Iraq: August 21, 2003

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US forces in Iraq now consider terrorists, not Baath Party fighters, to be the biggest threat. The terrorists are mostly foreigners and are using suicide bomber tactics. Iraq is pretty much in the middle of the "terrorist homeland." Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and other nations in the region are the source of most of the current crop of terrorists. Many of these terrorists have not had much opportunity to travel to choice targets since September, 2001. But now, with over 150,000 Western troops and civilian aid workers in Iraq, there are plenty of targets. Most of the terrorists have more enthusiasm than talent, and coalition troops have captured or killed thousands of them so far. But there are also trained terrorists, from al Qaeda and related organizations, providing technical support and direction. There also appears to be cooperation between some terrorist groups and the Baath Party , which is strictly a matter of expediency. In the long run, the Baath Party is on the Islamic terrorist hit list as well. Aside from the constant attacks and raids by coalition troops, the biggest danger the terrorists face is incurring the wrath of  most Iraqi civilians. Attacks that kill Iraqis, particularly children, turn public opinion against the terrorists, and this means more people willing to inform on the terrorists. This is what happened to the Islamic terrorists in Egypt during the 1990s, and resulted in the terrorists being run out of the country. How much terrorist activity will the Iraqi population tolerate? At the moment, there is no shortage of Iraqis willing to collect rewards for information on where terrorists, or their weapons caches, are.  However, a lot of Iraqi public opinion is still in favor of attacks against coalition troops and aid workers. Iraqis feel their honor has been tarnished because of the way their armed forces were defeated in order to remove Saddam. Such attitudes explain why Iraqis are regarded with fear, suspicion and derision by their neighbors. 

Ali Hassan Al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali", was captured. Al-Majid is a cousin of Saddam Hussein and the military commander responsible for putting down Shia and Kurd rebellions in the 1990s. He used chemical weapons against the Kurds and summary execution and torture against all of his enemies.  

Iraq's Ministry of Justice said that over 1,500 Baath Party members and Saddam supporters currently in custody, would go on trial for their crimes during the last three decades.

 

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