22 June 2007

The 1920 Brigades and what they are or aren't doing

A small update to Operation Phantom Thunder, and that is the 1920 Brigades feel that they shouldn't be included as actually helping! This via a few folks, but notably is Evan Kohlmann at Counterterrorism Blog, which cites this earlier AP via MSNBC account of 1920's working with the MNF. Mr. Kohlmann puts it like this:

In their flurry of responses, the 1920 Revolution Brigades scoffed at these reports as the product of an ongoing crusader media conspiracy designed to "cause trouble amongst the jihad factions." The group denied having any active "presence" in the Diyala province at this time and furthermore threatened to hunt down and punish anyone who maliciously attempts to "exploit" their name and reputation. Coming from a group whose former leader was assassinated only two months ago apparently at the hands of Al-Qaida, it is difficult to know for certain the degree to which these statements reflect the truth, or instead are mere lipservice aimed at avoiding further public controversy within the jihadist community.
Ah, 'factions'! Welcome to the wonderful world of factions and terrorism, brought to you by the letters AQI and, previously seen in the land of the letters IRA. Perhaps we heard from an 'Official 1920 Brigades' or 'Real 1920 Brigades' or 'Provisional 1920 Brigades' instead of the 1920 Brigades themselves!

Now the Terror Knowledge Base yields up a little on the 1920 Brigades, but it did take part in this incident, which is its major claim to fame:

The 1920 Revolution Brigades gained international media attention on 27 June 2004 when the Arab television network al-Jazeera broadcast a hostage video of captured U.S. marine Wassef Ali Hassoun. A group called Islamic Response, identifying themselves as the security wing of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The incident later appeared to be a hoax when Hassoun surfaced in his native Lebanon three weeks after he was supposedly captured. Hassoun then reported to the U.S. embassy in Beirut and returned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, but he disappeared again in January 2005 just before his military hearing.
We do all remember that episode, don't we? In any event we now have the ubiquitous phenomenon in the terrorist world of a 'security wing' sometimes even a 'military wing' for an already terroristic outlook. From Bill Roggio just a bit ago we get this on them:

The 1920 Revolution Brigades is considered the "nationalist element" of the Sunni, largely made up of members of Saddam's disbanded army and tribesmen. The Buhriz group turned on al Qaeda in April, after the group terrorized the local population. "[Al Qaeda] ruled Buhirz with tyranny, they really harmed our town," a member of the Sunni insurgent group told CNN. "We had to stop them, and they left, no return."

"Before, when al Qaeda was here, it was all killing and stealing," another insurgent said. "We would hide in our house this time of day [during daylight]. It was all kidnapping, killing and stealing."

Al Qaeda followed the same pattern of behavior in Anbar province, which led to the formation of the Anbar Salvation Council, the grouping of tribes and insurgents which battle al Qaeda. The 1920 Revolution Brigades makes up a significant portion of the leadership of the Anbar Salvation Council. Recently, the Anbar Salvation Council has sent expeditionary units into Salahadin, Diyala, Babil and Baghdad provinces to organize local Awakening movements and fight al Qaeda.
Part of the problem in believing that they are going back on their word in Diyala, is that then makes them look damned incapable to the folks in Anbar. So while the 1920 Brigades may be made up of ex-Ba'athists and a few other thugs and murder for fun folks, it doesn't really help much to go back on your word when it is given as that makes you look... well... untrustworthy. And if the Buhriz wish to have a longer life expectancy, it might be wise to figure out just what part of the 1920 Brigades is working for whom.

Now that just might be the case for Hamas in Iraq, as seen by IraqSlogger... ummm... 'Hamas in Iraq'? Ok, lets take it from the Slogger, on 29 MAR 2007:

A new group by the name of “Hamas of Iraq” has announced its formation, al-Melaf reports in Arabic.

This armed group has apparently been formed by seceding from the 1920 Revolution Brigades, which has carried out operations in many areas of the country.

This development points to the existence of divisions among the leadership of the various armed groups, which are becoming manifest as some groups follow the inclination to abandon armed operations and enter into negotiations with the government.

Sharp divisions have opened between the leaders who support these divisions, especially after the assassination attempt on the Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaei, and those who oppose them.

At the same time, al-Sabah carries a brief report pointing to splits emerging within groups affiliated with al-Qa'ida, which it says will isolate al-Qa'ida in Diyala and Anbar provinces. Al-Sabah says that the groups “would receive direct orders from Arab states” to give up armed operations and enter negotiations. The brief report does not name the groups or states it refers to.

This alleged splintering in Sunni organizations comes in tandem with reports of a similar splintering in the Mahdi Army, reported earlier.
Yes it is factionitis and splinter diversification going on! Quick, get a score card for 1920 Brigades as we can now add in - Islamic Response and Hamas in Iraq!

Buy one, get two free!

Now IraqSlogger (13 APR 2007) has a good rundown of those organizations that joined together to get rid of al Qaeda:
On Wednesday Iraqi President Jalal Talabani announced that he met with representatives of armed groups calling themselves the “national resistance,” Aswat al-Iraq reported earlier. The government is in the final stages of the negotiations, Talabani claimed.

The nine factions that signed that statement agreeing to coordinate their efforts against the Islamic State of Iraq via the new office are as follows:

    Jaysh Ansar al-Sunna (Army of the Protectors of the Sunna)

    Jaysh Ansar al-Muslimeen (Army of the Protectors of Muslims),

    Jaysh al-Muslimeen (The Army of Muslims)

    The 1920 Revolution Brigades

    The Army of the Men of Tariqa Naqshabandiyya,

    Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance

    Al-Farouq Brigades

    The Mustafa Brigades

    The Ansar Allah Brigades
Yes, the 1920 Brigades are there! So 'nationalists' seeking an 'Islamic State of Iraq' but NOT controlled by any outside groups. Clear? Didn't think so... But al Qaeda has been going after the 1920 Brigades as seen by a chlorine truck bombing reported on by Mr. Roggio on 27 MAR 2007.

In any event apparently *someone* thought they were working with the MNF, from the ever doubtful when not reporting quotes AFP via ABC Australia on 01 JUN 2007:
Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, the number two US officer in Iraq, has told reporters that about four-fifths of the militants currently fighting American forces are thought to be ready to join Iraq's political process.

"We want to reach back to them, and we're talking about cease-fires and maybe signing some things that say they won't conduct operations against the Government of Iraq or against coalition forces," he said.

As Lt Odierno was speaking to reporters by a video link to the Pentagon in Washington, residents in west Baghdad reported that insurgents from the nationalist 1920 brigades were fighting their former Al Qaeda allies.
Somehow I do smell factionalism at work with a smidgen of splinter added in. Why is that? Well, Evan Kohlmann reported on a 27 MAR 2007 cybercast for globalterroralert.com on just that thing:
[Evan Kohlmann]: “It is also, as of yet, unclear whether the ISI’s provocative behavior was the cause of a new, mysterious split in one of the organizations that it claimed was recently working underneath its umbrella: the 1920 Revolution Brigades. On March 9, the official website of the 1920 Brigades announced that the group was formally dissolving and splitting into two separate factions: the ‘Islamic Jihad’ movement and the ‘Islamic Conquest’ movement. The statement did not offer great detail as to why the split had occurred, only suggesting that the decision was made in order ‘to overcome differences and to preserve our brotherhood in Islam.’”
Yes! Two entirely, brand new factions to add in to the mix... any one of which, as seen in the lovely IRA days, can claim responsibility under the 1920 Brigades banner! Time to update the scorecard on 1920 Brigades:
    1920 Revolutionary Brigades

    Islamic Response

    Hamas in Iraq

    Islamic Jihad

    Islamic Conquest
We are now up to....1..2...3...4....5... yes FIVE groups that can all claim to be 1920 Brigades or some part thereof and cause untold turmoil. Isn't this grand?

No? Well, I do wish that they would just settle down and become nice, home grown guerrilla movements with uniforms and such, too. But that, apparently, is far too honorable for these folks. Far better to form a 'faction' when you disagree on which are the best pizza toppings or proper way to build an IED. Only one of which can lead to the sudden end of a group, mind you...
These 'umbrella groups' made up of 'factions' and 'splinter groups' make keeping a scorecard on these folks a bit of a dubious occupation. Still, it does help keep track of who is in and out with whom. Quite necessary when dealing with dishonorable terrorists, really.

So who is working for whom?

Pretty simple: if the guy shows up to help, make sure you keep an eye on him and measure results. If he leads you into an ambush or trap, or gives misleading information knowingly, then you got a ringer.

If he is in your gunsights and acting like an 'insurgent', pull the trigger.

That *is* how to deal with these sorts of things in a very diplomatic fashion.

Warfare is the highest form of diplomacy, isn't it?

No comments: