Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bombing For Dollars

StrategyPage has an interesting rundown about how IED gangs work in Iraq. Most of the IEDs deployed are found before they can be employed. If you run StrategyPage's numbers, it looks like it takes about 48 IEDs to kill one US soldier.

The IED gangs are entrepreneurial businesses who will work for anyone, Saddam's old comrades, jihadis, whoever. The IED business is fueled by cash, most likely by the huge amount of cash Saddam's regime looted from Iraq during their reign. There are plenty of unemployed Iraqis who will do anything, ANYTHING, for a buck. Cut the cash flow and the flow of IEDs would wither away.

Says StrategyPage:

The bombs are built and placed by one of several dozen independent gangs, each containing smaller groups of people with different skills. At the head of each gang is a guy called “the money man.” That tells you something about how all this works. Nearly all the people involved with IED gangs are Sunni Arabs, and most of them once worked for Saddam. The gangs hire themselves out to terrorist groups (usually al Qaeda affiliated), as well as Baath Party or Sunni Arab groups that believe the Sunni Arabs should be running the country. You got the money, these gangs got the bombs.

The “money man,” naturally, calls the shots. He hires, individually or as groups, the other specialists. These include scouts (who find the most effective locations to put the bombs), the bomb makers, the emplacers (who place the bomb) and the trigger team, that actually sets the bomb off, and often includes an ambush team, to attack the damaged vehicles with AK-47s and RPGs. The trigger team also usually includes a guy with a video camera, who records the operation. Attacks that fail, are also recorded, for later examination for things that could be improved.

The specialists most in demand are the emplacers. This is the most dangerous job, as coalition and Iraqi troops watch carefully for IEDs being placed, and shoot fast, and to kill, if they see a bomb being planted. Needless to say, the highest casualties are among the emplacers.

Many of these specialist teams are independents, and hire themselves out to the money man who pays the best, or has a reputation for not losing people. Some of these teams have been found advertising on the Internet. Men in each team get from $50 to several hundred bucks for each IED worked on.


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