Al Qaeda Seizes Town in Iraq

At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me when I read this headline on the front page of the Washington Post:
Al Qaeda Seizes Town in Iraq

Insurgents Seize Key Town in Iraq
Al Qaeda in Iraq’s Black Banner Flying From Rooftops

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, September 5, 2005; 9:06 AM

BAGHDAD, Sept. 5 — Abu Musab Zarqawi’s foreign-led Al Qaeda in Iraq took open control of a key western town at the Syrian border, deploying its guerrilla fighters in the streets and flying Zarqawi’s black banner from rooftops, witnesses, residents and others in the city and surrounding villages said.

A sign newly posted at the entrance of Qaim declared, “Welcome to the Islamic Kingdom of Qaim.” A statement posted in mosques described Qaim as an “Islamic kingdom liberated from the occupation.”

Zarqawi’s fighters were killing officials and civilians seen as government-allied or anti-Islamic, witnesses, residents and others said. On Sunday, the bullet-riddled body of a woman lay in a street of Qaim. A sign left on her corpse declared, “A prostitute who was punished.”

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. or Iraqi military. A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, said he was looking into the reports.

Qaim, within a few miles of the Syrian border, has been a major stronghold for insurgents ferrying fighters, weapons and money from Syria into the rest of Iraq along a network of Euphrates River towns.

Many of the towns along the river have appeared to be heavily under the insurgents’ domination, despite repeated Marine offenses along the river since May. Residents and Marines have described insurgents escaping ahead of the offensives, and returning when the offensives are over.

While the stepped-up U.S. offensives have been unable to drive out insurgents permanently, the U.S. attacks are credited by some with helping disrupt insurgent networks and reduce the number of car-bombings and suicide attacks in the rest of Iraq.

U.S. Marines last week launched days of air strikes against suspected insurgent safe houses in the area, in some of the heaviest known uses of air power in recent months. A Sunni Arab tribe, the Albu Mahal tribe, simultaneously vowed to drive Zarqawi’s fighters from the area, with the aid of the U.S. air strikes.

U.S. and Iraqi officials welcomed what they called signs that insurgents were losing support from their Sunni Arab base in the west.

By the weekend, however, Zarqawi’s forces had fought back and taken control of Qaim, residents said. Accounts from the town described a rare, prolonged overt presence of the foreign fighters.

The Albu Mahal tribe as of Sunday remained in control of its village outside the city. However, a car bomb placed by Zarqawi’s fighters in front of the home of a tribal leader, Sheikh Dhyad Ahmed, killed the sheikh and his son on Sunday, resident Mijbil Saied said.

It was unclear whether any Iraqi forces were in Qaim. A Zarqawi fighter said any Marines and Iraqi forces had left Qaim, with “nothing left of their crosses.”

Armed insurgent fighters loyal to the Jordanian-born Zarqawi openly traveled Qaim’s streets. The fighters included both Iraqis and foreigners, including Afghans

The foreign-led fighters hung rooftops with Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda banner of black backgrounds with a yellow sun.

Shops selling CDs, a movie theater and a women’s beauty parlor were newly burned, apparently targeted by Zarqawi’s group under its strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Residents said Zarqawi’s fighters were killing most government workers, but had spared doctors and teachers.

Karim Hammad Karbouli, a 46-year-old resident still in Qaim, said he was waiting only for his brother to come with a pickup truck so Karbouli could load up his household and leave. Karbouli feared both Zarqawi’s fighters and U.S. bombs, he said.

Zarqawi’s fighters had taken control of the town’s hospital, one of its medical workers, Dr. Muhammed Ismail, said. The hospital’s director then ordered all patients to leave, fearing the presence of Zarqawi’s fighters would draw air strikes on the clinic, Ismail said.

Zarqawi fighters manned checkpoints on the four entrances to the city.

Boylan, in Baghdad, also said that any redeployment of forces back to the United States to help with the aftermath of hurricane Katrina would not affect the U.S. ability to carry out air strikes. The Air Force announced over the weekend it was sending home 300 Air Force members whose base is in Mississippi.

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32 Responses to Al Qaeda Seizes Town in Iraq

  1. Nick says:

    Oh my god. What the hell is going on out there? How the hell do the Bush people expect democracy to take hold in Iraq with stuff like this happening? Bush has turned Iraq into what it as not prior to the war: an Al Qaeda training ground.

  2. Nick says:

    KJ

    On a different topic: Just what do rural folks mean when they say someone is “not for real”?
    Check out this exceprt from today’s WaPo story about Democratic Montana governor, Brian Schweitzer: “When he (Kerry) goes out to meet people, he doesn’t come off real,” Schweitzer said. “It is like you can see the price tag on the barrel,” he said of television appearances Kerry made last year with a shotgun in his hand.” So what is real.
    Also Scwhitzer says that after he lost his Senate race in 2000, “he found that men in Montana were 11 percent less likely to vote for him than were women. For his gubernatorial campaign, Schweitzer hired focus groups to find out why.
    He learned that a significant percentage of Montana men are mule-headed, unwilling to change their minds on issues, even when presented with information showing that their views are not supported by facts.
    “So, I started doing my ads while I was sitting on a horse or holding a gun,” Schweitzer said. “I spoke to men visually and showed them I am like them. Hell, I can be on a horse and talk about health care.
    “Ninety percent of them don’t ride horses and many of them don’t shoot a gun, but my ads said visually that I understand Montana. My gender gap disappeared. I think I have just summed up why Democrats lose elections.”
    Are rural voters (particularly men) really so superficial? Sure there are dumb folks in the US (in both rural and urban areas and in both major parties). I know rural Missouri and rural Montana are not exactly the same, but as a resident of a rural red area, does Schwitzer have a point about Kerry and Democrats? Or is he just blowing smoke? After all he did say that he had “god-given” political gifts.
    Here’s the link to the article. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/04/AR2005090401095.html

  3. kj says:

    Are rural voters (particularly men) really so superficial? YES.

  4. kj says:

    Nick, my printer is out of toner, so I haven’t been able to print out your stat thing re: Missouri and digest it. But I haven’t forgotten it and thank you in advance. There were some good questions. It’s important stuff.

    Re: the rural, I’ll go read the link above and then respond. But off-the-cuff, the answer is YES.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~ GROSS-OUT WARNING~~~~~~

    Okay. Last December, a scant few miles from here, a very gruesome murder took place. It was all over the national news, you might have heard about it. A pregnant woman had her belly slit open, while she was still alive, and her unborn baby taken. Less than 24 hours later, our sheriff (my boss’ first cousin) and his crew found the child, and the woman, next door in Kansas. Trial pending in KC.

    While most of us were aghast at the very thought of someone cutting a pregnant woman open, the scuttlebutt at the local coffee shop about the murder, BEFORE the child had been found, was this: “Well hell, it’s not that hard to do. All she needed was a butcher knife.”

    Tough guys, you know?

  5. Nick says:

    KJ

    Though guys, you mean idiots right? I do remember hearing something about this on CNN. My question for these “guys” is: Hell, it’s “easy” to commit most violent crimes. Does that mean people should commit violent crimes? After all, it’s an “easy” thing to do.

  6. kj says:

    Oh wow, LOL what a read, Nick. Schweitzer would be bought here in a nano second. He’s in the door alone just by what he looks like. Big, solid man with a jowl, you know?

    And yes, it’s a stereotype, but most men here “of a certain age” are big-bellied. (Women too) They take pride in that. It’s the way they look, and everybody who lives like them looks like that too, and who is this John Kerry guy who’s so skinny, what’s the matter with him, his wife doesn’t cook? He looks like one of those colleage-boys, bet he never played football. Probably played in the band or somethin’. Looks like his nose has never been broken. He doesn’t know us, he doesn’t know how we live. Probably got some high ideas that mean nothing but us paying more taxes.

    That’s pretty much the mind-set.

  7. kj says:

    Yeah Nick, they were idiots. They compared the cutting open of Bobbi Jo to skinning a deer. That’s a fact, that’s what they said.

    Tough guys. Can’t (won’t) show compassion. That would be weak.

  8. kj says:

    I think it does boil down to identity. If John Kerry had a big old scar on his face, the fact that he was skinny would have probably been okay. But, without that, he looks rich and smart, and nobody around here wants to look rich, or smart.

    Millionaires around here look like they just stepped away from working in the field. They might drive a brand new car, but that’s the extent of it. And, they probably don’t drive an expensive car, but a beat-up truck. It’s all about image and conformity.

    Women still have bad perms. I hate to say it, but that’s still the style. Women who are even the slightest bit stylish are okay, but really not “one of.” And god-forbid you should wear Birkenstocks or dangly earrings. You must be one of those “liberals.”

  9. kj says:

    THK was hated. She was “foreign” and rich. My brother-in-law, as of this past June, had no idea she was ever a Republican. He didn’t believe me when I told him. My brother-in-law listens to Rush.

    Elizabeth Edwards was okay. She was round and a mom. But John Edwards was too “pretty.”

    Image and identity. The people here are basically afraid of the coasts and of change. The fact that the county fair is going to be held in a different location next year has people crying in their beer. “Things won’t be the same.”

  10. kj says:

    I’ll shut up now. LOL πŸ™‚

  11. kj says:

    Whoops, not yet. The talking gene has been activiated. πŸ˜‰

    HOWEVER, I still believe, if John Kerry had spent more TIME (or been able to spend more time), in small venues in Rural Red, he would have won them over. He proved that in Iowa.

    Why? Because at heart, John Kerry is a humble man. He knows how to listen. And above all else, the people here really want to be heard. The outside exterior is tough, but there is a longing to be heard and accepted.

    I heard one farmer talk about ethonal and his dismay that the “environmentalists” and “west coast people” don’t even look into it.

    I think environment is the linch-pin between the two groups, and man, does John Kerry have those props, you know?

  12. Nick says:

    KJ

    Yeah, when it comes to understanding cleaning up the environment and energy independence John Kerry has few peers. Your also right about him being a humble man. I don’t get it: Kerry had LOADS of plans for energy independence, the environment, and developing rural economies. Why did Kerry only win 40% of the vote in rural counties, when Dukakis (another “Massachusetts liberal”) got 44% in 1988?
    My best guess (though I could be totally wrong): Support for the war in rural areas (and in the country generally) was higher in Nov. 2004 than it is now. More importantly, Military personnel tend to disporportionately come from rural and small town areas. Rural area voters may have agreed with Kerry on economic matters, and may have even liked a lot of his proposals-but felt they had to stick with the commander-in-chief when “our boys are fighting in this war.”
    KJ, Kerry’s 40% of the rural vote nationally was better than most Democrats in the past 4 decades. Except for 1996 Clinton and 1988 Dukakis (who both won 44% of the rural vote) Kerry’s 40% of the rural vote was better than all post-1976 Democratic nominees. Why were Kerry’s rural totals better than those other Dem nominees? Any ideas, because I’m stumped.

  13. Ginny in CO says:

    Oh, what a miserable morning…

    Just when we have more than enough to grieve and worry over, one of the predictions of what could happen in Iraq if we started a war there has happened.

    I don’t even want to know what W has to say. What I would like to know is that he is putting in 18 or 20 hour days – because that’s what this combination of problems would take responsible presidents. (W usually goes to bed at 10 pm – very compulsive)

    The rest of us are losing sleep or not sleeping well. Especially Katrina’s displaced victims.

  14. kj says:

    Nick, I don’t know. All I can offer are personal stories and observations. I do think, as you’ve said before, that the gay marriage amendment, which I heard pushed over-and-over on the radio, played a role in turning out the conservative vote.

    I think in the beginning, Kerry was generally well-liked here and a welcome relief from Howard Dean, who was getting most of the airplay. But when the general campaign warmed up, the op ads did their part to give many conservatives all the cover they needed to stick with their man, GWB.

    I think there was almost immediate buyer’s remorse. As I’ve said before, Roy Blunt’s son, Matt, taking over the Governership here, while initially celebrated, soon turned sour. He was (is) brash and belligerent. He ticked off a LOT of people early with his budget cuts. In fact, he had to back down on some cuts because entire school boards, Dem and Repub, were up in arms.

    Also, the local Republicans ran on their ability to change the school budget forumla, promising to bring monies from “those urban” schools to the rural schools. Well, guess what? With the exception of one school, none of the seven districts in this county will receive one extra dime of money.

    Then, the worm also turned on the war. Add the sky high gas prices and suddenly, what, Bush has a 38% approval rating statewide?

    Nevertheless, the Republican Machine is strong and healthy here.

  15. kj says:

    Ginny, just saw Bubba and Poppy on CNN. According to Bubba, everyone is “in the harness” and working now. (Right.)

    And I couldn’t help but think that Bill’s phrasing re: harness was right on the money re: what Schweitzer was saying in the link Nick posted above.

  16. Ginny in CO says:

    On the rural issue, Schweitzer is quite full of himself. What appears to work for him in Montana is not necessarily transferable to Kansas. It pretty much comes down to the homogenous rural poulation that kj describes so well. The incapacity to relate to anyone that doesn’t fit in perfectly with your group. I think the duck hunting episode was another example of twisting what you see into something it is not.

    Kerry IS a hunter, has been since childhood. During the long and grueling campaign, he had an opportunity to get away and go duck hunting. The picture of him after wards with the group of men carrying geese as I recall (same season as ducks) hit me rather quickly. I’ve spent quite a few years hunting; the way Kerry was walking, with his shotgun, and a few other details, said in that visual image thing: this is not some politically staged picture trying to make him out to be something he isn’t.

    Other people, including Democrats like Schweitzer, saw the same picture and derided it. In the picture with the story from Kerry’s visit, both men are wearing blue jeans and blue shirts. As kj notes, Schweitzer has the build – of todays farmer/rancher. How many years ago were these guys as lean as Kerry? W has no belly. And I think many Democrats have a problem with the idea that they have to portray themselves
    inaccurately to get elected, I mentioned Denver’s popular new mayor, Hickenlooper, had some great ads on this. In one he kept trying on different outfits to look like a
    mayor, cowboy, etc. Finally he goes back to his usual suit.

    Schweitzer isn’t quoted about how Kerry did or did not relate to the people he met there. There was no indication of the problem in the reports at the time. Some of his comments about not using certain words or giving all the facts reinforce the basic information that has come out of linguistics and conceptual blending: if the facts don’t fit your frame/worldview, ignore them. Especially if you are not comfortable resolving the cognitive dissonance it creates.

    I mentioned a few threads ago that a show I saw on tolerance had a major point on how living in diversity creates the necessity to think more about the differences you encounter and learn to resolve the cognitive dissonance. This not only gets you over the fear that goes with something strange, you LEARN to THINK better.

    American rural communities are very homogenous, they don’t meet many blacks, hispanics, muslims, east coast or west coast liberals. The American family farm/ranch has suffered a lot from big business. The really bright kids go off to college and end up in a metropolis where they can pursue a career that challenges them. After getting into the diversity of college, going back to the conformity of rural America is not appealing, So the folks that stay also see their family life disrupted by diversity and smart, big city folks (who use big words and spew facts). They have reason to perceive a threat to their lifestyle and be afraid.

    On that extra 4% Nick, I’d bet it’s kj, Ken and other city people who have moved into rural America for various reasons. New retirees are going places out of the stress zone. Others have developed Internet businesses or can take their jobs anywhere as long as they have a computer, net access, phone and fax. And there are probably some rural voters who saw the light in that 4%.

    Given all of this, the way to get through is going to be a challenge. I think and hope it is one way The Democracy Alliance can fund think tanks to come up with and test
    how to reach this group- soon. kj’s comment suggests one critical beginning,

    “And above all else, the people here really want to be heard. The outside exterior is tough, but there is a longing to be heard and accepted.”

    That is a big factor for all of us, To be acknowledged, heard and validated. kj, do you think many of them feel they are taken for granted? That city people don’t realize and appreciate how much we depend on the food production of American farmers?
    Do the growing concerns of using steroids and antibiotics in animals and pesticides in farming, put them on the defensive?

    Ok, I’ll put down my 2 degrees in BS and get ready for working Labor Day….

  17. Ginny in CO says:

    kj

    one of my after thoughts. If you were to meet someone else who doesn’t feel any sympathy for “people who live 30 feet below sea level”, pose a hypothetical situation.

    What if a big chemical factory was built near them and could potentially have an accident that would devastate the area- even though they met safety regulations. Would the people who have family farms, whose families have lived in those communities for generations and have family graves in the cemetary, break all their ties and move away?

  18. Dave says:

    But at least we got Saddam Hussein and that’s all that’s really important. :rollseyes:

  19. kj says:

    Dave, LOL

    Ginny, you really nailed it on the kids leaving and those big city ideas and the diversity found there being blamed for their loss. This county’s population is declining, not increasing. The big hope here is the new biopharming project (with its alternative energy sidekick) will reverse that trend.

    (Also, speaking of facts not fitting frame bouncing off into the hinderland, someday I’ll tell you about the discussion I had with my soon-to-be ex-boss about homosexuality and sin. It boiled down to this: if animals engaged in same sex activity, which some do, then those animals are sinners. Now, when I was seven year old in Catholic school I had to know the meaning of sin before I could take Communion. And by then, I knew that animals were incapable of sin. Sigh.)

    Re: wanting to be heard. Another big YES. It’s no different than any of us… we want to be heard, validated and accepted for who we are. The rurals here, except for the plain old mean sobs, wouldn’t mind being asked to take a seat at the table. Especially when it comes to the environment and energy. In this case, the “America First” crowd would be more than happy to see our exit from the Middle East and tout ethanol as “America’s Fuel.” Just take a look at the pictures on this website: http://www.e85fuel.com/index.php

  20. kj says:

    Speaking of degrees in BS, I got a few of those meself…. πŸ™‚

  21. cali dem says:

    How many of us fly flags on Labor Day? Just wondering….

    kj – I’ve missed you. Please don’t stop talking, ever.

  22. Marjorie G says:

    Back from Toronto, where they were as critical of Bush in the paper as, thankfully, here, in the cutting funds for levees etc.

    What struck me about Mr. Full-of-himself is that he’s so critical, at all. We rely on ads for a short campaign, for states Kerry could not visit. Couldn’t one Dem defend the hunting and water sports as athletics, sincere, and done well. I contend his natural confidence and empathy would have the rural vote more than most candidates.

    I do agree the war took over for the men, and security for the women.

    How can an incumbent run and win a short campaign without the support of the locals. A quality candidate, and a nice, humble man, really wouldn’t have been a stretch to support.

  23. Teresa says:

    I think it goes back to tribal instinct in the rural areas where they have not learned to live cross culturally. So they want to be sure the person is like them. It’s a primitive trust thing. Safety in the familiarity they know.

    But if people get elected on these images, it will eventually fail. Just the fact that they need these crutches is a bad sign.

    We need great politicians who can sell real character traits… honesty, administrative talent, vitality, etc.

  24. kj says:

    Cali Dem, I’ve missed you too. πŸ™‚

    Teresa, you’re on the money. But so far, the images are still winning elections here. I’m going to help however I can to see what can be done to change that locally because I just can’t take another whitewash. The red bleeds through, you know?

  25. Marjorie G says:

    Again, how do we sell without election reform and an unfiltered message delivery.

    I’m not without some rural experience, having lived in Colorado and Nebraska, traveling from cities where we lived. We can minimize the loss in really rural areas, but making ourselves over doesn’t work. If Dems were only satisfied with an authentic candidate, with substance over their own stylistic needs, thinking big party, we’re half-way there.

    So, hello, KJ, Ms. chopped liver, here, didn’t get rate a hello…

  26. Well I have some rural experience myself growing up in small town MA and living on the NH border. Granted it wasn’t rural red, but New England Yankees tend to be conservative in many ways. Yet, they will vote Democratic. How does that work in those areas. That’s a question to ask isn’t it?

  27. Marjorie G says:

    Moderate GOP still exists in those NH towns. When in Nashua, it was easier to inform or remind that Nelson Rockefeller’s socially conscious, good on environment and fiscally conservative was a lot different than neo-cons. Abortion and gay issues were not as polarized, though GOP had more success on that than they should there.

    Lack of exposure to differences and feeling they are looked down upon, are important to remember in rural red. Holding on tightly to their preconceptions and fears as strength.

  28. Ginny in Co says:

    Pamela,

    I have some ’75-’80 experience in VT, when my daughter went there in ’03 it was very different. Also have a cousin in NH – very conservative, from Boulder,CO (so liberal it is referred to as the Socialist Republic of Boulder) who married a conservative from CT. Politics are not discussed at those family gatherings.
    I think New England has a very interesting capacity to be independent and not even toe party lines. They are the original social liberals/fiscal conservatives. And they have enough respect for individuality that the tolerance for diversity and ability to think is not diminished. I get a sense that they are still willing to look for and consider facts more than most.

    It’s those kinds of regional differences that good national candidates are very aware of – don’t use what works in Montana in New England.

    Hi Marjorie! I’m glad you’re back:) Saw some stuff on the BBC blog from Canadians upset because Bush turned down the PM’s offer of troops. In some ways, I’m glad he did. Everyone there is going to live with some level of PTSD for the rest of their lives.

    Back to work.

  29. Ginny

    “They are the original social liberals/fiscal conservatives.” Good summation. I see your point but can’t help wondering if there isn’t something we can take from there and transplant. But, I’m no wonk, so it’s just a hope.

  30. Nick says:

    Ginny,

    Good summation about New Englanders (even rural ones) being more socially liberal. I’m not sure that fiscal “conservative” is the right word. Maybe, non-profligate is the word? Or maybe, “fiscal watchers not drunken sailors”? “Fiscal conservative” implies someone who is a downright tightwad when it comes to money, no matter how necessary it is to spend the money.
    Since its inception New England (and the NE in general (including MD)) has generally been generous about education spending (the income taxless NH notwithstanding), tended to have low poverty rates, and excellent medical research, which in turn bread good health care. State social safety nets in the NorthEast have generally been more secure since the 1930s. Of course these are generalities here, and I’m sure specific examples can be found that contrast with this. But in general, even the more GOP states in the NorthEast, have tended to emphasize “public goods” (and the high taxes that paid for them).
    Most interesting to me is that even NE states that were once overwhelmingly Republican never took any real steps to undermine one of the great vehicles of economic progressivism: labor unions. Despite passage of the Taft-Hartley law in 1947 and the fact that states like Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire remained safe GOP states well into the 1980s, NOT ONE of these states ever passed right-to-work laws. Meanwhile “Democratic” southern states all passed right-to-work laws almost as soon as they possibly could.
    Bottom line: the NE never fully fully bought the ultra-right wing rhetoric even when it was a lot more Republican. Now that Republicans are the ultra-right wing, it’s no surprise that NE voters (even some who call themselves “conservative”) are turning away from the party of their ancestors.

  31. kj says:

    Marjorie, Ms. Chopped Liver?! LOLOL Sweetie, you are da bomb in my book! The jasmine in my green tea. πŸ˜‰

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