Thursday, January 12, 2006

U.S. Hopes to Exploit Red-on-Red Fighting in Iraq

" 'Al Qaeda killed two people from our group,' said an Islamic Army fighter who uses the nom de guerre Abu Lil and who claimed that he attended the meeting. 'They repeatedly kill our people.'

"The encounter ended angrily. A few days later, the insurgents said, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and the Islamic Army fought a bloody battle on the outskirts of town....

"American and Iraqi officials believe that the conflicts present them with one of the biggest opportunities since the insurgency burst upon Iraq nearly three years ago. They have begun talking with local insurgents, hoping to enlist them to cooperate against Al Qaeda, said Western diplomats, Iraqi officials and an insurgent leader."

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"In town after town, Iraqis and Americans say, local Iraqi insurgents and tribal groups have begun trying to expel Al Qaeda's fighters, and, in some cases, kill them. It is unclear how deeply the split pervades Iraqi society. Iraqi leaders say that in some Iraqi cities, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and local insurgent groups continue to cooperate with one another....

" 'The tribes are fed up with Al Qaeda and they will not tolerate any more,' said a senior Iraqi intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The intelligence official confirmed reports that a Sunni tribe in Samarra had tried and executed Qaeda members for their role in assassinating a local sheik.

" 'It was a beautiful mistake,' the intelligence official said of the sheik's assassination by Al Qaeda. 'Now the tribes will kill Al Qaeda. Now they have the courage.' "

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