This is probably one of the oldest and most mainstream media under-reported stories of the entire War On Iraq. Better late than never that it shows up in the pages of the Washington Post.
The story does, however, give the impression that Iraqis joining the insurgency for cash is a new development. Rubbish. From the day the Coalition of the Willing invaded and disbanded the Iraqi Army and de-Ba'athed the government agencies, Iraqis have been employed to kill or maim Americans.
Let your family starve or take $500 (enough to feed the family for months) to fight those who have invaded your country and are killing your friends and neighbours? It would appear for many unemployed and hungry Iraqis, the choice was easy :
Abu Nawall, a captured al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, said he didn't join the Sunni insurgent group here to kill Americans or to form a Muslim caliphate. He signed up for the cash.
"I was out of work and needed the money," said Abu Nawall, the nom de guerre of an unemployed metal worker who was paid as much as $1,300 a month as an insurgent. He spoke in a phone interview from an Iraqi military base where he is being detained. "How else could I support my family?"
U.S. military officials have responded by launching a major campaign to disrupt al-Qaeda in Iraq's financial networks and spread propaganda that portrays its leaders as greedy thugs, an effort the officials describe as a key factor in their recent success beating down the insurgency."I tell a lot of my soldiers: A good way to prepare for operations in Iraq is to watch the sixth season of 'The Sopranos,' " said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of U.S. forces in central Iraq, referring to the hit HBO series about the mob. "You're seeing a lot of Mafioso kind of activity."
In Mosul, a northern city of 2 million people that straddles the Tigris River, U.S. officials are also spending money to buoy the Iraqi economy -- including handing out microgrants sometimes as small as several hundred dollars -- to reduce the soaring unemployment that can turn young Iraqi men into insurgents-for-hire.
Col. Stephen Twitty, commander of U.S. forces in Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province, said the dismantling of insurgent financing networks is the primary reason that violent attacks here have dropped from about 18 a day last year to about eight a day now."We're starting to hear a lot of chatter about the insurgents running out of money," said Twitty, of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "They are not able to get money to pay people for operations."
Abu Nawall said he joined the group over the summer because his metalworking business had dried up. The 28-year-old said he was responsible for running the bureaucracy and arranging payments to the 500 or so fighters for the group in the city, who he said try to carry out as many as 30 attacks a day."Most of our money comes from payments we receive from places like Syria and from kidnappings," Abu Nawall said, adding that ransoms can reach $50,000 a person. But he denied U.S. claims that attacks in the city had dropped or that the group's funding had stopped. "We still have money," he said.
Much of Abu Nawall's account could not be independently verified, though he said he was speaking freely and without coercion by his detainers. His description of the insurgency's viability was in some cases significantly more upbeat than the one offered by Iraqi and U.S. officials.
But Abu Nawall and his captors agreed that Iraqis were joining the insurgency out of economic necessity. "Of course we hate the Americans and want them gone immediately," Abu Nawall said. "But the reason I and many others joined the Islamic State of Iraq is to support our families."Abu Nawall described himself as a middle-management accountant for the insurgency, but he acknowledged killing four Iraqi police officers because he viewed them as collaborators with the U.S. military. He said he was not primarily involved in ordering violent attacks.
The Full Story Is Here
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Sunnis, Shiites Unite To Protect Their Neighbourhoods From Insurgents, Militias
Assassinations, Car Bombings, Insurgent Attacks Move To Northern Iraq
One Day In Iraq : A 'Quiet' Day Sees 62 Killed, 21 Wounded In Fighting, Attacks