RealNews

Analysis: Who are the Fedayeen Saddam?

One of the greatest surprises of the war so far has been the unexpectedly stiff resistance put up in the south by Iraqi irregulars, principally the so-called Fedayeen Saddam. Who are these militiamen, who have been seen parading in ninja-style black uniforms that leave only their eyes visible? Fedayeen in classical Arabic literally means “one who is prepared to die,” but the word is more generally used to describe guerilla fighters, with connotations of loyalty and ferocity. The armed wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1960s was known as the Fedayeen, for instance. The Fedayeen Saddam was established in October 1994, said Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank originally set up by the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC. He said the date — earlier than the 1995 origin cited by many others — came from Al-Thawra, the Iraqi government newspaper. No one knows how numerous they are today, he added, but estimates vary between 20,000 and 60,000. “The membership of this kind of group is fluid,” he said. Full Story

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