Saddam Fedayeen behind attacks on U.S. soldiers
Fallujah |By Mohammed Bazzi | 11-07-2003
He is a leader in Saddam's Fedayeen, the militia group that put up some of the strongest resistance to U.S. forces as they swept through Iraq, and he says he has organised recent attacks on American troops occupying Iraq.
The militia fighter is now living on the run and working toward the day when an Iraqi insurgency would dri-ve American soldiers out of his country and return Saddam Hussain to power.
"We have many more people and we're a lot better organised than the Americans realise," said Khaled, 29, who gave an hour-long interview Wedn-esday. "We have been prep-aring for this guerrilla war for a long time, and we're much more patient than the Americans. We have nowhere else to go."
Khaled described the workings of a loosely organised network of former Baath Party members, Iraqi soldiers, intelligence officers and other die-hard Saddam supporters who have been responsible for an unknown number of the attacks that have killed 29 U.S. soldiers and injured dozens since May 1.
He said the network operates in cells of five or six members that answer to a secret leadership structure. It goes by various names - the Fedayeen, the Iraq Liberation Army, Mohammed's Army - and Khaled said only a handful of people know its full reach. He said its members draw inspiration from Saddam and from the belief that the ousted Iraqi leader is alive and will regain power once U.S. troops are forced to leave.
Khaled described himself as a former operative for one of Saddam's intelligence services, although he would not say what he did. His account offers details that may help explain the 6-week-old escalation in anti-U.S. attacks throughout central Iraq. It adds to the evidence that U.S. forces face an organised movement that aims to drag them into a long guerrilla war fed by a combination of nationalist and Islamic sentiments.
Khaled described cells that are studying the tactics of Palestinian militant groups and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which drove Israeli forces from southern Lebanon after a 22-year occupation. While suicide attacks have not been a significant tactic in Iraq, he said his network is planning to send suicide bombers to attack American military convoys and installations. And he said a network of Iraqis provide food, shelter and other help to militia members trying to evade U.S. forces.
It is an account that contradicts statements by several U.S. officials, including Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who argue that the Iraqi insurgency is a disorganised movement of former Baathists and thousands of criminals who were released from prison by Saddam last year.
Khaled said remnants of the Fedayeen, intelligence services and the elite Special Republican Guards are regrouping throughout Iraq and digging in for a long, underground war.
"We know each other and we have ways of communicating with one another," said Khaled. "The Americans made a big mistake by thinking that we all disappeared after the war."
Currently, Khaled said he is responsible for "three or four" Fedayeen cells. He said they have been involved in carrying out attacks on U.S. troops.
Specialised cells have been created to deal with procuring arms identifying informers and creating systems of communication.