US intelligence dissecting the makeup of the guerrilla groups killing American troops day after day in the region north of Baghdad enclosed by Tikrit, Haditha, Fallujah and Baquba has come up with some illuminating findings:
Chechen terrorists have been arriving in Iraq to join the anti-American offensive.
The intake of Arab fighters entering Iraq from Syria is beginning to outnumber the indigenous Iraqi guerrillas fighting in the northern Mosul-Haditha district and the central Ramadi-Fallujah region.
The commanders of the guerrilla campaign, Saddam Hussein or his henchmen, are imparting Muslim fundamentalist characteristics to units fighting the Americans – both as camouflage and as incentive to greater cohesion. In at least one case, a group was given a pan-Arab identity.
Revealed in the US intelligence report, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military and intelligence sources, is the arrival from the end of June of groups of Chechen fighters – not foreign Muslims fighting in Chechen ranks against the Russians, but ethnic Chechens. They were consigned to duty in the Sunni Triangle of central Iraq by the Saudi al Qaeda commander in Chechnya, Abu al-Walid, also known as Emir al-Walid, who succeeded al Khatib after he was killed two years ago.
Not much is known about the Chechen rebel commander except that he comes from western Saudi Arabia and receives funds from Saudi Islamic relief organizations funneled through Balkan or Central Asian Islamic organizations.
The report notes that the Chechen insurgents reach Iraq through Syria.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s revealed just before this issue closed that on Thursday, August 14, US undersecretary of state William Burns was on a flight from Cairo to Amman, when his plane was diverted to Damascus on instructions from Washington for a one-on-one conversation with Syrian president Bashar Assad. Damascus was given no more than a half hour’s notice before the American plane came into land. Our sources reveal only that the American emissary was instructed to deliver a final warning to the Syrian leader to stop subverting the American operation in Iraq. He was also informed that Washington had caught on to the guerrilla groups coming from Syria with orders to sabotage oil pipelines and installations in northern and western Iraq in order to obstruct oil exports via Turkey.
The US intelligence force outlines five groups – all wings of the Iraqi Baath party which are operating in different districts and under diverse banners:
Muhammad’s Army: This group of Iraqi Baathists operates in the guise of Muslim fundamentalists. They are concentrated around Baghdad international airport and the cluster of military airfields in Habania and western Iraq, H-1, H-2 and H-3, for the simple reason that they are armed with shoulder-launched Sam 7 anti-air missiles. In July, they tried to down a US fighter plane and a C-130 transport but missed both.
The Black Flags: This group, mostly Syrian Arabs from the Damascus region, is responsible for sabotaging oil installations and fields. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Islamic experts explain that the black flag was once the symbol of the Abbasid revolt against the Omayyad caliphs who ruled Iraq. Although Sunni Muslims, they posed and lived as practicing Shiites until their army overthrew the Caliph in the year 705 A.D., when they came out from their Shiite cover and reverted to the Sunni faith. The message conveyed by this symbol is that it is permitted for Saddam loyalists to assume any religious facade that will help them defeat the enemy.
Iraqi Nasserists: This group of Saddam loyalists pretends to accept the pan-Arab doctrine preached by the Egyptian dictator Gemal Abdul Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s, a doctrine totally rejected by the Iraqi Baath. This group’s turf lies between Samarra and Baquba.
The Wahhabis: The state religion of the Saudi kingdom was never able to pierce Saddam Hussein’s secular dominion in Iraq. Now that bar has been removed, the Wahhabis have taken up position in Falujjah and its environs. They are working together with some of the Chechens.
Al Awda’s Military Wing: Al Awda, meaning “The Return”, runs the most highly-trained, best armed and richly endowed guerrilla group made up of ex-officers sworn to serve Saddam Hussein to the death. Flush with funds, they go around Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle offering $500 in cash on the spot for any Iraqi prepared to join their operation against US forces.