More Tribe-on-Tribe in Qaim

In the western Iraqi town of Qaim, clashes continue between the pro-government Bumahl tribe and the pro-al Qaeda Karabila tribe. Newsday, in an article titled “Heavy Fighting Erupts in Western Iraq“, reports that “20 members of the Bumahl tribe and 15 from Karabila were killed in the clashes,” with dozens wounded. Reuters reports 47 were killed in multiple U.S. air strikes directed at terrorist safe houses.

“Intelligence leads Coalition forces to believe that Abu Islam and several of his associates were killed in the air strike,” a U.S. military spokeswoman said in Baghdad.

A hospital official in Qaim, near the Syrian border, told Reuters at least 47 people died in the U.S.-led strikes. Mohammed al-Aani said 35 people died in one house and another 12 in a strike on a second house.

The U.S. military said in a statement it had carried out three separate strikes, initially dropping four bombs on a house in Husayba, near Qaim.

The operation is interesting for reasons other than the obvious positive implications of infighting between Sunni tribes and the rejection of al Qaeda in Qaim. The U.S. appears to have actionable and accurate intelligence in the Qaim region. This is the second successful high-casualty air strike in the area this week following clashes between the Bumahl and Karabila tribes.

Note how the safe house was under observation, the fleeing terrorists were tracked and subsequently attack. This particular battle was conducted over a short span of the Euphrates River, with the enemy being chased from town to town, with no respite.

“At approximately 6:20 a.m. (0220 GMT), two bombs were dropped on a second house in Husayba, occupied by Abu Islam, a known terrorist,” the statement said. “Islam and several other suspected terrorists were killed in that attack.”

A U.S. spokeswoman said some of Abu Islam’s associates then drove around six km (four miles) to a house in Karabila.

“Around 8:30 a.m., a strike was conducted on the house in Karabila using two precision-guided bombs. Several terrorists were killed in the strike but exact numbers are not known,” the statement said. Abu Islam is an alias used by several known Islamist militants.

KUNA reports Abu Islam, also known as Amir Hussseiba, is “a leader of the terrorist groups in the western area.”

It is likely the intelligence was a combination of on the ground sources from the Bumahl tribe, coupled with the U.S. military’s manned reconnaissance and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capabilities. The involvement of U.S. Special Operations forces cannot be discounted. The merging of on the indigenous ground human intelligence combined with superior U.S. surveillance capabilities is a powerful force multiplier in the Anbar region.

There is a real battle occurring in Western Iraq between the pro government and pro al Qaeda tribes, which is generally being ignored by the media. Local support for the Iraqi government, and a willingness to openly fight al Qaeda and cooperate directly with the U.S. military in the wildest and most lawless regions of Anbar speaks volumes of the success being made to win hearts and minds among the Sunni population.

Political negotiations are all well and good, and are greatly desired. But nothing can substitute for the willingness to pick up arms and actively fight the depravity of al Qaeda, and their ultimate promise of retribution. This is the ultimate political statement. The Bumahl tribe has put its finger to the winds, and decided to back the Iraqi government and its U.S. ally, a bold move when considering the Iraqi tribal units are well known for their caution.

See Security Watchtower for further information.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

14 Comments

  • GK says:

    Bill,
    So, it should be pretty easy for us to use special ops, snipers, etc. to support the pro-government side against the pro-AQ side. Possibly even supply the pro-givt side with a tightly controlled supply of top-quality weapons.
    In light of this, Karabila should be decimated in a matter of a couple weeks, yes?

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Something wider is going on looking at MNF-Iraq press releases
    Aug 26 – TIKRIT, Iraq – Task Force Liberty Soldiers captured two known terrorists
    Aug 27 – KHALIS, Iraq – Iraqi Army soldiers and Coalition forces conducted a targeted raid against an anti-Iraqi forces’ assassination cell
    Aug 27 – BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces killed Abu Khallad, a major facilitator of foreign fighters and suicide bombers into northern Iraq
    Aug 28 – BAGHDAD , Iraq – Three North African terrorists were killed during security operations in northern Mosul August 27th
    Aug 28 – BAGHDAD , Iraq – Multi-national forces raided a suspected terrorist hideout in Ramadi Aug. 23 and captured a pair of known terrorists based in Ramadi
    Then there was this peice on Reuters
    Aug 26 – BAGHDAD (Reuters) – President Bush stepped in to resolve a row over Iraq’s constitution, calling a key Shi’ite leader to warn him not to alienate Sunni Arabs
    Maybe, just maybe, some of the Sunni’s have figured out which side their bread is buttered on.

  • I have been making a similar analysis. There have also been two stories in the Arab News that add to the picture. In their report on the Abu Khallid hit they say that it resulted from a detainee giving information on his whereabouts and also giving details on his network in Saudi Arabia that has been supplying the human bomb attackers. This story ran the day after the Arab News disclosed that in various raids around the country Saudi security forces took down a network of 41 al Qaeda operatives, killing six of them. The survivors have been going through interrigation. My speculation is that the two are related and that inventory of human bombs for Zarqawi’s use is shrinking. The links to the Arab News stories are on my site.

  • hamidreza says:

    #1 – GK
    Why would you insist on decimating Karabila? Dont you have some respect for the lives of the residents there?
    Karabila is overrun by thugs and fascists and Islamists who are enslaving the population, beating up the citizenry, imprisoning women, beheading people that do not submit to them.
    Educate yourself about Islam and fascism. //www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1553781,00.html
    The citizens of Karabila have all the right in the world to defend themselves from these western leftist supported thugs and terrorists and demand that the Iraqi government and the US forces to defend them.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    #4 hamidreza
    I agree with you, “decimating” should be avoided if at all possible. Capturing the guilty is best, it would appear they are quite “talkative” once captured. Kill one…create two…capture one…capture 12. Plenty of time for hangings in the future.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    A DOD press release today –
    //www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050830_2569.html
    It contains a complete sequence of Events related to a terrorist cell in Hit.
    It would appear that a number of layers of leadership got nailed.
    It is quite rare for Military press releases to string together events.

  • GK says:

    Hamidreza,
    I am more educated about this issue than you are, thank you very much. I have been reading this blog for a long time.
    And if Krabila is pro-Al-Qaeda, to the extent of fighting the Bumahl tribe, then yes, we should decimate that pro-terrorist group.

  • bindare says:

    to gk,
    To decimate means to kill one out of every ten. It is a Latin word and was used by high ranking officers in the Roman army to punish or discipline their own troops. You, perhaps, want to use the word obliterate instead. It means to wipe out so as to leave no trace.

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  • VRWconspiracy says:

    I read the linked stories when they first came out, but did not drop in on this website — my bad. But I had Bill’s reaction exactly. The working together with the conservative Sunni tribes to defeat the terrorists is potentially a war winning strategy. If this event becomes the pattern, the Zman and his Iraqi operations are toast.
    I’ll have to drop by this site on a more regular basis.

  • hamidreza says:

    GK – Karabila is a farming community, 90% of which are probably innocent civilians. To “decimate Karabila” is a bad choice of words – easily misconstrued. You would preferably want to say “decimate the combatant supporters of al-Qaeda and the combatant Iraqi Islamists in Karabila”.

  • Angry American says:

    Soldier’s Dad’s postings are very interesting.
    This is another sign of some good news in Iraq, and, of course, un or under-reported by MSM.
    Glad you made this analysis – us Soldier’s Dads need this kind of good news analysis.
    Add to it the involvement of Sunnis in their constitution and upcoming voting process…I think we are starting to win some of the hearts and minds we lost with AG and more specifically those lost by the propaganda war being fought by AQ against our soldiers causes – basically lies, ie. mortaring residents of Fallujah and blaming it on US forces. We all know this went on until Fallujah became a hornets nest, left to our brave Marines to clean up.
    Fallujah….what another bout face! Why doesn’t our media cover how much has changed in that city since we “Liberated” it last November. I challenge the media to report on the progress of the city of Fallujah on the anniversary of it’s liberation!
    What would really be curious is, what caused the stampede tragedy to take place yesterday???? Foreign terrorists interested in causing civil war in Iraq????
    Over in Iraq the Model, a thread poster made a very good comment after the initial blog post tried to blame the Iraq government for the tragedy…”the only people to blame are the terrorists – let’s keep an eye on the ball”
    God bless our soldiers…and we need to add in our prayers, those that suffered from this tragedy, and those of the tragedy on our own soil in the wake of Katrina.

  • EOD MOM aka Nancy says:

    Just searching for the good news that I’m sure all of you are aware that we don’t get stateside.Thanks to all of you who are doing such a fine job and take care of yourselves and each other. Don’t worry about us back here. We will pull together and rebuild the coast.

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