Serayeh al Jihad

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John Daniszewski of the New York Times reported on Tuesday 07 October 2003 that a rebel group named Serayeh al Jihad had announced itself in Post-war Iraq. Its objectives seem to include the return of Saddam Hussein and direct support of Al Qaeda in its campaigns against the United States and Israel, and to eject all non-Muslim control from Muslim lands. (The first step to establishing some kind of Islamic caliphate, ruled on some Islamist principle).

"Kidnapping of American troops is threatened."

"Commander A," a hawk-nosed, stubble-bearded former Iraqi intelligence officer claims that the "resistance" has been building its strength, accumulating stores of weapons and collecting money from residents." This may be simply a euphemism for a protection racket of some kind - very common after dictatorships fall.

"Former supporters of Saddam Hussein and observant Muslims alike are rallying to the cause, he asserted. Thousands are willing to die to evict U.S. forces from the country, and attacks are now being centrally coordinated," said "A".

"The American Army will feel that Vietnam was just a playground by comparison," the self-proclaimed leader of Serayeh al Jihad - the "Companies of Jihad" - said.

"The man who gave his name as Commander A and the deputy who called himself Commander B agreed to meet with an American journalist and discuss their activities, offering a rare glimpse of what may be the thinking behind the insurgency against U.S. forces in Iraq." Daniszewski was that journalist, apparently. He reports:

"The clandestine meeting was brokered by an Iraqi journalist from Fallouja who has covered the resistance for Arab television networks and worked in the Hussein-era Information Ministry. Although the two reputed resistance fighters were boastful and prone to exaggerated assertions of their effectiveness, their knowledge ofrecent operations, their wariness and their connections to Hussein's intelligence service lent some credence to their claims.

"They said that the guerrillas are preparing to expand beyond the so-called "Sunni triangle"; that their group aims to abduct U.S. servicemen and give them to Osama bin Laden to barter for the Al Qaeda prisoners held at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and that they are starting to develop into a full-fledged underground army that could take over as soon as they drive U.S. forces from Iraq."

"In line with the U.S. assessments that the resistance is mainly made up of former regime loyalists, both men were security officers under the Baathist government and said they want to restore Hussein to power.

"At the same time, they said, they have now embraced the call for a holy war against the United States espoused by groups such as Al Qaeda, and they also consider themselves fighting for Islam as well as for their country and Hussein. "And our symbol will be the virtuous sheik, Osama bin Laden," Commander A declared."

It is unclear whether this group actually exists, or is simply an attempt by some commanders of regional rebel resistance to rally disparate forces under a common name, and encourage Saddam and Osama to unite under one banner.

It seems difficult, however, to actually verify from second sources any such information, as it would be just as easy to fake the second such news event as the first. It seems very likely that this group, if not real before this report, is most certainly real now.