View Full Version : Death Squad Chieftains Flee to Beat Baghdad Surge

01-28-2007, 05:20 AM
28 January London Times - Death Squad Chieftains Flee to Beat Baghdad Surge (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2569815,00.html).

Death squad leaders have fled Baghdad to evade capture or killing by American and Iraqi forces before the start of the troop “surge” and security crackdown in the capital.

A former senior Iraqi minister said most of the leaders loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical anti-American cleric, had gone into hiding in Iran.

Among those said to have fled is Abu Deraa, the Shi’ite militia leader whose appetite for sectarian savagery has been compared to that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, who was killed last year.

The former minister, who did not want to be named for security reasons, backed Sunni MPs’ claims that Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, had encouraged their flight. He alleged that weapons belonging to Sadr’s Mahdi Army had been hidden inside the Iraqi interior ministry to prevent confiscation...

Rob Thornton
01-28-2007, 08:26 AM
Two things stuck out - one is the flight to a neighboring state to take a vacation, get caught up on the latest fads in TTP, get some more $$$, etc - this is common - its the "leave town for awhile until things cool off" trick. Up here guys go to Syria for their vactation.

The second thing that stuck out is the bit about turning in weapons to the interior ministry to avoid confiscation. Sometimes I rub my head and think, "did they really think we would not find out about that, or that we would not care?" Then I wonder if they really cared if we found out or what we thought?

There is also the possibility that we've just read into (in this case thanks to the media) what we expect or want to see.

Imagine if the Maliki government had told local militia leaders, "just turn in your weapons before the surge, and when the Americans leave, we'll give them back." What a bloodless, politically expedient way to disarm the militias. Look at the powerul position it would put a leader in to have all (or most of) the guns - consider at how it might improve security. Somebody had written in another thread our tendency to see things in black and white vs. shades of grey, then someone else responded about the reality of American politics and the shades of grey in that bowl of soup sandwich (politics), etc. I think as soldiers we prefer Black and White (although we do have a Black/White/Grey list) - B&W synchs better with Shoot/Don't Shoot - I really hate "maybe shoot"-although "maybe shoot" is a reality here. However almost everybody over here is something of a politician or negotiator - it goes with the culture.

01-28-2007, 05:41 PM
I think that an interesting question arises, Rob, and it centers on what the Sunni man-on-the-street thinks.

Perhaps our impressions, regardless of whether they are black and white, shades of gray, or blood red, have little bearing? What do the Sunni think about these allegations, and do they have any bearing on their own maneuvers to circumvent the surge?

Rob Thornton
01-28-2007, 06:10 PM
You know these guys, they love a good rumor. We are currently dealing with a "spurt" (we can't afford a surge up here:D ) in enemy activity. They've dealt with it very good, and for all the extra bangs and booms, we've been very fortunate "Humdilillah". We're thinking the enemy has peaked to soon, and will not be able to sustain the pace of operations for too long.

Iraqi news reported today that the IP caught an Afghani and a Saudi driving a SVBIED on the way to Kufa today. In the Sunni Kurd/Sunni Arab seasoned with a few Shiite Arab IA BN I'm with - its a victory - a terrorist is a terrorist. At least that's how it is in my patch, but I couldn't tell you to much about down South - although there was an article on the Early Bird today that mentioned it.

01-28-2007, 08:31 PM
You know these guys, they love a good rumor.

My thoughts exactly!

Where's the IO to counter these rumors, if they're not true? I tend to believe that they are, but that's probably baggage from my "Thoughts on a possible surge" thread.

The point I was getting at was that our "read" of these media reports are not at stake here. To us, it may just be hyped rumor, but we have the luxury of sitting back and considering other evidence.

For the Sunni sitting in the tea shop or getting his hair cut, perhaps these juicy media reports make him suck his teeth and think See...See...That Maliki is a no-good Sadr puppet. That Sunni sipping on tea may just be one man, but what about the other twenty men in the same shop? What about their families?

I think all of these juicy tidbits hurt the government in more ways than we can imagine, because they erode the faith of the man-on-the-street. They chip away at any notion that the government can uphold the rule of law and truly embrace democratic principles, and make it increasingly difficult for the coalition to deliver its own IO messages and bring the insurgency to heal.