Saturday, March 16, 2002

LOUSY NEWS: A Taliban-style militia has emerged in the Kurd-controlled northern area of Iraq, which I think is still patrolled by US and UK planes. They don't sound good:

The group – Ansar al-Islam – emerged just days before the Sept. 11 attacks on the US. It delivered a fatwa, or manifesto, to the citizens in mountain villages against "the blasphemous secularist, political, social, and cultural" society there, according to Kurdish party leaders.

Since, Ansar al-Islam has nearly doubled in size to 700, including Iraqis, Jordanians, Moroccans, Palestinians, and Afghans – a composition similar to the multinational Al Qaeda network. Villagers here claim it has ransacked and razed beauty salons, burned schools for girls, and murdered women in the streets for refusing to wear the burqa. It has seized a Taliban-style enclave of 4,000 civilians and several villages near the Iran border

The article has some speculation that Saddam Hussein may be funding these guys, to destabilize his Kurdish opposition. But the more likely inspiration is Al-Qaeda:

"We have captured two of [Ansar's] bases and found the walls covered with poems and graffiti praising bin Laden and the Sept. 11 attacks on the US," says Mustapha Saed Qada, a PUK commander. "In one, there is a picture of the twin towers with a drawing of bin Laden standing on the top holding a Kalashnikov rifle in one hand and a knife in the other." He adds that the group has received $600,000 from the bin Laden network, and a delivery of weapons and Toyota landcruisers.

In an interview with the Kurdish newspaper Hawlati, the group's leader, Mala Kreker, declared bin Laden the "crown on the head of the Islamic nation."

You can tell they're trouble because their first priority is oppressing women. Of course, can a Taliban-style group take over a relatively stable area like Kurdish Iraq? They succeeded in Afghanistan because, I've heard, people were sick of fighting for twenty years straight. Maybe they don't have a chance in a place that already has beauty salons. Or in a place of obvious interest to the United States, of course, though I don't think our government considers anyplace beneath its interest anymore.

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