The Former Islamic Republic of Haditha

Day five of Operations River Gate has ended. Coalition forces continue to clear the cities of Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana. Over two hundred suspected insurgents have been captured, and seven have been reported killed since the operation began. Marines and soldiers are still encountering resistance. Two soldiers were killed during a firefight in Haqlaniyah.

al Qaeda has had no compunctions about using religious shrines and places of worship to mask their activities. More details emerge on al Qaeda’s infrastructure in Haditha as a comprehensive house-to-house search continues.

Iraqi Security Forces discovered sophisticated propaganda production equipment in a house while conducting deliberate clearing operations.  The seizure included numerous prepared Al Qaeda in Iraq compact discs and audio tapes, three computers, several printers, banner makers, multi-disc copiers and thousands of blank discs and tapes.

Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces also discovered a bomb-making factory in Haditha.  The site included numerous pre-wired bombs, several mortar rounds and bomb-making supplies such as explosive propellant, blasting caps and detonation cord.

al Qaeda will lose Haditha as an important base. As al Qaeda’s bases are destroyed and areas of operation are reduced, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the commander of al Qaeda in Iraq, lashes out. Zarqawi declares civilians are legitimate targets; “Islam does not differentiate between civilians and military (targets) but rather distinguishes between Muslims and infidels… Muslim blood must be spared … but it is permissible to spill infidel blood.” Desperate times call for desperate measures.

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

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18 Comments

  • Nick Rizzuto says:

    Loks like al Qaeda’s river strongholds are being rolled up like a blanket. Hopefully this will have a considerable effect on the level of violence in the next election.
    God, I’ve come to love this blog. Thanks Bill.

  • ricksamerican says:

    Excellent news, Bill. Thanks, again. Glad to see Instapundit linking again. Wretchard has a good post on the Zawahiri-Zarqawi letter. Al Queda’s #2 begging for funds from Z-man! Whoa! That’s something to think about. What are the implications for OBL in his hole?

  • TallDave says:

    Thanks again for the coverage Bill. I used to check the wires first thing every day, now I check here first for the real story, then go see how laughably the media is misinterpreting the day’s events. Thanks also to whoever provided the link to the Pentagon’s weekly Iraq update; that was very useful and I’m surprised it isn’t covered more.
    Anyone have any thoughts on where insurgents will go now? They don’t seem to have a lot of options anymore. Wonder too whether Ramadi operations are ongoing and how big a push they’re making, and what the situation is in Samarra.

  • ex-democrat says:

    (thanks for the reprieve, Bill).
    Does anyone have a link to the full text of the new zarqawi tape? (i hate being limited to the quotes provided by reuters or AFP).
    in addition to the part bill notes, the part stating that “factions [such as Hizbollah, Fatah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] have nothing to do with Jihad … [which] is much deeper than that” seems especially intriguing.

  • Boghie says:

    The most interesting factor is:
    As the coalition pushes al Zarqawi’s remnants West, Zawahari (al Qaedas second in command) writes a missive to al Zarqawi asking for money, a change in tactics, and most importantly:
    Drum roll please
    informing him in writing that Syria, Jordan, and Egypt are the next targets for his Jihad…
    That will certainly make al Zarqawi’s state sponsors estatic… Make it a bit difficult for him to bail to Syria in an effort to outweight the coalition activities…

  • Boghie says:

    The most interesting factor is:
    As the coalition pushes al Zarqawi’s remnants West, Zawahari (al Qaedas second in command) writes a missive to al Zarqawi asking for money, a change in tactics, and most importantly:
    Drum roll please
    informing him in writing that Syria, Jordan, and Egypt are the next targets for his Jihad…
    That will certainly make al Zarqawi’s state sponsors ecstatic… Make it a bit difficult for him to bail to Syria in an effort to out wait the coalition activities…
    *** See above post for spelling errors. Eeeekkk, I have no idea how I could put you all through that…

  • PeterArgus says:

    hay Boghie, it happens to the beast of us!

  • Tom W. says:

    Bill:
    The investment guru Bob Brinker speaks of achieving financial “critical mass,” whereby you invest incrementally until suddenly you’re not only rich, you start getting even richer faster.
    Are we seeing critical mass in Iraq? It seems like there’s a heck of a lot of good news coming out these days, not only in terms of the ISF becoming more capable at an increased rate but also more and bigger military/PR defeats for Zarqawi’s rabble.

  • Matthew says:

    October 15th, Tom, could trigger that “critical mass.”

  • Justin Capone says:

    Matthew,
    October 15 could very well trigger the opposite if Sunnis decide they were cheated.
    My greatest hope for the critical mass event being triggered is actually the December election if the Sunnis vote, in which case the Sunni community would have representation. And, the elected Sunni leaders would split the Sunni community as a whole from supporting the insurgency.

  • Jamison1 says:

    Sunnis are, what 20% of the population? Some of their leaders want them to vote no on the Consitution, some of them want them to boycott. Some of the Sunni don’t care what their leaders say.
    So let’s say:
    5/6-1/3 vote NO
    1/3 don’t vote
    1/6-1/3 vote Yes
    Will they still feal cheated enough to fight because of this? I seriously doubt it.

  • Walter E. Wallis says:

    I hope we are collecting enough evidence to bust one Syrian and one Iranian city big. Say 12 hour’s notice then level it and salt the ground.

  • TallDave says:

    I’ve never heard of Brinker, but that’s actually exactly my investing philosophy. I drool over the idea that someday I’ll make more in interest than I do working, and obsess over my Excel spreadsheet that estimates when I’ll get there. I put away about half my income right now to try to make it there as soon as possible.
    And we’re doing much the same in Iraq: investing a lot of blood and treasure rebuilding the country and getting the Iraqi forces up to the point where they’re doing more than we are.
    I think the critical mass for Iraq comes in the December elections. Two very important things happen then: 1) the Sunnis get to choose their leadership for the national Iraqi gov’t (all indications are they’re kicking themselves for missing the last vote and plan to participate) which will bring them into the political process, at least to some extent; and 2) Iraq overall holds its first real elections, in which parties will actually campaign and there will be real choices about Iraq’s future. Word from Iraqi bloggers is that many Iraqis are not happy with the competence and religious flavor of the current gov’t and secularists are expected to make big gains, esp. among women. The current gov’t was legitimately elected, but there wasn’t much choice; they were basically all Iraq had to offer last year. As Glenn Reynolds is always pointing out, democracy is a process.
    I don’t think the elections will end the insurgency, but I think it will begin to tail off from there.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Justin,
    Based on this article, it is clear that Sunni’s are not a monolithic block.
    “Sunnis fail to agree boycott of Iraq referendum”
    //www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L0878981.htm

  • Killshot says:

    Published this week, thgis article paints a grimmer picture by 2 sniper malcontents in the US Army:
    ——————————————————————————–
    Posted on Sun, Oct. 09, 2005
    Scope of insurgency
    American snipers play a cat-and-mouse game with insurgents in the Iraqi city of Muqdadiyah, which the U.S. military claims is largely pacified.
    BY TOM LASSETER
    Knight Ridder Foreign Service
    MUQDADIYAH, Iraq
    Sgt. Antonio Molina sat on a rooftop in the pitch of night, scanning the road before him with a high-powered sniper scope, hoping an insurgent would scramble out of a car to lay a bomb and give him a reason to squeeze the trigger.
    He and three other 3rd Infantry Division snipers were dropped off last month on the outskirts of the city of Muqdadiyah in an Iraqi province military officials say is largely pacified. Dozens of infantry soldiers stormed an abandoned structure in a staged raid and left the four men behind. Alone with their rifles, the men moved quietly, fearing an insurgent ambush might catch them before Bradley Fighting Vehicles could respond.
    “Some people don’t get the gravity of the situation,” said Molina, a 27-year-old sniper from Clearwater, Fla. “People in the Green Zone are always trying to paint a rosy picture.” He was referring to the fortified compound in Baghdad where U.S. officials work.
    “These politicians are all about sending people to war, but they don’t know what it’s all about, being over here and getting shot at, walking through   swamps, having bombs go off, hearing bullets fly by.”
    Military commanders in Baghdad and Washington say four Iraqi provinces are home to 85 percent of the daily attacks. They claim a relatively low attack rate in Iraq’s 14 other provinces is proof the insurgency is on its knees.
    Muqdadiyah is a city in one of those 14 provinces, Diyala. Yet, five days in the field with 3rd Infantry Division snipers suggests the insurgency continues to chip away at the U.S. campaign.
    Many U.S. troops on the ground in Muqdadiyah expect the violence to continue long after they’re gone. They worry that Sunni Muslim insurgents – from a Sunni population that makes up 40 percent of Diyala – will simply move from targeting U.S. forces to ratcheting up attacks against Shiite Muslims, who make up 35 percent of the province. Shiites are a majority in Iraq, and they dominate the Baghdad government.
    Muqdadiyah is a relative backwater of some 100,000 people. But the guerrilla war there, while gaining little attention, indicates wider instability than military leaders have acknowledged.
    “As soon as we leave this place, they’re all going to kill each other,” Molina said at a meeting in his barracks recently.
    His sniper team commander, Staff Sgt. Donnie Hendricks, agreed. “It’s going to be a   civil war.”
    Hendricks was quiet for a few moments.
    “We go out and kill the bad guys one at a time,” said Hendricks, 32, who speaks with the soft accent of his native Claremore, Okla., where his high school graduating class had 55 students. “But we’re just whittling down one group so it’s easier for the other groups to kill them.”
    Maj. Dean Wollan, the top U.S. intelligence officer in Diyala, said his men have made tremendous gains, but he worries the fight will grind on for years.
    “I think it’s going to be a while,” said Wollan, 38, of Missoula, Mont. “I think the shortest insurgency we’ve seen was the one the Brits fought in Malaysia. That was seven years.”
    Commanders for the 3rd Infantry Division said the number of attacks in Diyala had dropped from about a dozen a day last year to seven. Roadside bombs, they said, have decreased by a third. The latter trend, though, hasn’t held up: In September 2004, there were 72 roadside bombs detonated or found, but 106 this month.
    “They say attacks are down. Well, no (kidding),” Hendricks said. “We’re not patrolling where the bad guys are.”
    U.S. patrols on a parallel road, Route Marie, ended in late May.
    Pointing to Route Marie on a map on the wall of his barracks, Hendricks traced a 2-mile stretch of the road with his index finger.
    “They kicked (us) off this road,” Hendricks said. “They hit us with so many IEDs (improvised explosive devices), we had to stop using it.”
    Last month, the U.S. Army began bulldozing palm groves and roadside stands along the route to provide clear sight lines.
    On the main supply route to the base on the edge of Muqdadiyah – Route Vanessa Roadside – explosives have rocked the military’s bomb-detecting truck every day for 11 straight days in August. Commanders routinely call in F-16s to provide close support for the vehicle.
    U.S. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a military spokesman in Baghdad, pointed to Diyala and the 13 other provinces last month as examples of a weakened insurgency.
    “There are indeed areas of Iraq that are relatively safe and secure, and those people in those provinces are working their way towards a peaceful society,” Lynch said. “Sixty percent of the people   in these provinces   are experiencing a much, much, much lower level of violence.”
    Muqdadiyah is one of those areas. There, the Army has reduced patrols from 24-hour cycles to two daily five-hour rotations. Instead of canvassing the entire area, patrols focus on Route Vanessa, their main supply route. Insurgents now regularly place bombs along that road.
    “The bad guys watch our gates,” Hendricks said. “They just wait for us to leave. They plant them (bombs) with impunity.”
    A roadside bomb hit Hendricks’ vehicle in June. He has scars on his face and neck and shrapnel in his jaw.
    Iraqi police and army units are responsible for much of the city itself. Sgt. Hunter Sabin said Iraqi troops are far from ready to take over.
    “I was up in a guard tower outside the FOB (base), and a group of IP (Iraqi police) came up and offered us hash and whiskey,” said Sabin, a 26-year-old sniper from Richmond, Va., who was in a Ranger special operations unit during the 2003 invasion. “That’s who’s protecting the people.”
    Hendricks taught a sniper’s training course to a select group of Iraqi soldiers but stuck to marksmanship.
    “I haven’t taught them tactics because they’re infiltrated,” Hendricks said. “It’s like going to a party where you don’t know anybody, but somebody in the room – you don’t know who – wants to kill you.”
    Hendricks and his men are career military. Four of the seven are sergeants, the backbone of the enlisted ranks. Hendricks has spent eight of nine years in the military as a sniper. Including his first deployment to Iraq in 2003, he’s had nine confirmed kills and nine wounded.
    “It takes nothing,” he said with a half-grin. “I don’t care about these people.”
    The team steals out of trucks on the back roads of Muqdadiyah late at night and dashes into the cover of palm groves to wait in the same clearings guerrilla fighters used days earlier. Sitting in the darkness, near the edge of a palm grove, Molina looked at the street in front of him.
    “The reason why they’re fighting us is not Osama bin Laden,” he said. “They’re fighting us because we’re here…. They don’t want us here. They just want us to leave. I guess that would be a victory for them. As far as I can see, there’s not going to be any victory for us.”
    Sabin, sitting next to him, nodded.
    ——————————————————————————–
    © 2005 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
    //www.twincities.com

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Killshot,
    If you look at Bill’s Operation Saratoga post,
    //billroggio.com/archives/2005/10/operation_sarat.php
    you will see an attack density map(courtesy of centcom). Portions of Diyala as well as Babil are showing a notable level of activity.

  • Marlin says:

    Killshot
    You need to keep in mind that Tom Lasseter is vociferously opposed to the war and writes to support his point of view. I (and Bill) have been watching his articles now for a long period of time and he has yet to promote a balanced view of what is actually happening in Iraq.

  • bearmanU.S.M.C. says:

    some are oblivious to the negatives of war. yah, these things are happening, and these guys probably really feel the way they do. But they are one piece of the puzzle. You talk to my bro, or soldiers in other areas and the story is different. Hell, it’s a different story in New Orleans than it is in my backyard. The fortunate thing is, regardless of msm reporting, we know and see the progress in much more of the country than we do regress.

Iraq

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Aqap

Al shabaab

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