US intelligence agencies are paying more attention to the radical Moslems operating in Kurdish controlled northern Iraq, along the Iranian border. The group, Ansar al-Islam, has several hundred members. Most of these men are Kurds, but several are Arabs and some of these are thought to be al Qaeda. Ansar al-Islam controls several villages along the border, and use mountain caves, minefields and rough terrain to protect themselves from air strikes, artillery fire and ground attack. Pro-US Kurdish militias have tried to drive the Ansar al-Islam out, but without success. The Ansar al-Islam militants are well armed and fierce fighters. There is some fear that Iraq may be supplying Ansar al-Islam with chemical weapons and other support. The US is considering using troops and air power to help the local Kurdish militiamen to defeat the militants.
Terrorist leader Abu Nidal was found dead in his Baghdad apartment from a self inflicted wound when security personnel came to arrest him. His followers say he committed suicide. His detractors assume that the Iraqis, or some of Abu Nidal's many enemies, decided to rid themselves of a noxious individual. Both are apparently right. The Abu Nidal was active in using mass murder in support of Palestinian causes from the 1970s to the 90s. Iraq has long provided sanctuary to active, and semi-retired, terrorists.