August 01, 2004

From Home to Grave


From the Houston Chronicle: Pregnant al Sadr commander an unlikely warrior in Iraq.

Umm Muhammad's green eyes flashed one day last week as she listened to the imam at a run-down Baghdad mosque preach about how women should be silent and unseen, traveling only "from the home to the grave."

She knew the edict didn't apply to her; the same imam had blessed her before battle when she became one of the first female commanders in rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi's Army militia.

"Even my husband didn't know I was fighting, or he pretended not to know," Muhammad, 34, said. "He tells me, 'One day you're going to go and never come back.' I tell him I dream of martyrdom."

The article bends over backwards to put the best possible spin on the fact that women, mothers even, are volunteering to blow themselves up to murder other people -- and planning to train their kids to do the same. The words "terror" or "terrorism" don't even appear in the article. These new female terrorists are "soldiers" and "warriors." It's as if we're to take these developments as a positive sign that feminism is taking hold among Islamists in Iraq. And "rebel cleric"? Al-Sadr is wanted for murder by the Iraqi government. Apparently the writer didn't think that little fact was relevant.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran basically the same article as above. But The Detroit Free Press ran another version that had this tidbit:

Women fought alongside men during al-Sadr's uprising against U.S. forces in April, and at least two female guerrillas died in combat. Their funeral banners proclaimed them shaheeda, the feminine form of the Arabic word for martyr.

Sabriya Beqal, a 50-year-old mother of eight, was killed by U.S. fire last month as she was bringing water to the Mahdi's Army fighters camped out in her courtyard, her family said. Her sons and other militiamen carried her coffin to the cemetery and noted the shock of passersby who overheard that the fallen fighter was a woman.

"No less than 10 Americans will be killed to avenge my mother," said Beqal's 25-year-old son, Ahmed. "She was such an honor for us. All my friends wish their mothers could be martyrs, too. When we're all dead, we know the women will still be there, fighting."

It's been said before, but if so many of the enemy are wishing for martyrdom, we ought to help them reach their goal before they have a chance to take others with them.

UPDATE: The BBC reports: Fighting flares around Sadr home.

US armoured vehicles cordoned off the Zahra neighbourhood, reports said. The sounds of heavy gunfire, mortar shelling and grenade blasts followed. Witnesses told AP news agency Mr Sadr was in the house at the time. US forces are now said to have withdrawn.

Mr Sadr led uprisings against coalition forces in several cities in April before a truce was agreed. Over the last few weeks, Mr Sadr's fiery rhetoric against the US presence had softened, and he had pledged to lead a peaceful campaign of resistance.

Apparently, coalition troops have not given up on getting al-Sadr, truce or no truce. We certainly know that al-Sadr's pledge for "a peaceful campaign of resistance" is a crock. Why else would he need the women's suicide brigade?

The article does mention the arrest warrant and shows why compromising with such people is a mistake.

A ceasefire was reached in June and earlier this month the newspaper was allowed to resume publishing. During truce negotiations earlier in the year, Iraqi officials had said Mr Sadr would not face arrest despite an arrest warrant issued over the murder of a rival cleric.

So not only is he getting away with murder, but now he can re-launch his Islamist, anti-American newspaper. Despite the losses in his army, al-Sadr appears to have won politically. That is, unless our troops can get to him.

UPDATE August 5: CNN reports: U.S., Iraqi forces battle cleric's militia in Najaf.

Posted by Forkum at August 1, 2004 08:50 PM