Anti-government terrorists have increased their use of hostage taking, and attempts at extortion, to destroy the government. Over 130 foreigners have been taken so far, and in the past two days, two American civilians held were killed and beheaded. Iraqis are being beheaded as well, especially in an attempt to demoralize Iraqi security forces. For a month or so, terrorists gave up murdering, and especially beheading, hostages. This was because of the negative reaction of the world media, especially the Moslem media, to beheadings, and the murder of hostages. The terrorists have gone back to kidnapping and tried to compensate by making more "noble" demands. For example, several groups of kidnappers have demanded that the coalition release all its female prisoners. This has backfired, as the only female prisoners are two senior members of Saddam's government. The terrorists have ignored this fact, and demanded the release of imaginary female prisoners. Increasingly, the terrorists are quietly switching their demands to money, and quietly taking the cash and releasing the foreigners (who bring in a lot more money than Iraqis.) But the Iraqis continue to bear the brunt of the kidnapping efforts. The Sunni Arab gangs are particularly bad, because they can take their victims to places like Fallujah, where there are no Iraqi police. The Shia gangs are taking a beating, and the only Kurdish group that is causing problems is the Ansar al Islam (a small group of pro al Qaeda Kurds), which receives support, and sanctuary, from Iran.
The largely Sunni Arab backed violence has caused much hatred for Sunnis among the majority Shia and Kurds. This has led to more sectarian murders, including two senior Sunni clerics who lived in mixed Sunni/Shia areas. In the months following the fall of Saddam's government, dozens of Saddam officials (mostly Sunni Arabs living in Shia areas) were killed by Shias seeking revenge. Since then, most of these Sunnis fled back to Sunni strongholds like Fallujah. But there are still over a million Sunnis living in close proximity to Shias in the south. While Shia and Sunni down there try to keep the peace, memories are long, and bloody.