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Around 100,000 insurgents in Iraq: Report
September 20, 2004 08:59 IST
There could be as many as 100,000 insurgents in Iraq not including those who provide them with food and shelter, according to Time magazine.
Time, quoting Jeffrey White, a former analyst with the Defence Intelligence Agency, says that insurgents tied to Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi patrol Haifa Street, a busy Baghdad thoroughfare from where the US embassy lies within mortar range.
Time says it has obtained audiocassettes that provide a rare insight into the insurgents' mindset.
During sermons and 'seminars', as they are called, leaders of al-Zarqawi's group, Attawhid wal Jihad, exhort their rank and file to slaughter Iraqis cooperating with the US and the interim government, the magazine says.
In one tape, Time says, a man named Sheik Abu Anas al-Shami, one of al-Zarqawi's key commanders and a member of the organisation's religious committee, preaches that any nation built on secular principles is "in the light of Islamic law a tyrannical infidel and blasphemous state". Anyone associated with that nation, he continues, especially soldiers and police, whether good Muslims or not, may be murdered as "they do not represent themselves, they are means in the hands of the tyrants".
Even Muslims "who pray" may be slaughtered to punish the Iraqi government or US forces, Time quotes the man in the tape as saying.
The magazine says a second undated tape purportedly records the voice of al-Zarqawi himself, describing US forces as "oppressors" and "dog-like aliens" and criticising the Western media for denigrating the will and character of Muslims.
But al-Zarqawi's main target is an erstwhile ally: Harith al-Dhari, an Iraqi Sunni leader and chairman of the powerful Muslim Scholars Association.
US intelligence, Time says, suspect al-Dhari of helping to fund and organise elements of the insurgency. But al-Dhari has also criticised al-Zarqawi's practice of decapitating hostages.
On the tape, Time says, al-Zarqawi calls al-Dhari a coward "who accepted humiliation" and accuses him of "extending [his] hands to the enemy".
But nationalist insurgent groups, the magazine reports, are attempting to break off from al-Zarqawi and forge ties with moderate Islamists based in Fallujah. Their goal now is to create a political party that can contest and win elections, once they take place, in areas like Fallujah.