U.S. military intelligence tries to monitor these
prices, as a way to gauge how well the terrorists are doing. Over the last two
years, its been noted that the terrorists have been offering more money for
planting bombs, or firing at U.S. convoys, when the terrorists want to make a
splash in the media, or when heavy casualties among terrorists has made it
difficult to get reliable people. The Sunni Arab terrorists are the most
mercenary, although many of these lads can be persuaded to help out for free
(out of tribal loyalty, or revenge for a relative killed by U.S.
Al Qaeda offers eternal paradise instead of cash bonuses, and
thus attracts a generally less capable bunch of fighters. Al Qaeda tends to put
people on the payroll, especially technical experts and senior leaders. Still,
compared to the Iraq Sunni Arabs, and all the billions that Saddam stole while
he was in power, the al Qaeda crowd seems poverty stricken. That's why the al
Qaeda terrorists go for a small number of spectacular suicide bomb attacks,
while the Sunni Arabs carry out a much larger number of ambushes, assassinations
and roadside bombings.
The major weakness in all this is the inability
to get enough people for work that is considered too dangerous. American troops
have made terrorism more and more dangerous, generally keeping ahead of the
terrorists, and slowly gaining a greater edge on them. In addition, more Iraqi
police and soldiers are entering service each month.
The terrorists have
made it somewhat easier for the counter-terror forces, by restricting most of
their operations to a small area of Iraq. About a third of all attacks are made
in Baghdad, and about sixty percent take place in the rest of central Iraq
(where most of the Sunni Arab population has always lived.) The Kurdish north is
so quiet that it's become a vacation resort for the rest of Iraq. The largely
Shia south has more to worry about from gangsters, and feuding religious and
Most Iraqis have stopped blaming the United States
for all the violence. It's obvious, even to the most obdurate Iraqi, that local
talent is committing most of the mayhem, and the rest is perpetrated by Arabs
from neighboring countries. The Americans can still kill you, especially if you
speed towards an American checkpoint, or try to pass an American convoy. But the
biggest killer of Iraqis are Arab terrorists, either diehard Saddam thugs, or
the al Qaeda fanatics. As a result, the 15 percent of Iraqis with cell phones,
are increasingly finding a local police station, and calling in tips.
Increasingly, the cops respond pretty quickly, and efficiently. It's becoming
too dangerous to be a terrorist in Iraq, and most Iraqis like it that way.
Sunni Arab terrorists have long used financial incentives to
encourage their men to kill, or even capture, American troops. Now they are
offering bounties, of $30,000-$100,000, for anyone who kills senior Iraqi