May 2005

TIME: Inside an Insurgent Camp


How sophisticated is the insurgency in Iraq? While U.S. commanders believe the insurgents are growing desperate, a recent wave of coordinated large-scale attacks--such as the series of bombings that killed at least 30 Iraqis in Baghdad in one day last week--suggests that some rebel groups have become more organized. Videotapes obtained by TIME from sources close to the insurgency appear to confirm the existence of makeshift training camps inside Iraq to teach recruits guerrilla warfare. The camps are tucked inside villages and conduct weapons-handling drills in remote fields. One tape shows four men in uniforms gathered in a dilapidated barracks facility in western Iraq and receiving instruction on how to fire a modified missile launcher. "We ask God to make this weak weapon strong by his strength," the instructor says. "God save Iraq from the Jews and the infidel." The second tape shows a group of 15 uniformed men practicing advancing under fire in a lush grove of trees and tall grass. In another scene, recruits navigate an obstacle course that requires them to climb stairs, crawl under barbed wire and dive through a flaming hoop.