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The Hard Place

What the Frontline documentary "Beyond Baghdad" gets right--and wrong--about Iraq.

11:05 PM, Feb 10, 2004 • By CHRISTIAN LOWE
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Noticeably absent from Smith's documentary, however, is the widest fracture Iraq's population faces today. With the recent spate of suicide bombings and the seizure of an alleged note to al Qaeda leaders pleading for assistance in a losing insurgency against the coalition, the influence of terrorist groups in Iraq poses perhaps the biggest challenge to the military forces there. Nowhere in the documentary does Smith mention the infiltration of Iraq by terrorists connected to al Qaeda and other "freelancers" like Jordanian Abu Musab Zarqawi as a possible motivation for the violence or as an influence on radical Shiite and Baathist rhetoric.

The growing danger posed by terrorists in Iraq--who recently incinerated more than 50 would-be Iraqi soldiers for cooperating with the coalition--shows that, as the title of tonight's Frontline documentary foretells, the focus of America's occupation of Iraq has clearly moved beyond Baghdad.

Christian Lowe is a staff writer for Army Times Publishing Company and a contributing writer to The Daily Standard. He spent six weeks on assignment in Iraq last summer.