Adhamiyah is mostly Sunni. It was a stronghold of support for Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party regime. More recently, it was a stronghold for Al Qaeda in Iraq. Not until Al Qaeda thoroughly ravaged the place did local residents decide the Americans were the lesser of evils.
“Now many of these people,” Major Humphreys said, “many of these Sunnis of Adhamiyah, were former AQI operatives. But the only reason they were out working for Al Qaeda is because they needed sustenance. They needed a paycheck to put food on the table, and AQI provided it. So we provided them with a stable job. Most of them already had their own weapons, so we weren’t arming them. We were just giving them jobs. They go out and they guard their neighborhood. And they say, you know what? We’ve got a stable job here and we’re tired of violence. And AQI, you’re not welcome here anymore.”
Some analysts have described this phenomenon as “buying off” or “bribing” insurgency. This is half true at best. The insurgency did not go away. The leaders were never bought off. Only the opportunists and low-level operatives were. And they weren’t even really bought off. An authentic anti-terrorist movement took hold in Iraq, and some former low-level operatives were given jobs as long as they were deemed to be loyal to the local authorities. Al Qaeda in Iraq still exists. It was never bought off. Its leaders remain fanatically ideological and can’t be bought off or bribed for all the money in the world.
“AQI was forced out of Adhamiyah,” Major Humphreys said. “AQI is no longer welcome. Now granted, AQI is not completely done. There are still elements out there operating. They would like nothing more than to get back in and gain control. But their days are extremely numbered. We recently had a couple of car bomb attacks. That’s AQI trying to re-establish itself. But we’re on the hunt for this car bomb cell. And I think we’re pretty close to getting them thanks to the Iraqi Army and the Sons of Iraq that are getting tips on AQI members. The people won’t allow it, and that broke AQI.”
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