US troops detained a senior al-Qaida operative in Iraq on December 9 with the help of local citizens in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, the marines said.
Amir Khalaf Fanus, known locally as The Butcher, was handed in by Iraqi civilians at an Iraqi and US military base in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, a statement said.
“He is the highest ranking member of al-Qaida in Iraq member to be turned over by local citizens,” the US military said.
The statement did not say how the citizens apprehended Fanus, who according to the marines belonged to al-Qaida in Iraq and was wanted for criminal activities, including murder and hostage-taking.
Sources from the US army told Aljazeera.net that the Tips Line, which is a phone number in Ramadi where citizens can report criminal activity, has been receiving increasing calls that resulted in information that led to either arrests, discovery of weapons caches and roadside bombs.
Jihad or resistance?
The source said calls have increased a little more than 20% for the months of October to November. However, the source said that a lot of calls do not prove to be accurate.
Analysists believe that there is indeed a clash of interest between Iraqi fighters and al-Zarqawi group, which mainly consists of non-Iraqi fighters.
A hooded fighter caught with
Shafiq Shuqair, a Lebanese researcher specialising in al-Qaida affairs, said the falling out between al-Qaida members and Iraqis had been expected.
“Al-Qaida people who endorse the extreme Salafi thought have nothing to do with the notion of resistance against an occupier. They are interested in one thing – jihad, that is, fighting those who they label as infidels,” he said.
“When they moved in Iraq and started to fight the US army there, they were fighting infidels not occupiers, and that led them to justify for themselves the killing of everyone aiding the infidels from their point of view.”
Extremists have fought “infidel” governments in such Arab and Muslim countries as Algeria, Egypt and Syria.
“Now the question is, if the Iraqi resistance wins, and a new Iraqi government consists of nationalists and resistance members, but they do not adopt the version of Islam that al-Zarqawi believes in, which is a Taliban-style government, will al-Zarqawi stop fighting in Iraq? The answer is no,” Shuqair said.
For his part, Muhamad Ayash al-Kubaisi, spokesman of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, cast doubt on the US military’s claim about al-Qaida fighters.
“Although I am from Anbar governorate, I have not heard about people there handing over fighters from al-Qaida to the US and Iraqi forces,” he told Aljazeera.net.
“Al-Qaida people who endorse the extreme Salafi thought have nothing to do with the notion of resistance against an occupier”
Al-Kubaisi said the situation is very complicated in Iraq and people might be using fake identities for different purposes.
Some detaineees have been using fake identities to avoid prosecution for criminal activities such as theft and instead are accepting charges of political motives.
“Many criminals involved in murder, theft and armed robbery claimed they belonged to al-Zarqawi group or Iraqi resistance when they were arrested to give their cases political aspect and avoid being convicted as criminals,” Al-Kubaisi said.
Likewise, Jordanian political analyst and researcher Hasan Abu Haniya, a specialist in Islamic movements, says he does not believe that there is any change of attitude in Anbar.
“I really do not know how accurate are the reports which talked about a change of heart in Anbar, but I tend to think it is not accurate,” he told Aljazeera.net.
“I think the organisation (al-Qaida in Iraq) still enjoys support, and promoting such reports is an attempt by the US army to cover its difficult situation in Iraq.“