The horror committed in Fallujah on the last day of March will not be forgotten. The Iraqi lynch mob that savaged and mutilated four members of the Blackwater Security Consulting company staff in the Sunni Triangle town 30 miles west of Baghdad will surely be punished – a pale-faced US Iraq administrator Paul Bremer vowed the next day.
Fallujah locals remained unmoved. “Yesterday’s attack is proof of how much we hate the Americans,” said Samir Sami and: “We wish that they would try to enter Fallujah so we’d let hell break loose,” said Ahmed Dulaimi.
Eleven years have elapsed since the day in October 1993 when a well-laid al Qaeda plot caused US Delta and Ranger troops to be drawn into a vicious trap in Mogadishu’s Black Hole souk. It ended in their bodies being dragged through the Somali capital by a howling mob.
The Clinton administration thereupon ordered the withdrawal of US peacekeepers from the war-torn Horn of Africa republic.
It might have been predicted that Osama bin Laden, having proved in Mogadishu that American troops can be put to flight by inhuman barbarity, would repeat the exercise in Iraq – especially since this sort of atrocity is contagious enough to spread. Already it has demonstrated how little control the US army has over the Sunni Triangle towns lying between Tikrit and Baghdad and how remote are the prospects of handing security over to local Iraqi forces.
These forces at best control the fortified and fenced police stations in the cities. Most of their officers have tacit arrangements with local guerrilla leaders and important Sunni Arab families to co-exist and stay out of each other’s affairs. Each side promises to warn the other of the approach of US forces or any sign of them disturbing the status quo.
That was why the men of the 82nd Division responsible for the region rarely ventured into Fallujah or performed security cleansing work inside the town. This was left mostly to Iraqi commanders. The upshot was a free hand for al Qaeda and Iraqi guerilla groups to develop the Islamic medressa network in the city, as first revealed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly in August 2003.
The student body in each of these small Islamic schools includes Iraqi guerrilla leaders. Hundreds of these institutions turn out a Muslim mix of guerrillas and terrorists in their tens of thousands. The schools are also tremendously powerful logistical and communications stations which throw out lines that reach guerrilla units in every corner of Iraq.
Therefore, the unwritten deals between local US-appointed Iraqi forces and the insurgent community, rather than promoting the security sought by the Americans protect the anti-US legions and their safe functioning.
The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force may not have been aware of the semi-secret status quo it inherited in Fallujah when its units took over from the 82nd Division a week ago. The incoming commanders may have decided to go in and assert control – and paid the price. Five Marines died in a single bombing attack Wednesday outside the town, shortly before the four Americans were murdered on its streets. The US military death toll climbed to thirteen in three weeks.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly reports from its counter-terror sources that the fundamentalist terrorists are sufficiently confident of their resources to have informed their superiors in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran that they require no more combatant forces for their next assaults, which are described in the next article.
This is testimony to the conscription campaigns which are going forward undisturbed in Fallujah and other Sunni Triangle cities, as a result of the tacit arrangements reached by local Iraqi security and insurgent leaders.
Both are now on tenterhooks for the Bush administration’s response to Wednesday’s atrocity. Although no one imagines President George W. Bush will order US troops to cut and run from Iraq as did his predecessor in respect of Somalia, a too mild response from Washington will be interpreted as al Qaeda ‘s second victory after Mogadishu – and not only in Iraq but the entire Middle East. The message of Fallujah’s streets empty of US troops when the monstrosity was committed may well encourage terrorists and all Iraqi haters of America to keep going.