Sunday, January 22, 2006
The Iraqi Insurgent
Subsequent to the airing of a recent audiotape allegedly posted by Usama Bin Laden, a friend e-mailed me and asked if the insurgency in Iraq is directly linked to or under the control of UBL. I offered my opinion about the insurgents our Marines face on a daily basis. This is my opinion only and not the official view of the Marine Corps or the Department of Defense. The percentage following each category is my best guess and not representative of any official figure.
Few insurgents are fighting under the control of UBL. The insurgency in Iraq is broken into dozens of different cells, all with their own agendas and hierarchies of leadership. Most of the insurgent cells in Iraq are homegrown cells comprised of Iraqi military aged males, or MAMS, who are fighting the "occupancy" rather than fighting for Al Qaeda and it’s cause or agenda.
INSURGENT CATEGORIES – in my own humble opinion…
The first category of insurgents is the "swing either way depending on what's in it for me" types. You pass them on the street and they smile and wave. They often enter the local civil-military operations center (CMOC) seeking resident ID's or free handouts. They watch their kids receive free goodies, soccer balls, or occasional medical care, then go out and plant IED's at night. They do it for a couple of reasons, primarily money and fear of reprisal from the organized insurgents. Few Iraqis have stable jobs, so when someone offers them a $100 to plant an IED in the roadway, it's simply a matter of economics. These folks harbor no real resentment toward the coalition, yet are heavily influenced by the insurgency because they can make some quick cash, a difficult thing to come by. These are the same people who are threatened by other insurgents after the Marines have left the neighborhood. They’ve been seen accepting a soccer ball or getting medical help, or had Marines use their rooftop for an overwatch position. The insurgents threaten them or torture them following any contact with coalition forces. They use these threats to convince them to plant an IED or hide weapons for the organized insurgent groups. The key to this category is money and fear of reprisal. 25%
Category two is the day to day insurgent. He’ll smiles at the Marine who patrols the street. He’ll greet you with “As-salaam alaykum ,“ then take an pot shot at you as you turn the corner. These men are cowards, not guerillas. They have no will to fight when an equal or greater force opposes them. Planting IED's and taking pot shots is the only way they can and know how to fight. They strategically hide guns in houses, take a potshot at a convoy or patrol, then hide the gun and walk into the street unarmed, tossing down a soccer ball. They know that without a positive ID, the Marines will not accost them. These guys will go for days and not do anything against the coalition, then go an a little “boys night out” rampage. They’ll always end up showing their true colors and run from the firefight - cowards, all of them. They key to these guys is peer pressure and simply a lack of anything better to do. They have no job. Their friends fight the coalition and are an influencing factor, similar to the good kid who gets into trouble because he hangs around with the neighborhood bully. They engage in anti-coalition attacks the same way a teenager at home shoots street signs, stealing something on a whim, or breaks a window with a rock. Most don't even know why they do it. They’ll instinctively spout off a few verses of the Koran as a conditioned reflex, or as an excuse, and participate because other guys their age are doing so. This is the majority of the insurgency. 25%
Category 3 is the “homegrown” Iraqi full-fledged insurgent. He works independently or in small groups. It is his full time job, partly influenced by Al Qaeda, but not necessarily controlled by them or working for their cause. Similar to the prior group I described, these guys are also cowards. They’ll run and hide and would rather plant an IED than stand and fight. They believe we are crusaders and occupiers. We are infidels. Most are Sunni, former regime members or Ba’athists who are threatened by the Shiite dominance in Iraq. These are the holdouts, the guys gasping for air, watching their ship sink with no life rafts onboard. These guys believe they can fight the coalition and stop the impending spread of democracy. They think they can regain control and that they’ll actually get Saddam or one of his cronies back into power. It'll never happen, but they actually believe in their cause. They are the former political and military leaders who no longer have their power base. These are the guys who’ll belittle their neighbors for not joining them in their efforts. These are the guys who will shoot their own neighbors in the middle of the night or threaten their neighbors, convincing them to emplace IED’s in the roadways. These are the guys the mosques shelter and refer to as legal resistance to the occupation. This category makes up the bulk of the loosely organized insurgent cells that come and go as quickly as a spring shower. 25%
Category 4 is the most organized, though much smaller category. These guys are the organized Iraqi terrorists, the ones with money from outside sources, or from former government or military officials who stole thousands of dollars during their reign of terror. These are the guys who pay category 1's to plant IED's; the ones who provide the materials to make explosives; the ones push the belief that we are western infidels bent on destroying Islam, although they know that is not the case. It simply helps their cause, however perverted that cause my be. They are mostly Iraqi, probably hardcore Ba’athists or former Saddam Fedayeen, and are heavily influenced and funded by AQ, though they have their own hidden agendas. They are an organized, extreme version of the previous category. These guys make up the small percentage of Iraqi insurgent cells willing to execute hostage on television. They are often willing to die for their cause. 10%
Last category - category 5 is the foreign fighter, the religious extremist, the Wahabist who will fight America anywhere there is an opportunity. Iraq is simply a geographic opportunity. These guys are the smallest, yet the most dangerous category due to funding, resources, and most importantly, religious beliefs. Their fight has nothing to do with Iraq itself. The fight could be here, it could be in America, it could be anywhere in the world. Location doesn’t matter to this guy. Iraq is simply an opportunity to fight. Most are illiterate, poor and have been brainwashed since age 5 to eat, sleep and breath Islam extremism. These are the suicide bombers, the guys who believe they’ll actually get the 72 virgins when they die and go to heaven. 15%