Syed Saleem Shahzad of Asia Times spoke to Pakistan's retired former director general of Inter-Services Intelligence, Lieutenant General Hamid Gul.
He was one of the masterminds of the International Muslim Brigade, a force raised in Afghanistan to fuel the independence movements of Muslim-occupied territories. This later evolved into Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front. Gul spoke to Asia Times Online by telephone from Rawalpindi.
ATol: I was in Iraq after the war and I asked a US commander in northern Iraq who was behind the attacks on US forces. His immediate reply was Iraqi military and para-military troops. My question is, how can a conventional army become a successful guerrilla force?
Gul: If they have support in villages and among tribes these soldiers can unleash a guerrilla fight. Saddam had a force called Fidayeen-i-Saddam, which was trained specifically for guerrilla operations. It numbered about 35,000. Suppose today this is even 25% of its original strength, it is a big number when local support is available. At the same time, there is no dearth of new recruits. I think a flood of fighters will be coming to Iraq.
ATol: How big could the resistance be?
Gul: About 40,000 to 50,000, including former Ba'ath Party members, Fidayeens, other military and para-military forces, and foreign fighters. In addition, the number of foreign fighters will grow immensely and Iraq will be the hub of an anti-US movement. You know, there is a new phenomena emerging in which a man is himself a weapon. No military can withstand this.
You have to keep in mind the nature of Arab fighters. They do not surrender or retreat easily. Afghanistan is a case in this regard. At Qila Changi and other places the Taliban decided to retreat, but Arab fighters refused to do so and they fought till their last. So, I think, the resistance movement will increase multifold in the coming weeks.