Iraq: August 19, 2005

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Suicide bombings are occurring less often, and arrests of terrorists have risen sharply in the past month. Actually, incarcerations have been climbing since last Fall, as more terrorists and gangsters are caught red-handed. Before that, many of the 50,000 arrests made by American troops resulted in a brief interrogation, and release of the suspect. But now more bad people are being identified and kept incarcerated. Many of these are career criminals who had been freed by Saddam in 2002, or escaped in the confusion of the 2003 invasion. While the Iraqi police, and prisons, get the criminals, those that drifted into terrorism usually remain in American custody.

The crime wave these thugs have generated in the past two years is coming to an end. The rampant criminality is the one thing all Iraqis are united in opposition to. More tribal vigilantes are being formed, and either killing gangsters, or pointing them out to police or coalition troops. 

As a result of all this, the American and Iraqi prisons are full. The number of prisoners held in U.S. detention centers has increased from 5,400 last September to about 11,000 now. Unlike the past, a larger proportion of these captives are hard core terrorists or gangsters and harder to deal with. The Iraqis are building new prison camps to take care of their own skyrocketing arrests. The Iraqis are also taking some of the gangsters being held by the Americans. This leaves the U.S. prisons with a more violent and active population, which requires more efforts by the guards, and more guards in general. American commanders have called for more troops just to take care of this larger, and more violent, prison population. An infantry battalion from the U.S. 82nd Airborne battalion is going to Iraq, and is likely to be more involved in dealing with the prisoners, than going out and collecting new ones. 

Many potential prisoners, being hunted in their own towns and neighborhoods, have become more vicious in their attempts to terrorize their neighbors into supporting the cause. Sunni Arab leaders are increasingly subject to threats, and attacks. The long feared civil war within the Sunni Arab community is under way. It's actually been going on, and growing, for over a year. But now there are towns in western Iraq where armed factions regularly battle each other. Al Qaeda gangs are increasingly seen as "foreign occupiers", and attacked by nearly all factions in the Sunni Arab community. 

 

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