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Thread: 250 Insurgents Die in Battle

  1. #21
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    I'm going to have to reserve judgment on this one. Had it been us that had killed 200 bad guys I would have been the first one to to say "F*** yeah! We got them!" But since it was a force that has questionable loyalties to say the least I maintain that something about this thing doesn't smell right. Particularly now that Iran appears to be more directly active in Iraq. I want to hear what happened from a CF source not a SCIRI mouthpiece. Maybe I am too cynical.

    SFC W

  2. #22
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Culpeper View Post
    The Americans KIA were fighting the correct enemy and not an enemy of personal convenience. And that is a fact.
    I have no idea how you have arrived at this level of certainty. Is it blind faith or do you have alternate sources of information?

    Zeyad at Healing Iraq has some good stuff on all the different versions of the Najaf battle floating around in Iraq right now, including vastly contradictory claims by different Iraqi government officials:

    The Sadrist account: Nahrain Net, a Sadrist website, quotes anonymous sources from the Hawza and security officials in Najaf that an armed group named “Jund Al-Samaa’” (the Army of Heaven, the Soldiers of Heaven, the Soldiers of the Skies) were amassing in palm groves at Zarga, north of Kufa, and that they were plotting to take supreme Shi’ite clerics in Najaf, including Sistani, Ishaq Al-Fayyadh, Ya’qubi, Mohammed Al-Hakim, and Muqtada Al-Sadr, as hostages in order to use as a bargain to control the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf. Allegedly, a list was found with the group that contained names of senior clerics in Najaf and Karbala, and that Muqtada was number two on the list after Sistani. They added that the group was coordinating with Ba’athists and Al-Qaeda and that they have received logistic and monetary backing from Saudi Arabia.

    ...

    Ahmed Du’aibil, Media Spokesman of the Najaf Governorate (SCIRI): 250 – 300 militants were killed in the clashes at Zarga. “16 terrorists” were detained, including two Egyptians and a Saudi.

    The Iraqi News Agency quotes an unnamed Iraqi security source that the group’s leader is Ahmed Kadhim Al-Gar’awi Al-Basri (Ahmed Hassan Al-Basri), born 1969, and was a Hawza student of Sayyid Mohammed Sadiq Al-Sadr (Muqtada’s father) in Najaf. He left to Iran right before the war and declared himself the vanguard of Imam Al-Mahdi, leading to his imprisonment by Iranian authorities for heresy. He was released and returned to Iraq after the war and he started preaching in Basrah, where he also put under house arrest by Iraqi authorities. His schools and husseiniyas in major cities in the south were closed and vandalised by Iraqi security forces and the Scorpion Brigade of the Interior Ministry Commandos detained several of his followers in Najaf last week. The source added that 140 militants were captured in the clashes yesterday.

    SCIRI’s Buratha News Agency quotes a source in the Dhu Al-Fiqar Brigade, which fought the militants yesterday, saying over 1,000 “terrorists” were killed and 50 detained, with 200 “brainwashed women and children.” He added that the area was full of corpses and a large amount of ammunition and weapons was confiscated.

    Deputy Governor of Najaf Abdul Hussein Abtan (SCIRI), as quoted on Al-Iraqiya TV: “Hundreds of terrorists have been killed, and hundreds detained. Their brainwashed families were also at the location and we are moving them to another place and clearing the killed and prisoners to complete investigations. Our information indicates that foreign groups funded this operation, but they used false slogans and recruited naive people in order to destroy holy Najaf and to kill the great clerics as a starting point and then to move to control other governorates. That is what their slain leader, who called himself the Imam Al-Mahdi, told them.” The deputy governor first said the group’s leader was a Lebanese national, but later he identified him as Dhiaa’ Abdul Zahra Kadhim, from Hilla. It seems there were no journalists to point out this contradiction to him in the room when he made this statement.

    Najaf Governor As’ad Abu Gilel (SCIRI): The group was led by a man named Ali bin Ali bin Abi Talib. Their planned attack was meant to destroy the Shiite community, kill the grand ayatollahs, destroy the convoys and occupy the holy shrine. He identified the group as “Shi’ite in its exterior, but not in its core.”

    Another unnamed captain in the Iraqi Army, quoted by Buratha News Agency: “The leader who was killed claimed he was the Mahdi. He is in his forties and is from Diwaniya. Many Arab fighters were captured including Lebanese, Egyptians and Sudanese.”

    Major General Othman Al-Ghanimi, Iraqi commander in charge of Najaf quoted by AP: Members of the group, including women and children, planned to disguise themselves as pilgrims and kill as many leading clerics as possible. The group’s leader, wearing jeans, a coat and a hat and carrying two pistols was among those who were killed in the battle. Saddam’s Al-Quds Army, a people’s militia established in the late 1990s, once used the same area where the group was based.

    Ahmed Al-Fatlawi (SCIRI), member of Najaf Governorate Council, quoted by AP: "We have information from our intelligence sources that indicated the leader of this group had links with the former regime elements since 1993. Some of the gunmen brought their families with them in order to make it easier to enter the city. The women have been detained.”

    Colonel Ali Jiraiw, spokesman for the Najaf police, quoted by the Guardian: “The group which calls itself Army of Heaven had established itself two years ago in farms near Kufa. But it ran into trouble with the Jaish al-Mahdi militia loyal to Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, who has a base in Kufa and who regards the group as heretical. The group is led by Sheikh Ahmed Hassan Al-Yamani, and its followers believe in the imminent return of the Mahdi, a messiah-like figure whose coming heralds the dawn of a kingdom of peace and justice."

    So let me get this straight. The Iraqi officials can't agree on who they were fighting or who their leader was, so how did they figure out all these colourful details about "brainwashed women and children" and the intentions of killing all clerics or bombing the shrine or taking over the shrine, etc.?

    Also, alleged eyewitnesses said they saw fighters in "Afghan robes." What is an Afghan robe, anyway? I doubt someone from Kufa would know an Afghan robe when they see it. Also, why doesn't the government produce the evidence that foreign fighters have been captured?
    Last edited by tequila; 01-30-2007 at 04:38 PM.

  3. #23
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    Default Interesting to learn more on this operation

    It is interesting to learn that these were not insurgents but more, a religious cult. The insurgency paradigm and their TTPs have not changed--local engagements--within km of their home, small scale, tactical in nature.

  4. #24
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    I think the term, "cult" is moot.

    Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law - Cite This Source


    Main Entry: insurgent
    Function: adjective
    : rising in opposition to civil or political authority or against an established government
    Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc.


    noun
    1. a person who takes part in an armed rebellion against the constituted authority (especially in the hope of improving [their] conditions)
    2. a member of an irregular armed force that fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment [syn: guerrilla]

    WordNet® 2.1, © 2005 Princeton University
    These guys were well armed insurgents. Who cares what their wardrobe looked like, what sect they worshiped, or if they used western brand toilet paper. They were well armed, had an entrenched base of operation, and were bent on armed rebellion using guerrilla tactics as their ultimate goal. And the counterinsurgency kicked their butts. Classic counterinsurgency doctrine. Period. Take it or leave it.
    Last edited by Culpeper; 01-31-2007 at 01:44 AM.

  5. #25
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    They were well armed, had an entrenched base of operation, and were bent on armed rebellion using guerrilla tactics as their ultimate goal.
    If you trust Sadrist and SCIRI officials, which is all we have to go on right now. They can't even agree on who they killed, so how do they know what they were up to?

    And the counterinsurgency kicked their butts. Classic counterinsurgency doctrine. Period. Take it or leave it.
    Leaving it, thanks. Counterinsurgency doctrine? These guys weren't beat with counterinsurgency doctrine. They were annihilated by American tanks and air support, after nearly overwhelming the Iraqi forces sent against them. In other words, pretty much a straight-up conventional battle.

  6. #26
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    You need to look at the recommended reading list concerning counterinsurgency. Starting with "Counterinsurgency Warfare", By David Galula. Part of military counterinsurgency doctrine consists of denying an insurgency a safe base of operation. This was accomplished. Part of counterinsurgency doctrine is to attack insurgents in their safe havens. Forcing to find another safe haven somewhere else. And the process repeats itself with each insurgency base destroyed resulting in less resources and bases from which to operate from. The battle itself may have been conventional. The entire conflict is complex and requires uncoventional tactics overall. This is basic counterinsurgency knowledge. Counterinsurgency warfare is unconventional warfare. And again, this is basic knowledge one should know. And the book I suggested takes less than a day to absorb. I'm not trying to insult you. It is very obvious that you have a misunderstanding of counterinsurgency. All your arguments have been geared towards defending the objectives of an insurgency and flat out discrediting basic counterinsurgency tactic.

  7. #27
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Doctrinal arguments aside, what credible evididence do we have that the people killed were, in fact, bent on armed rebellion? I have not seen it yet.

    SFC W

  8. #28
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    More info from LATIMES and McClatchy on the ground near the battle.

    LATIMES:

    An unauthorized hourlong walk Tuesday through the bombed compound of a religious cult called Heaven's Army revealed provocative clues about the group, which was decimated Sunday in a 24-hour U.S. and Iraqi offensive that authorities say left 263 alleged members dead and 210 injured. Nearly 400 members were arrested, an Iraqi defense official said.

    Iraqi officials said the obscure messianic group was poised to launch an attack on Shiite clergy and holy sites in Najaf in the belief that it would hasten the dawn of a new age. Iraqi officials said they got wind of the plan and attempted to investigate but were attacked by the group's gunmen in a battle that also killed five Iraqi troops and two U.S. soldiers, who died when their helicopter crashed.

    The bulk of the damage to the group's base was inflicted by U.S. airstrikes, which turned the tide of a fierce ground battle that pitted the fighters against Iraqi troops backed by U.S. forces.

    Iraqi officials have released scant new details about the composition and aims of the group. Mohammed Askari, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said foreign Arabs were among those slain and captured. He declined to provide more than basic casualty figures.

    But the camp itself, amid lush groves of eucalyptus and palm trees, offered a trove of details about the members of Heaven's Army.

    They had plenty of food. Each fighter had his own supply of chocolate and biscuits. They were prepared: A 6-foot dirt berm and an equally deep trench surrounded the 50-acre compound.

    They were well organized. Living in at least 30 concrete-block buildings, all the fighters had identification badges. The group published its own books and a newspaper. The members apparently were enamored with their leader, a charismatic man in his 30s named Dhyaa Abdul-Zahra, whose likeness adorned the newspaper.

    And they were well armed and ready for battle. High-powered machine guns, antiaircraft rockets, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and late-model pickup trucks with mounted guns were scattered around the eight farms that make up the compound, about 10 miles north of Najaf.

    A wooden platform on a tree served as a sniper's perch. The would-be shooter lay dead on the ground by the tree trunk.

    "Without the bombings of the Americans we would have remained for two weeks unable to penetrate," said an Iraqi soldier, who led a Times correspondent and other Iraqi journalists through the compound.

    None of the fighters wore uniforms. They wrapped black-checkered scarves around their necks and wore running suits or flowing dishdasha robes. Their bodies were contorted and burned from the bombing campaign. A few were blown to pieces. The fighters included young boys as well as middle-aged men. Some apparently held ordinary day jobs one slain fighter, Ahmad Mohsen Kadhem, 31, had an identification card in his wallet showing he was authorized to carry weapons as a guard for a nearby company, the government-owned State Organization for Cereals.

    Arabic readers described the articles in the group's eight-page newspaper, the Statement, as little more than religiously inflected gibberish, with made-up words and references to "manifestations and sightings" of Imam Mahdi, the last in a line of Shiite Muslim saints.

    A book found at the complex, called "Heaven's Judge," also bearing the picture of Abdul-Zahra, dismisses the teaching of Shiite Muslims as well as Sunnis. "The Shiites are misled," says the book, which rebuffs central tenets of Shiite theology.

    "The house of the prophet Muhammad has adopted a path using signs to point to heavenly facts, a method for considering the order of secrets," it adds, in statements that perplexed both Shiites and Sunnis who read it.
    McClatchy:

    Many contradictions remained unexplained. A neighbor of the cult compound, Mohan Hameed, said the religious group began moving into the small farming area 5 miles north of Najaf 16 or 17 years ago. On Monday, the provincial governor had said that the group bought the farmland only several months ago.

    McClatchy Newspapers special correspondent Qassim Zein entered the compound Tuesday afternoon, more than 24 hours after the battle had ended. It still had the look of a brutal killing ground.

    "I have seen something I never imagined I would see in my life," Zein said in a cell-phone call from the area.

    Corpses lay everywhere, contorted in death, he reported. "I cannot count the bodies," he said. The remains of three children and six women were among the uncollected dead, he added.

    Zein said he toured two workshops: one was a car-bomb facility, the other a chop shop to tear down cars. Hameed, a date farmer, said his cult neighbors sometimes had been arrested and imprisoned during the Saddam years for criminal activity, including car theft.

    The compound had a beauty salon for the women who lived there, Zein found. New air conditioners kept the building cool, and outside was a rarity: a large swimming pool. Expensive furniture was everywhere.

    Zein said a police official told him that a search of the compound uncovered $8 million to $10 million in American currency. U.S. Army officials took the money along with computers and documents, he told Zein.

    A spokesman for U.S. forces referred questions to the Iraqi government. A State Department spokesman had no comment.

    Zein counted more than 60 vehicles, including pickups and sedans. Another four large trucks were thought to have hauled weapons.

    Hameed said that when the cult had first moved in, its members told him they were fleeing tribal disputes in Babil province. Aside from the occasional brush with criminal authorities, "they were always on good terms with the residents of the area. They never bothered anyone," Hameed said.

    Activity picked up after the American-led invasion in 2003, he said. More visitors arrived, staying overnight. And the cult members drove new cars. When asked, they claimed to have contracts with the American base in Najaf, Hameed said. They also became more religious.

    At a news conference, Maj. Hussain Muhammed of the Iraqi army said officials continued to find weapons at the compound. "It is enough for a whole army," he said.

  9. #29
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    It sounds like a fairly standard Messianic cult structure with apocalyptic overtones. From what little I've read, they have popped up from time to time within Islam, mainly as Shiite offshoots. The concentration on "signs and wonders" is also quite normal for that type of group. It also sounds like they probably have some type of "elect" theology, similar to some of the early Gnostic groups. As an analogue, check out the Branch Davidians.

    The tricky thing with groups like this is that they may well have a belief that "salvation" (the return of the messiah, the mahdi, the hidden imam, etc.) must be brought about by human action. Basically, it's a highly magical mind-set that can cause immense destruction in order to complete the required "ritual", and yet can appear to be peaceful until the signs are in place to start that ritual.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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