioned to launch a biological attack on Israel or Europe should the U.S. attack Iran,” Jill Bellamy-Dekker told WND. “The Syrians are embedding their biological weapons program into their commercial pharmaceuticals business and their veterinary vaccine-research facilities. The intelligence service oversees Syria’s ‘bio-farm’ program and the Ministry of Defense is well interfaced into the effort.”

Unless we are prepared to treat Operation Iraqi Freedom as the regional war that it is, it cannot be won.

Ongoing Coverage of the Covert War Against the CIA

In previous issues of the Intelligence Bulletin we have discussed the ongoing judicial and intelligence war against CIA agents in Italy and Germany.  In a Reuters article strangely titled Italy Hopes to Mend U.S. Ties After CIA Indictments, it appears that Italy doesn’t really want to mend ties.  Rather, Italy wants the U.S. to take actions to mend ties.

Italy hopes to mend strained U.S. relations over indictments against CIA agents for kidnapping and a U.S. soldier for murder, Italy’s foreign minister said, before meeting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday.

But Massimo D’Alema said Washington had more responsibility than Rome in overcoming the “turbulence” in bilateral relations and intelligence cooperation.

“These are two episodes that have created some turbulence in our relations and we want to work to overcome this turbulence,” D’Alema told Reuters in an interview hours before he was due to fly to Washington for a dinner meeting with Rice.

D’Alema said he would raise the issue with Rice and, asked what Italy could do to resolve the situation, said: “In truth, there would be several things that the United States should do, more than Italy”. He did not elaborate.

Continuing Coverage of Anbar Tribesmen in Their Battles Against AQI

A British general claims that the Anbar Province is reaping the benefits of the security plan.

The US-Iraqi offensive launched last month has put anti-government forces on the defensive in their former insurgent strong­hold of Anbar, Britain’s top general in Iraq has told the Financial Times.

“We’re getting momentum … We’re seeing a number of points … which would imply that [anti-government militants] are being challenged,? said Lieutenant General Graeme Lamb, deputy commander of the multinational forces in Iraq.

Lt Gen Lamb said that US and Iraqi forces were recruiting hundreds of police for the first time in towns in the Anbar region and that the forces were working together in shared combat outposts.

The insurgency “didn’t do too well in Anbar … Their claims have failed to come to fruition,? he said, referring to the declaration by Islamist radicals that they had established a “caliphate? encompassing much of western Iraq.

MEMRI has a lengthy analysis on this trend (only a small portion is reproduced below).

In late February and early March 2007, the London dailies Al-Hayat and Al-QudsAl-’Arabi reported on an escalation of the conflict in western Iraq between the local population and the Al-Qaeda in Iraq organization. Fierce battles were reported in Al-Amariyah and Al-Falluja between Al-Qaeda and the local Al-Anbar tribes, resulting in the death of dozens of Al-Qaeda fighters and in the weakening of Al-Qaeda in these areas.

In Important Undercurrents in Anbar we discussed the terror, houses of horror and torture tactics in use by AQI, and how these heavy handed tactics have gone so far as to be the very cause of lack of security.  Even when the population acquiesces to their demands, they shoot from behind their women and children, fill the streets with sniper fire, and steal and kidnap innocent people for pleasure or ransom.  The population is turning on AQI.  In relative importance, security trumps everything else.

Insurgents Use Women and Children as Shields

That Hezballah used women and children in the war with the IDF as human shields, fought amongst the population and ultimately used civilian deaths to their political advantage is well documented.

Hizbullah stored ammunition and weapons in mosques, knowing that the IDF does not attack religious sites. Civilians were not allowed to leave so that Hizbullah could use them as cover. IDF officers said they ordered pilots not to strafe Bint Jbeil in order to spare civilian casualties.

A United Nations peace keeping officer from Canada told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that Hizbullah used the same tactic to draw fire on the UNIFIL post which resulted in the death of four U.N. observers. “This is their favorite trick,? he said. “They use the U.N. as shields.?

We see the same tactic being used in Iraq.

Insurgents in Iraq detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle with two children in the back seat after US soldiers let it through a Baghdad checkpoint over the weekend, a senior US military official said Tuesday.
The vehicle was stopped at the checkpoint but was allowed through when soldiers saw the children in the back, said Major General Michael Barbero of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

“Children in the back seat lowered suspicion. We let it move through. They parked the vehicle, and the adults ran out and detonated it with the children in the back,” Barbero said.

The general said it was the first time he had seen a report of insurgents using children in suicide bombings. But he said Al-Qaeda in Iraq is changing tactics in response to the tighter controls around the city.

There is another report that the children lost their lives in this attack.  The most significant asymmetry between the U.S. and the insurgents is not one of military might.  It is of moral character.

Sadr’s Long Game

Martin Sieff (with whom we have significant disagreements most of the time) has an analysis and opinion piece up at UPI entitled Sadr’s Long Game.  This one is worth the time to read entirely.  Sieff connects the stand-down of the loyal Sadrists with their effort to wait out the “surge,” rebuild, and prepare to respond inside Iraq to a potential U.S. attack on Iran to destroy enrichment capabilities.  We agree.  As we have argued before, Sadr’s organization, however loosely coupled, must now be seen in international terms.  In Intelligence Bulletin #3 we have further argued that:

… 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.

This analysis appears to be more important with each passing day.  We must not make the mistake that Robert Haddick discusses concerning the radical Sunni insurgency, of assuming that as a group, they were “in play.”  Moqtada al Sadr and his loyal followers are no more “in play” to reconcile with the Sunnis and join the political process than the disaffected Saddam Fedayeen and other radical Sunnis were.  Failure to effect the ‘strategic disappearance’ of Sadr as we have recommended will entail the failure of OIF.

Thoughts on the Walter Reed Scandal

In Intelligence Bulletin #2 we discussed the Walter Reed scandal and the troubles at the VA, saying that six months was not long enough for General Weightman to get the lay of the land, and that the troubles did not seem to point to Walter Reed proper so much as outpatient care of the wounded.  The real problem would seem to be inadequate congressional funding given to the Army for this care, along with an overgrown and inefficient bureaucracy at the DoD.  In this case, it is easy for the congress to point the finger of blame at someone else and cry foul.  In fact, this might be just what has happened.  WSJ has an opinion piece up (h/t ROFASix)that argues that the fiasco that this has become has caused the wrong man to be fired, the only one, in fact, who might have been able to ameliorate the failures.

Doubtless, the VA and Walter Reed in particular have some gifted, motivated, well-trained and highly qualified individuals performing their jobs.  The very last thing that this head hunt should do is force these people into retirement or into a defensive posture.  The goal is to fix the problems, not find the culpable party.  There is enough blame to go around.

Security and WHAM: Getting the Order Right

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 8 months ago

Earth moving equipment constructing sand berms around Haditha in order to prevent the influx of foreign fighters into the city.

On January 13th I wrote a short article entitled Sand Berms Around Haditha, linking to a story published by AFP.  Except for one particularly clever reader, this story got almost no attention.  Perhaps it should have.  With all of the noise and fury of the Baghdad security plan, the small things can get buried, but sometimes it is the small things that can teach us the big lessons if we’re not to hurried to pay attention.

This little story fascinated me from the beginning.  Consider what is occurring here.  Heavy equipment – enough of it to construct an earthen berm around a city – has been moved half way around the world into a desert in Western Iraq.  This equipment needs trained operators, and each piece has hundreds of grease fittings that require attention every day.  The engine and hydraulics need continual maintenance, and this maintenance itself requires a trained staff to pull it off.  The fuel and repacement parts must be available, and the security must be provided for those trained staff to effect equipment repair and maintenance.  Why would the United States Marines even consider something like this?

In Concerning the Failure of Counterinsurgency in Iraq, I pointed out that:

The battlefield, both for military actions and so-called “nonkinetic? actions to win the people, is dynamic.  As one insurgent is killed, another pops up in his place, coming not from any action the U.S. has or has not taken in Iraq, but rather, coming from hundreds or even thousands of miles away due to a religious hatred that has been taught to him from birth.  The war in Iraq is both figuratively and quite literally a war without borders.

I continued by stating that David Galula’s classical philosophy of counterinsurgency, in vogue in military thinking, relied upon an artifact of his experience.  Galula stated that “The battle for the population is a major characteristic of the revolutionary war. . . . The objective being the population itself, the operations designed to win it over (for the insurgent) or to keep it at least submissive (for the counterinsurgent) are essentially of a political nature. . . . And so intricate is the interplay between the political and military actions that they cannot be tidily separated; on the contrary, every military move has to be weighed with regard to its political effects, and vice versa.?

But this is exactly the opposite of what has happened in Iraq.  The U.S. has been trying to win over the population, not keep it submissive, and the insurgents have been trying to keep them submissive, not win them over.  The insurgents have routinely used tactics of torture and intimidation to keep the population in submission, and this tactic has been remarkably successful. 

This campaign of torture and intimidation exemplifies brutality at its worst.  Iraqi police and Marines recently completed “Operation Three Swords? south of Fallujah, the purpose of which was to detain members of murder and intimidation cells within the rural area of Zaidon and the villages of Albu Hawa, Fuhaylat and Hasa.  During the operation, members of the Fallujah police Department and Coalition Forces discovered a torture house and rescued three individuals.  The house had blood-stained walls, and the torture devices included shackles, chains, syringes, rifles, knives, chord, clubs and a blow torch.  The condition of the torture victims was said to be dire.

Fallujah and Haditha are similar in terms of their situation.  The absence of security has made the so-called “nonkinetic operations” ineffective towards the claimed objective of our actions: to “win the hearts and minds” of the population.  WHAM.  When foreign fighters from around the world who are not subject to the temptations of U.S. largesse pour in across the porous borders, breaking the knee caps of or using power drills on anyone cooperating with the U.S. forces, the efforts at reconstruction and pacification simply cannot take hold and grow.  Giving the children backpacks to carry books doesn’t help when the classes are empty because of killings and kidnappings.

Enter the front end loaders and other heavy equipment.  Earthen berms were constructed around the city with manned points of ingress to and egress from the city.  The city was “locked down,” in order to stop the flow of foreign fighters into the city to cause terror.  Has this strategy worked?  Violence has dropped from seven to ten attacks per day to five per week.  To be sure, the fear of retaliation has not completely disappeared from the scene.  This could be seen in a recent meeting between the Marines and tribal leaders of Haditha:

While everyone who attended the meeting agreed the security of Haditha and the “Triad? region was paramount, there were no commitments to help strengthen the local Iraqi Police force, according to Lt. Col. Muhada Mahzir, Haditha Iraqi Police deputy commander.

“They (Sheikhs) say, ‘yes, you are right. We need security and we need police that are from this area’,? said Donnellan. “Then we ask, ‘OK, how many men in your tribe are willing to put forward?’ That’s when the room gets really quiet and everyone starts looking down at their feet? …

For years the contractors have been intimidated into not working with Coalition Forces, but recently some local business men have expressed that if peace continues to grow in this region they will be more likely to take a risk and begin building city projects such as schools, hospitals and roads.

So the Iraqis still fear the terrorists, and await the display of resolve by the U.S. forces.  Since relative security has been brought to Haditha, nonkinetic operations can now begin in earnest and with the expectation of success.  Now that the U.S. has shown itself in control of security, along with the local Iraqi government and police, the U.S. forces must be prepared to assist with real government.  A recent Multi-National Forces story gives us a feel for the current atmosphere of cooperation  between Haditha residents and the U.S. forces.

“Do you have any information about my son who was detained yesterday??

“Can you fix the damage that was done to my house when Marines were fighting ali-baba (what locals call insurgents)??

Citizens from this western Al Anbar city come to the U.S. Marines of the Virginia-based 4th Civil Affairs Group seeking answers for their many questions. Whether the CAG Marines were able to accommodate all the requests or not, they have built a strong rapport with the local population in the four months since their arrival through their tireless effort to help, according to Capt. William Parker, the CAG team leader.

The CAG acts as a link between the local Iraqi population and the infantry Marines of the Hawaii-based 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, who have been securing the Haditha “Triad? region since September 2006. The “Triad? region is home to 50,000 and consists of the cities of Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwanah, which all sit on the banks of the Euphrates River.

While the Marines of 2nd Battalion hunt down insurgents, search for weapons caches and patrol the streets of these Euphrates River cities, the CAG Marines are busy building the foundation of a strong community, said Parker, a 36-year-old from Boston.

“Traditionally the CAG mission focuses on projects – building schools, hospitals and other infrastructure facilities,? Parker said. “The reasoning behind this is that these projects are built by local contractors, so you’re putting money back into the community and providing jobs.?

However, many local contractors are currently reluctant to work with the Coalition on building projects due to threats from the local insurgency. Undeterred by the insurgents’ murder and intimidation campaign, the CAG Marines here have tailored their operation to slowly build community support and involvement.

“Right now we’re doing smaller things on a more personal level,? Parker said. “We’re understanding who these people are, what their belief systems are, what their feelings towards the Coalition and insurgents are, what their goals are, and what they would like to see happen here.?

When Parker and his team of 12 Marines arrived in the triad in September 2006, the local population had minimal contact with the CAG Marines. In their first few weeks operating in the triad, they would be lucky to have five local Iraqis come into the Civil Military Operations Center, the hub for all CAG business, said Master Gunnery Sgt. Salvatore Rignola, the CAG’s senior enlisted adviser.

There was even talk of shutting down the CMOC because it was thought to be ineffective, said Parker. Instead, the CAG Marines began going on patrols with Marines from 2nd Battalion in an effort to talk to as many locals as possible and spread the word about what the CAG could do for them and their community.

“On the patrols the CAG mission never stopped,? Parker said. “It didn’t matter if there was a firefight going on outside, we kept talking to the people. The people saw that we were making a huge effort to reach out to the community and see what they were concerned about or what they needed.?

The word spread around to the entire triad that if any one had an issue concerning the Coalition or their own community, they should go to the CMOC and talk to the CAG Marines.

“When we first got here, the people of Haditha wouldn’t even talk to an American much less be seen going to the CMOC because they feared the insurgents would kill them,? said Rignola, a 46-year-old from New York City. “Now the CMOC is packed everyday.?

Master Gunnery Sgt. Salvatore Rignola, the CAG’s senior enlisted advisor, tries to get answers for a local Haditha citizen who has come to the Civil Military Operations Center to inquire about the whereabouts of a detained relative.

Of course, it is incorrect to suggest that this is a binary relationship, where suddenly security has occurred and then the transition to nonkinetic operations can ensue.  There is a dovetailing evident from the descriptions given in these reports.  Nonkinetic operations begin immediately, while strong kinetic counterinsurgency continued, and patrols still happen even though relative security has been brought to the city.

But the preconditions for success of the nonkinetic operations, the so-called “winning hearts and minds,” or WHAM operations, are present.  While there is much noise and fury associated with the Baghdad security plan, the United States Marines are slowly, deliberately and successfully pacifying the al Anbar Province.  They are doing it by bringing security first, followed on by WHAM.

No one ships earthmoving equipment half way across the world without there being a purpose, a plan and a procedure.  The purpose was to enable security.  The plan was to isolate Haditha from the foreign elements who wrought terror.  The procedure was to (1) bring security, (2) followed on by WHAM.

Earthen berms cannot be constructed around every city in Anbar.  The rogue elements entering from Syria must be stopped, and that in the very sanctuary they inhabit within the Syrian borders.  But Haditha is much more than an experiment.  It is a success story.  The United States Marines are doing it right in Haditha.


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