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Journalist Paul McGeogh discusses Iraq insurg -

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(generated from captions) And just a short time ago, I spoke to the man who was given the insurgent tapes in Baghdad and himself posted them on his paper's website - the 'Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeogh. Paul McGeough, thanks for joining us. Thank you. Now, recently in Baghdad you met two Iraqi insurgents whom you refer to as members of because they regularly video their exploits and put them on the Internet. What's the point of it? What do they get from that, or what do they think they get? They get a range of things. First, they get propaganda. They also get recruiting. They get fundraising and, very importantly, they get training. So it's all of those things, but one of the most important aspects of it is the propaganda, which is a very well-orchestrated campaign across several key insurgency groups to effectively by-pass the Western media, its filters, its qualifications to get their message direct. They were definitely by-passing it on in this case. They went straight to al-Jazeera. On this particular occasion they were asking you

had you seen their footage on al-Jazeera that night of their attack? Yes. They do it for television, for the likes of al-Jazeera, but, more importantly, what we don't see is an amazing Web-based information campaign where people like al-Zarqawi issue up to a dozen statements a day on the course of the war. They go straight out on the Web. He downloads or offers for downloading hour-long films that are being hit by the millions as soon as they are available. Who's the audience? Has somebody worked this out? The intelligence services must have a field day trying to work out

who is accessing these sites? The audience is changing. I spoke to analysts in Washington and in Israel who make it their duty to monitor this stuff as it goes up on the Web. It was put to me that 90% of the material going out has been in the Arabic language until about three weeks ago when al-Zarqawi, in particular, started pumping out a lot of bulletins and information in French and in other European languages. Now the men you met were Iraqis and I dare say they must have been Sunnies as well. Not foreign fighters. I mean, is there any tension between those two groups? There is. There is significant tension and it's one of the best hopes that the Americans see for themselves, which is to try and drive a wedge between, for want of better descriptions, the foreigners, the foreign fundamentalists, and the Iraqis Nationalists within the insurgency groups. There are signs that that is happening in some areas. There have been reports of gunfights between them. But whether it's enough to make a significant difference to the insurgency is a moot point. Do you know or has anyone monitored what the breakdown is in terms of numbers? Yes. Figures aren't available.

They come out regularly. The Brookings Institution publishes a weekly update on every leading indicator that you can think of on Iraq. Their latest figures are that the insurgency consists of about 15-20,000 fighters, perhaps 1,500 of whom might be foreigners. Right. Let's go back to how this all began in a way. I mean, a lot of people have used the Internet for some time. The al-Qaeda group used the Internet. But it was al-Zarqawi who seemed to marry this home video use and in that case very savage home video of almost snuff movies of him beheading hostages. Now, that's moved on, has it, from what we are seeing on the footage in these videos, they seem to be only images of attacking American soldiers? Those are the images that we are seeing, but what's also out there sometimes being stored on international websites, the owners of which don't even know they are being stored there. They are using hacking to go in and squat, if you like, become cyber squatters in vulnerable Web systems around the world and then spread the word by email and other means as to where this information is and it's information on training - how to mount a sniper attack, how to build a home-made bomb, how to take the explosive out of a missile and compact it into another more useable form, how to build a home-made missile launcher. Um, the sort of bin Laden's encyclopaedia of terrorism, 1,500 pages is available to them. What it means is that you don't have to go to Afghanistan or some such country to a training camp any more. It's extraordinary. The material on the tapes that you've been given, much of which we've just seen, has been collected, evidently, over a period of time.

It could be years. Is it a true indication of the strength of the insurgency? The information on these disks is dated variously in 2004 and 2005, but it's part of a greater body of stuff that you can never be certain that the date is correctly set in the cameras, but it's in keeping with what we know of the patterns of behaviour in attacks by the insurgency. So to that extent, we know that it's real. You can look at this sniper sequence and you can't guarantee that the individual who says he's going to shoot nine people has actually shot them, but if you look at the information that's available from various interviews that the American troops have given, that American officials have given, there's no doubt that there are snipers out there and that they cause great angst amongst the American troops. Let's talk about the snipers. That sequence of where the sniper with his face covered comes out and says he's going to give nine presents to George Bush is one of those chilling on all of the tapes. It is. From a purely military point of view, it must be incredibly demoralising for foreign troops in particular to know that they their people are being picked off by snipers. Absolutely.

I mean, there's two things that work in Iraq for the insurgency. One is the road-side bomb. The improvised explosive device, as the Americans have dubbed it, which is a scary thing in terms of when you are out and moving around. If you're the sucker on guard duty somewhere, if you are made to sit out in the relatively exposed waiting for something to happen, looking for something to happen and somebody else is looking for you, that's an unnerving process and it is doubly so if you think of the information that the American officials themselves released last year on a sniper who they arrested. This is virtually the only one they've caught, isn't it? It's the only one that I can find a public acknowledgement of. You get acknowledgement in the ranks of the anxiety amongst the troops about the snipers at work, but this was one where the Americans actually released a detailed account of what they had uncovered and when they gave chase to this sniper and captured him and took possession of the vehicle he was operating from, it turned out it was a small van which the interior had been lined with disposable babies' nappies to muffle the sound of gunshots.

There were two holes drilled in the side of the van. One for the weapon to go through and one for the lens of the camera. So does that mean there's a cameraman operating alongside the sniper in order to create the images that we're seeing? Precisely. The insurgents that I interviewed told me they now have instructions, a standing order if you like,

that the cameraman goes on every mission and in this case the camera was captured, confiscated and when the Americans ran the tape to see what was in it, there was already on tape the shooting that had drawn the attention of the Americans to the sniper at work. The other thing they found in that vehicle were a series of hand grenades, one of which was linked up to the petrol tank of the vehicle. Yes. Was that in order to kill themselves? Yes. That's almost a double-whammy mission. We'll be snipers until we're caught and then we'll reserve the right to be suicide bombers. We'll be snipers until we're caught and then we'll reserve the right to be suicide bombers. The way in which this sniper in the video that we've seen is glorified, brings to mind the sort of Soviet propaganda from the World War II. Zaitsev was the great sniper of Stalingrad who killed so many Germans. It's as if this is a very crude version of the same thing. It is, indeed.

In Iraq we have the mysterious sniper who've been given the name "Juba". Some American troops who spoke to the 'Guardian' last year claimed that they had dubbed this unknown sniper who they believed had killed up to a dozen of their colleagues that they had dubbed him "Juba", but after the insurgency themselves were putting out films dubbed "Juba". He's become almost a mythical figure like Vassili Zaitsev was in Soviet propaganda. Yes. Is he the same one who's meant to have pinned down 150 American troops in Fallujah? Again, you never quite know. You can't tell. That story was reported in the 'New York Times' by Dexter Filkins who's one of their best hands on the ground in Iraq. He was embedded with the Marines. 150 men pinned down for a day. The Americans dropped 500lb bombs. They sent in tank shells, artillery.

They claimed to have fired off 30,000 rounds of ammunition and this guy still kept shooting back for a whole day and, if Dexter's report is to be believed, the Americans say he seemed to have escaped on a bicycle. Now these tactics so far - and thank heavens they haven't - have not been used by and large in the Shi'ite south where the Australian troops are based. We haven't taken casualties in the same way. Does that equation change if the Australian troops are redeployed as the Prime Minister is suggesting they will be? If they are re-deployed, yes. Or if the conflict comes to them. For a lot of people it is too nuance to go into at this stage, but what some of the analysts are saying we're witnessing now is a shift from an insurgency war that is targeted at getting the Americans out of Iraq to a sectarian-based civil war in which case you are going to have, Sunni and Shi'ite forces seeking each other out. We already have the militias. We know they are armed. We know they're Shi'ite.

We know they are Sunni. In the north you have 70,000 Kurdish peshmerga fighters. So all of these armies are in place and the next tipping point, if it comes, could well be over the age into civil war where they will go after each other and the Sunnies will try to push down into the south so the Australians don't have to go north to be exposed. It's something that could come to their door. A final quick question because we're nearly out of time, but everyone is pinning their hopes in the Coalition forces on the fast-track training of Iraqi security forces. Do you see any evidence at all that's going to work? That's going to be very slow because the speed at which they are doing it is too fast. The 'Atlantic Monthly' is about to publish a 70,000-word analysis of all that's going wrong in Iraq and their view is not a lot is going right. It's based on the work of a very broad-based working party that they put together. It's one of those fabulous projects that when the American magazines do it, they do it so well, and the point that is made in this work is that there is no nowhere near enough leather on the ground, in terms of the Americans, to do what it needs to be done. They've problem by only got half as many troops as they need and they can't give the Iraqis as much training as they need to make them feel secure, to make them feel bonded together as a fighting force, to make them feel that they can go out and take up the the fight in the name of Iraq. It's a pretty bleak note to leave you on, Paul, but we will have to leave you there. We thank you very much for coming in to talk to us tonight and for letting us use the material from those tapes.