Iraqis Buying Guns to Fight Possible U.S. Invasion

  • From: "muslim-news.net" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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  • Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2003 12:25:56 -0000

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Bedouin gunshop owner Yassin al-Jabbouri says Iraqi
civilians are arming themselves to challenge the American invader. 

Iraqi clan groups, a key force in the country, are stocking up on rifles
and pistols from the Iraqi capital's 45 retail gun outlets, taking heed
of government calls for the populace to ready itself for a U.S.
invasion, Jabbouri says. 

The United States is boosting its forces in the Gulf ahead of a possible
attack to end President Saddam Hussein's 23-year rule saying he is
hiding weapons of mass destruction. 

"I have a tribe of 200,000 people and 12,000 of them are in Baghdad
ready to fight. We are all human shields against America," the
50-year-old Bedouin chief told Reuters. 

"There has been growing interest in buying weapons. It's in the
interests of Iraqis to have weapons to face the American fighter...We
are all military now," he said, adding that Iraqis would be keen to
punish American troops for the suffering of Palestinians fighting U.S.
ally Israel. 

Gun culture is deeply ingrained in Iraq, where possession of guns is
seen as a mark of honor among the 150 or so Bedouin tribes. They form a
critical base of support for Saddam, himself of Bedouin origin. 

Baghdad is festooned with large posters of the Iraqi leader in various
poses handling guns, which anyone over 25 can buy. 

Pro-Saddam street parades over recent weeks have featured groups of men,
women and children marching with an array of weapons. The United States
says Iraqis will be glad to see the back of Saddam. 

The state set up a popular defense force two years ago, ostensibly to
fight with the Palestinians. The state distributes arms for free to all
members of the ruling Baath Party, thought to number over two million. 

"This is the one I'm going to fight with," Jabbouri said, pulling out a
$1,500 Italian-made rifle. "Everyone has three or four guns each now.
There's no tribe that doesn't use arms. Even my wife can fire a good
shot over a distance." 

Rifles, from Beretta Italian originals to cheap Turkish copies, range
from $200 to $1,000, Jabbouri said. The cheapest and most popular
revolver is the Iraqi-made Tariq, selling for as low as $150, which many
men possess from their army days. 

Jabbouri's 12-year-old son Ahmed steps up with a Cobra Magnum revolver
to show his firing prowess, letting off a few loud blank shots in the
small shop. 

"I was trained when I was nine. We learned to fight in order to fight
the enemy -- the Zionists (Israel), America and any foreign country,"
Ahmed said, repeating slogans that fill Iraq's state-controlled
television, radio and print media.

Source:  Reuters

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