Al Qaeda in Iraq is using kidnapped children to pick up weapons dropped in battle zones, get past checkpoints and die in car bombs, according to U.S. officials and Iraqis in Baghdad.
“Al Qaeda is using children to pick up weapons and ammunition knowing that U.S. troops will not shoot against children,” said one U.S. military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
A local Shiite man interviewed for the article says they’ve also been using kids with Down syndrome to carry bombs. Plausible? A-yup.
The AP’s got yet another article tonight about the “awakening” among the sheikhs in Anbar who are coming over to the American side to smash AQ. They’ve been rewriting this same story for six months now, but it’s good news so let a thousand rewrites bloom, I guess.
I should say it’s mostly good news.
U.S. Lt. Nathan Strickland, also of the 1-77th, said the sheiks were influenced by the realization that Shiite Iran’s regional influence was rising, and “the presence of (Sunni) foreign fighters here was disrupting the traditional local tribal structure.”…
Local Sunnis have deeply resented the overwhelmingly Shiite Iraqi army units the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad has deployed here. Sunni tribes have begun to realize that if anybody is going to secure the city, it might as well be the sons of Ramadi, Strickland said.
Also pouring through the streets in police trucks fixed with heavy machine-guns are 2,500 Sunni tribesmen who have joined newly created SWAT team-like paramilitary units. Paid by the Interior Ministry with the blessing of U.S. commanders, the so-called Emergency Response Units are clearly loyal to local sheiks…
Still, al-Rishawi complained the Interior Ministry had given police and ERU units “one-tenth” of the resources they needed — from equipment to guns to food, despite promises to do more. Some of the fighters use automatic weapons they brought from home.
“If I had the tools, I could wipe al-Qaida from Anbar within five months,” al-Rishawi said.
Strickland said the government was probably “hesitant to strengthen and supply something that might become a popular Sunni movement.”
Yeah, I know — “this is the least of our problems right now,” “be grateful that they’re finally fighting on the same side,” etc etc. Still, that’s a lot of mutual suspicion to overcome to build an integrated state. Hard to believe partition isn’t in the cards somewhere down the line. In the meantime, the Telegraph reports tonight that some Iraqi jihadis are relocating to the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon because that country is a softer target for attacks. (Softer than Iraq?) The idea, presumably, is to establish a Sunni terrorist counterweight to Hezbollah, although at least one jihadi group — Fatah al-Islam, led by a Palestinian former deputy of Zarqawi — claims to be targeting America. Maybe the camps are their best bet right now given the pinch they’re feeling in Anbar now and the fact that the Lebanese army isn’t allowed to operate there.
Finally, two sources tell the AP that the hit last week on Iraq’s Sunni deputy PM was probably an inside job orchestrated by a relative who got caught waging jihad, was released at the deputy PM’s request, and then added to his security detail. Iraqi bigwigs have always had ties to terrorists: phone numbers of various officials were allegedly found stored on Zarqawi’s cell phone; Jill Carroll may well have been set up by someone connected to Adnan al-Dulaimi; al-Zawraa, the jihadi TV channel, is operated by Mishan al-Jabouri; and according to the AP article itself, two members of parliamentary speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani’s own security detail were caught planting IEDs last year. It’s sad that the deputy PM got hurt, but if you play in the sewer eventually you’re going to get some shinola on you. And like I say, it’s hard to build a state on shinola.