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ZamanH
 
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Quote ZamanH Replybullet Topic: Allah’s sniper
    Posted: 02 June 2005 at 12:39pm

The chilling toll of Allah's sniper
Hala Jaber, Baghdad

WITH elbows bandaged and knees padded for comfort, Abu Othman lay face down on a Ramadi rooftop and cradled his Russian-made sniper rifle as he waited for the tall American soldier to appear.

The soldier’s habit of urinating into the street from the top of his Bradley armoured vehicle had angered Sunni Muslim inhabitants of the tree-lined suburb he patrolled. It was not the urinating as such that offended them; it was the way he exposed himself regardless of whether any women were around to see him.

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In the end an old man came forward to demand his death. He complained to insurgents that the soldier had strafed his street, destroying several cars and a trailer at a cost of thousands of dollars.

The insurgents responded by firing a rocket-propelled grenade at the Bradley. It missed. A few days later they tried to blow up the vehicle with a Russian C5K missile. The missile missed, too. That was when they sent for Abu Othman.

It was a long, hot wait that summer’s day on the rooftop. Abu Othman was glad of his headphones. He played his favourite verses from the Koran and their soothing flow cleared his mind, infusing him with a determination to see through the assignment, come what may. He prayed for God to deliver his target.

“Then the call came on my mobile phone, informing me that the soldier and his vehicle were finally heading my way,” he said.

“The moment finally arrived. The Bradley stopped and the soldier stood on it ready to relieve himself. He was relaxed. He put his hand on his trousers. I took aim and fired one shot and saw him drop dead.”

Abu Othman punctuated the story with praise to Allah for his success. “It was the perfect situation for me,” he said. “The soldier was standing and that made him such an easy target.”

In the world of the Iraqi insurgent, Abu Othman — not his real name — is something of a celebrity. Known to all as The Sniper, he is acclaimed for the consistency with which he dispatches victims from ranges of 1,000 metres or more.

The tale of how a humble calligrapher became a renowned marksman by teaching himself from websites, honing his skills with computer games and studying Hollywood films such as The Deer Hunter is the stuff of legend in the Sunni triangle of militant towns to the north and west of Baghdad.

One commander after another had boasted to me of his prowess and when a meeting was finally arranged at a house in the capital’s suburbs last week, the most striking thing about Abu Othman was his unadulterated pride in killing.

He claimed to have killed 29 men in all — 20 Americans and nine Iraqis. “I want to cry when I speak about my work,” he said at one point during an interview that lasted long into the night. “I am so afraid that God will deprive me of this talent that he bestowed upon me.”

Abu Othman’s story reflects the speed with which the US soldiers who ousted Saddam Hussein came to be seen even by some of the dictator’s enemies as occupiers who must be repelled; and the discipline and determination at the core of an outwardly chaotic insurgency that has claimed more than 1,000 American lives.

The son of a senior police officer, he dropped out of school to join Saddam’s army but, to his family’s horror, went absent without leave and lived like a fugitive for years, eventually finding work as a shepherd in the desert that straddles Iraq’s borders with Syria and Jordan.

When Saddam fell, Abu Othman returned to his home town of Falluja with his wife and four children. Soon afterwards came the first outpouring of hostility to US troops in the town. They opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators, killing 13.

The incident stirred in Abu Othman, 30, a potent mix of nationalist fervour and religious zeal. “I decided to do something more with my life,” he said.

Two passions persuaded him that he was destined to be a sniper. He loved to shoot birds and was also a skilled calligrapher, engraving glass with handwritten verses from the Koran. He was convinced that the precision and patience this entailed would serve him well in the insurgency. “Sniping was the most natural thing for me to progress to,” he said.

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He pushed himself hard to make up for what he lacked in education, reading manuals and grasping the rudiments of mathematics and physics required to calculate the range of a target, a bullet’s drop over distance, the impact of wind speed and all the other technical intricacies of sharpshooting.

On the internet he found thousands of pages of information, from operating instructions to “reviews” of rifles by men who had used them in combat.

For months his entertainment included shooting games on his PlayStation. He believes they sharpened his senses. His favourite films included Enemy at the Gates, starring Jude Law as a sniper, and JFK, Oliver Stone’s re-creation of the assassination of John F Kennedy.

Borrowing a sniper rifle, he practised for hours in the desert, firing at wooden targets that he had fashioned in the shape of men. “I practised various distances, from 300 metres to 1,000 metres,” he said. “I trained until I felt ready to go and try my skills in the field.”

It was April last year and American forces were gathering outside Falluja, which by now was seething with militants. Some were local inhabitants intent on defending the “city of 100 mosques” from what they saw as an infidels’ incursion. Others had come to Iraq from various countries to wage jihad.

Carrying another borrowed rifle, Abu Othman volunteered his services to fighters including Omar Hadeed, who would become a senior lieutenant of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq.

“A day or two later they sent me a note asking me to take care of an officer in an American convoy who was involved in negotiating ceasefire conditions with officials from Falluja,” he said.

The insurgents ordered him to a mosque. “I was scared as I made my way there. It was my first mission and my mind was racing: would I get the target or would I not?” He climbed up to the minaret with a member of a surveillance team that had identified the American officer as a target and was able to point him out among a group of soldiers in the street below.

Before setting up his rifle, Abu Othman said takbeers — repeating Allahu akbar (God is greatest) over and over again. “I looked through the scope, worked out the calculations and fired. I saw him drop in the middle of the soldiers, and they began firing at the mosque as we sped downstairs.

“They then fired a rocket at the mosque, which hit the minaret and left a small hole,” he said, evidently furious at the damage to the mosque and seemingly unable to comprehend that his own actions had provoked it.

“The mood in the mosque downstairs was buoyant and spirits were high,” he added. “People and sheikhs hugged me and congratulated me and there were more takbeers.”

Later, the sheikhs treated him to a large lunch where Pepsi flowed like water. “The mood was beautiful and I returned home almost out of my mind with joy.” He received a visit from the fighters that night. “They came with a present,” Abu Othman said excitedly, his face lighting up like that of a child receiving a toy. “They gave me my own personal sniper rifle as a token of their appreciation and a sign of their confidence in my abilities. It was still wrapped in its nylon.”

The weapon was a semi-automatic SVD Dragunov sniper rifle, with a range of more than 1,200 metres. Abu Othman described its technical specifications with affection, using drawings to help him explain various lethal attributes.

The insurgents soon called for him again, this time to “take out” an American sniper on the roof of a house on one of Falluja’s front lines.

He was escorted to another house some distance away that gave him an uninterrupted view of the American’s position behind a small, rooftop wall with an opening through which the soldier was firing intermittently on a group of insurgents, pinning them down.

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Abu Othman had brought with him a home-made dummy head — a painted face on a stick topped off with a chequered headdress. His companion used it to create a diversion while Abu Othman pinpointed the American’s position and made his calculations. “I put my trust in God,” he said. “My only feeling was that I must kill him. Everything was ready. I looked into my scope and saw movement from the hole in the wall. I fired and waited.

“There was silence from his side. I wasn’t even sure whether I’d got him. Some other mujaheddin threw a few grenades at the house where he was positioned and when there was still no response they stormed the place. They found him dead on the rooftop with a bullet in his face.”

The insurgents seized the American’s weapon, which was added to Abu Othman’s armoury.

He killed two more American snipers that week, he said — one of whom had inadvertently shot a girl crossing the street with her father amid the mayhem. US troops eventually withdrew to the town’s perimeter under an agreement that delegated the job of confronting Falluja’s militants to an Iraqi brigade. The militants were to remain in control for a further seven months.

“We were victorious in that battle,” Abu Othman said. “We were overjoyed with our achievements. I had gained a reputation and I was asked to train other snipers in Falluja.”

He produced a pamphlet entitled Increase God’s Mercy by Sniping Americans and a CD-Rom displaying the techniques he had picked up from his research. He also set about training his own unit, 35 strong.

“The Americans spend thousands of dollars training their snipers. I have trained myself and my unit for hardly anything,” he said. “The whole art is based on physics and despite my lack of high education, God has granted me the aptitude to understand it all.”

With his reputation further enhanced, Abu Othman was much in demand from insurgents’ cells in other towns where men from Saddam’s disbanded army and members of his Ba’athist regime teamed up with rebellious desert tribesmen, fierce nationalists, common thugs and roaming fanatics from around the Muslim world to challenge American military might.

The insurgency gained a momentum that was reinforced by al-Zarqawi’s money and highlighted by his talent for horror, manifested through suicide bombings and videotaped beheadings.

Abu Othman said he had eventually resumed hunting. “You went back to hunting birds?” I asked.

“Hunting soldiers — Americans and Iraqis,” he replied.

What drove him to keep killing? “When I snipe at my target and watch him drop, I feel elated — dizzy with ecstasy. I fall on the ground, shouting to God, calling Allahu akbar, for God is indeed great,” he said. “When their snipers kill one of us, we go to heaven as martyrs, but when we kill them they go to hell.”

Asked how he distinguished between his feelings towards American and Iraqi targets, he did not hesitate. “An American kill is more fulfilling than an Iraqi. I am certain it is right and justified. Sometimes I feel a tinge of sadness for the Iraqi, but then I remind myself that by working with the Americans, he is forsaking his religion.”

Fatwas issued by local clerics permitted him to kill fellow Muslims in the police and national guard, he explained.

He said he had killed last summer in Baghdad as well as Falluja and Ramadi, commuting between the three cities with a bag containing his rifle and everything he might need in the event of a long wait for prey: water, an inflatable mattress, a prayer mat and tapes of koranic verses, utensils for cleaning and adjusting his rifle, and a few grenades for good measure.

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Then came the overwhelming second American onslaught on Falluja last November and, for Abu Othman, embarrassment. He left the city on a Sunday morning to bid farewell to his family nearby, only to find himself cut off from his unit when the US offensive began earlier than expected.

“I felt my soul melt away,” he said. “I tried to get in but was fired upon. We still had contact with the inside so I stayed in touch with my men.

“The Lebanese, Abu Falah, killed four Iraqi soldiers, but another one was trapped when his ammunition ran out, so he took the grenades he had and blew himself up next to an American armoured vehicle.

“I wished for death instead of being caught out like that. I lost nine of my unit.”

Still unable to enter Falluja and retrieve his weapon, Abu Othman has not “worked” in three months. But last week he received word that an Italian-made sniper rifle would soon find its way to him. “God is generous and sends what is needed when it is needed,” he said.

According to Abu Othman, many insurgents are regrouping after last month’s elections, appointing new “emirs”, or leaders, at the head of smaller cells cleansed of suspected infiltrators.

Weapons, vehicles and money seem as plentiful as ever. When Abu Othman needs them, he asks a sheikh he has answered to since Hadeed’s reported death in the crushing of Falluja. His superior in turn seeks approval from a senior sheikh who oversees a number of loosely affiliated cells.

The material rewards for Abu Othman appear to be few. In Ramadi the old man who wanted the Bradley soldier dead unexpectedly gave him the equivalent of £3,000. Some of the money was used to pay for lambs to be slaughtered and distributed among the poor, he said. Most of the remainder was eventually spent on rifles and ammunition for his unit.

Abu Othman is eager to return to the fray as soon as his new weapon arrives. “Then I will be back in business again and with this new piece I will be indestructible,” he said.

As for the future, he believes the spiral of violence can be broken, but only after coalition forces withdraw.

“Once they leave Iraq,” he said, “we will resolve our differences with the government peacefully and without bloodshed.

“Until then, there is no room for negotiations.”

 

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1492179_1,00.ht ml

An enemy of an enemy is a fickle friend.
There will be more women in hell than men.
..for persecution is worse than the slaughter of the enemy..(Quran 2:191)
Heaven lies under mother's feet
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Quote Community Replybullet Posted: 03 June 2005 at 10:51pm

What differences with the government does he mean that can be resolved peacefully and without bloodshed as he said? It's kind of hard to accept for him maybe, but the reason the coalition troops are still there is because they keep on fighting. I know alot of US soldiers are not on a high moral ground, what do you expect? If everyone in the US army was on a high moral ground you would have a very small army. And what is wrong with an army officer trying to negotiate the surrender of the insurgents? atleast he was trying to save lives and avoid more bloodshed, and such a man they order to be killed? can someone explain to me what islamic ground these people have for doing this?

 

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Quote Yusuf. Replybullet Posted: 04 June 2005 at 10:36am
Originally posted by Community

What differences with the government does he mean that can be resolved peacefully and without bloodshed as he said? It's kind of hard to accept for him maybe, but the reason the coalition troops are still there is because they keep on fighting. I know alot of US soldiers are not on a high moral ground, what do you expect? If everyone in the US army was on a high moral ground you would have a very small army. And what is wrong with an army officer trying to negotiate the surrender of the insurgents? atleast he was trying to save lives and avoid more bloodshed, and such a man they order to be killed? can someone explain to me what islamic ground these people have for doing this?

 

Assalamu alaikum,

I think a good number of the "insurgents" are actually Baathist loyalists concealing their true intentions, i.e. Saddam's return to power, behind an Islamic veneer.

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Quote Community Replybullet Posted: 04 June 2005 at 11:20am

I agree with you, more over looking into this story i see some inconsistancies, "quote" honing his skills with computer games and studying Hollywood films such as The Deer Hunter is the stuff of legend in the Sunni triangle of militant towns to the north and west of Baghdad". There are no sniper scenes or much fighting scenes in The Deer Hunter, the only scene was at the beginning when a man and his brothers go deer hunting before going to Vietnam, One sees a deer through a scope but does not even shoot it. The movie has very little fighting in it and ends with one of the main characters shooting himself in the head during a game of russian roulette. So how this contributed to this "Abu Othman's" sniping skills i can not see. I think this story is made up, the general ideas in the stories are:1."you like war movies and video games? then you can be a sniper too" focussing on teenagers and young men in an attempt to make them feel confident enough with just a couple of movies and some video games under their belt. Another point of this article is:2." disrespect of the locals will be punished by death.(the man getting shot while urinating from the top of his bradley armoured vehicle)". 3. No Negotiation of surrender(the army of officer who got shot). So it is obvious that  they are losing men, and they just hate it when they lose them to "negotiations" and now they are trying to recruit young people who wish to do something out of the ordinary with their lives, in other words live the movies and video games. What an attempt, and this actually becomes an article in the UK times?

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Quote DavidC Replybullet Posted: 04 June 2005 at 11:58am
Originally posted by Yusuf.

]I think a good number of the "insurgents" are actually
Baathist loyalists concealing their true intentions, i.e. Saddam's return to
power, behind an Islamic veneer.


Whay makes you think that, Yusuf? So many Muslims murdered by Political
activists every day coupled with huge demonstrations about the Qur'an
disrepect?
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Quote Yusuf. Replybullet Posted: 04 June 2005 at 5:48pm

Hi David,

It was so stupid of Bush et al. to think that once Saddam was gone his supporters would just roll over. The whole situation is atrocious and was completely foreseeable by anyone with an ounce of foresight.

Yusuf
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Quote Whisper Replybullet Posted: 13 June 2005 at 10:05am

See! What great Muslims do at such times. Just indulge in royal scholarly leisure. Whoever is doing it shall we just agree on the primary cause of the situation in Eyerack + Afghanistan?

It's the foreigners on ground - the Hang Low Sexnon soldiers on our lands. Period.

Whenever they touch any land it withers, just dris up, loses its spirit and dies. That's why I avoid living in any country where cricket is played or where I may run into any market cultured Hang Low Sexnons.

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Quote ak_m_f Replybullet Posted: 14 December 2005 at 11:54am
how can some-one train on a game?

For months his entertainment included shooting games on his PlayStation. He believes they sharpened his senses. His favourite films included Enemy at the Gates, starring Jude Law as a sniper, and JFK, Oliver Stone’s re-creation of the assassination of John F Kennedy.

This article looks fake to me
US can save a lot of $$$ by closing down the ranges and geting Army hooked to PS2

Edited by ak_m_f
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