An Analysis of the Iraqi Resistance Part 3 – Size of the Resistance

I have decided to publish my most recent work, An Analysis of the Iraqi Resistance, on my blog. Previously, this piece was used for the research for “An Insiders Look at the Iraqi Resistance” a major piece that appeared on the Islamist website (JUS got the copyright but I did the research). That long-running top-billed piece is now down, but it is still archived on Alexa here . Note that this material is copyrighted and all reproduction for profit is forbidden under copyright laws.

For information about reprinting or purchasing one-time rights to this work, email me. This article is an in-depth analysis of the Iraqi resistance and is continuously being revised. It is presently 58 pages long in total. It lists all known Iraqi resistance groups who have ever fought in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad until 2005 and includes a brief description and analysis of each group. There are separate sections covering Size, Tendencies, Motivations, Structure, Foreign Assistance, Foreign Fighters, Regional Characteristics, Regions, Cities or Towns Controlled by the Resistance, Major Attacks and List of Groups by Tendency.

The article was intended to be a political science-type analysis of the Iraqi Resistance, and I tried not to take sides one way or the other. I used a tremendous amount of source material, mostly publicly available news reports from the Internet. Obviously, in an area like this you are dealing with a ton of disinformation along with the real deal, so I spent a lot of time trying to sort out the disinfo from the relative truth.

The problem is that one cannot simply discount sources of information such as Israeli and US intelligence, US military reports, reporting from the resistance itself, Islamist websites, etc. Of course these sources are loaded with disinfo and false analysis, but they also tend to have a lot of truth mixed in as well. In writing a piece like this, you pull together all the sources and get sort of a “Gestalt” view of the situation. When you examine all the sources at once in toto, you can kind of sort out the disinfo from the more factual material. Admittedly it’s a hit or miss game, but that’s about as good as we can do source-wise in the inherently hazy subject area of an underground guerrilla war.

Interviews with resistance cadre by the mainstream Western media were given particular prominence in this piece.


The overall size of Iraqi resistance is a subject of great controversy. The US military puts the figure at 5,000 fighters and declining. A secret CIA report listed the size at either 15,000 or 50,000, apparently, the 15,000 figure referred to actual fighters while the 50,000 figure referred to active supporters. The Iraqi resistance themselves gave a figure of 75,000-100,000 actual fighters in early 2004, but many of these are probably just part-time militia. By April 2004, with the major Fallujah-Sadr Uprising rocking Iraq, reports indicated major growth in the resistance. It would appear that the high-end figure of 100,000 would be a good minimal figure to use in light of this explosive growth.

There may be up to 20,000 fighters each in Mosul and Fallujah alone, or a total of 40,000 in the 2 cities. Further, US troops recently arrested 20,000 suspected guerrillas in Baqubah alone in a mass sweep. These high figures lend credibility to the Iraqi resistance figures for the size of the resistance. Presently, we tentatively conclude that there are at least 100,000 active fighters in the resistance, and many more active supporters. Indeed, the 100,000 figure may be a considerable underestimate.

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Filed under Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Regional, USA, War

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