Staying Strong: The Insurgency in Iraq


March 20, 2006 — -- Chilling new footage obtained by ABC News shows hooded insurgents handing out supplies to schoolchildren as they visit a school in the town of Ramadi, located to the west of Baghdad.

"Who do you love, the mujahedeen or the Americans?" asks one of the hooded men in the latest insurgent propaganda tape.

"The mujahedeen," the students answer in unison. One little boy then goes on to call the Americans infidels, while another says the Americans kill "like this" as he waves his finger around.

"What I think has made the insurgency in Iraq so different from previous ones is the insurgents' enormous media savvy," said Bruce Hoffman, a counterinsurgency expert and director of the RAND office in Washington, D.C.

True to the 21st century's digital age, insurgents use dozens of Internet Web sites to wage the propaganda campaign and to pass on the latest tactics, including killing techniques, to other insurgents.

"So, in other words, all the lessons that they're learning on how to attack the United States are being communicated and shared not only throughout Iraq but with insurgents and terrorists throughout the world," Hoffman said.

While the number of active insurgents is currently estimated at about 30,000 throughout Iraq, experts who advise the U.S. military say those who are assisting the insurgency number in the hundreds of thousands.

"Almost like our minutemen during the American Revolution, [they're] people with a weapon who were available at a moment's notice to be summoned to battle," Hoffman said of the insurgents.

The best-known insurgent -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq -- has managed to evade an extensive U.S. manhunt. But U.S. officials now say he leads just one of about 60 to 100 different insurgent groups.

"These forces can't be beaten in one single battle," said Kalev Sepp, formerly with the U.S. Army Special Forces. "On any day in Iraq, we're fighting 100 different battles down at the neighborhood and village level in what's been called a mosaic war."

ABC News' Maddy Sauer and Hoda Osman contributed to this report.

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