I hope Abu Abed moves into Ned Parker’s neighborhood
Last August, I made the following prediction about the eventual fate of ex-insurgents that came to be known nowadays as the ‘Sons of Iraq’:
They may be arming the insurgents for the time being, but these murderers may have to be the ones who need to be airlifted out when the Americans eventually withdraw in order to dodge reprisals. It’s quite a prospect to consider: former insurgents being resettled in Minnesota.Such seems to be the likely fate of Abu al-Abed, the ex-insurgent turned leader of the ‘Knights of Amiriyah,’ who is now in hiding outside of Iraq, dodging arrest warrants and preemptive whacking at the hands of his top hoodlums.
In a highly sympathetic portrait drawn by the Los Angeles Times’ Ned Parker, reporting from Amman today, Abu Abed (Saad ‘Uraybi) is depicted as a broken man who’s on the run after being betrayed by his American masters. This story appeals to the leftist sensibilities of anti-war journalists in that it supposedly exposes the perfidy and malice of America’s ‘occupation’ of Iraq, that oft-flogged and very dead equine of Iraq reporting.
The Iraqi government has an arrest warrant out for Abu Abed, relating to the murder of a family of three (allegedly killed after he had turned pro-American) whose corpses were found encased in concrete under some residential garden in Abu Abed's turf. There are tens of other allegations winding their way through the courts regarding Abu Abed’s former role as an insurgent leader in the neighborhood of ‘Amiriya, ranging from mass executions, to abductions for ransom and to sectarian cleansing.
Abu Abed alleges that he had been a mid-level commander of the Islamic Army of Iraq (…a really nasty insurgent outfit that had claimed to kill “thousands” of U.S. soldiers and many more Iraqis; a point unacknowledged in Parker's piece) and before that a junior officer in Saddam’s brutal intelligence services. However, he ostensibly redeemed himself in the eyes of his American patrons by turning against Al-Qaeda/Islamic State of Iraq. But whereas the Americans were so hasty in embracing their former enemies, those Iraqi victims of Abu Abed’s were in no hurry to forgive.
I think this reaction has something to do with one’s outlook to the future. The Americans officers who burnished Abu Abed and his fighters with uniforms, paychecks and media attention are motivated by quick fixes; the Americans get to go home and forget about everything while Iraqis need to sort out the traumas of the Ba’athist/post-Ba’athist past inflicted by the likes of Abu Abed. That’s why Abu Abed gets high marks from his American handlers who spoke to Ned Parker and are quoted extensively in today’s story. And that’s why, for completely different reasons that I cited earlier, Parker can justify turning such a reprehensible subject into an icon: Parker doesn’t delve into the accusations made against Abu Abed, and contradicts himself by suggesting at first that they are motivated by anti-Sunni sectarianism but then writes that the Sunni Islamic Party is behind making those charges against Abu Abed.
But the tables have turned: it is very likely that Abu Abed’s next destination is somewhere in the United States or Western Europe; he’s likely to get asylum and he can use a story such as the one in the Los Angeles Times today to demonstrate that he is indeed the victim in all of this. I don’t know whether Parker is American or British, but I’d like to see him welcome Abu Abed as his next door neighbor; I wonder how comfortable Parker would feel knowing that such an unwholesome character is living down the street, or delivering his pizza, or mowing his lawn (...what else would Abu Abed do for a living? It's not as if there's much career demand for IED expertise). Otherwise, the officers quoted in the piece and their families can invite Abu Abed to pot-luck BBQs on the 4th of July. Oh what fun! Maybe they can form a ‘Knights of Suburbia’ neighborhood watch group. Soccer moms with Obama stickers on their Kalashnikovs! Yaaaaay!
Yes, it is quite macabre of me to make light of Abu Abed's imminent arrival to a community somewhere near you, but the Iraqis who've suffered at the hands of these villains likewise think that America's insistence that Iraqis should re-admit Abu Abed into their midst and their neighborhoods is a very bad joke too.
I don’t have much of a problem with the tribal elements that had been turned into the Awakening Groups; for the most part they had very little to do with the insurgency and opportunistically exploited the security vacuum created when the ‘Zarqawist’-wing of Al-Qaeda decided to create the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq as the resurrected caliphal empire, which set it at doctrinal odds with other jihadist groups. Pretty soon the thugs of the Islamic State of Iraq started beating up on groups such as the Islamic Army (Abu Abed’s ex-outfit) and the 1920 Revolt Brigades demanding submission and a pledge of allegiance to the caliph-in-waiting, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. When other jihadists baulked at this demand, blood began to spill and then gush. Coming at the heels of other factors depleting the insurgency, such an outbreak of jihadist-on-jihadist violence created the necessary breathing space for Sunni tribal leaders—many of whom stood with the new Iraq from the very beginning but had been cowed by Al-Qaeda—to seize the opportunity and attack the much-weakened jihadists, a venture that was supported and bankrolled at first by Maliki’s office before being adopted by American generals.
Whereas I can tolerate the ‘tribals’ for being opportunistic (…in the past their contribution to the insurgency was limited to highway robbery and playing ‘inn-keeper’ to the jihadists), I cannot accept that former insurgent commanders such as Abu Abed who had actively killed so many Iraqis, both under Saddam and afterwards would simply walk-away from their crimes without justice taking its course. And I don’t think that Iraq’s political elite, many of whom lost loved ones, family members and comrades at the hands of these murderers, would ever accept that either.
That’s why, try as they may, the Americans will fail to turn goons such as Abu Abed into ‘acceptable’ political players in Iraq, and are more likely to resettle them back in the United States. Good riddance, until such a time as Iraq and America sign extradition treaties and then Abu Abed, as well as Aiham Alsammarae, can stand trial in Baghdad for their crimes.