Graffiti warfare in Iraq

Here’s an interesting development in Iraq: graffiti warfare. Sunni residents of Baghdad’s Amiriyah neighborhood are sick and tired of al Qaeda’s bullying, and they aren’t going to take it anymore: Late Wednesday afternoon, according to residents reached by phone who would not be quoted by name for security reasons, an armed group scrawled graffiti on ...

601544_070601_graffiti_05.jpg
601544_070601_graffiti_05.jpg

Here's an interesting development in Iraq: graffiti warfare. Sunni residents of Baghdad's Amiriyah neighborhood are sick and tired of al Qaeda's bullying, and they aren't going to take it anymore:

Late Wednesday afternoon, according to residents reached by phone who would not be quoted by name for security reasons, an armed group scrawled graffiti on a school wall reading: "Down with al-Qaeda, long live the honest resistance." When al-Qaeda in Iraq members came to wipe away the writing, a roadside bomb exploded nearby, killing three of them, residents said.

This story reminded me of a colorful piece by AFP reporter Joseph Krauss, who recently embedded in Samarra with an unusual U.S. Army unit. Their mission? To stir up trouble between mainline insurgents and al Qaeda, using graffiti:

Here’s an interesting development in Iraq: graffiti warfare. Sunni residents of Baghdad’s Amiriyah neighborhood are sick and tired of al Qaeda’s bullying, and they aren’t going to take it anymore:

Late Wednesday afternoon, according to residents reached by phone who would not be quoted by name for security reasons, an armed group scrawled graffiti on a school wall reading: “Down with al-Qaeda, long live the honest resistance.” When al-Qaeda in Iraq members came to wipe away the writing, a roadside bomb exploded nearby, killing three of them, residents said.

This story reminded me of a colorful piece by AFP reporter Joseph Krauss, who recently embedded in Samarra with an unusual U.S. Army unit. Their mission? To stir up trouble between mainline insurgents and al Qaeda, using graffiti:

JOSEPH KRAUSS/AFP

On a dark street in the restive Iraqi town of Samarra a young man masked with a bandana and a baseball cap looks over his shoulder before pulling out an aerosol can and spray-painting across a wall. […]

The young vandal is an army translator […] charged with sowing seeds of strife between the town’s two main insurgent groups, Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic Army of Iraq. […]

Both insurgent groups tag the walls with slogans, threats, and boasts.

Al Qaeda’s street artists write: “The Samarra police are infidels, so we will bring you young men who love martyrdom,” and “We will destroy all those who cooperate with the Americans.”

The Islamic Army scribes write much the same thing, but threaten “the occupiers” instead of the local security forces and collaborators.

[The translator’s] job is to redirect the artistic impulses of each group against the other. “It’s a way to destabilize their unification efforts,” says First Lieutenant Charlie Hodges, who leads one of the graffiti patrols.

I doubt the U.S. military had a hand in the more recent fighting in Baghdad (would they have planned an ambush?), but I’m sure the guys in charge are watching very closely to see how to best exploit the rift throughout Sunni areas of the country.

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