Iraq: November 30, 2003

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Over a hundred armed Iraqis attempted to ambush an American convoy delivering new currency to banks in Samarra. This is a very pro-Saddam area in the "Sunni Triangle." There were two attacks, and American troops fought back, killing over fifty Iraqis, wounding nearly as many and capturing eight of the attackers. There were six American casualties, including a civilian. Some of the attackers were wearing the black uniforms of Saddam's paramilitary enforcers. These were the guys who cut out the tongues of people caught saying anything against Saddam. The Iraqi opposition is fueled largely by cash stolen by Saddam and his crowd while they were in power. A lot of this money is in Iraqi currency, the old Iraqi currency with Saddam's picture on it. In two months, the old currency will be worthless. The big losers will be gangsters and Saddam loyalists who were holding large amounts of the old currency. While some of this stolen cash has been converted by hiring lots of people to turn it in as their own, there are limits to this. The Saddam crowd is going to take a major financial beating shortly. This cash has been paying the men who are making most of attacks on coalition troops. And the price has been going up, as more of the attackers get killed. The Department of Defense decided not to play the "body count" game and rarely report enemy losses. But based on reports from troops in Iraq, the Iraqi losses are substantial. While few of the attacks cause American casualties, many more result in Iraqi losses. One American division commander was quoted as noting that the payments received by Iraqi attackers had been going up. Since many attackers are captured as well, the interrogations provide more information on the cost, to the pro-Saddam groups, of keeping the attacks going. The paymasters are hanging on to their U.S. currency (thought to be hundreds of millions of dollars), as they expect to need it for bribes and escape plans once an elected Iraqi government is installed. At this point, many Shias and Kurds have lists of Sunnis who murdered family members and friends. People expect trails and executions. Some of the murderers will be able to buy their way out, but they know that money won't always work. While "blood money" is an accepted practice in Iraq, not all survivors will be willing to accept cash. Saddam did personally kill the half a million or so Iraqis murdered by the government. No, the killing was done by tens of thousands of Saddam's followers. And it wasn't done anonymously. Iraqis know the names of the killers, and these men are still around. Hiding with their cash, and their plans to survive the revenge of their victims.

Three more al Qaeda members were arrested in northern Iraq. In the last few months ten members of al Qaeda affiliate organization Ansar al Islam have also been arrested in the north. Ansar is composed mainly of religious Kurds who were trained and educated in Iran.

Iraqi nuclear scientists admit that they deceived Saddam on the progress of Iraq's nuclear weapons program. In reality, Iraq was never very close to having a nuclear weapon, despite large amounts of money spent, and much equipment imported for the project. Given Saddam's tendency to kill people who failed him, this appears to have been a reasonable course of action.


 

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