Information Warfare: November 21, 2002

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While the mass release of prisoners from Iraqi jails in October got a lot of media attention, the word on the street over there is that not as many people were freed as the media were led to believe. In particular, few non-Iraqis were freed. In late 1990, the Iraqis rounded up most non-Iraqi Arabs who were in Iraq. Many of these people were visiting in-laws, on business trips or just visiting. Some of these Arabs were able to bribe their way out, but many remain in Iraqi jails (even after hefty bribes were paid for their release.) The Iraqis may feel that these people were a good source of intelligence about what is going on in Iraq, although that is moot because they have been locked up for 13 years by now. Moreover, there is a constant traffic of official, and unofficial, travelers between Iraq and neighboring states (including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.) These people are a good source of what's really going on in Iraq (especially if you collect information from a lot of unrelated individuals.) Thus the reports that the prisoner release was more a propaganda event than a real mass emptying of the jails. At the same time, these traveler reports also tell of increasingly nervous Iraqi officials and anticipation of coming "liberation" from Saddam's harsh rule.

 


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