Fallujah captives: Saddam set up insurgency cells in 2001

Friday, November 19, 2004

BAGHDAD Insurgents captured in Fallujah have told Iraqi military interrogators that most of those fighting in Fallujah were former security officers for the regime of Saddam Hussein.

The insurgents said Saddam organized special operations units, starting in 2001, to counter any foreign invasion in Iraq. Most of those units, the insurgents said, are still active in the Sunni Triangle.

Officials said the Sunni insurgency was being directed from Syria. They said Saddam loyalists were receiving funding and orders from senior aides of the former Saddam regime based in Damascus, including ex-Vice President Izzet Ibrahim Al Douri.

Iraqi Interior Minister Faleh Hassan Al Naqib said his government and the U.S.-led coalition faced a revolt throughout the Sunni Triangle, Middle East Newsline reported. Al Naqib said the revolt was being directed by a unified command and control network led by Saddam loyalists. He said the insurgents sought to prevent or disrupt national elections scheduled for Jan. 27.

"The battle for Fallujah has become the test for Saddam loyalists," an Iraqi official said. "Fallujah was the center of the terrorism and the symbol of the terrorists."

The uprising in the Sunni Triangle has included insurgents who had been based in Fallujah. Officials said Sunni insurgents, including Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, and up to 2,000 fighters left Fallujah over the last two months to launch a revolt in other cities.

At a news conference in Baghdad, on Nov. 16, Al Naqib said the great majority of insurgency casualties in Fallujah were Iraqi nationals. He said only 24 foreigners were found dead among the more than 1,250 reported killed in 10 days of fighting in Fallujah.

Al Naqib identified Mohammed Yunus Ahmad as the key liasion and coordinator between Saddam loyalists in Syria and Iraqi insurgents. Ahmad had been a minister and a senior official in Iraq's ruling Baath Party.

Al Naqib also said Saddam formed an Islamic insurgency group Jaysh Mohammed, composed of former special operations officers. The minister said the leader of the group, identified as Moayad Yassin Ahmed, was arrested on Nov. 15. Ahmed, also known as Abu Ahmed, was identified as a former officer in the Iraqi Air Defense Command.

Ahmed was said to have met former Iraqi minister Al Ahmed in Syria to coordinate the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. Al Naqib said Saddam established Jaysh Mohammed as the military wing of the Baath Party in April 2003 after the fall of the regime.

Officials said the Iraqi resistance appears to have changed tactics and no longer seeks a head-on clash with the U.S. military for the control of major cities. Instead, Saddam loyalists and foreign volunteers have launched attacks on police stations and other facilities meant to intimidate security forces and seize weapons and material.

"This ultimately is not going to be won in the kinetic sense in battle," U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. "It's going to be won in having Iraqis taking ownership and investing their own personal sweat and blood." Iraq's interim government has been bracing for an insurgency throughout the Sunni Triangle.

Iraqi officials said the U.S.-led invasion of Fallujah has sparked a revolt in cities throughout the Sunni Triangle. They cited insurgency campaigns in Baghdad, Baiji, Baqubah, Hadith, Mosul, Ramadi, Samara and Tikrit.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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