Chechens Join Iraqi Guerrillas; Syrian “Black Flags” Sabotage Iraqi Oil

In the sizzling heat of an Iraqi summer, Saddam Hussein’s loyalist guerrillas cannily select targets that will make the life of the ordinary Iraqi unbearable, trusting in acute disruptions to provoke him to rise up en masse against the Americans. Their organization is Saboteurs are systematically disrupting oil, electricity and water supplies. There is efficient organization somewhere in the background. In ten days, guerrillas set two calamitous fires at key points on the 600-mile pipeline just when oil exports were due to resume from northern Iraq’s huge Kirkuk fields, source of 40 percent of country’s oil, to Turkey’s Ceyhan terminal on the Mediterranean.
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Each fire takes days to extinguish at great hazard in the windblown desert.
Every day lost costs Iraq $7m of vital reconstruction money.
Fuel shortages have caused riots in the southern town of Basra. Most parts of Iraq are plagued by power cuts. This week, to compound the suffering, the water taps of 300,000 Baghdadis ran dry after a bomber breached the water main in the north of the capital.
The American civil administration this week awarded a contract to an international security company to more than double the guard on the vulnerable pipeline to Turkey. An extra 6,500 guards, most Iraqis, will join the 5,000 who are clearly not coping with the task of protecting the oil. They face a surging threat described in DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s last issue on August 15 as a new international Islamic guerrilla legion, set up expressly to fight the American presence in Iraq by ambush, murder, terror, sabotage and disruption.
US intelligence has dissected the makeup of the guerrilla groups lurking in Baghdad and points north in an area enclosed by Tikrit, Haditha, Fallujah and Baquba. They have come up with some alarming findings:
1. Since late June, Chechen terrorists have been coming to Iraq to join the anti-American offensive.
2. 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.
3. The commanders of the guerrilla campaign, Saddam Hussein or his henchmen, appear to are imparting Muslim fundamentalist characteristics to units fighting the Americans – both as camouflage and to foster greater cohesion. In at least one case, a group was lent a pan-Arab identity. The deposed ruler or his commanders are clearly giving careful thought to the ideological nature and makeup of their following. Therefore they may not be quite so pressured by the pursuit as believed. Their ability to strike simultaneously in different places also attests to military and intelligence capabilities.
The Chechen fighters arriving in Baghdad are not drawn from the ranks of foreign Muslims fighting the Russians in Chechnya but ethnic Chechens. They were assigned to duty in the Sunni Triangle of central Iraq by the Chechen rebels’ Saudi al Qaeda commander, Abu al-Walid, also known as Emir al-Walid, who succeeded al Khatib who died in a Russian ambush two years ago.
Not much is known about the new 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.
The US intelligence force outlines five groups – all wings or allies 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, 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 the 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.

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