Iraq: December 19, 2003


The capture of Saddam Hussein, while important, has been overshadowed by documents found in the briefcase that was captured with him. The briefcase contained lists of men organizing attacks on coalition forces, as well as the minutes of meetings between Saddam allies. It was long suspected that much of the violence was planned and paid for by Saddam's allies and the Baath Party. Saddam's briefcase appears to prove this. Raids made on the basis of the suitcase information led to the arrest of over a hundred Baath party leaders and attack organizers. Intelligence information gathered in the last six months showed that most of the attacks were paid for. This news has been all over the street for months, and some of the recruiters have been captured. Saddam's briefcase enabled raids that rounded up some of the Baath bankers and contributed to growing money problems Baath has been having. Improved countermeasures by American troops has made it more dangerous to attack coalition troops and Baath has had to increase their cash rewards for "volunteers." The trouble with paying cash to resist the foreigners is that even most of those who do it for nothing will demand the money (due to family pressure, as few family's in post-Saddam Iraq can afford to pass up a payment of several thousand dollars.) American intelligence believes that a combination of less cash and better countermeasures has been reducing the number of daily attacks. 

A continuing danger, however, are the al Qaeda groups. They are driven by hatred of non-Moslems, not cash payments. Moreover, al Qaeda volunteers are willing to make suicide attacks. Attempts to make such attacks on American bases have not been very successful, so al Qaeda is going after Iraqi police. The number of armed Iraqis working for the government keeps increasing, and poses the biggest threat to al Qaeda. This is because an Iraqi cop can quickly spot a foreign Arab. As with an an American spotting a foreign tourist, the Iraqi cop can quickly see who moves and talks differently. 

The names in Saddam's briefcase also revealed that many Iraqis working for the coalition were still working for Saddam. One cannot underestimate the effect of cash in Iraq. All nations have problems with spies and traitors who are bought, but during Saddam's tenure, he made sure everyone had a price. Even though Saddam was deposed, he still had cash, and knew who could be more easily bought.


A bomb went off in the headquarters of the major Shia political party. Some 60 percent of the population is Shia, and several political parties are competing for the allegiance of  Shias. Since some of the parties are very religious, they believe themselves on a mission from God and see violence as justified. 




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