Counter-Terrorism: Saddams Secret Legacy


September 17, 2007: The suicide bomber has become a favorite weapon in Iraq. About a thousand such attacks have been carried out there since 2003. Most were the work of al Qaeda, and other Sunni Arab terrorist organization. Most of the bombers have been foreign volunteers. About three thousand of those foreigners have gotten into Iraq so far, usually via Syria or Iran. Most of these men are not used for suicide bombing, usually because they are too stupid or unstable to carry it off. The rejects are either used for simpler types of suicidal operations (ambushing U.S. troops or attacking American bases), or sent away. Some of the rejects get back home, are arrested and interrogated. Others foreign volunteers have been captured inside Iraq. So there's lots of first-hand evidence of how the foreigners are used.

Shia groups have also used suicide bomb attacks, but not nearly as frequently as the Sunnis. Less than ten percent of these attacks are by Shia terrorists, and the big problem is the Iraqi distaste for suicide operations. That makes it more difficult to find suitable (that is, reliable) volunteers. The one thing that helps the Shias is the "self-sacrifice" aspect of the Shia sect. Getting yourself killed in action is admired, although straight-ahead suicide is not.

In theory, the suicide bomber should be the ultimate "smart bomb." But in practice, the guy carrying, or driving, the bomb is rarely calm and clear headed while moving towards the target. Many of the bombers are mentally unstable to begin with, and as the moment of death approaches, some lose it entirely. The suicide bomb tactic only works because of the support staff, and the ones in Iraq are excellent largely because so many of them are unemployed secret policemen, who used to work for Saddam. They know how to train and motivate people for dirty deeds. But the U.S. has been going after the support staff personnel for over three years now, and has thinned the ranks considerably. The current surge offensive has been particularly hard on the suicide bomber support people. Many of them have been killed or captured, and others escaped in such a hurry that they left their tools and records behind.

Bombings are down, and many of the brains behind these bombings are getting out of the country. These fellows had lots of blood on their hands before 2003, and have simply moved up on the "most wanted" lists since then. So they will be out there for years to come, offering their skills to whoever can pay. They, and their brethren in the roadside bomb business, have reshaped the murder business for at least a generation.


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