The United States has acknowledged that insurgents are being directed by a central command that recruits and finances
the campaign against the coalition in Iraq.
After months of denials, U.S. generals have concluded that Saddam
loyalists have organized a network of insurgents throughout the Sunni
Triangle. The generals said the Sunni command directs, finances and helps
recruit insurgents, many of whom are criminals released by the former Iraqi
president nearly a year ago.
"I'm increasingly of the belief that there's central financial control
and central communications," Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the
U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division, said. "There's clearly some central
U.S. officers said the military intelligence picture on the Sunni
insurgency began to change in November. U.S. forces captured a Sunni cell
responsible for the Oct. 26 missile attack on Baghdad's Al Rashid Hotel and
confirmed the existence of a Sunni command. The officers said the cell
captured on Nov. 6 was composed of 28 members.
Some groups in the insurgency network have used Islamic names to
conceal their connection to the former Saddam regime, Middle East Newsline reported. One group composed of
Baath Party security officials has used the name Mohammed's Army. Other
groups have joined with Islamic volunteers from such countries as Egypt,
Lebanon, Syria and Yemen in planning suicide attacks. About 2,000 foreign
volunteers are believed operating in Iraq.
The generals said the leadership of the Sunni command has not been
identified. But they said the command appears to be also linked to
smugglers, who sell cooking oil and other staples to the Baghdad area.
"Our human intelligence suggests a link between price gouging and the
financing of these networks," Dempsey said. "I can't say for sure it exists.
But I have enough to know it's worth addressing."
Dempsey and Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling confirmed many of the assertions by
lower-level U.S. officers who as early as September reported the formation
of a Sunni insurgency command. The generals said the command oversees about
a dozen groups with up to 1,000 insurgents in and around Baghdad.
The larger Sunni insurgency cells contain up to 100 members, the
generals said. The smaller cells range from between 10 to 20 insurgents.
But Dempsey, whose forces are responsible for the Baghdad area, told a
briefing on Monday that the Sunni command does not plan insurgency attacks.
The general said operational decisions have been left to insurgency cells
throughout the Sunni Triangle. But the command directs the pace of the
attacks and was responsible for the lull in early November.
[On Tuesday, Iraqi sources reported that the U.S. military has captured
Izzet Ibrahim Al Douri, the leading aide to Saddam. Al Douri was said to
have been arrested in the area of Kirkuk. The U.S. military has not
confirmed the report.]
"We believe there's potential for a marriage of convenience," Hertling
said. "When former regime loyalists want to do a specific attack, they will
recruit foreign fighters to do that attack."
The Sunni command was believed to have ordered major strikes against
U.S. forces, including rocket and bombing attacks in Baghdad. U.S. officers
said the command has helped coordinate large operations, such as the attack
on a U.S. armored force in Samara on Sunday. The U.S. military reported that
54 Iraqis were killed in the clash.
"Well, in this case it was a little better coordinated than some of the
attacks we've seen of late," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director for