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Old 11-26-2007   #21
kehenry1
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Default Half the Battle

Now, to the question of whether AQI was more or less of the insurgency than any public statement said it was.

I want to re-assert this thought: numbers do not mean power. If it did, then our presence there with over 100,000 soldiers at any given time would have eliminated the possibility or probability of an insurgency. Further, the number of dead and wounded "insurgents" would have quickly finished it off. That was not true. So, I have to wonder if "numbers" of AQI v. indigenous insurgents make it any more true for control of the insurgency?

Whether it was 20% AQI and 80% locals, it seems clear that AQI had control over the insurgency by mid 2005. The organization, types of attacks, and targets with the number of foreign fighters and suicide attacks makes that a reality. I would add that the information, such as maps and organization records, gathered from exploiting the site where Zarqawi died, with subsequent re-organization of our own battle plans that rolled up a huge portion of the insurgency seems to also indicate AQI had operational control.

Their spiraling loss of control in mid to late 2006, post Zarqawi's death, and the damage we were able to inflict on the "insurgency" using this exploited information through 2007, seems to have led the FRLs to the conclusion that it is better to negotiate for internal power than give it to AQI who were never going to leave and had a totally different agenda for the end state of Iraq than the FRLs. And, had they maintained that association with AQI, might have seen themselves and the rest of the Sunni tribes smashed into nothing without any political, economic or military power. Possibly totally dispossessed and constantly on the defensive in a future Iraq ruled by Shia and Kurds.

In numbers, does it matter that AQI was only "20%" of the insurgency with "80%" being indigenous if, in power and operational control, they were 60-80%? Do the numbers change the tactics or delegitimize any claims that AQI was the "real" enemy in Iraq?

Do public statements by politicians, the SoD or commanders in the field represent a failure to recognize the complexity of the insurgency? Is this why we were slow to change tactics? Were such statements purposefully misleading for political reasons (ie, to keep domestic political support for staying in Iraq)? Or were they based on our first clumsy attempts to separate the insurgency from the people of Iraq, managing any support for its on going efforts by claiming it was "foreign", and basically kill two birds with one stone by damaging AQs claims to be "defending" Islam and Muslims at the same time?

Or, were we right all along that AQ represented the power and organizing force behind the insurgency and our failure to change tactics was an internal military and political philosophy? A philosophy and organization that wanted nothing to do with fighting another counter-insurgency and performing nation building post Viet Nam and the much vaunted "Powell Doctrine"? Instead, was geared towards conventional war fighting and killing as many "tangos" as possible? A political, military and popular idea that war should look like GW1?

Was the culmination point of victory a combination of all of these things with the addition of AQI damaging itself through a bad strategic decision to declare war on Shi'ites and anybody else that didn't fit their idea Muslim or go along with their religio-political ideology or accept their plan for an "Islamic State of Iraq"?

The focus on the exact numbers or "percentages" that either group represents seems too narrow a focus to try to evaluate the how or why of this war or any future insurgency. What seems more important is to be able to identify the different groups involved, their amount of operational and political control or influence and determine any differing agendas among them. Using this calculation to split the group into smaller and smaller pieces, pealing it like an onion as they say.

In repeating a previous question, was making AQI "the fall guy" a bad idea in the whole scheme of things considering current outcomes?
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Old 11-26-2007   #22
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An outstanding pair of posts Kat. Fantastic work.
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Old 11-26-2007   #23
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Kehenry-

" In numbers, does it matter that AQI was only "20%" of the insurgency with "80%" being indigenous if, in power and operational control, they were 60-80%? Do the numbers change the tactics or delegitimize any claims that AQI was the "real" enemy in Iraq? "

Thank you very much for explaining it in such a detailed fashion.

I couldn't have asked for better explanation
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Old 11-29-2007   #24
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Default It matters

First, if AQI is only one aspect of the insurgency (perhaps the global aspect, much as AQ was the global aspect of the insurgency against the USSR in Afghanistan), then our success against this foreign inspired insurgent/terrorist element doesn't equate to a strategic victory, at the most is an operational victory, if AQI has truly been defeated, but my study and experience indicates otherwise.

Tactics must be adjusted based upon who the enemy is, and all the factors that influence the enemy's behavior, so it does make a difference. A foreign enemy that does not have popular support needs to be defeated through attrition. An insurgency that is home grown and has some degree of support from the population must be separated from the population, which means the primary effort is winning over the population, instead of strictly waging a war of attrition.
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Old 11-29-2007   #25
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Originally Posted by Global Scout View Post
A foreign enemy that does not have popular support needs to be defeated through attrition.
But, they can control their loss rate, by slipping across the border when out gunned, and not slipping back until they've gathered new recruits.
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Old 11-30-2007   #26
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Default And?

Of course foreign AQ fighters can slip across the border, but the reality is there is little need to do so when there are plenty of areas in Iraq that are wide open for them to relocate. The homegrown insurgents, beyond the well to do FRL, don't necessarily have that option, as it is not a pleasant experience for the average Iraqi insurgent to relocate to Jordan, Syria, or Iran.

One example was the most recent battle of Falluja, where AQI left several fighters in the city, and the rest withdrew to fight elsewhere in Iraq. That means we need to clear, hold, and build, and not resort to the Vietnam strategy of taking hills just because the enemy is there and then giving them back to him.
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Old 11-30-2007   #27
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That means we need to clear, hold, and build, and not resort to the Vietnam strategy of taking hills just because the enemy is there and then giving them back to him.
Agreed, but isn't that different from attrition.
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Old 11-30-2007   #28
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Default A combination of strategies based on the situation

SOF have fixated on the mantra find, fix and finish, which is an attrition strategy, but one that failed us. The conventional forces have also, for the most part, focused on this attrition approach, and again to no end.

My point was this type of strategy could work in some limited cases, such as a small terrorist group that doesn’t have support from the people, such as many left wing terrorist groups in Europe in the 70’s and 80’s. You find and neutralize the leadership, then the threat is over. You already won the population over, they are law abiding citizens who dislike criminals (for the most part). This approach may work if you are able to eliminate the cadre of a budding insurgency before it turns into a movement. Once it is a movement, the attrition strategy won’t work unless you take it to the level that Stalin or Hitler did and wipe out entire populations, and even then the approach is questionable.

In order to win these conflicts, it is essential we have a population focused strategy, which will allow us to separate the population from the insurgents, and if we can do that (if we can’t, then we probably can’t win) it then becomes a relatively easy manner of finding and killing the small percentage of insurgents who won't realize that they are now fighting for a lost cause.

As for the quote about deep experience, I sometimes think that the so called deep experience for most of our senior officers and those who teach academics at their schools is narrowly confined to conventional warfighting, and they try to transfer their conventional maneuver warfare concepts, like culmination points, centers of gravity, etc. to irregular warfare, and it doesn’t work. All it does is distract our planners from the real work of figuring out what needs to be done and doing it. Instead our planners will spend countless hours tripping over mouse turds, and never reach an acceptable answer that will be mutually agreed upon. On the other hand those who actually have muddy boots experience are out there trying to get it done regardless of the inertia at the upper echelons of nonsense with their cool, yet meaningless slides depicting logical lines of operations, decisive points, tactical and operational COGs, etc. Yes, in this experience hinders.
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Old 11-30-2007   #29
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Default Good points. I become more convinced every

day that banning Power Point would increase our real war fighting capability by an order of magnitude...

Poor old METT-T is so simple and yet so often ignored in an effort to apply buzzwords to situations where they are an encumbrance.
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Old 12-19-2007   #30
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CTC, 19 Dec 07: Al-Qa'ida's Foreign Fighters in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar Records
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Al‐Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar Records is the latest in a series of reports from the Combating Terrorism Center drawing on newly released information from captured al‐Qa’ida documents maintained in the Defense Department’s Harmony Data Base. The report is a preliminary analysis of records containing background information on foreign fighters entering Iraq via Syria over the last year. The data used in this report was coded from English translations of these records and undoubtedly contains some inaccuracies due to imprecise translation as well as through errors in the transcription process. The CTC plans further studies based on the Sinjar Records and expects to hone and improve the accuracy of our database as we do so.....
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Old 12-21-2007   #31
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Default Al-Qaeda Adapts its Methods in Iraq as Part of a Global Strategy

Interesting report from the Jamestown Foundation:


For the last few months, reports from Iraq have been indicating a tangible decline in insurgency and terrorist operations. For the first time since 2003, the Iraqi people are enjoying a sense of security in the streets of Iraq, although skeptics claim it is the calm that precedes the storm. The stabilizing security situation comes amid claims that al-Qaeda has been defeated or at least has been seriously crippled in Iraq (alerhab.net, November 24). Has al-Qaeda actually been defeated and subjugated by the coalition forces in the Iraqi arena? Taking al-Qaeda’s past and current behavior into account while monitoring Iraq’s jihadi websites, one is presented with strong indications that al-Qaeda is adapting to the new realities on the ground while avoiding direct confrontation with the coalition forces. The global strategy of al-Qaeda since 9/11—as posted in al-Qaeda’s internet forums—sheds further light on the terror plans it has designed to lure and engage Americans in various fronts in the region...
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Old 02-07-2008   #32
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On a related note:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle3320938.ece

From The Times
February 7, 2008

Children 'taught to kidnap and kill at al-Qaeda camp' in Iraq

*
Admiral Smith and Major-General Mohammed al-Askari, an Iraqi army spokesman, said they were releasing the videos to highlight al-Qaeda’s growing use of woman and children and deepening depravity.

They were clearly seeking to build on the widespread disgust inspired by the terrorist group’s use of two mentally disablen women last Friday to attack two crowded pet markets in Baghdad, killing about 100 people. The explosives attached to the women were detonated remotely and they may not even have known what they were doing. They were also teenagers, the military said yesterday.
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Old 05-13-2008   #33
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I recently had a chance to see the Sinjar data through a software demo which produced some of the stat's on the foreign fighters. I wish I had the data now as I type.

Additionally, Newsweek just did a story on the Sinjar data and looked at Darnah, Libya, a dead-end city. http://www.newsweek.com/id/132938?from=rss

There were a number of different outcomes from the Sinjar data when I reviewed it beyond the city of origin, it included which fighters donated to the cause, how much was donated, skills, who recruited them, and indicated there was only a handful of movement facilitators working the number of fighters entering into Iraq via Syria, at least to this location. The data would indicate an HR shop was busted, and there others with other movement facilitators bringing in the bodies. I did not notice, but were the fighters from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from a Wahabbi background leaning towards very anti-West, and some instances anti-Islam other than Wahabbi? The Saudi Arabia piece is probably not obtainable due to the lack of this pone piece of data. Additionally, further analysis the Sinjar data may show a difference in why each fighter was heading in to Iraq?

In reviewing the article by Mr Watts, the recommendation leans towards conducting surrogate operations around established governments to stem the flow of foreign fighters, or change the landscape of a nation. No government is going to allow another nation to microscopically focus on flash point cities. But, working through the country team at the embassy can provide information back to planners to assist identifying possible hot spots of interest and why these hot spots exist, and possibly how to deal with these locations. Some of the ideas behind why a foreign fighter is recruited may be no different than looking into inner-city gang’s and their recruitment in the United States and elsewhere. Is it culture and society, dead-end from the government, and a lack of being able to provide for oneself or one’s family (also culturally linked)? Cultural analysis is key to any actions simple or complex in future operations. Will analysis across the economic and social aspect of the M.E. and North Africa provide a better insight into the FFN in IZ? This is yet to be determined.

In respect to finding linkages to the current FFN in Iraq and Afghanistan, one solid linking line is religion. But what is next; culture or nationalism? Motivations will be different between males and females and this is another aspect to be reviewed as there have been female suicide bombers.

But, what happens when the region changes, it’s not the Trans-Sahel or the Middle East. Is it up-risings in Bolivia, Colombia, or Korea? The same the analysis will need to be performed to identify who is recruited and for what reasons; nationalistic, ideology or theological, cultural, desperation, or just for money and glory?

In looking at the future of complex operations, Irregular Warfare, Hybrid Warfare (pick a term), will FFN' be classified as the surrogate fighters for other entities? These entities can be mafia or organized criminal elements, insurgencies, or some other form of activity. The fact a FFN needs money to pay for fighters and equipment comes from smuggling cigarettes and drugs and their sales starts to link organized crime into insurgent activities as quickly as donations from believers in the cause.
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Old 06-11-2008   #34
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Default Papers give peek inside al Qaeda in Iraq

I found this Michael Ware report quite interesting. The AQI bureacracy is incredible; just like those little finance ladies in tennis shoes from the old days in the Army...

Quote:
Papers give peek inside al Qaeda in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- With Christmas 2005 approaching, the princes of al Qaeda's western command were gathering. They'd been summoned for something special -- to plot a three-month campaign of coordinated suicide, rocket, and infantry attacks on American bases, checkpoints, and Iraqi army positions.

1 of 2 In al Qaeda in Iraq's hierarchy, prince designates a senior leader, and these princes had been gathered by the most senior among them, the prince for all of Anbar province itself.

This commander, his name not recorded in al Qaeda's summaries of the meetings and referred to only by rank, spent that December fleshing out his vision for the wave of assaults with the gathered subordinates who would lead his combat brigades.
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Old 07-26-2008   #35
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CTC, 23 Jul 08: Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout: al-Qa'ida's Road in and Out of Iraq
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This report analyzes al‐Qa`ida in Iraq’s (AQI) operations from spring 2006 to summer 2007 and is being issued with a trove of AQI documents captured by coalition forces near Sinjar, Iraq. The documents include almost 600 AQI personnel records for foreign fighters crossing into Iraq, AQI contracts for suicide bombers, AQI contracts for fighters leaving Iraq, narratives written by al‐Qa`ida’s Syrian smugglers, and AQI financial records. The CTC also acquired demographic information on all Third Country Nationals (TCNs) in detention at Camp Bucca, Iraq. Most of this data has not previously been released to the public.....
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Old 03-25-2009   #36
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CTC, 16 Mar 09: Dysfunction and Decline: Lessons Learned From Inside Al‐Qa`ida in Iraq
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Al‐Qa`ida in Iraq (AQI) is a shadow of its former self, primarily because broad sectors of Iraq’s Sunni population rejected it after more than three years of active and tacit cooperation. That AQI’s ideological extremism alienated many Iraqis is well understood, but radicalism alone does not fully explain AQI’s decline: poor leadership, vulnerable communication mechanisms, tension between Iraqi and foreign members, and weak indoctrination efforts contributed to strategic and tactical blunders that alienated even other Sunni insurgents. In lieu of major social and political shifts (which are possible) that offer AQI a sustained safe‐haven, these dynamics are unlikely to change dramatically; they serve as important obstacles to AQI’s resurrection. Conversely, al‐Qa`ida elements elsewhere, primarily along the Afghanistan‐Pakistan border, are hindered less by these weaknesses. There are lessons from the fight against AQI that are applicable in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but al‐Qa`ida’s operations there are likely to be much more durable than those in Iraq.

Section I of this paper traces al‐Qa`ida in Iraq’s transition from welcome partner to mortal enemy of Iraq’s Sunni insurgents, focusing particularly on the Islamic Army of Iraq. Section II draws on declassified internal AQI correspondence and open sources to describe how external pressures—from U.S. forces and tribal sources—exacerbated AQI’s fallout with other insurgents while rending the movement from within. Section III assesses AQI’s prospects in Iraq and the impact of AQI’s failure on the future of the global jihadist movement. Section IV offers recommendations for containing AQI in the future and for applying the lessons of AQI’s demise to other elements.....
Complete 36-page paper at the link.
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Old 03-25-2009   #37
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The very flawed concept of "Global Insurgency" has caused most to really mis-understand AQ in general, and AQI specifically.

It is far more accurate to look at AQ as a non-state organization that has no populace, but that through the power of the information tools of globalization is able to take advantage of a legal "sanctuary of status," as well as to a lesser degree sanctuary of poorly governed populaces and sanctuary of state borders to conduct a very state-like unconventional warfare campaign. This campaign is primarily to take down the Saudi Monarchy, but also other western legitimized governments of the region; with a secondary and supporting objective of breaking US support to the region in order to facilitate success of the primary objective.

So:

AQI is not part of the Iraqi Insurgency, they are there conducting UW to incite, guide, and support the Iraqi insurgency.

There are three general categories of insurgency, and all three existed in Iraq: Separatist (Kurd), revolutionary (Sunni), and resistance (Shia) in rough breakdown. None of these are AQ, and all are made up of Iraqis. Iran conducted UW as well in support of the Shia insurgency.

"Foreign fighters" in AQI are largely nationalist insurgents from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Lybia, Algeria, and Morocco that want to change their own governance at home and who traveled to Iraq to support the second objective of breaking the US support to the region. Expect this brand of support to shift to Afghanistan along with the US. Where we go, they will go.

None of these are "Terrorists," though all use terrorist tactics. If you describe your foes by their purpose for action it is far easier to separate them and design effective tactics for dealing with each. If you conflate them all as "terrorists" you are just shooting your way into a quagmire. Similarly misrepresenting AQ as waging "global insurgency" confuses our solutions for dealing with them as well.
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Old 11-30-2009   #38
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The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 25 Nov 09:

Al-Qaeda in Iraq Operations Suggest Rising Confidence Ahead of U.S. Military Withdrawal
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.....At the moment, the goals for the insurgents are less territorially defined and more aimed at encouraging the anarchical conditions that support the survival and influence of their organizations. Today, several factors contribute to a growing operational space for insurgent activity by promoting discouragement and subverting reconciliation efforts:

• The U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq’s urban areas on June 30, in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), has left behind a less capable Iraqi Security Force (ISF) to carry on the mission of ensuring protection and confronting terrorists.

• The growing Arab-Kurdish divide over the ownership of “disputed territories,” especially in Ninawa province, has provided an effective venue for insurgents to exploit security disparities and ethnic divisions (see Terrorism Monitor, October 23).

• The continued reluctance of the Shi’a-dominated government to integrate Sunni fighters from the Awakening (Sahwa) Movement into the Iraqi security and civilian sectors has led to growing suspicions and uncertainty amongst some Sunnis over Baghdad’s long term intentions vis-à-vis their status and use.....
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Old 01-10-2011   #39
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RAND, 15 Dec 10: An Economic Analysis of the Financial Records of al-Qa'ida in Iraq
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This monograph analyzes the finances of the militant group al-Qa‘ida in Iraq (AQI) in Anbar province during 2005 and 2006, at the peak of the group’s power and influence. We draw on captured financial records that recorded the daily financial transactions of both one specific sector within Anbar province and the AQI provincial administration. To our knowledge, this monograph offers one of the most comprehensive assessments of the financial operations of AQI or any other contemporary Islamic militant group....
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Old 01-11-2011   #40
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In an exclusive extract from his new book, A History of the World since 9/11, Dominic Streatfeild explains how despite expert warnings, the US let al-Qaida buy an arsenal of deadly weapons – then tried to cover it up.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011...ida-us-failure

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The arrival of al-Qaida

Initially, looters at Qa'qaa had targeted consumer goods such as fridges and air-conditioners. Although munitions had been taken, no one really knew what to do with them. It soon dawned, however, that they might be intrinsically valuable. Weaponry was rapidly emerging as a second currency.

"After the invasion, we started seeing these Arabs, these foreign fighters," recalls Haki, "Palestinians, Egyptians, Libyans." Most Yusifiyans were wary of these new arrivals, but a number of local tribes took them in: "Karagol, Jenabies, Rowissat . . ."

Yusuf, an emerging leader in the insurgency who belongs to one of these tribes, confirms the story. "We allowed the Arabs into our houses and our farms. We welcomed them properly. Some of them even married our daughters." The fact they were Arab strangers was sufficient to ensure hospitality, but these foreigners had extra pull. They were fedayeen. They were al-Qaida.

They also informed the tribes that some of Qa'qaa's contents were considerably more valuable than rocket launchers and pistols. It wasn't long before Yusuf finally stumbled upon Qa'qaa's real treasure. "We found something that we didn't recognise. It was like a powder. It was stored in specific conditions, in special barrels." Yusuf had no idea what it was, but he thought he might as well take some. Only later would he learn that it was pure, crystalline high explosive.

Following the rush to appropriate munitions, Yusifiyans had to figure out where to store their loot. Many hid it in their homes. This soon led to tragedy. Rival groups fired rocket-propelled grenades into each other's houses, knowing they were full of explosives. Accidents also led to fatalities. One of Yusuf's barns blew up.
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