Hotline Succeeding In Foiling Iraqi Insurgents
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2004 Leads generated through a hotline to report insurgent activity in Iraq demonstrate that the Iraqi people want to bring an end to the violence against innocent civilians and critical infrastructure, a top officer in the Army's 1st Cavalry Division told reporters in Baghdad today.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Hammond, the division's assistant commander for support, said the tips hotline received more than 400 calls during the past few months. These enabled the coalition to take prompt action from freeing several women who had been kidnapped for ransom to identifying and destroying vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices Hammond said "were rigged and ready to explode."
Billboards throughout Baghdad promote the hotline as a way for the Iraqi people to "fight the war in secret" without fear of reprisal, Hammond said. Because of a campaign of intimidation aimed at Iraqis helping to move their country forward, "people were virtually paralyzed to reach out for help," he noted. Now, thanks to the hotline campaign, "people today are picking up the phone and calling us. They are sharing information," the general said.
Hammond said the hotline and its success have "hit a nerve with the insurgents" who regularly vandalize billboards promoting the campaign. But Hammond said the 200 billboards around Iraq are replaced as quickly as they're destroyed. "I'm not going to stop," he said.
He called the enemy "a selfish minority" that uses practices that "have no connection whatsoever to the Islam religion" and no interest in "the short- or long-term needs of the Iraqi people."
In Baghdad, Hammond said, the enemy is a mix of foreign fighters, former regime elements, religious extremists and criminals who "are trying to impede progress by attacking critical infrastructure and civilians."
Hammond said their tactics murdering civilians simply "for doing what's right for the people of Iraq" and attacking electrical towers, hospitals and other infrastructure are part of a plan to instill fear and gain power.
"This isn't going to work," he said.
Hammond said the coalition's and Iraqis' persistence against the insurgents is paying off. Last Christmas, he said, the coalition experienced a 500 percent spike in attacks. A similar spike was anticipated again this year, but didn't materialize, he said.