Fallujah: Baathist and Wahhabist cooperation
It has become 'common knowledge' in America that Saddam Hussein's Iraq would never work with Islamic terrorists because of ideological differences. In a recent report, the Senate Intelligence Committee codified this theory by quoting Saddam Hussein, who claimed he would not work with Islamic extremists. It appears however that the realpolitik of Baathist conformity with Wahhabists did occur inside Iraq right under Saddam's nose.
A newly released document from Iraq has lead to some interesting revelations for this researcher. While the document is limited in information and hard to authenticate, it provides a great lead.
The text under the handwritten title 'President of the Republic, the President' simply says,
'Doctor Ahmad Al Kabissi gives lectures to the Wahhabis in Fallujah and then the Wahhabis have a karate class.'
Now first I will note this document is not conclusive. It does not prove anything. But it does open a view of Fallujah that the mainstream media has failed to pick up on.
A bit of background first. The Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam is characterized often by support for strict religious law and often promotes violence against non—Muslims. Usama bin Laden is a practitioner of this branch of Islam. When you talk of Islamic extremism this is mostly whom you are talking about. The Wahhabi sect gained notoriety as the base for Saudi Arabia terrorism. In turn, this sect has carried its power and influence to Pakistan and is called Deobandi there. Many of the terrorist training madrassas in Pakistan fall under Deobandi influence. Followers of these two sects carried out and supported the 9/11 attacks.
These extremists were apparently taking religious training in Fallujah, not so many miles away from Baghdad. Did Saddam know the Wahhabis were there?
It would seem so from the memorandum. Did he try to stop them? The not so simple answer is, he initially tried to suppress them and then turned a blind eye. He turned to tolerance. Why?
Because many of his high ranking Baathist officers were in fact strongly tied to these Islamic extremists. This is important because it is the main catalyst of the Iraqi insurgency still today. And this collaboration was born in Fallujah long before we got there. But don't take my word for it. Read this.
Dar al Hayat is a news organization based in Lebanon. The author of this article is apparently an Arabic speaker judging from the broken English in the article. One might note that this author seeks to humanize Fallujah residents, but not at the cost of demonizing American actions or its people, a welcome departure for a reader of American media. The article is ostensibly about smuggling but reveals much more valuable information.
The author takes us to Fallujah before the large battle that took place there in 2004. The author gives a feeling for what Fallujah was before the war as well.
It is the entrance of this district from Baghdad, and it is the most prosperous and religious city, not mention most loyal to the bath party. [sic]
Most prosperous and religious in secular Iraq? How can this be? The author describes a city filled with Islamic mosques and religious schools. He then contrasts to after the war.
In the markets of Fallujah, one could easily find former Iraqi officers left unemployed after the fall of the former regime.
Why is this the case? Because the author tells us, Saddam gave land grants in Fallujah to his officers and Baath party officials. So naturally, it had a high concentration of people invested in Saddam's dictatorship. Military officers supported their Fallujah lifestyles by smuggling oil—for—food working with foreign peoples along tribal and ethnic affiliations. Now we see a potential avenue for Islamic extremist infiltration.
Many Officers had special privileges and their own shares in these operations. Many of the tribes had historical connections with neighboring tribes in neighboring countries.
But what about Saddam?
However, government authority and control deteriorated especially in Fallujah....
the regime and it (its) deteriorating institutions, disregarded these illegal operations and alliances in an attempt to persevere [sic] its remaining authority figure over this district, knowing that these deeds would not have been disregarded and these alliances secured certain religious groups that began to emerge throughout the mosques in this that district, outside the scope of and understanding of Baathist Islam.
Baathist Islam? Isn't that a non sequitur? How can you get a religious identification from a secular government? Doesn't the author of this article read Senate Intelligence reports?
Seriously though, it would seem that Saddam had filled a city with senior military officers, the guys he relied upon to keep power. Then these guys found it easy to make money by smuggling in cooperation with foreigners, who just so happened to be Islamic extremists. So what was Saddam going to do? Execute all his officers? He certainly would if it was a few or even tens. But this sounds like quite a lot of them were involved.
Saddam lived in fear of a military revolt and his best course of action would be to turn a blind eye instead of confronting them en masse. So the conduit to Islamic extremism was left open and it was smuggled in just as the oil was smuggled out. So we see that indeed, the Baathist initially hunted these militants.
A journalist from the city of Fallujah says that during the ninetey's [sic] the city witnessed the emergence of many Islamic militant groups the city had known before. Men with long beards started to appear, and certain groups started to buying TV sets and destroying them in one of the roads of the city. The Iraqi regime then interfered by closing down one of these mosques for quartering such groups. Abu Hareth whose brother is a member of these groups says
"My oldest brother is member of these groups, and he was discharged from the army for his affiliation to these people and he became unemployed, and he started to spend most of his time in the mosque. The Baathists were closely following him, and whenever they could they would arrest some of the members of this group. This happened many times in the city of Fallujah and the city of Abu Gharib, my oldest brother was never imprisoned because my youngest brother was a member of the Baath party, and he always protected him."
And later Saddam came to tolerate them and in fact accommodate them.
It seems to very clear the level of tyranny the city of Fallujah witnessed from the groups and the regime itself. The rise of such groups can be attributed to lack of authority of the regime. The regime is derives [sic] in essence its power and legitimacy mainly from these areas, and according it is very difficult to exercise total control over these areas, and a compromise was always reached.
Though the English is broken, the meaning is clear. Saddam needed Fallujah's support to retain power. Fallujah housed his military officers' riches. Thus Saddam was able to find compromise with Islamic extremists in order to keep this, his power base. The Islamic terrorist and senior Baathists running the insurgency from the beginning have built upon a pre—existing relationship.
A lady from this city says that the "resistance" at the beginning was unorganized and tribunal, and was the result of the first clash between the Americans and the citizens of this city. Nearly 15 people from this city died, and the tribes then sought vengeance. Later on, in a short period of time many of the men who were member of the regime and who where scattered all over the country started to come back to the city, while many of them especially senior officials fled to Syria, and returned to Iraq upon the Syrian request. They engaged in military operations benefiting from their experiences and financial wealth, during this time mosques began to call for jihad. The lady adds " during the latest period, we started witnessing strange men wandering around the city, and most of them were probably not Iraqi's"
And back to our memo that opened this investigation.
Among the citizens of this city who were well know and their reputation far exceeded the city and even the county are Dr. Ahmad Al Kabissi and Sheik Abdulaziz Al Samarrai.
So our Dr. Ahmad Kabissi listed in the Saddam memo is a real person, a nice bit of validation of the original document. And Dr. Kabissi was training Wahhabists in Fallujah long before the US got there. And now we know why.
Perhaps we should reevaluate the notion that Saddam would not work with Islamic extremists, despite what he and the Senate Intelligence committee have told us. For if Saddam's officers and party leaders were growing fat off the smuggling, wouldn't it stand to reason that Saddam was getting his cut?
The corruption of the Oil—for—Food program actually promoted the relationship between Baathists and Islamic extremists in Iraq. The Islamic extremists got to spread their ideology under a controlled condition, at the acquiescence of Saddam. They both made money off the smuggling. Iraqi officials got their cut of the money and found a power base in a seemingly odd partnership with extremists.
It has been said many times that there was no terrorism in Iraq before we got there. Could that be because they were getting more from Saddam's cooperation than they would have by fighting against him?
Now maybe the Senate Intelligence committee can understand why Taliban and al Qaeda leaders were meeting with Saddam officials in Baghdad.
Ray Robison is the proprietor of the eponymous blog and an occasional contributor to American Thinker.