Islamic State Creates Sharp-Shooter Battalion Inspired By Famous Iraqi Killer Who Took Out 40 Americans In Baghdad — Appears To Be Propaganda Move Aimed At Countering Hit Film – ‘American Sniper’
Robert Verkaik, writing in the January 28, 2015 edition of London’s TheDailyMailOnline, says that the Islamic State “has released the first pictures of its own sniper battalion — in what appears to be propaganda to answer the U.S. hit film — American Sniper.”
“Bearded, as well as clean-shaven members of an eight-man unit are pictured posing with long-range, Russian-made Dragunov sniper rifles in northern Iraq,” Mr. Verkaik wrote. “Adopting the look of an American sniper unit, the fighters are fitted out in khaki uniforms, peaked caps, and ski googles to protect them from the sun.” According to the U.S.-based jihadi tracking organization, SITE, the unit is part of the Ninewa Division of Northern Iraq; and, one of 16 administrative regions of the Islamic State that spans Iraq and Syria.
“ISIS snipers have seen action in both Iraq and Syria,” Mr. Verkaik notes — “where they have been responsible for the deaths of many Kurdish and Iraqi soldiers. An ISIS sniper killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Brigadier General Hamid Taqavi in December,” according to Mr. Verkaik, “who was one of a number of Iranian advisers training Shi’ite militias in their fight against ISIS. They [ISIS snipers], have also played a prominent role in the fight for Kobani — which has witnessed intense street fighting,” these past few months.
“ISIS Twitter accounts were quick to link the battalion to the famous Iraqi sniper who plagued American forces during the Iraqi conflict. One said the unit was carrying on the legacy of ‘Juba The Sniper,’ a Sunni insurgent sniper who operated in Baghdad in 2005, where he is said to have killed around 40 American soldiers.” “A shadowy figure, Juba claimed to be a soldier in the Sunni insurgent Islamic Army in Iraq, (IAI), which included former members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, his intelligence services, and officers of the Republican Guard. His skills with a rifle reportedly allowed him to hit targets from 200 meters away,” Mr. Verkaik wrote.
“Videos of Juba’s exploits were seen at the time as an important step in the development of the insurgents’ propaganda; and, their ability to personalize the killing of coalition soldiers — a radical departure from earlier clips of the IED explosions and random car bombs that had been the hallmark of the insurgency. His videos also included direct threats to then POTUS Bush. “I have nine bullets in this gun; and, I have a present for George Bush.’ Juba tells the camera in one video. I am going to kill nine people.”
“In the close-quarter, urban combat of Baghdad and Fallujah, exposed U.S. soldiers were known to be highly vulnerable to sniper attacks; and, a skilled marksman hunting them in the labyrinthine backstreets of Iraqi cities — took its toll on the American troops’ psyche,” Mr. Verkaik observed. “He’s good,” Specialist Travis Burress, an American sniper based in Camp Rustamiyah near Baghdad in 2006 said. “Every time we dismount, I’m sure everyone has got him in the back of their minds. He is a serious threat to us.” “He definitely knows what to do with a rifle,” Major John Plaster, a retired Green Beret sniper instructor told ABC News in 2006. He has the judgment and discipline, to take a shot — wisely choose an escape route, and immediately depart to avoid capture. This is not a zealot, this is a calculated shooter.”
“He waited for soldiers to dismount, or stand up in a Humvee turret, before aiming for gaps in their body armor, the lower spine, ribs, or above the chest,” Mr. Verkaik added. “The big concern is that there’s a school somewhere that ready to turn out more of these people,” former Green Beret Major John Plaster said in the 2006 ABC News interview. Debates about Juba’s whereabouts, or his existence continue to this day. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced in 2006, that it had captured an insurgent known as Ali Nazar al-Jubori (aka, Mazer al-Jubori),claimed he was the famed Iraqi sniper. Many claim he may not have been the individual; but, a composite of various people, while others say he may have been a figment of their imagination.”
“Juba the Sniper?” “He’s a product of the U.S. military,” said Captain Hobbs, in an interview with the military publication, Stars And Stripes, in 2007. “We built this myth ourselves.”
“Most experts agree that the death toll attributed to Juba is far-fetched; but, his story continues to resonate,” to this day TheDailyMailOnline reported. “Last year, ISIS took possession of a giant,10 foot-long sniper rifle. it is so big that it has to be supported on two tripods; and, fires ammunition three times of the standard rifle ammunition. An Islamic State terrorist has been photographed aiming it out of a flat window in Kobane, the scene of intense fighting between Kurdish and Islamic State forces.”
“What sort of effect this weapon/gun would have is open to debate,” Mr. Verkaik wrote, “however, according to firearms expert David Dyson, “the problem with identifying the effect of this weapon — is firstly, we don’t know for sure what the caliber is, although there wouldn’t be a lot of point in building something like this — if it wasn’t of a significant caliber. Secondly, and probably of more importance, we don’t know how well it is made. Is the barrel accurately machined and rifled? The effect will also depend on the ammunition used. These rounds (23mm) exist fitted with high explosive incendiary, or armor piercing incendiary projectiles. They will be effective against personnel and vehicles including lightly armored ones.”
Out Of The Mountains: The Coming Age Of The Urban Guerrilla
This issue of urban warfare, and close, alley way, apartment-to-apartment type combat engagements is what military futurist and strategist David Kilcullen foresees in the coming decades. In his thought-provoking 2013 book, Out Of The Mountains: The Coming Age Of The Urban Guerrilla.” He contends that “we’re moving away from the remote and rural terrain on which guerrilla warfare has historically, often been fought, — the future of modern conflict will that will be urban, fought in close-knit, congested, but highly networked/digital but marginalized slums, and mostly concentrated along the worlds coasts, and, not in areas like Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Kilcullen projects a future of feral cities, urban systems under stress, and increasing overlaps between crime and war, internal and external threats, and the real and virtual worlds. A concrete hell, if you will. If he’s right, then the ISIS sniper will become more and more the norm, unfortunately. That’s one reason that miniature and micro ‘combat’ and spy drones, will also increase in use, and demand.
And, this is a pretty savvy propaganda/information operations initiative by the Islamic State. V/R, RCP