Who the hell are the Fedayeen Saddam? Let's see. We knew about the Iraqi army. Those guys won't fight, we were assured. We knew about the Republican Guard. Those guys might fight, we were told. But did we know about the Fedayeen Saddam -- between maybe 25,000 to 40,000 stone-cold killers, fanatical supporters of Saddam Hussein? Well, uh, no, not really. It might have been helpful if we did.
I did a quick Nexis search this morning and found that, during the past two years, there have been 423 references to the Fedayeen Saddam in the past two years. But wait! Exactly 310 of those references are from the past week. We just didn't know about these guys. And judging from the way the US and British troops appear to have been caught off guard, it seems that our overconfident leaders didn't know much about them either.
Not that they were completely unknown. Here's a 1998 story from CNN.com, which describes a crackdown on internal dissidents led by the fedayeen -- "a 40,000-strong paramilitary force run by Odai Hussein," more commonly spelled "Uday," Saddam's sadistic older son.
But I think it's safe to say that for most of us, this week is the first time we've heard of them, as in this piece in today's Washington Post headlined "Analysts Say Threat Warnings Toned Down." It appears that the White House didn't want to hear the bad news before the war, since it would interfere with the spin of a 72-hour, casualty-free victory being promoted by some of the war's most ardent supporters.
Well, the Bushies are certainly hearing the bad news now.