Why Iraq Still Matters

I have seen a lot of reactions to any news coming out of Iraq, especially concerning the growing unrest there, that are dismissive at best.  “I don’t care what these people do to each other.”  “As long as no Americans were killed, so what?”  Inevitably, those who believe that Iraq was a horrible misstep at best, somehow a malicious adventurism for no good reason by George Bush at worst, have to throw in the same tired talking points from the war’s most bitter opponents, many of which can be easily refuted or shown to be blatant hypocrisy with a few keystrokes.  One such commenter referred to Iraq as an “infantile war.”  (Go tell the families and friends of the men who died there that they died in an “infantile” war.  I dare you.)

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Iraq Jailbreak

On the night of July 21st, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant assaulted the prisons at Taji and Abu Ghraib, freeing a confirmed 500 prisoners from the latter.

Suicide bombers drove vehicles packed with explosives up to the gates of Abu Ghraib and detonated them.  This opened the way for assault forces moving into the compound, while other fighters brought the guards under small arms, mortar, and RPG fire.  Still others set up blocking positions on the roads to fend off reinforcements.  More fighters, wearing suicide vests, were reported going into the prison to free the prisoners.  A report from Al Akhbar says that the attack only started after the prisoners began rioting, suggesting there were communications from inside the prison before the assault.  Given a history of turncoats in the Iraqi Security Forces, particularly the Iraqi Police (though nowhere near the level of Afghanistan), this should come as no surprise.

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al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen: The Muslim Brotherhood

“Allah is our objective; the Quran our constitution; the Prophet is our leader; struggle is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

In 1924, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey and the ascension of Ataturk to the leadership of a new secular government, ended the Islamic Caliphate. The Caliphate had been led by Istanbul for centuries, even though its power had steadily waned after the disastrous defeat of Muslim forces by the Poles at the siege of Vienna in 1683. With the establishment of secular rule in Turkey, there was no longer a single Islamic political power.

The reaction to the loss of the Caliphate led to two major Islamist movements, both of which, along with their successor groups, are still making their presence felt today. The first was the Wahabi sect in Saudi Arabia, which soon became the guiding ideology of the House of Saud, and remains the backbone of Salafist ideology to this day. Wahabism grew out of the tribal Bedouin society of the Arabian Peninsula and soon became what Walid Phares calls “Top-Down jihad.”

The second group to emerge in the pursuit of a new Caliphate was “al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen,” the “Society of Muslim Brothers.” Founded in 1928 by an Egyptian schoolteacher, Hassan al-Banna, it stated its purpose from the outset–shariah law and the restoration of the Islamic Caliphate. The quote at the top of the page is from the Muslim Brotherhood’s mission statement.

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Jimmie Howard, Recon Legend

Jimmie Earl Howard enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1950 at the age of 21. He graduated from boot camp in January, 1951 and was promoted to PFC. He then stayed on MCRD San Diego as a drill instructor until December, 1951. (The Marine Corps operated a little differently then.)

In February, 1952, he was deployed to Korea as a forward observer for the 4.2″ Mortar Platoon, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. While in Korea, in defense of “an important hill position” (not specified in the citation), then-Corporal Howard not only called in effective mortar and artillery fire on attacking North Korean (and presumably Chinese; again, the citation doesn’t say) forces, but engaged in close combat to hold his forward observer position. After he was relieved by another FO, Howard set to helping evacuate the wounded and carry ammunition and supplies until he was knocked out twice by enemy mortar fire. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions. He also received two Purple Hearts.

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Couple of Items

The first round of copies for my illegible scrawl have shipped.  I’ll have the links up here to order them once I get them.

I’ve also started working on getting Audible versions done.  Don’t get too excited yet; there’s still a long way to go.  But it’s likely going to happen.

Signed Copies

I’ve gotten a couple of requests for signed copies of Task Force Desperate and Hunting in the Shadows.  Since I’m not sure what kind of demand there is, before I order any copies, I’d like to hear from you if you’d be interested.  It would be the cover price plus $5.00 shipping and handling.  Once I get an idea of how many are interested, I can start ordering, and I’ll put up a post for you to buy them.

Foreign Fighters in Syria: The Muhajireen Army

The Jaysh al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (The Army of Emigrants and Helpers) was officially formed at the end of March, 2013.  It began as three different groups, including the Kataeb al-Muhajireen (The Brigade of Emigrants), the Kataeb al Khattab (The Brigade of Khattab), and the Jaysh Muhammad (Army of Muhammad).  The latter two were Syrian groups, while the first consisted of Chechens, Turks, Tajiks, Pakistanis, French, Egyptians, Moroccans, and others.  A group of jihadists, including Chechens and Bangladeshis, were arrested in London in October 2012, planning to join the Muhajireen Brigade, and in March, a Swedish jihadist known as Abu Kamal as Swedee was killed while fighting with the Brigade.

Read the rest on SOFREP.