View Full Version : And the winner in Iraq is: the Al-Qaeda jihadists

03 Apr 07,, 19:15
And the winner in Iraq is: the Al-Qaeda jihadists

By Lawrence Wright
Commentary by
Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It is a terrible mistake to discount Al-Qaeda's operational abilities, now and in the future. If you read the accounts of Al-Qaeda insiders, the war on terror was essentially over in December 2001, after United States and coalition forces swept aside the Taliban and pummeled Al-Qaeda. According to Al-Qaeda's own inner circle, 80 percent of its members were captured or killed. Yes, the leaders escaped, but they were scattered, destitute and unable to communicate with each other. The organization lived a kind of zombie existence, neither dead nor fully alive.

Iraq brought it back to life. Al-Qaeda now has four major branches: Europe, Iraq, North Africa and the old mother ship, centered in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Obviously, most of its effort is in Iraq, but when the US inevitably begins to withdraw from that country, Al-Qaeda will be able to boast of an extraordinary victory over the last remaining superpower. The jihadists who went to Iraq will begin to return to their own countries, empowering the local cells that have been proliferating in the Arab world and the West and have only lacked a degree of high-level training to make them really lethal. These veterans, with their experience, their networks and their resolve, will become leaders of this new generation of jihadists. There is every reason to expect that they will be as cunning and dangerous as their predecessors, if not more so.

Nor is the old Al-Qaeda inoperable. Clearly the leaders, Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are able to direct their followers through their very active media organization, Al-Sahab. Last year, bin Laden and Zawahri issued more than 20 taped messages. One can see that even the Al-Sahab studio where Zawahri tapes his diatribes has undergone an upgrade, with professional lighting and a more imaginative backdrop. Moreover, the messages have become much timelier in their commentary on current events, suggesting a freedom of action and a boldness that Al-Qaeda has not been able to enjoy since the fall of the Taliban.

The elimination of the Al-Qaeda sanctuary in Afghanistan was a crucial victory in the war on terror. The training of Al-Qaeda recruits and the network of alliances formed in the camps fortified the terror organization with skilled operatives who enjoyed international reach. The loss of their sanctuary in Afghanistan proved a temporary inconvenience; now Al-Qaeda enjoys training facilities in areas of Pakistan, the Sunni provinces of Iraq, in Mali, and probably still in Afghanistan and Somalia.

Al-Qaeda's ideologues and planners, such as Abu Bakr Naji, foresaw the need as early as 1998 to reorganize the organization in a more horizontal fashion, more like street gangs, as we have seen in Madrid and London. Yet we are learning that even these supposedly ad-hoc indigenous groups had contact with Al-Qaeda proper and may have received training in Al-Qaeda camps. The London train bombings of 2005 illuminated the correspondence between native-born jihadists in the United Kingdom and Al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan - a stark and continuing danger for the UK, given its substantial Pakistani minority. The growth and new assertiveness of the North Africa branch of Al-Qaeda represents a similar threat to continental Europe, especially to Spain, France, and Belgium, home to large diaspora communities of Moroccans and Algerians.

There is a bitter irony in the fact that the Bush administration resurrected its defeated foe by carrying the war to Iraq. This is a state that bin Laden had never placed on his list of profitable regions in which to wage jihad, simply because he knew it was a Shiite-majority country. His rival and eventual protege, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, took that decision out of bin Laden's hands and forced a shift in Al-Qaeda's strategy.

The lessons I draw from this are that Al-Qaeda is stronger now than at any time since 9/11; that the war in Iraq has given Al-Qaeda a tremendous propaganda victory; that the movement is both vast and nimble; that it will survive the deaths of any particular individuals; and that the prospects for long-term conflict with the US and Europe are almost certain.

Lawrence Wright, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, is the author of "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11." His one-man play, "My Trip to Al-Qaeda," opened in March at the Culture Project in New York City. This commentary first appeared at bitterlemons-international.org, an online newsletter that publishes diverse views of Middle Eastern and Islamic issues.

The Daily Star - Opinion Articles - And the winner in Iraq is: the Al-Qaeda jihadists (http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=81088)

Iraq, most incongruously being Shias while AQ is Sunni, has indeed resurrected the AQ.

One cannot turn the clock back. Therefore, what cannot be cured has to be endured. Hence, the war in Iraq has to be endured and it cannot be given up halfway. It is a Catch 22 situation, but cannot be helped.

If the War in Iraq appears as a defeat, it will give a moral victory to the AQ that they have defeated both the superpowers of the world! The effect will be devastating for the world.

As it is, the AQ has spread into areas that they had not ventured i.e. Europe. To spite the face, the US has cut its nose. By supporting the division of the Balkan into smaller states, it has given rise to Moslem states and even now pursuing the Kosovo Plan is as good as being masochistic and suicidal! The current Administration cannot see beyond its nose, but with alacrity is ready to jump up and yell the overworn cliché, 'War on Terror' for every policy blunder with which they bumble along!

It is a well known fact, at least with all these problems with Islamic countries to realise that for Moslem nation Islam is paramount and national requirement secondary and international security issues practically non existence. If it were not so, could Saudi Arabia which is US' friend and their pretenders to royalty Bushs' bosom chum dare condemn the US in such derogatory terms?

Therefore, it is time to wake up and smell the coffee.

The AQ requires to be chained.

What are the ways it could be done so that it does not become a threat to any country in the world, let alone Europe and the US.

It is high time we think and destroy this horror before it becomes too late.

03 Apr 07,, 19:21
What Saudi Arabia wants.
Good Neighbors
by Rachel Bronson
Only at TNR Online | Post date 04.03.07
Strange things are happening in Saudi Arabia. First, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah brokered a deal between Fatah and Hamas, a religious party that won a popular election--not an example the kingdom is keen to promote. Then, by hosting the Arab League summit, the king decided to embrace a meeting of Arab leaders best known for discord and crisis (eight heads of state, including Saudi Arabia's, declined invitations in 2005 and ten the following year in Khartoum). Meanwhile, the Saudi king hosted Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reportedly canceled a state dinner with President George W. Bush in Washington. As if all this weren't perplexing enough for seasoned Saudi watchers, last Wednesday, the king issued an extremely hard-line statement branding America's "occupation" in Iraq "illegal." This, from an ally that usually works quietly behind the scenes. What is going on?...
Good Neighbors (http://www.tnr.com/user/nregi.mhtml?i=w070402&s=bronson040307#register)

The above is a backgrounder which indicates the turncoat behaviour of the Bosom friend, Saudi Arabia!

03 Apr 07,, 19:25

The Trouble With Islam

Sadly, mainstream Muslim teaching accepts and promotes violence.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Not many years ago the brilliant Orientalist, Bernard Lewis, published a short history of the Islamic world's decline, entitled "What Went Wrong?" Astonishingly, there was, among many Western "progressives," a vocal dislike for the title. It is a false premise, these critics protested. They ignored Mr. Lewis's implicit statement that things have been, or could be, right.

But indeed, there is much that is clearly wrong with the Islamic world. Women are stoned to death and undergo clitorectomies. Gays hang from the gallows under the approving eyes of the proponents of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Sunni and Shia massacre each other daily in Iraq. Palestinian mothers teach 3-year-old boys and girls the ideal of martyrdom. One would expect the orthodox Islamic establishment to evade or dismiss these complaints, but less happily, the non-Muslim priests of enlightenment in the West have come, actively and passively, to the Islamists' defense.

These "progressives" frequently cite the need to examine "root causes." In this they are correct: Terrorism is only the manifestation of a disease and not the disease itself. But the root-causes are quite different from what they think. As a former member of Jemaah Islamiya, a group led by al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, I know firsthand that the inhumane teaching in Islamist ideology can transform a young, benevolent mind into that of a terrorist. Without confronting the ideological roots of radical Islam it will be impossible to combat it. While there are many ideological "rootlets" of Islamism, the main tap root has a name--Salafism, or Salafi Islam, a violent, ultra-conservative version of the religion.

It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence. Shariah, for example, allows apostates to be killed, permits beating women to discipline them, seeks to subjugate non-Muslims to Islam as dhimmis and justifies declaring war to do so. It exhorts good Muslims to exterminate the Jews before the "end of days." The near deafening silence of the Muslim majority against these barbaric practices is evidence enough that there is something fundamentally wrong.

The grave predicament we face in the Islamic world is the virtual lack of approved, theologically rigorous interpretations of Islam that clearly challenge the abusive aspects of Shariah. Unlike Salafism, more liberal branches of Islam, such as Sufism, typically do not provide the essential theological base to nullify the cruel proclamations of their Salafist counterparts. And so, for more than 20 years I have been developing and working to establish a theologically-rigorous Islam that teaches peace.

Yet it is ironic and discouraging that many non-Muslim, Western intellectuals--who unceasingly claim to support human rights--have become obstacles to reforming Islam. Political correctness among Westerners obstructs unambiguous criticism of Shariah's inhumanity. They find socioeconomic or political excuses for Islamist terrorism such as poverty, colonialism, discrimination or the existence of Israel. What incentive is there for Muslims to demand reform when Western "progressives" pave the way for Islamist barbarity? Indeed, if the problem is not one of religious beliefs, it leaves one to wonder why Christians who live among Muslims under identical circumstances refrain from contributing to wide-scale, systematic campaigns of terror.

Politicians and scholars in the West have taken up the chant that Islamic extremism is caused by the Arab-Israeli conflict. This analysis cannot convince any rational person that the Islamist murder of over 150,000 innocent people in Algeria--which happened in the last few decades--or their slaying of hundreds of Buddhists in Thailand, or the brutal violence between Sunni and Shia in Iraq could have anything to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Western feminists duly fight in their home countries for equal pay and opportunity, but seemingly ignore, under a façade of cultural relativism, that large numbers of women in the Islamic world live under threat of beating, execution and genital mutilation, or cannot vote, drive cars and dress as they please.

The tendency of many Westerners to restrict themselves to self-criticism further obstructs reformation in Islam. Americans demonstrate against the war in Iraq, yet decline to demonstrate against the terrorists who kidnap innocent people and behead them. Similarly, after the Madrid train bombings, millions of Spanish citizens demonstrated against their separatist organization, ETA. But once the demonstrators realized that Muslims were behind the terror attacks they suspended the demonstrations. This example sent a message to radical Islamists to continue their violent methods.

Western appeasement of their Muslim communities has exacerbated the problem. During the four-month period after the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in a Danish magazine, there were comparatively few violent demonstrations by Muslims. Within a few days of the Danish magazine's formal apology, riots erupted throughout the world. The apology had been perceived by Islamists as weakness and concession.

Worst of all, perhaps, is the anti-Americanism among many Westerners. It is a resentment so strong, so deep-seated, so rooted in personal identity, that it has led many, consciously or unconsciously, to morally support America's enemies.

Progressives need to realize that radical Islam is based on an antiliberal system. They need to awaken to the inhumane policies and practices of Islamists around the world. They need to realize that Islamism spells the death of liberal values. And they must not take for granted the respect for human rights and dignity that we experience in America, and indeed, the West, today.

Well-meaning interfaith dialogues with Muslims have largely been fruitless. Participants must demand--but so far haven't--that Muslim organizations and scholars specifically and unambiguously denounce violent Salafi components in their mosques and in the media. Muslims who do not vocally oppose brutal Shariah decrees should not be considered "moderates."

All of this makes the efforts of Muslim reformers more difficult. When Westerners make politically-correct excuses for Islamism, it actually endangers the lives of reformers and in many cases has the effect of suppressing their voices.

Tolerance does not mean toleration of atrocities under the umbrella of relativism. It is time for all of us in the free world to face the reality of Salafi Islam or the reality of radical Islam will continue to face us.

Dr. Hamid, a onetime member of Jemaah Islamiya, an Islamist terrorist group, is a medical doctor and Muslim reformer living in the West.

OpinionJournal - Featured Article (http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009890)

Another backgrounder. The Moslem view.

03 Apr 07,, 22:01
Your entries above and elsewhere are so enlightening, insightful, and knowledgeable I find it difficult to grasp your full meaning compared to what I am aware of and my studies. This helps to make me continue to study our enemy and most importantly just how we are handling this threat. Ty for being here.

04 Apr 07,, 02:47
A competing viewpoint.

Jihadist Meltdown


March 12, 2007
URL: Jihadist Meltdown - March 12, 2007 - The New York Sun (http://www.nysun.com/article/50244)

There is always a moment during a raging battle when one side realizes that the field has been won, and the other side collapses in retreat and confusion. The curious thing about the Iraqi insurgency is that this moment has arrived, yet both the victors, in this case the Americans and the Iraqi government, and the losers, Al Qaeda and the other jihadist groups, are reluctant to acknowledge it.

But make no mistake, the battle has been turned and we are witnessing the beginning of a jihadist meltdown.

Six months ago, many of the strategists behind the Sunni insurgency, faced with a more effective counterinsurgency effort, began to wonder just how long they could keep their momentum given their diminishing resources and talent. These strategists realized that their "resistance" would just peter out over time, as classical insurgencies tend to do. Some argued that, given one last push, the Americans would be sufficiently distressed to grab at cease-fire negotiations that would end with a hasty American withdrawal, leaving the insurgents to work things out with a much-weakened Iraqi government on more favorable terms.

Others, like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the organization founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, saw that there was no future for their vision of establishing a Taliban-like state should these negotiations with the Americans get underway, which would only serve to strengthen the hand of the rival insurgent factions that counsel this course.

This sense that they were running out of time compelled Al Qaeda to take a bold initiative of declaring the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq four months back, appointing the hitherto unknown Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as its head. This was no propaganda stunt for Al Qaeda. This was the real thing: the nucleus state for the caliphate, with al-Baghdadi as the candidate caliph.

But this was a fatal strategic mistake for Al Qaeda, a mistake that threatens to pull down all the other jihadist insurgent groups along with it. Al Qaeda tried to leap over reality, but it was a leap into the abyss of uncertainty. Trying to pick a caliph is fraught with historical and judicial complications since there is no historical precedent — not even from the time of the Prophet Muhammad — that would serve for an uncontroversial transfer of power. It is one of the most delicate ideological matters among jihadists, a matter so sensitive that most of them have decided to leave it aside for the time being lest it result in splintering off dissenters.

But Zarqawi's successors, who inherited the leadership after his death last June and who are, for the most part, rash young ideologues who consider themselves the avant-garde of contemporary radical Islamism, felt that the doddering old guard of Al Qaeda — aged and increasingly inconsequential has-beens such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri — would never summon the nerve to force the issue of the caliphate and get it going. So they rushed into action, and it has exploded in their faces, since no other groups seem enthused to join them in this risky venture. This mistake has huge implications for the Iraqi insurgency since Al Qaeda accounts for most of it, and its strategic and ideological failure can quickly be turned into a battlefield rout. At this point, the activities conducted by the various insurgent groups can be broken down as follows:

• The Al Qaeda-led Islamic State of Iraq orchestrates 60% of the actions, including most of the spectacular mass murders of civilians and military engagements with the American military. Most of the rank and file is Iraqi as is al-Baghdadi himself, but foreign nationals are better represented in the leadership.

• Other jihadist groups such as Ansar al-Sunna, the Islamic Army of Iraq, the Mujaheddin Army, and the 1920 Revolt Brigades, most of which are Iraqi organizations with longstanding Salafist roots, conduct 30% of the operations.

• Various Iraqi Baathist factions orchestrate 10%.

When the insurgency started in mid-2003, it was largely led, funded, and mobilized by the Baathists. But over time, and through Zarqawi's pioneering work, the jihadists began to take over, and the role of the Baathists, per se, diminished. Zarqawi converted Baathists and Saddam-loyalists into jihadists by fanning the flames of sectarianism. He had to gradually wean them off the secular, and ostensibly nonsectarian, ideology of Baathism to his way of thinking, and to do that, he needed a dark force that could appeal to the Baathist rank and file: hardcore anti-Shiism.

Under Saddam, the Shiites were disenfranchised under a longstanding, subtle apartheid regime, which he inherited and which he on occasion allowed to become blatantly sectarian. Baathism, being a fascist-like nationalist ideology, could set ethnic Arabs against the Persian race of Iranians, but the new Shiites who took power after the fall of the Saddam regime were themselves Arabs, many from Iraqi tribes that encompassed members of both sects. Baathism was found lacking in focusing Sunni wrath over losing power to the Shiites, and this is where Zarqawi entered the picture to provide an unabashed sectarian outlet for their anger and vengeance.

Initially, Zarqawi's strategy worked very well, and it almost brought Iraq to the verge of an all-out civil war that would have pushed the Sunnis to submit to Al Qaeda as their only protectors. But something else happened that rendered his approach as yet another strategic mistake: The Sunnis realized that Al Qaeda wasn't strong enough to beat back a full Shiite assault — the group couldn't even protect Sunni communities from Shiite death squads — and that Al Qaeda's vision for reestablishing the caliphate would mean decades of unending warfare. Most Sunnis thus fell in with the crowd that counseled finding a negotiated settlement with the Americans and the Iraqi government — this time, at whatever cost. After four years of this insurgency, the Sunnis have grown weary and tired, and they want to move on.

But that is something that Al Qaeda would not brook, and it set out to force the other jihadist groups to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and to al-Baghdadi himself, or else. Almost everyone balked at this threat, and sharp words were exchanged among them on the streets of the Sunni triangle and on jihadist Internet discussion forums, and then a bloodbath ensued. Things have deteriorated to the point where these other jihadist groups have begun informing on the whereabouts of Al Qaeda's leaders and local headquarters to the Iraqi government, so that American and Iraqi forces could raid these locations and arrest those who only recently were fellow insurgents of the guys now snitching.

There is no greater joy for someone who cares about Iraq than to watch Al Qaeda and these other jihadist groups go at each other with the bloodthirsty abandon and frenzy that only crazed zealots can muster. The bloodletting has gone far beyond the point of any possible reconciliation, for Al Qaeda must destroy all the others in order to survive, and ditto for the others as they face down Al Qaeda. It has turned into an all-or-nothing fight among the most dangerous insurgents, and it is heartening to see them engaged and distracted in destroying each other.

Now if only the American press would report on this jihadist meltdown so that policymakers in Washington can rally the martial spirit to bring this battle to a crushing end for the enemy.

04 Apr 07,, 04:25
Your entries above and elsewhere are so enlightening, insightful, and knowledgeable I find it difficult to grasp your full meaning compared to what I am aware of and my studies. This helps to make me continue to study our enemy and most importantly just how we are handling this threat. Ty for being here.

Not understood exactly as to what you are meaning. My apologies.

I check and read the international newspapers, if time permits, daily. I try to post both sides of a view with a cursory comment and then learn a lot from the ensuing debate.

I would be sure interested in knowing what you have to offer us from your studies.

I never look at any nation as an 'enemy' and instead look at them as adversaries, because today's enemy is tomorrow's friend and vice versa. Observe the turncoat and quisling Saudi Arabia.

Iraq is an interesting kaleidoscope. One can never be sure, how the cat will jump each day!

I am lucky that way since my country is not directly involved and so I am not pressured to be partisan, except for the terrorism issue since we are affected by terrorism! I maybe guilty of partisanship on this aspect!