Brian Conley and Muhammad Zaher
BAGHDAD, May 16 (IPS) - Call them terrorists, call them resistance fighters. A significant member of one such group spoke to IPS about why he joined.
Abu Ayoub, a 35-year-old living in Baghdad, is a member of the Islamic Army. He spoke to IPS in the Adhamiya neighbourhood..
“When the occupation forces entered Baghdad, they killed my brother in front of my eyes. He was wounded and bleeding but the occupation forces didn’t allow me to save him. When I tried to save him they began shooting at me and after a few minutes my brother died. After that I swore to fight them to the death.”
Many resistance groups have been identified since the beginning of the war in March 2003. They range from the well-known Ansar al-Sunna, first noticed in northern Iraq after its members fled Afghanistan, to smaller groups like the Revenge Brigade involved in the kidnapping of Jill Carroll, correspondent with the Christian Science Monitor..
“I think 80 percent are from the Islamic resistance, because Islam orders Muslims to fight against the enemy and against everyone who came to occupy our country,” Ayoub said.
After his brother was killed, friends just came up to support him in his resistance fight, he said. “At first I was fighting in a small group, because we didn’t trust many people to join with us. But now, after three years fighting, we became part of Islamic Army. Now everything has become organised, we make good plans before any attack.”
There are some groups, both Sunni and Shia, who believe the time for violent resistance has passed, Ayoub said. Sunni groups such as the Iraqi Accordance Front, the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Muslim Scholars Association seem to be pushing for a political process, and participated in the December elections.
But the Islamic Army will never negotiate with the United States or the Iraqi government, Abu Ayoub told IPS. He believes negotiators with the coalition and Iraqi government include only resistance fighters from the Ba’ath party.
“The Ba’ath resistance fight for Saddam, not for Islam or for Iraq. We are against this. They aren’t representative of the Iraqi resistance.”
Abu Ayoub believes that the occupation cannot be ended either by a political process or by other peaceful means. Only Iraqis fighting back can liberate Iraq, he says.
“The occupation forces will discover after this negotiation that nothing will change. The resistance will grow more and more till the end of occupation. They came by force, and they will never leave, except by force.”
Ayoub said he is not allowed to say how he joined the Islamic Army. But he was willing to say a little about his organisation. “The Islamic army is very big and we fight all over Iraq. We have groups everywhere in Iraq, but I have no connection with other groups. Only our leaders have connections between each other, this is for our security.”
Abu Ayoub said that after he joined the Islamic Army it was much easier to receive support such as guns. He told IPS there are “special people” whose work it is to bring weapons. His duty is only to fight the enemy, he said.
When asked why he was fighting the U.S. forces, he said: “I want you to ask this question to the U.S. forces, not to me. They came from the other side of the world and crossed the ocean to occupy my country. Bush and Blair lied to all the world when they spoke about weapons of mass destruction. All the world knew very well their governments were lying, but no country said ‘no’. Most of the world supported them to occupy my country.”
Ayoub dismisses claims by U.S. President George W. Bush parroted closely by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that their goal in Iraq is to establish democracy and liberate the Iraqi people.
“They don’t have credibility, they came to Iraq for many reasons, to destroy Islam, steal oil, save the east front of Israel, control the Middle East and establish bases near Iran and Russia. I want to ask them, ‘where is the democracy?’ Three years of occupation and Iraqi condition is from bad to worse.”
Ayoub is not just angry with the coalition forces. He believes it was wrong for Iraqis to join the new army or police force.
“They are not a real army like the Iraqi Army before the occupation. The occupation forces built this new army to protect them from resistance. I think any honest Iraqi should not join this fake army.”
The army was acting against the people, he said. “You can see what they did in Fallujah. They were like a hand of the occupation. They killed many innocent people there and they did that in many other cities in Iraq, like Ramadi, Tal Afar, Hit, Rawa and Haditha. Go there and see how many children, old men and women were killed by the Iraqi Army’s hand.”
Abu Ayoub believes the police should be called the militia. “Ninety-five percent of them are Shia and work with the Badr militia, and they work for Iran’s benefit. They killed many Sunni people just because they were Sunni, to create tensions between Sunni and Shia, and to make civil war after.”
But Ayoub believes it is still not right to attack members of the Iraqi army and police. “First we must liberate Iraq from occupation forces and then we can judge each one of them who committed crimes.”
There will be no civil war in Iraq if the occupation retreats, Abu Ayoub says. “We will control Iraq and push out all the militias and Iraqi politicians who came on American tanks. Then we will find many honest Iraqi politicians to lead Iraq. But for now you can see how the Iraqi people are between two hammers, the occupation and the militia — or even the Iraqi government, because they support them.”