Although the ferocity of insurgents is generally attributed to religious fervor and a hatred of America, Marines who participated in the November assault on Fallujah say many of...
FALLUJAH, Iraq — Although the ferocity of insurgents is generally attributed to religious fervor and a hatred of America, Marines who participated in the November assault on Fallujah say many of their foes also had something else to bolster their tenacity: drugs.
The Marines say they found numerous stockpiles of needles and drugs such as adrenaline and amphetamines while battling insurgents in the fiercest urban combat waged by U.S. forces since the Vietnam War.
In some homes used by insurgents, crack pipes were found, the Marines say.
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Top military officials consider the discoveries evidence not just of drug use among insurgents, but also of smuggling operations that they say the Sunni Muslim rebels in Fallujah may have been using to finance the insurgency.
“They are just as likely to be indications of drug smuggling as insurgents being doped up to provide stamina or have the courage to fight and die,” a senior military official in Baghdad said.
Officers in Iraq say soldiers and Marines found similar evidence of drug use among Shiite Muslim militiamen during April and August uprisings in Najaf.
The conduct of many of the insurgents during the fighting in Fallujah suggested that they had ingested drugs that allowed them to continue fighting even after being severely wounded, Marines and Navy medical corpsmen say.
“One guy described it as like watching the ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ ” corpsman Peter Melady said. “People who should have been dead were still alive.”
Stimulants can allow the body to continue functioning despite mortal wounds, momentarily forestalling, although not preventing, death, medical experts say.
Many combat veterans recall watching insurgents in Fallujah who had been shot at close range return fire and hurl grenades at Marines who stormed their strongholds.
“We actually shot four or five guys multiple times and they got up and moved across the room,” said corpsman Quinton Brown, who had accompanied a front-line platoon to treat wounded Marines.
“It reminded me of the stories you hear about people on PCP who just keep going,” 1st Lt. Cosmo Calvin said. “I think it’s safe to say that nearly 100 percent were doped up on this stuff.”