Today was the transfer of authority from the unit we replaced here. Our Task Force is now completely responsible for our own little slice of western Iraq. It's not quite as violent here as Baghdad right now, but it's still no joke. The violence seems to have increased during Ramadan, and even more so over the last few days. Part of the Muslim religious practice is to seek Laylat al-Qadr , "The Night of Power (or Destiny)" which falls somewhere in the last ten days of Ramadan. To a Muslim, Laylat al-Qadr is the holiest night of their faith- the night on which Mohammad recieved the Qur'an. There is disagreement between various sects and areas over which night is the right one, and true believers are expected to seek it out by virtue. Any deeds of the faithful performed on Laylat al-Qadr will be rewarded a thousandfold in paradise, and should a Muslim die that night, he will instantly be transported to paradise.
For most Muslims across the world, this means a day or period of days of intense devotion, fasting, and praying. Unfortunately, there are enough radical Muslims who see jihad and matyrdom as the ultimate expression of devotion to make the last few days of Ramadan intersting, to say the least. What exactly are you expected to do to control a fanatic who believes that it is his destiny to die, and that one particular night of the year gives him the best reward for his sacrifice?