Military Blogger extraordinaire, Michael Yon, reports from the fighting in Baqubah in Eastern Iraq. Al Qaeda Iraq (AQI) has attempted to impose the same type of talibanesque laws as they had in Afghanistan.
The US and Iraqi Army spoke of this and I have heard rumors of the imposition of Sharia law in Anbar province, but Yon apparently ran into the real thing.
Here is an excerpt.
There is much work to do here, especially if the Iraqi Police continue to perform below expectations. The absence of strong local leadership is a large part of the reason AQI was able to move in and set up a shadow government in Baqubah, complete with its own court system, torture house and prison. These three pegs of the AQI justice system have been found here in the past week. The judges who administer Sharia law and issue fatwas are called Muftis. A Mufti is a “high value target” because he would have deep connections in AQI in order to have such a trusted position of power.
On the evening of the 24th I spoke with a local Iraqi official, Colonel Faik, who said the Muftis would order the severance of the two fingers used to hold a cigarette for any Iraqis caught smoking. Other reports, from here in Diyala and also in Anbar, allege that smokers are murdered by AQI. Most Iraqis smoke and this particular prohibition appeared to have earned the ire of many locals. After an American unit cleared an apartment complex on the 23rd, LTC Smiley, the battalion commander, reported that residents didn’t ask for food and water, but cigarettes. In other parts of Baqubah, people have been celebrating the routing of AQI by lighting up and smoking cigarettes.