October 08, 2007

Sacrificing the Dead

Baghdadi Omar Fadhil of Iraq the Model has a very provocative editorial in WSJ's OpinionJournal this morning which points out a significant momentum shift in Iraq, what al Qaeda is attempting to do to counter this primarily on the media front, and what Mr. Fadhil suggests as a possible solution.

He begins:

The latest chapter in al Qaeda's war manual in their war against the Iraqi people and the Coalition is this: raiding remote peaceful villages, burning down homes and slaughtering both man and beast. It's a campaign of self destruction.

For about a year al Qaeda has been trying to build a so called Islamic State in Iraq. On several occasions al Qaeda has even declared parts of Baghdad or other places in other provinces the capital of this Islamic State.

But now that they are losing one base after another, their objective seems to have changed from adding more towns and villages to the "state" to destroying the very same towns and villages. Obviously, it's all about making headlines regardless of the means to do that.

Fahil's statement that al Qaeda has been pushed out of major cities into the countryside may seem shocking to many casual western readers, but that is precisely what has occurred over the past year at an ever-accelerating pace. While small terrorists cells cannot possibly be eliminated in major cities, most significant groups of al Qaeda terrorists have found themselves pushed out of Fallujah, Ramadi, Baquba, Baghdad, and other metropolitian areas, and strikes by the group--and perhaps more tellingly, coalition strikes on terrorist safe houses, caches, and bomb-building factories--are mostly now occurring in remote rural areas and small, out-of-the-way villages.

As the much-maligned Iraqi Army, Police, and local militia forces are taking over once-contested neighborhoods and towns, al Qaeda has no sustainable presence or large urban areas under their control. No longer holding any sizable territory, they have been reduced to dispersing out into rural areas, and they typically only come together in numbers to launch raids un lightly-defended targets.

It is during these times on raids of villages when al Qaeda elements are massed, and often overwhelm remote "villages" that may be little more than a few tribal compounds without nearby police stations or Iraqi Army garrisons to call to provide a defense. The groups of heavily armed al Qaeda terrorists typically overwhelm the residents of these rural communities quickly, and massacre them.

Fadhil makes two proposals to deal with the threat of al Qaeda assaults on these remote villages.

The first is to establish a national alarm system which would alert the nearest coalition forces that would help villagers get out the word that an attack is underway. The problem is that often times the locations under attack are so remote that coalition forces may not arrive until after the villagers have already been massacred, leaving a victorious al Qaeda standing alone, gloating over the bodies of the dead. It is during this dark time, where most or all friendly civilians are presumed dead and al Qaeda forces are concentrated, that Mr. Fadhil makes a bold suggestion:

But even then if the troops fail to arrive in time to intercept the attack, which would be truly sad, the long distance that al Qaeda fighters would have to travel to go back to their base would require them to lose precious time since they have to rely only on ground transport on mostly exposed terrain while the troops very often have the advantage of the much faster air transport.

In the worst case scenario what's left of a village if the attack is not intercepted would be only al Qaeda fighters and the remains of what used to be a village. Now isn't that the perfect target for the countless aggressive fire units of the U.S. military?

Now please let's put emotions aside for a while because this is war we're talking about and if sacrifices cannot be avoided we should make sure the enemy pays the heaviest price possible. If reaction is quick enough--and timing here is of crucial importance--the hunt would be great and the results would be spectacular.

Critics are sure to latch onto Fadhil's comment as an echo of a flustered Major Borris' infamous "We had to destroy Ben Tre in order to save it" description of the re-taking of Be Tre in 1968, but that would be a statement based in ignorance and sentimentality.

Without the people, there is no village, just a collection of bullet-pocked buildings amidst a massacre, where the only men left standing are terrorists, and perhaps a handful of hidden villagers. What Fadhil is advocating is the destruction of the concentrated al Qaeda force in the event that it becomes apparent that there are no villagers left. He advocates striking al Qaeda either as they escape, or in the village itself as a last resort.

The response he advocates may sound callous, but it is pragmatic. If several dozen terrorists can be identified in a given location after a village is destroyed, either while they are still in the village or are attempting to escape, all available coalition firepower should be brought to bear to wipe out the cell, if for no other reason than to keep them from surviving to carry out future attacks on other remote villages.

After a handful of such counterstrike missions are executed successfully and al Qaeda knows that each attack on a village is tantamount to a suicide mission, one has to wonder how many more they will be willing to carry out, and what options they would have remaining in a country increasingly out of their reach to control.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 8, 2007 10:33 AM

Thank you for posting this. But there's something in the post of the massacre that is just as important to note as the savage attack: Shia Iraqis came to the rescue.

This is important, because people like Bill O'Reilly have reinforced the left's perception of Iraq that the underlying problem in Iraq is the sects' inability to get along. This article only proves, once again, that this perception is one that created by the left in the one of their typical plays. The politicians, who are definitely more in tune with world opinion, seem to only parrot these beliefs. It seems to me that the poor everyday Iraqi doesn't care about sect as much as us westerners do.

Posted by: Lauren at October 8, 2007 05:40 PM

Actually, if we continue to permit Iraqis to legally carry AK-47s, the attacks on villages may themselves start to turn out badly for Al Qaeda.

Terrorists and other criminals fear people that can shoot back.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 8, 2007 08:15 PM

What Mr. Fadhil is suggesting is a great idea. It is unfortunate that the possibility of a whole village being wiped out before help arrives, but it is a reality that the Iraqi's and the Coalition forces face on a daily basis. It also should be a reality to everyone out there that people getting killed for no other reason than because they are against Al Qaeda is for no other word very real. (What I mean by the above statement is that there are still people out there that believe that we can talk and group hug with these people and they'll listen, how stupid is that though process) What is the possibility of when the alarm is sounded that we put a predator up in the air over the village and follow the Al Qaeda/insurgents back to their home base and get all of them in one attack. Of course the real thing is to first respond to save the village, but if we can't we can track them and destroy them so that they can't hurt anybody else. I'm pretty sure that this has already been thought of and discussed between the Coalition forces and the Iraqi's.

Posted by: Richard Daugehrty at October 9, 2007 12:22 PM