29 March 2003
Uday Hussein, faithfully obeying his father, immersed himself from April 2002 in creating a vast guerrilla-terrorist army 800,000 strong, according to DEBKA-Net-Weeklys intelligence sources. Its largest component, around 650,000, comes from the ubiquitous Baath party, the Saddam regimes eyes, ears and informers in every corner of Iraqi society, together with members of Saddams Fedayeen (Martyrs) Division of the Special Republican Guards.
These Iraqi elements irregular and military were responsible for plaguing the American columns pushing north to Baghdad and playing havoc with their long supply lines, forcing the allied war command to take stock of the pace of advance on Baghdad.
From Thursday, March 27, allied air forces, while keeping the bombing momentum up in Baghdad, Basra and against concentrations of Republic Guards, began hitting back by pipointing pinpointed Baath centers. In two days, they attacked nine headquarters.
The regimes Baath loyalists were easily recruited. On top of his regular paycheck, each was given a $200 monthly bonus for attending military training three times a week and a further $50 for any relative over 14 brought in. The training included dare-devil driving tactics behind the wheels of pickup trucks, usually Nissens, while firing heavy machineguns or light mortars, planting and detonating explosives, mounting ambushes and taking part in coordinated sorties by groups of armed vehicles.
Their most effective weapon was one unanticipated by US tank troops: a Russian-made Kornet AT-14 ATGM laser wire-guided anti-tank missile capable of penetrating 1100 to 1200 millimeters of steel armor protected by explosive armor at a distance of 3.5 km. This formidable direct-fire weapon is fitted on the fast-moving Nissen trucks driven by the guerrillas. The Kornets drawbacks are that, to keep its sights locked on target, it must remain stationary after firing; moreover, its wire-guided missiles cannot be fired over trees, power lines or water, because the wire will snag and break disabling the guidance system. The Kornet will therefore lose effectiveness as US tanks approach the canals and power lines around Baghdad. However, in the open desert, the Kornet is helping Iraqi forces equalize the advantages of superior American weapons. It is credited with disabling a number of heavy American Abrahm-1 tanks and one Bradley armored troop carrier of the US 3d Division fighting in the central region around Nasiriya.
The missile and instructors for its use, DEBKAfile intelligence sources report, were provided by an old friend of Saddam Hussein, President Aleksander Lukashenko of Belarus. It was sent to over through Iraqs primary smuggling route across Syria. The CIA is investigating reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have given the nod to the delivery.
The Baath party hacks were transformed into guerrilla fighters by an estimated 700 Iraqi military intelligence officers who in the 1990s underwent long training stints in guerrilla and terror tactics in Chechnya with al Qaeda experts.
Uday is rumored to have made secret trips to Iran, Lebanon, Bosnia and Macedonia to bring 300 al Qaeda instructors over to Iraq. He also made a study of the deadliest terrorist practices incepted by al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan and by Palestinian terrorists in their confrontation with Israel.
The pickup-terror tactic he picked up from Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda and Taliban plied dozens and sometimes hundreds of fast vehicles armed with light and heavy weapons as an instrument of repression against Afghan tribes and warlords. Fear of the white devils suddenly darting out at them kept tribal chiefs intimidated and obedient. Uday found them ideal for bedeviling US troops and their long supply lines in the open Iraqi desert as they came up from Kuwait and Qatar. At the end of 2002, he sent agents to Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia to buy 7,500 pickups with four-wheel drives, ostensibly for farms newly established to make the desert bloom.
Painting them in the drab colors of the desert, Iraqi mechanics fitted the vehicles with heavy machine guns, handing them to local Baath militia cells with orders to strike at US columns, waylay supply convoys and vehicles lost in the desert and terrorize US military camps bedded down for the night.
DEBKA-Net-Weeklys intelligence sources add that, after borrowing al Qaedas raiding tactics, Uday took a leaf out of Yasser Arafats suicide terror strategy. They report that while US intelligence officers were taking notes of the large-scale battles Israel conducted in Palestinian towns from April to September 2002 especially in Nablus and Jenin, Iraqi intelligence agents studied Palestinian combat tactics and sent in their reports to Uday by couriers passing through Jordan or Syria.
The Americans made a study of Israeli combat in the densely populated areas of Arab cities; Udays informants focused on the Palestinians failure to keep Israeli troops out of their Casbahs and the refugee camps of Nablus and Jenin, despite their honeycombs of narrow alleyways and interconnecting underground tunnels. He concluded that Israeli intelligence had been forewarned which of the alleys and buildings were booby-trapped and had kept Israel troops out of harms way. To be on the safe side, IDF soldiers initiated the method of passing from house to house by breaking through internal walls instead of exposing themselves to attack on the outside.
Saddams son also concluded that the Palestinians had not prepared a large enough force of suicide bombers to stop the Israelis from seizing their cities. Only in Jenin, in the battle fought on April 7, 2002, did a group of Palestinian and Hizballah suicide fighters blow themselves up and inflict heavy Israeli casualties.
After making a thorough study of these techniques, Uday ordered the 100,000 troops of Saddams Fedayeen commandos to set up small suicide units of 3-5 men in every Iraqi city including Baghdad and Tikrit. These men were ordered to greet US forces entering their towns by blowing themselves up in sequence and also picking off allied troops at vulnerably points.
Saturday, March 29, the first suicide bomber went into action, killing four US soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division by blowing up a taxi at a checkpoint on the Baghdad Highway 9 north of Najef.
Like the Palestinians, the Iraqis regard suicide terror as a legitimate military tactic for which military units are specifically trained, notably Saddams Fedayeen Division. The first Iraqi human bomb was a serviceman, NCO Al Jaafar al-Noamani, who was awarded two posthumous medals by Saddam Hussein. Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan went on TV to announce that blessed martyrdom was to be routine military policy.