From the Bandar Beacon, aka The Washington Post with thanks to Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald.
HAWIJAH, Iraq – After midnight on a bare stretch of highway near this ramshackle town last week, Staff Sgt. Jason Hoover saw what looked like a fishing line strung across the road and ordered his Humvee to a screeching halt.
The cord was connected to an old, Russian artillery shell half-buried in the earthen shoulder and rigged to activate with a firm tug. Hoover traced its path nearly a half-mile though a plowed field, over another highway, and across a canal, where he found four Iraqi infrastructure policemen who were supposed to be guarding an oil pipeline. They said they had no idea what the cord was doing there.
“There’s two kinds of Iraqis here, the ones who help us and the ones who shoot us, and there’s an awful lot of ’em doing both,” said Hoover, 26, of Newark, Ohio. “Is it frustrating? Yes, it’s frustrating. But we can’t just stop working with them.”
The incident is a window on the mixed results of U.S. efforts to train Iraqi forces. American troops trying to tame the restive northern town of Hawijah have done what has proven impossible in many Sunni Arab enclaves: raised a security force from local volunteers. More than 1,500 Iraqi soldiers and 2,000 policemen patrol the area, virtually all of them drawn from the city and the pastoral hamlets that surround it.
But in a town where the local population is hostile to the American presence in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have developed a deep distrust of their Iraqi counterparts following a slew of incidents that suggest the troops they are training are cooperating with their enemies.
The top local Iraqi army commander here was sent to Abu Ghraib prison in November, accused of tipping off insurgents about the routes taken by American convoys, said Lt. Col. Marc Hutson, commander of a Hawijah-based battalion of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division. The city’s police chief was also fired and briefly arrested in January for refusing to go after armed groups.
Earlier this month, a U.S. sniper team caught 14 policemen placing roadside bombs in the nearby town of Riyadh. More than 60 other police officers are named on a watch list of suspected insurgent collaborators, according to U.S. military policemen who train them. And last week a raging fire erupted from a sabotaged oil pipeline 50 feet from a police checkpoint, covering the sky with a blanket of black smoke…