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Extremists Distribute Videos in Sahwa Area
Brutal Propaganda CDs Attributed to Armed Group Appear in Ghazaliya
By SLOGGER NETWORK, GREG HOADLEY 02/05/2008 6:30 PM ET
Ghazaliya in western Baghdad.
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.
Ghazaliya in western Baghdad.

Brutal propaganda videos have appeared in an area of western Baghdad thought to be under the control of pro-US Sunni Arab paramilitary forces.

Residents of the western Baghdad district of Ghazaliya awoke over the weekend Sunday to find data CDs propagandizing an extremist organization in their gardens and garages.

The CDs were widely distributed among the residences of the neighborhood overnight, locals tell Slogger, expressing bewilderment as to how the data discs could have been distributed over one night to nearly every home in a district under the control of the locally organized Sahwa forces and studded with checkpoints.

The forces known in Arabic as the Sahwa ("Awakening") of Ghazaliya are a locally organized band of fighters on the payroll of the US military to act as a fighting force against Sunni extremists associated with al-Qa'ida in Iraq, who apparently wrested control of the Ghazaliya district from Sunni extremist militants in late 2007.

According to Slogger sources that have viewed the digital videos recorded on the CDs, the discs are attributed to the group calling itself "Jaysh Abu Bakr al-Salafi" (the Salafist Army of Abu Bakr), referring to the man regarded by Sunni Muslims as the first successor to the prophet Muhammad as the leader of the Muslim community in the seventh century.

In addition to extremist lectures on religion and jihad, the brutal footage on the video apparently shows the execution of individuals who were identified in the video as either associated with Shi'a militias or with the Iraqi government in some way. One man confesses membership in the Mahdi Army and is then killed on camera, according to a Slogger source who viewed the disc, while another man whose execution was apparently recorded is identified as a contractor who supplied the Iraqi army with water.

Slogger sources say residents of Ghazaliya express fear stemming from the popular conclusion that the self-styled Sunni militant extremists behind the seemingly well-organized propaganda campaign could only have distributed the discs so widely with the cooperation of at least some of the Sahwa fighters who control the district.

Members of IraqSlogger's network of Iraqi staff contributed to this report but choose to remain anonymous for security reasons.

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