Rumblings From Inside Fallujah

From Blogs for Bush…



Fallujah residents, most of them now displaced by the fighting, said there were hundreds of non-Iraqi Arabs in town before the offensive began on Monday. However, they added, the ties of brotherhood had mostly unraveled and the remaining foreign fighters had tried to intimidate residents into staying as human shields.

A rebel-allied cleric who goes by the name Sheik Rafaa told Knight Ridder that Iraqi rebels were so infuriated by the disappearance of their foreign allies that one cell had “executed 20 Arab fighters because they left an area they promised to defend.”

Other residents said foreign militants wore out their welcome months ago, when they imposed a Taliban-like interpretation of Islamic law that included public floggings for suspects accused of drinking alcohol or refusing to grow beards. Women who failed to cover their hair or remove their makeup were subjected to public humiliation. Those accused of spying for Americans were executed on the spot, residents said.

The turning point for a young man named Hudaifa came the day he saw a Yemeni fighter whipping an Iraqi in a public square. He recalled his humiliation this week in a conversation with other Fallujah residents now in Baghdad. Still fearful, the men asked that their last names not be published.

“An outsider beating an Iraqi in his own town?” Hudaifa asked, outrage still in his voice. “It’s such a shame for us.”

And, from INDC…



Witnesses described an insurgency fractured by distrust and rivalries between locals and foreigners, and visibly shaken by the thunderous U.S. assault.

The foreigners found slain Thursday in southern Fallujah were described as foot soldiers with Monotheism and Jihad, a guerrilla group headed by Jordanian Abu Musab Zarqawi that now calls itself al Qaeda in Iraq. In the plans developed by insurgent leaders for a coordinated defense of the city, Zarqawi’s fighters were to man bunkers in two neighborhoods, according to witnesses. Others were to be defended by various Iraqi insurgent groups, including the First Army of Mohammad and Ansar al-Sunna Army.

But residents said strains between the local insurgents and the foreigners quickly turned into a deep schism under the intense pressure of the U.S.-led offensive. When a senior Zarqawi commander was found dead of a bullet to the head during the battle, debate ensued over whether he was killed from a distance by a U.S. sniper or at close range by an Iraqi insurgent, residents said.

Residents said everyone in the city, including the insurgents, was stunned by the firepower the Americans brought to the battle. Guerrillas counted 40 armored vehicles approaching their positions as night fell Monday.

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