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Michael Yon’s latest dispatch from Baqubah
Posted by: McQ on Monday, June 25, 2007

Again, I remind you that he is reporting about one operation in the larger operation known as Phantom Thunder. Operation Arrowhead Ripper is the retaking of Baqubah, a town in Diyala province which al-Qaeda had declared its capitol in Iraq. We're talking about, at most, 3 of the 25 brigade size units presently engaged in Operation Phantom Thunder.

Yon clarifies his point about the Iraqi forces there seeming to be fairly pleased with what he sees from the Iraqi 5th Army division, but not at all pleased with the police forces there. Some very interesting insight about al Qaeda's reign of terror there as well ... such as cutting off two fingers of anyone caught smoking.

Also an interesting aside about birdwatching. Yes, that's right, birdwatching.
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This is great reporting by Michael Yon. And, pardon the extended quotation, but the following excerpt from Yon’s latest post demonstrates why we will not lose this struggle, despite ourselves:
Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had tarnished its name here by publicly attacking and murdering children, videotaping beheadings, all while imposing harsh punishments on Iraqi civilians found guilty of violating morality laws prohibiting activities like smoking. The AQI installed Sharia court had sanctioned the amputation of the two “smoking fingers” for those who violated anti-smoking laws. In part because local sentiment was shifting against it, AQI synthesized with other groups and undertook an image makeover, christening itself “The Islamic State of Iraq.” But the new name was just lipstick on a pig here.

On the evening of the 24th I spoke with a local Iraqi official, Colonel Faik, who said the Muftis would order the severance of the two fingers used to hold a cigarette for any Iraqis caught smoking. Other reports, from here in Diyala and also in Anbar, allege that smokers are murdered by AQI. Most Iraqis smoke and this particular prohibition appeared to have earned the ire of many locals. After an American unit cleared an apartment complex on the 23rd, LTC Smiley, the battalion commander, reported that residents didn’t ask for food and water, but cigarettes. In other parts of Baqubah, people have been celebrating the routing of AQI by lighting up and smoking cigarettes.

Other AQI edicts included beatings for men who refused to grow beards, and corporal punishments for obscene sexual suggestiveness, defined by such “loose” behavior as carrying tomatoes and cucumbers in the same bag. These fatwas were not eagerly embraced by most Iraqis, and the taint traveled back to the Muftis who sat in supreme judgment. Locals, who are increasingly helpful in pointing out and celebrating the downfall of AQI here, said that during the initial Arrowhead Ripper attack the morning of the 19th, AQI murdered five men. Townsend’s men found the buried corpses behind an AQI prison, exactly where they’d been told to look for the group grave. Locals also directed Townsend’s men to a torture house. Peering through a window, American soldiers saw knives, swords, bindings and drills. AQI is well-known for its macabre eagerness to drill into kneecaps, elbows, ribs, skulls, and other parts of victims.
Just how appealing is life under the reign described above?
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
This is great reporting by Michael Yon. And, pardon the extended quotation, but the following excerpt from Yon’s latest post demonstrates why we will not lose this struggle, despite ourselve
Yes — al qaeda and such extremist elements cannot win because ultimately their brand of "Islam" isn’t anywhere close to what most people in the region believe. We shouldn’t lose sight of that and think that somehow western civilization is under some kind of dire threat. The main battle is within Islam and the extremists hold a very weak hand. We just need to make sure we don’t defeat ourselves, and many of our policies of the last few years have risked going down that path.
Written By: Scott Erb
The again, before Iraq, Al Qaeda never got a chance to impose this stuff on Arab populations - they sort of needed enough rope to hang themselves. I wonder how we could get more of this info out to the Arab world?

p.s. Maybe California will pass a similar law to get the last few smokers there to quit? ;) And Laurie David can cut of the hands of SUV drivers?
Written By: Harun
URL: http://

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