Gruesome Psy-Ops in Kurdistan

The combat footage in the video is dramatic. It depicts Ansar al-Islam (Supporters of Islam) guerrillas advancing on the fortress of Gildadrozen before sunrise, lighting up the darkness with tracer bullets from machine guns. There is the sound of mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

In one scene, a Kurdish voice can be heard directing someone to cut an ammunition belt from a dead fighter. In another, a guerrilla shouts, "Destroy their house." At another point, the words "Shoot" and "Hold your fire" can be heard, off camera.

There's also a shot of an Ansar fighter bending to kiss the face of a fallen comrade.

The most gruesome moments in the video are edited to music. These are images of their enemy — dead Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) fighters.

Welcome to the psychological war being waged by Ansar against the PUK in northern Iraq.

According to the credits, the video was produced by "The Media Center of Ansar al-Islam."

CD copies of the piece reportedly have been left on the doorsteps of PUK officials in Said Sediq, a government controlled city located about a 30-minute drive from Gildadrozen where the battle was fought recently.

A PUK representative, whose relative in Said Sediq received a copy, told ABCNEWS: "They want to disturb our people."

Killer Inspirations

Ansar al-Islam is a little-known group in northern Iraq whose suspected ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group are now a focus of Pentagon planners.

The guerrilla videotape documents last month's pre-dawn assault on Gildadrozen. The attack left at least 50 PUK fighters dead and wounded dozens more. The video contains grisly footage of PUK corpses with enormous head wounds.

The footage, which is edited to a music track with inspirational verses from the Koran, appears to confirm reports given by survivors who testified to prisoner execution and the mutilation of bodies.

Combined with extensive interviews recorded last week with guerrilla defectors and prisoners captured from Ansar al-Islam, the video gives some sense of this shadowy, largely unpublicized group.

The region of northern Iraq known as Iraqi Kurdistan has been autonomous from Baghdad since the 1991 Gulf War. While the PUK controls the eastern part of the autonomous zone, the western areas are controlled by its rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee made a visit to northern Iraq last month a few days after the Gildadrozen incident. Leaders of both Kurdish parties presented a written needs list to the senators, which included the request for "U.S. help to uproot the terrorist Ansar al-Islam organization."

Two senators told ABCNEWS the request would be conveyed to the Bush Administration.

Al Qaeda in Kurdistan?

Last week, PUK leader Jalal Talabani indicated that the Bush administration now believes that "very important" al Qaeda members are headquartered in the village of Biarrah in the Kurdish-controlled area of northern Iraq.

According to Talabani, "The Americans are very much interested in ending this base of al Qaeda."

This week, a U.S. government official who has studied Ansar al-Islam, and who has interviewed prisoners held by the PUK, told ABCNEWS that he and members of "national security circles" have concluded that "foreign Al Qaeda are present in northern Iraq".

U.S. Special Forces Drop In

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