BAGHDAD — The thin teenage boy rushed up to the patrol of American soldiers walking through Dora, a shrapnel-scarred neighborhood of the capital, and lifted his shirt to show them a mass of red welts across his back.
He said he was a member of a local Sunni “Awakening” group, paid by the American military to patrol the district, but he said it was another Awakening group that beat him. “They took me while I was working,” he said, “and broke my badge and said, ‘You are from Al Qaeda.’”
The soldiers were unsure of what to do. The Awakening groups in just their area of southern Baghdad could not seem to get along: they fought over turf and, it turned out in this case, one group had warned the other that its members should not pay rent to Shiite “dogs.”
The Awakening movement, a predominantly Sunni Arab force recruited to fight Sunni Islamic extremists like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia,
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