Iraqis want Americans to go'

10 December 2003

Business Day

WASHINGTON The alleged leader of an armed militant cell in Baghdad told The Washington Times daily he was proAmerican at the start of the USled occupation, but now he wanted them to go.

His group did not take orders from former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein or al-Qaeda.

In the interview published yesterday, the cell leader, who used the pseudonym Abu Mujahid, decried the crime and chaos after the Gulf war in April, and said US troops were acting "as occupiers and not as liberators. My colleagues and I then voted to fight.

"So we began to meet and plan. None of us is afraid to die, but it is hard. We are just men, workers, not soldiers."

To prove he was a militia leader, Mujahid accurately predicted a mortar attack on the compound of the provisional authority, said the daily, without indicating whether the attack caused casualties.

Mujahid said his group did not seek the return of Saddam, nor did its members admire Osama bin Laden or enjoy fighting the US.

"We actually took a vote at a meeting last week," he laughed. "If the Americans leave and Saddam comes back, we will fight him too."

He said the militias had a loosely organised command structure so no individual knew the overall strategy of the antioccupation force.

Mujahid speculated that the leaders above him were former generals under Saddam who wanted to replace the dictator when the US-led forces left Iraq.

As for Saddam, Mujahid said he believed he was too busy hiding from his US pursuers to have time to lead the anti- occupation forces.

He said there was some coordination between the cells, and he suspected that some of the money to buy weapons came from al-Qaeda. Most of the cells, however, were left to act independently.

"We have to find ways to get our own money to buy weapons," he said.

"I don't like Osama bin Laden, and don't want to fight jihad against America," said the militia leader.

"The Iraqi people just want the Americans to leave our country." Sapa-AP,3523,1502622-6098-0,00.html