Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Insurgents do the darndest things 

Insurgency in Iraq might be a relatively sophisticated operation, but some of the participants are certainly a few fuses short of a working Improvised Explosive Device and consequently are likely to end up way short of the promised 72 virgins.

Item 1: If you are an insurgent who wants to stash a large quantity of weapons and munitions at your house, please make sure that you don't paint the building's outside walls with anti-Coalition slogans.

That can, sort of, attract the attention.

And it did, when soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd U.S. Infantry Division were engaged in a random "knock-and-search" operation in the Al Rashid District of Baghdad on 4 July.
A full search of the house yielded the following items: one U.S. body armor vest, two load-bearing vests for AK-47 rifles, eight rocket-propelled grenade triggers, one RPG pouch, one detonator, four AK-47s, two improvised RPG/rocket launchers, two 82mm mortars, two 82mm mortar tripods, 20 rocket primers, 11 RPG propellants, three RPGs, 17 grenade fuses, 12 AK-47 magazines, four AK-47 stocks, an expended 1,000-round RPK belt, more than 1,000 RPK rounds (both expended and live), 300 rounds of 9mm ammunition, a large amount of propaganda materials, various improvised explosive device-making materials, welding supplies, two 60mm mortars, one 60mm mortar tripod, 10 grenades, one modified ammo box, three new Iraqi Police uniforms, three bullet-proof windows and one rifle scope.
Item 2: It's true that it's not always possible to detonate explosives remotely - while post-liberation the number of cell phones commonly used for that purpose has increased dramatically throughout Iraq, so has the intrusiveness of American jamming technologies - still, some ways to set off a roadside bomb just make it too easy for the infidel imperialist soldiers.
Task Force Baghdad soldiers caught a man red-handed trying to detonate a roadside bomb along a highway south of the city. The military said soldiers patrolling in south Baghdad at around 2 a.m. [July 3] noticed two sets of wires leading to the side of a highway. The patrol followed the wires to a bunker with an overhead cover and found a man with a spool of wire inside.
The spool man was not the only insurgent recently who obviously haven't read up on the old Greek myth of Theseus, Labyrinth, and Ariadne's thread.
Task Force Liberty soldiers detained five suspects, three of whom were arrested after soldiers followed a trail of wires from the roadside to a house near Duluiyah on June 27. The soldiers searched the house and found three AK-47 assault rifles, a shotgun, small-arms ammunition, a suitcase of Iraqi currency, and 25 identification cards.
Item 3: Security forces are trained to look for suspicious things, so the sight of a car parked on the side of the road with wires sticking out of the steering column will unquestionably pique the curiosity of those on the lookout for car bombs. But you don't have to confirm the suspicions by driving the car in question, parking it, getting out, and then - in full view of the locals - catching a taxi.

Those were the circumstances that Iraqi soldiers from Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Iraqi Army Brigade faced while patrolling in the Ameriyah district of west Baghdad at around 6:00 p.m. on July 3.
The Iraqi Soldiers secured the site to keep everyone away from the bomb and called in a team of explosives experts. When the team investigated they found four mortar rounds, one land mine and a radio with wire connected to the car. The explosives team safely detonated the car bomb.
Item 4: When you're fighting a jihad against foreign occupiers, the best strategy is to try to win the hearts and minds of residents of a town you've decided to take over as your base of operations. Please note: this objective is unlikely to be achieved once you start killing members of the local tribal establishment and destroying vital infrastructure.

Case in point, a little town of Husaybah, which has recently seen repeated bursts of fighting between the locals and their Al Qaeda guests:
The trigger was the assassination of a tribal sheikh, from the Sulaiman tribe, ordered by Zarqawi for inviting senior US marines for lunch. American troops gained an insight into the measures the jihadists had imposed during recent house-to-house searches in nearby towns and villages.

Shops selling music and satellite dishes had been closed. Women were ordered to wear all-enveloping clothing and men forbidden from wearing western clothes.

Anyone considered to be aiding coalition forces was being killed or kidnapped. That included those with links to the government - seen as a US puppet - such as water or electricity officials. As a result local services had collapsed.
As one resident who left the city comments about Al Qaeda: "We thought they were patriotic. Now we discovered that they are sick and crazy. They interfered in everything, even how we raise our children. They turned the city into hell, and we cannot live in it anymore."

Item 5: OK, so you can never be sure whether the prospective martyr will actually martyr himself when it comes to the crunch, but as this story shows, there is only so much you can do to double-guess him -– you can chain the suicide-bomber-to-be to the car seat and tape his hand to the steering wheel, which might ensure the unbroken connection between the driver and his load, but will unduly restrict his movements and reflexes; you can put in a remote control detonator under his seat, just in case he changes his mind, but the chances are it will be radio-jammed by the Americans anyway; and you can also drug the martyr up to his eyeballs.

This will banish any fear or second thoughts about going to Paradise too soon, but it will also, arguably, make him incapable of using the activation switch for the bomb.

Item 6: And an oldie but a goodie from the early days of military operations in Iraq. The enemy will always try to provoke you into doing something impulsive and, let's face it, stupid - so don't let them. This simple lesson was, alas, lost on Saddam's brave but foolhardy irregulars:
Before plunging into Iraq, U.S. psychological-warfare operators studied certain cultural stereotypes. One was that young Arab toughs cannot tolerate insults to their manhood. So, as American armored columns pushed down the road to Baghdad, 400-watt loudspeakers mounted on Humvees would, from time to time, blare out in Arabic that Iraqi men are impotent. The Fedayeen, the fierce but undisciplined and untrained Iraqi irregulars, could not bear to be taunted. Whether they took the bait or saw an opportunity to attack, many Iraqis stormed out of their concealed or dug-in positions, pushing aside their human shields in some cases—to be slaughtered by American tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.
Not impotent; just stupid.


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