[Editor’s Note: This entry is written with notes from a conversation with correspondent Alaa, who is based in the Adhamiya neighborhood of Baghdad. Today The US forces, along with new volunteers for what has been called the “Awakening,” or Al-Sahwa, entered Adhamiya in the open for the first time, and this is Alaa’s account of what happened.]
Alaa is one of our new correspondents based in Adhamiya, he has been unable to produce material for awhile now, because of the dangerous times in Adhamiya lately. He has reported to me in the past of a secret war going on between Al-Sahwa and Al-Qa’eda, killings happening in secret, with both groups targetting people for assassination or capture.
Today, for the first time Al-Sahwa came to Adhamiya in force and in the open. Apparently members of Al-Sahwa went to the Abu Hanifa Mosque, where most of Adhamiya’s leadership can be found, to request their assistance in fighting Al-Qa’eda in the neighborhood. Alaa emailed me today about this, and I called him today to get a better account by phone. This event does not seem to have been reported elsewhere in the media yet, and we believe Alive in Baghdad may have the first account of the Adhamiya “Awakening Council” establishing itself by force and in the open in Adhamiya.
Here it is in Alaa’s own words:
“They surrounded Adhamiya, like a wall, they were supported by the US and Iraqi troops, and there was more than 150 soldiers of Al-Sahwa forces. they came at the same time, setting up checkpoints, challenging Al-Qa’eda by firing in the air to frighten them. They fired in the air and waited for Qa’eda and Al-Qa’eda fought at first, but then they stopped after just a few minutes, maybe Al-Qa’eda changed their mine and they will fight in another time.
Al-Sahwa troops have just some small guns like the Kalashnikov and BKC, simple guns, but you know Al-Qaeda is armed with the RPG, but there are just a few numbers of Al-Qa’eda [in Adhamiya now] and a large number of Al-Sahwa. They have a lot of support from the Americans, so I think that is why Qa’eda changed and just disappeared, and Al-Sahwa made new checkpoints in Adhamiya.
They are checking each of the cars on the road, searching everything. But Adhamiya’s people think there will be more fighting with Qa’eda fighters in the near future. And for sure Qa’eda will fight, because Al-Sahwa forces have a list of names, and they arrested 20 people already. This will make a bigger problem in the next days.
The Adhamiya people started to hate Qa’eda because they are killing Shi’a people without reason, and they are just killing people and murdering, and butchering people and tha’ts why they started to hate them. Also, you know some of Al-Sahwa force is from Adhamiya, they hide their faces-but we know they are from Adhamiya, because they are joking with some people in the streets.
They hide their faces, but we know they are from Adhamiya. Al-Qa’eda is still here, and working in secret, but Al-Sahwa will finish Al-Qa’eda. I think they will disappear like in Ramadi, maybe this will be the last few weeks for Qa’eda in Adhamiya.”