TCS Daily

The Purposeful Massacre

By Ralph Kinney Bennett - October 26, 2004 12:00 AM

The cold blooded, calculated slaughter of those Iraqi national guardsmen on a lonely road near Baquba in eastern Iraq has brought a troubling new dimension to the war against the Islamofascist terrorists.

It showed a degree of planning one would not associate with a fragmented terrorist organization in hiding and on the run. "It appears that they were ambushed by a large, well-organized force with good intelligence," an Iraqi security official told a Reuters reporter.

It showed that the perpetrators, part of Jordanian ultrajihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terror band, had intelligence available only through infiltration of or clandestine cooperation from the interim Iraqi government's security forces. The executioners apparently knew the exact time the bus convoy was leaving the national guard training base and which of three possible routes south it would take.

It showed a shocking lapse in security by Iraqi authorities -- a failure to protect their own. These young men, headed home for leave to their poor southern villages, were unarmed and unguarded.

It once again showed the voices of Islam to be either mealy-mouthed or silent in the face of such outrage. Voices from "leading clerics" denouncing this murderous act, Muslim against Muslim, are yet to be heard.

But most importantly, although this mass execution may have involved only Iraqis, it was a direct challenge to the United States -- a defiant assertion of a kind of terrorist sovereignty by Al-Qaeda inside Iraq.

The world is watching. What will be America's response to this despicable crime?

It is now more than ever that one hopes there are hidden wheels secretly turning -- that American and coalition intelligence operatives and American forces are moving in ways we know not, to deal with the perpetrators of this and other mass terror killings in Iraq.

Meanwhile, one glaring symbol of this terrorist sovereignty continues to prosper -- the still-unpenetrated bastion from which this massacre was probably planned and put into operation -- the tawdry caliphate of fear called Fallujah.

The awful events of this past weekend are more of the bitter fruit of the farce that has been played over this teeming city of some 300,000 mostly Sunni Arabs for most of this year. When U.S. Marines besieged Fallujah last April, the Iraqi Governing Council, with Washington's acquiescence, objected and cobbled up an agreement that was to re-establish order in the city with the help of a local "militia."

The Marines backed off. Once the threat of an American takeover of the city was removed, the militia, officered mainly with former Saddam Hussein Baath Party operatives, evaporated. The city became a hell hole of insurgency, a staging area for most of the bombing and mortar attacks on Baghdad, about 50 miles away.

It also became the center of what Heritage Foundation Middle East expert James Phillips has called "a Taliban-like regime that has imposed a harsh brand of Sharia (Islamic law) on the populace."

The head of this so-called "Islamic Republic of Fallujah" is Abdallah al-Janabi, a fierce Sunni cleric who appears to have allied himself with al-Zarqawi, the vicious fanatic who believes that not only all non-Muslims should be converted or killed, but all non-Sunni Muslims as well.

It is interesting that the young national guard soldiers slaughtered this past weekend were apparently all Shiites (the more moderate Muslim majority in Iraq) and thus called "apostates" on al-Zarqawi's website. As TCS contributor Stephen Schwartz pointed out recently in his excellent article "Murderous Monotheists," in The Weekly Standard, al-Zarqawi is a self-proclaimed enemy of Muslim apostasy.

Whether al-Zarqawi is under the protection of the self-minted "Emir" of Fallujah, al-Janabi, or vice versa, the presence of both men in this ancient "city of mosques" is an affront to the fledgling Iraqi government and a defiant challenge to the United States.

The trail from the sickening massacre at Baquba leads back to Fallujah. It is not merely a safe haven for al-Zarqawi and his killers, but also a powerful symbol for other Islamic haters and killers of the relative powerlessness of the U.S. His survival in Fallujah may well have been part of the impetus for al-Zarqawi to openly declare his allegiance to Al-Qaeda last week.

Like Afghanistan, this sanctuary must be denied to the forces of evil. Fallujah must fall.


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