Wednesday, July 18, 2007

See how This Goes

Interesting timing as always.....from AP:

The highest-ranking Iraqi leader of al-Qaida in Iraq has been arrested and told interrogators that Osama bin Laden's inner circle wields considerable influence over the Iraqi group, the U.S. command said Wednesday. Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, who was captured in Mosul on July 4, carried messages from bin Laden, and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, to the Egyptian-born head of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayub al-Masri, said Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a military spokesman. "Communication between the senior al-Qaida leadership and al-Masri frequently went through al-Mashhadani," Bergner said. "There is a clear connection between al-Qaida in Iraq and al-Qaida senior leadership outside Iraq."
Important to note that Bergner is a Cheney-transplant. In other words, he is a strong (and very new) voice for the "new" position that al-Qaeda and Iran are the main sources of violence in Iraq.

This piece of evidence comes no doubt to combat the recent NIE which states al-Qaeda in Pakistan (original AQ) is recouping to near pre-9/11 levels. This piece of evidence will be cited by the right to prove that drawdown in Iraq is not an option because we are fighting a worldwide War on Terror and Anbar will become the Caliphate. We need to stay because we have to help the Anbar Salvation Council tribesman defeat Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Of course, in general one should be wary of reports of confessions from the captured--is he telling his captors what he knows they want him to say? How was this information gathered? What kind of interrogation was used?

But for the sake of argument, let's assume it is so true, because I imagine there have to be some links between al-Qaeda in Pakistan and al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Continue Reading

The most important part may be the following:

Bergner said that al-Mashhadani and al-Masri had used an Iraqi actor to put a local stamp on their foreign-run organization, by co-founding "a virtual organization in cyberspace called the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006." In Web postings, the Islamic State of Iraq has identified its leader as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, a name indicating Iraqi origin, with the Egyptian al-Masri as minister of war. There are no known photos of al-Baghdadi. Bergner said al-Mashhadani had told interrogators that al-Baghdadi is a "fictional role" created by al-Masri and that an actor with an Iraqi accent is used for audio recordings of speeches posted on the Web. "In his words, the Islamic State of Iraq is a front organization that masks the foreign influence and leadership within al-Qaida in Iraq in an attempt to put an Iraqi face on the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq," Bergner said.

Which, if true, is very interesting. One--it proves that al-Qaeda in Iraq has no local PR support for an actual caliphate or its supposed goals of a worldwide imperium. Dirty secret: they have no real goals. They are nihilists. Not the spear-tip of a Civilizational War. Only of course if we buy into their propaganda and take them at their word.

We do know however that there are Iraqi Salafi jihadists who are aligned with Al-Qaeda on occasion and other times are not.....again these are cellular movements, fluid membership, that are often more focused on a target/objective making short term dis-solvable alliances to achieve those tactical ends.

That is they want some kind of Sharia State, Salafi Revival but not the Caliphate. They want Nationalist Iraqi Sunni Sharia as it were. Hardline version no doubt. But not as radically revolutionary and trans-national/trans-tribal as the AQI version.

The same tendency of open-source warfare that drives the continued violence from the Sunni side against the Shia government of Iraq is the same tendency (devolution and democratization of violence) that precludes any long term "victory" by al-Qaeda in Iraq. Whether or not they are getting messages from bin Laden and Zawahiri.

Here's the main assertion the White House is wanting to get out on this story:
Bergner said al-Mashhadani had told interrogators that al-Qaida leaders outside the country "continue to provide directions, they continue to provide a focus for operations, they continue to flow foreign fighters into Iraq."
It's not clear if the directions provided are actually followed by AQI. The Law of Propinquity would suggest that the Salafists fighting in Iraq know the terrain better than those in the tribal lands of Pakistan. What exactly is "broad support", "provide directions" and "focus for operations". That will need to be clarified before conclusions are jumped to.

And the last of those, probably the strongest claim: flow foreign fighters into Iraq.

We know of the non-Iraqi fighters, the majority are Saudis and Egyptians. The line has already been spun that they are being trained by Syria (thereby to take the blame off US allies SA and Egypt). But again why do any of these individuals have receive orders from somewhere else. Why this nation-state mentality about everything?

What if they are rather self-organized entities? Autopoietic structures if you like. Again we know that the Taliban for example in Afghanistan are using the techniques invented/perfected by the Iraqi insurgents. So whose to say this information is flowing the other way--AQI to AQP?

The relationship between the two has historically been tangled given the on again/off again contacts between Zarqawi (founder of Tawhid and Jihad--aka AQI) and Zawahiri/bin Laden. Particularly when Zawahiri sent a letter to Zarqawi to tell him to stop beheading Shia, esp. over the internet.

It could be that with the death of Zarqawi and the accession of al-Masri, some of the severed relationship, iciness between AQP and AQI gets smoothed over. But that also suggests that Zarqawi changed bin Laden and Zawahiri and pulled them into this intra-Islamic intra-civilizational conflict. The Islamic Reformation in other words, which the West has found itself pulled into--and not realizing why nor what it is doing there.

Of course what none of this covers is why Shia are fighting Shia in the South. As well as aligning with each other (at the same time as fighting) to fight the British in Basra. Why the Kurds are fighting Sunnis (and vice versa) in Kirkuk. And most importantly, why the Baathists are jihadis (unaligned with AQI) are fighting the Shia and government. Seen without that larger context, you get analysis like this.

Because as the Director of CIA Hayden argued, the al-Qaeda threat is number #5 of the threats in Iraq (cited here, scroll down):
"Hayden catalogued what he saw as the main sources of violence in this order: the insurgency, sectarian strife, criminality, general anarchy and, lastly, al-Qaeda. Though Hayden had listed al-Qaeda as the fifth most pressing threat in Iraq, Bush regularly lists al-Qaeda first."
Oh and btw read Hayden's assessment of the Iraqi government:
"'The government is unable to govern,' Hayden concluded. 'We have spent a lot of energy and treasure creating a government that is balanced, and it cannot function.' . . . "'The levers of power are not connected to anything,' he said, adding: 'We have placed all of our energies in creating the center, and the center cannot accomplish anything.' . . .
Of course Bush tends to list al-Qaeda in Iraq as the number one threat. This story will be used to further that point. And we will see (and already have seen in smatterings), the playing up of the fact that members of the bin Laden family are in Iran. This way connect the two--Iran and al-Qaeda, so we can stay in Iraq indefinitely (AQI) and begin bombing campaigns into Tehran (Iran).

Watch for more press revealing "new" links between al-Qaeda (now either one, in Pakistan or Iraq) and Iran.

That element has not yet gotten the full approval of Bush; it still is a Cheney mind scheme. The State Department, Condi who is battling with the VP, is pushing for talks with Iran. Bush seems undecided and partially thwarted by the degree of reality he allows in anyway.

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