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Journalist: Insurgents are reorganizing

Time magazine correspondent Michael Ware
Time magazine correspondent Michael Ware

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- While U.S. forces turn up the heat on insurgents in Iraq, some guerrilla cells are reorganizing, says Time magazine's Michael Ware, one of the few Western journalists to have met with insurgents, in a conversation from Baghdad with CNN anchor Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: We are watching a sharp uptick in the activity against the insurgents. What is your sense of the direction U.S. forces, the coalition, are headed now against the insurgents, and their likely success?

WARE: Well, it's still going be a very long road from everything I can tell. It's clear that there has been an upsurge, but to some degree, given that there's been an increase in the number of suicide bombings, perhaps some of the foreign element, which though small is potent, has picked up the ball and is run with it.

Some of the Iraqi cells that I am familiar with -- I know two of them have suspended their operations temporarily to assess the new American tactics, while others have gone out and unleashed a new wave of attacks. But [it is] a period of reconstitution -- they're reorganizing and watching how things develop in the days and weeks to come.

DOBBS: You have actually spent time with the insurgents in a remarkable a piece in this week's Time magazine, reporting deftly the mind-set of a number of the insurgents, or the terrorists in some cases. This is hardly a homogeneous group who formed the insurgency in Iraq. Of them, who would you judge to be the most dangerous? (TIME.com: Life behind enemy lines)

WARE: Well, certainly in terms of high-profile political strikes like suicide bombings and car bombings on embassies, hotels and other installation -- from what I can gather this is being conducted by foreign jihadis. However, they're not operating alone. While they'll plan and conduct the operation, they're doing it with the logistical support of Iraqi units or fighters. However, the day-to-day drip feed of attacks is very much a homegrown Iraqi affair, and this continues.

DOBBS: The striking thing in your report this week is the mind-set of the radical Islamic suicide bomber -- in partnership with the Baathists, with no ideological connection other than a hatred of Americans. How do you think that will play out? Is that an alliance that can stand a test of U.S. force and time?

WARE: I think it will hold as long as they all perceive that they still have a common enemy. However, there are strong divisions between these groups, even within organizations operating together.

For example, a Fedayeen commander of Saddam's former militia was saying that he's prepared to sacrifice 10 Iraqis for one dead American. Well, his former mujahedeen, former military officers, objected to this. And at the end of an argument, the Fedayeen commander jokingly said, "When the last American leaves, I'll begin killing the mujahedeen." Well, by the looks on their faces, not if they get him first.


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