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[infowar.de] Netzwerk mal anders....WPO 22.06.03 Attacks In Iraq Traced To Network: Resistance to U.S. Is Loosely Organized
June 22, 2003
Attacks In Iraq Traced To Network
Resistance to U.S. Is Loosely Organized
By Daniel Williams, Washington Post Foreign Service
FALLUJAH, Iraq, June 21 -- Groups of armed fighters from the Baath Party
and security agencies of ousted president Saddam Hussein have organized
a loose network called the Return with the aim of driving U.S. forces
out of the country, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials. The officials
said the group is partially responsible for the string of fatal attacks
on American soldiers in recent weeks.
The intensified resistance has been reinforced by the participation of
foreign fighters coming into Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, the civilian
administrator of Iraq, told reporters at a conference in Jordan today.
"We do see signs of outside involvement in a number of ways," he said.
Bremer said that "we so far don't see signs of command and control in
these attacks," adding that it appears largely to be small groups of
five to 10 people.
According to the officials, the Return, or Awdah in Arabic, has been
assembled by Iraqis who possessed funds, weapons, transportation,
listening devices and informants at the end of the war. The Iraqis
retained the equipment provided to them by Hussein's government.
Although the hierarchical structure of Hussein's security and political
agencies has been broken, the relationships among secret police,
intelligence officials and Baathists endure, the Iraqi and U.S.
The mounting U.S. casualty toll and the sophistication of recent
ambushes have deepened fears among U.S. officials that the military is
facing a guerrilla war. The center of the resistance is a crescent of
central Iraq dominated by Sunni Muslims, a minority who were the key
base of support for Hussein's government and his repressive security
In this Sunni town, a caldron of anti-American hostility, Awdah members
are under the surveillance of U.S. forces and Iraqi informers, officials
here said. Intermediaries from Awdah and pro-Hussein families in the
area have succeeded in making contact with other anti-American forces in
the region, they added.
"The Return is one of the facets of resistance. It is mainly former
security forces. They come in and shoot an RPG [rocket-propelled
grenade] and race out of town before we can get a shot off," said Capt.
John Ives, from the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division. "It's
harder for us to identify them. People in Fallujah don't know who they
"The Return is operating here," said Taha Bedaiwi Alwani, the
U.S.-supported mayor of Fallujah. "They are people who had power under
the old regime. They have the weapons to cause trouble. They dream of
Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of 4th Infantry Division, recently
identified the Return as one of the groups organizing attacks against
U.S. troops. The others were the Snake Party and the New Return. But he
called the assaults on U.S. troops "militarily insignificant."
Although the name Return implies the restoration of Hussein's rule, some
Iraqis and U.S. officials speculate that organizers of the group are
interested in bringing back the autocratic system without the former
leader. Some of the group's funding comes from wealthy families in the
Sunni belt. One former Iraqi general, who asked that his name not be
used, said that sponsors were paying the equivalent of $1,000 for new
recruits and $3,000 to members who bring in other candidates. "They only
want trained people," the former general said. "They don't love Saddam.
The idea is to kick out the Americans and get back in charge."
"We detect a trend in trying to make less attacks but do them more
effectively to make a bigger impact," said a U.S. military intelligence
specialist. "It's very secretive. They move from town to town. Still,
their skill is not so great. But they try hard."
As an example, the soldier pointed to an attack Thursday night on U.S.
soldiers guarding a pair of electrical transformers in Fallujah. The
rocket-propelled grenade missed the Bradley Fighting Vehicle out front
but destroyed one of the transformers.
Routing "Baathist remnants," the name U.S. officials generically apply
to the armed opposition, is a key goal of the ongoing Operation Desert
Scorpion. For a week, thousands of troops have raided Baghdad, Tikrit,
Fallujah, Ramadi, Baqubah, Thuluya and other towns in central Iraq on
the hunt for arms, intelligence and money. Today, troops from the 1st
Armored Division raided a community center in Baghdad and found
documents labeled "top secret" and "personal." The Associated Press
reported that the soldiers found documents related to Iraq's nuclear
program. An officer on the scene was quoted as saying the find was
U.S. troops also raided the Baghdad offices of the Supreme Council for
the Islamic Revolution and hauled away three Iraqis, documents and
computers. The council is an Iran-based Shiite Muslim group that was
part of a sextet of opposition organizations that had been endorsed by
the Bush administration. But U.S. officials and the group have fallen
out over its persistent criticism of the U.S. occupation.
Bremer has also warned Iran against fomenting "paramilitary" activities
in the Shiite Muslim south.
The raid preceded a small Shiite demonstration in Baghdad in which a few
hundred protesters chanted, "We want to form a national government."
U.S. officers and Iraqi officials say that Muslim organizations, arms
smugglers and other common criminals, and Iraqis seeking revenge for the
deaths of kin at the hands of Americans are also involved in attacks
against U.S. forces.
In Fallujah, Iraqi officials say that Wahhabbis, members of the same
sect that produced Osama bin Laden, have been trying to organize
operations against the U.S. forces. Members of the underground Muslim
Brotherhood, possibly backed by Islamic radicals in Jordan, have also
appeared in Fallujah.
U.S. officials pinpointed one mosque in Fallujah as a source of
anti-American rhetoric and gunfire. The Muadithi Mosque was the scene of
a shootout in which U.S. soldiers said they were fired on, killing a
bystander on the street who was fixing his car nearby. Hamed Faleh
Khalaf, an assistant to the mosque's imam, denied today that anyone had
fired from the premises. He did, however, unload invective on the
Americans. "The U.S. Army did not come to free Iraq, but to invade Iraq
and take oil and everything valuable," he said.
Staff reporter Glenn Kessler in Jordan contributed to this report.
HSFK Hessische Stiftung für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
PRIF Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
Leimenrode 29 60322 Frankfurt a/M Germany
Tel +49 (0)69 9591 0422 Fax +49 (0)69 5584 81
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