Friday, January 25, 2008

Iraq Law Of Survival


Iraq Diary: The law of survival

By Hodel Abdel-Hamid

We just returned from the province of Diyala and it feels good to
be back in the relative safety of Baghdad.

We went with the US military's 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Unit to
visit the town of Himbis and the villages of Tahya and Abu Musa
north of Baghdad.

They lie in an area referred to by the Americans as the bread basket
along the Diyala river. The region, which is full of palm trees, is referred
to by the Iraqis as Barwana.

One of our producers is from Diyala and he has never heard nor visited
any of these places. But apparently al-Qaeda has been happily operating
from there.

Northern desert

On a cold, but sunny day we arrived at FOB (forward operating base)
Normandy by military helicopter, which had flown very low as it
departed Baghdad, before heading out to the desert to the north.

The American soldiers here say they have managed to "liberate" a few
of the villages from al-Qaeda's influence. The colonel tells us al-Qaeda
fighters are still lurking around but they are keeping a low profile at the
moment. Others fled further northwards, towards Mosul.

It has been the same pattern for the past five years - the US military
clears one area and al-Qaeda pops up somewhere else.

Soldiers do admit that their enemy is sophisticated. Along the
route, stuck in the back of a Stryker tank, one of them tells me that
they arrested a man who had graduated from the prestigious
Massachusetts Institute of Technology before returning to
Diyala to fight.

He had managed to crack into the US military's local communication system.

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