Interview with a Mujahedeen:
"Terror was unseen here before the invasion. In Falluja, it is not terrorism, it is resistance.”
by Dahr Jamail
April 27, 2004 "New Standard" -- Baghdad -- Dr. Womidhe Nidal is a Senior Political Science Professor at Baghdad University. Last night during an interview in his home, he stated, “Once you abide by the policy of the U.S.A. you are not a terrorist anymore. In 1991, Syria was not a terrorist because they supported the war against Iraq. Syria opposed the recent invasion, so now they are a terrorist.”
When asked what he thought about the Bush Administration referring to the situation in Iraq as the front lines of the “War on Terror,” he replied, “Here, one would have to distinguish between terrorism and resistance. Terror was unseen here before the invasion. In Falluja, it is not terrorism, it is resistance.”
In an ominous prelude to a very different meeting I had tonight with a member of the resistance, Dr. Nidal had said, “The American’s war against Iraq is over. Now we have the war of Iraq against America. A war of Iraqis fighting for their country, their homes, their money, and their lives.”
Tonight, I await a mujahedeen fighter, sipping tea impatiently until the door opens at the pre-set location.
He enters the room, his presence larger than that which his tall height and bulky body projects.
A blue ski mask hides his face, and he chooses to be called “Ahmed” to protect his identity. With a deep, course voice he introduces himself with the greeting ‘Salam Aleikum’ (Peace be upon you), and asks my translator and I to join him in sitting.
I am lucky to have been granted an interview with this man. Only by promising anonymity and having this pre-arranged has he allowed it.
“I want to tell the truth, but the media does not cooperate with the resistance. The media concentrates on the Americans, and does not care about Iraqis,” he says firmly, “This is not a rebellion, this is a resistance against the occupation.”
When asked what he thought about the Bush Administration referring to the situation in Iraq as the front lines of the “War on Terror,” Dr. Nidal had stated, “Here, one would have to distinguish between terrorism and resistance. Terror was unseen here before the invasion. In Falluja, it is not terrorism, it is resistance.”
Tonight I’m speaking with a 26 year-old member of the growing resistance who used to work as a portrait photographer and maintained his trade even whilst in the Iraqi Army, when he was a guard at the presidential palace.
Yet he was against Saddam Hussein and rejoiced when the U.S. military managed to topple his brutal regime. In fact, he says he didn’t even fight in the resistance against the U.S. during the invasion. But he grew weary of watching his fellow countrymen humiliated, mistreated and killed by the aggression of his occupiers, and like so many others he took up arms to fight against them.
He says, “We were under great stress during the time of Saddam. He put me in prison. We were never loyal to Saddam, but now he is representative of us because he is a native of Iraq, he is Muslim, and he is Iraqi.”
He says he is a member of a group of 20 who carry out attacks. His group has a “narrow” relationship with other groups in the resistance. He says, “We meet on the day we have a job, then after we complete the job, we don’t know each other until it is time for another job.”
He says his last job was yesterday.
He says his group has carried out 250 attacks and he, personally, has participated in 70 of them.
How does he know when it is time to meet with his group? He says, “When a house or city is attacked by the Americans, we meet and decide what job to do.” His group uses Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG’s), Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s), grenades and Kalashnikovs. “We have so many arms,” he says gruffly, “All that we need to do our jobs.”
When asked who comprises the resistance, he hold his hands out and says, “Some are Shia, Ba’athists, Sufis, tribes, and Arab fighters.” He adds pointedly, “I have been fighting for a year now, and I have not seen one Al-Qaeda fighter, nor have I heard of one fighting in the resistance.”
He adds that around half of the Iraqi Police are members of the resistance.
He says the resistance is growing--that even just this week five more men have joined his group. He leans forward and says, “As more Iraqis are provoked, more are joining the resistance. Even children who have had their parents killed by the soldiers are joining.”
Of a particular 12 year-old boy, he says, “He joined because he watched the Americans kill his mother and father. His father was not a fighter, didn’t even own a gun. He was looking over a fence and an American sniper shot him. When his mother went to help the father, she too was shot. So he joined us and has killed 22 soldiers. They are now frightened of him, because he carries out attacks on his own.”
He says nobody is his group is paid, and many hold regular jobs.
He tells a story of a Sheikh who was not in the resistance, yet US soldiers invaded the Sheikh’s home and he was beaten and detained in front of his seven daughters.
Ahmed says he personally knows 120 people, both men and women, who have been detained.
Dr. Nidal had also commented, “The crimes against humanity in Palestine are shown daily on the television; this does not indicate that the current U.S. administration is committed to democracy or human rights. Thus, how can a war criminal in Palestine (the U.S.) be accepted as a state builder in Iraq?”
Another story Ahmed tells vehemently is that of when he was detained, along with his sister. While in Abu-Ghraib prison he says he watched his sister raped by soldiers, and after three months she was released, pregnant. “Why do we not hear about these atrocities in the media? They try to portray us as barbarians when we are defending our homes and our families against U.S. terrorism?”
He continues his angry and firm tone, sitting on the edge of his chair while he says, “I will stop fighting when the last American soldier leaves Iraq.” He takes a deep breath and continues, “The Americans are the terrorists. Their military has killed millions of people all around the world. Is killing people like this accepted?”
Last night Dr. Nidal stated, “Bremer’s decision to attack Falluja and Sadr simultaneously has brought more unity between the Sunni and Shia than all my work of negotiating to bring them together. The unity is good, because of this I think things are getting better here. National unity is growing. Now people speak of Falluja and Najaf at the same time, although I am sad that it must be under these horrendous conditions.”
Tonight when Ahmed is asked how he feels about Muqtada Al-Sadr, he states, “They are Muslims and belong to our Prophet Mohammed. Our blood and our ground is the same. They are our brothers.”
He is asked what he will do if Falluja is invaded by the military. He again opens his arms and says, “We will gather and fight them-the same in Najaf and Kerbala. We are Muslim, because I am a son of Iraq, as they are. We all have the same aim now.”
He says he does not know how many soldiers he has killed. He says, “So many. During one attack my group killed 35 soldiers. We hit six Humvees with IED’s, then RPG’s and grenades, and killed everyone. When we inspected the convoy after we attacked it, nobody was alive, and we took their ammunition.”
The statement poignantly reminded me of something Dr. Nidal said just the previous evening, “I feel pity for soldiers who are ordered to come here-they are not choosing to come. Then they are killed. And of course this will continue with no policy change.”
I then ask Ahmed if there will be increased fighting around the June 30th “transfer of sovereignty,” even though today the U.S. military admits there are already over 40 attacks on them each day. He says, “There is no June 30th for us because the resistance is always growing here. June 30th is irrelevant. Sometimes the resistance lets up and people think it will end. But it will never end. It will never stop.”
I thank him for his time and he promptly leaves. As with the agreement, I sit back down and wait 10 more minutes before leaving myself. I take deep breaths and try not to ponder the horrendous days ahead for the Iraqis, the resistance, and the U.S. soldiers here.
As Dr. Nidal had eloquently put it just last night, “Violence creates counter-violence, and it always spirals out of control, like we are seeing now.”
Dahr Jamail is Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. He is an Alaskan devoted to covering the untold stories from occupied Iraq. You can help Dahr continue his crucial work in Iraq by making donations. For more information or to donate to Dahr, visit The NewStandard.
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