The emergence in Iraq of more effective shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and anti-aircraft gunfire in Iraq is a development discussed yesterday by Ralph Peters in his New York Post column. I understand that the surface-to-air missiles are SAM-16s. I also understand that the weapons that recently brought down the four helicopters involve some kind of clustered anti-aircraft gunfire. Consistent with Peters’s reporting, I understand that the SAMs and other new anti-aircraft weapons come from Iran.
The linked CNN story on the helicopter downings quotes a statement regarding the weapons from the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq. In today’s New York Sun, Nibras Kazimi reports on the emergence of al Qaeda’s new man in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. (The name sounds like a nom de guerre that can be translated as Daddy Baghdadi.) Al-Baghdadi leads al Qaeda in Iraq in a front group called “the Islamic State of Iraq.” According to Kazimi, al Qaeda has taken over the Sunni insurgency and issued a demand for American surrender:
“We order you to withdraw your forces immediately. But the withdrawal must be via troop transport trucks and passenger planes whereby each soldier is allowed to carry his own weapon only. They may not withdraw any of the heavy military equipment and the military bases must be handed over to the mujaheddin of the Islamic State and the duration of the withdrawal may not exceed a month.”
Kazimi comments: “Not very favorable terms, but I wonder whether some in the Senate would go for it anyway.”