Mosul attack 'an inside job'

Posted in Iraq | 27-Dec-04 | Author: Syed Saleem Shahzad| Source: Asia Times

This photograph released by the US Army on Friday Dec. 24, 2004, shows a dining hall at a U.S. military installation in Mosul, Iraq, where a large explosion on Dec. 21 left 22 dead and many more injured.

The deadly suicide attack on a US military base in Mosul this week was an "inside job" carried out by insurgents who are part of the Iraqi armed forces, Asia Times Online has been told.

Sources said a strong nexus between Iraqi forces and the resistance is what allowed them to carry out the most devastating attack on US troops since the beginning of the invasion. US forces have imposed a curfew in Mosul and have launched a military operation in the city, but, the sources say, this will have little effect on the problem, for the simple reason that the US-trained Iraqi military is heavily infected with people loyal to the resistance groups.

Responsibility for the suicide bombing in the US mess tent was claimed by Islamist resistance organization Jaish Ansar al-Sunnah (JAAS).

While various analysts ponder the insurgents' strategy in the lead up to next month's elections, and opine that their primary goal is to disrupt those elections, the resistance says it has a different agenda. In a message to Asia Times Online from the Netherlands, Nada al-Rubaiee, a member of the central committee of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance, a group that is part of the Iraqi national resistance movement both inside and outside Iraq, said, "Everything in the resistance movement is clear ... There is agreement on one issue; that is, getting freedom from foreign occupying forces and their handymen. It is agreed that only Iraqi people would decide the course of government in the post-liberation era."

The architects of the Iraqi resistance movement have engineered a guerrilla strategy such that today it is very difficult to identify who the "resistance" is. For instance, before the recent Fallujah operation, a US military spokesperson portrayed that city as a hotbed of Islamic groups connected with al-Qaeda. However, during the operation, Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Alawi, Iraq's interior minister, and the US military spokesperson all admitted that they were fighting with Saddam Hussein remnants.

Exactly what role more than 3 million members of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party are playing from Kirkuk to Basra is very hard to determine, but sources maintain that one particular aim of the resistance is very clear, and that is "recruiting new jihadis".

Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, organized demoralized Turkish troops by holding a sword in one hand and a holy book in the other and raising the slogans of jihad against the invading Western armies, and the secular, socialist and Arab-nationalist Ba'ath Party members have the same strategy. JAAS and other groups are a manifestation of this. However, the real forces behind the Iraqi national resistance movement are what the Iraqi interior minister recently referred to as "Saddam loyalists and the remnants of the Ba'ath Party", whose political wings are active abroad while its security committees and militant wings exist in Iraq and are fanning the flames of resistance.

With the passage of time it has become clear that the Iraqi insurgency is being fought under a single command and control, though different pockets of Islamic groups exist. Eventually, these pockets become part of the mainstream resistance movement, although they sometimes independently carry out operations. Thanks to the Iraqi tribal structure, they are inevitably known to one another, and thus forced to coordinate their strategies to minimize contradictions.

Apart from the broader parameters of the Iraqi resistance movement, there are other minor but prominent social factors that play an important role in its ability to obtain support on the basis of nationalism, rather than secularism, an added woe for US forces in Iraq.

The foremost is Iraq's tribal structure. Any Iraqi national guard, army, police or paramilitary force would obviously consist of local Iraqis. In cities such as Samarra, Tikrit and Mosul, which are heavily tied to tribal traditions, it is impossible for any individual to join the Iraqi forces and keep himself and his family protected from popular anti-US sentiment. But if the US-backed interim government of Iraq instead brings in forces from the country's Kurdish areas, as it did for the Fallujah operation, it will only fuel more hatred against the US and its supporters. Therefore, whichever way it is viewed, this will pose problems for the US. If the government employs local soldiers, their loyalties will automatically go with the resistance, but if it brings soldiers from Kurdish areas, a fierce reaction emerges.

At the same time, it was the Iraqi tribal structure that managed to hide the many obvious contradictions within the resistance. For instance, when the resistance took up arms, different Salafi groups and tribal leaders had their reservations - particularly Kurds and Islamists - about accepting former Saddam regime members. But after a lot of discussion, it was agreed that the 3 million former Ba'ath Party members could not be secluded from the Iraqi resistance. However, it was decided that former regime members would be kept away to hold the control in the mainstream of the movement and those who were only Ba'ath Party members and not part of Saddam Hussein's regime would be given responsibilities in the mainstream of the resistance.

Meanwhile, Nada claims that the number of casualties from the Mosul attack is far higher than what was admitted by the US, 22 people. "In the [dining tent] where the attack took place, there were at least 500 US soldiers. The number of casualties given by the occupation forces always excludes private contractors [non-official soldiers/unregistered soldiers-agents]. We expect the number [is] a lot higher than the announced one."

According to Nada, the attack was very organized - so much so that a video of the bombing was even prepared and will soon be released.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is bureau chief, Pakistan, Asia Times Online. He can be reached at