Al Queda Wasn’t In Iraq Until America Invaded


Ahhhh, how many times have I heard and seen that expression? It seems to popup every time an opponent of Operation Iraqi Freedom responds to discussion of Al Queda’s role in Iraq. What makes it interesting today is that the relevance of the argument declines with each passing moment.

Now, I’m clearly one of those people that believes groups in the Al Queda network of terrorist groups were in Iraq before the invasion, and were working with Saddam’s regime. That too is less and less relevant with each passing day, and therefore we can debate the matter of historical event and presence elsewhere and at another time. For now, right now, today-in 2008, it’s infinitely more important to talk about Al Queda and the war in Iraq as it is TODAY.

This article does a great job.

To date, not one “mainstream media” journalist has pressed the leading advocates of unconditional surrender to describe in detail what might happen after we “bring the troops home now.”

There’s plenty of unchallenged sloganeering, but no serious debate. This selective political softball and pep-rally journalism serves neither our country nor our political process well.

So, let’s bring those quit-Iraq time-travelers back to mid-2008 and fill them in on what’s happened since they were ideologically stranded five years ago:

* After our troops reached Baghdad, al Qaeda’s leaders made a colossal strategic miscalculation and publicly declared that Iraq was now the central front in their jihad against us. Matter of record, in the enemy’s own words.

* Some Iraqi Sunni Arabs, lamenting the national pre-eminence they’d lost, rallied to the terrorists.

* Al Qaeda in Iraq and its affiliates then embarked on a campaign of widespread atrocities: videotaped beheadings, mass bombings of civilians, assassinations, widespread rape (of boys and girls, as well as of women), kidnappings and brutal efforts to dictate the intimate details of Iraqi lives.

* Al Qaeda’s savagery alienated the Sunni Arab masses in record time. Suddenly, those American “occupiers” looked like saviors.

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Ahhhh, how many times have I heard and seen that expression? It seems to popup every time an opponent of Operation Iraqi Freedom responds to discussion of Al Queda’s role in Iraq.

The other argument often put forth, is the threat and influence level of al Qaeda in Iraq, due to numbers. It’s derided that al Qaeda could ever set up a “safe haven”, let alone their super caliphate in Iraq (which might be true, but not without massive suffering and a bloodbath), because of insufficient numbers. The foreign fighter Islamic holy warriors, Iranian agents, and al Qaeda operatives might make up a small percentage of the insurgency and violence workers, in terms of numbers, but I think their influence and bloodletting has been vast. From the bombing of the Golden Mosque, to recruitment of al Qaeda foot soldiers from locals by al Qaeda foreign leadership, to the vast number of homicide bombers being foreign-born….yes, I think al Qaeda plays a significant role in the chaos and violence. Not just the Baathists and Saddam loyalists, and the disgruntled.

Agreed. The point remains, however, what to do about Al Queda in Iraq now? Latest from MNF and others is that the Coalition has never been closer to defeating them in Iraq. AQ propaganda tapes seem to confirm that as they wonder, ‘where did we go wrong.’ Still, as the article shows, no one’s really pressed Sen Obama on how he’d fight AQ in Iraq? Shift to counter-insurgency tactics? That what’s the surge is, and it’s a Bush Admin doctrine that was put in motion almost 2 yrs ago. How about reducing US forces=reducing AQ effectiveness? That’d be an interesting explanation.

Still, as the article shows, no one’s really pressed Sen Obama on how he’d fight AQ in Iraq?

Considering he’s a withdraw-fast-as-a-jackrabbit-chased-by-a-coon-dog kind of guy, what’s to ask? He’ll leave that up to the Iraqis.

Someone send this to Senator Obama, who says that we are seeing al Qaeda stronger now than in 2001:

Al Qaeda Discusses Losing Iraq
May 27, 2008: Al Qaeda web sites are making a lot of noise about “why we lost in Iraq.” Western intelligence agencies are fascinated by the statistics being posted in several of these Arab language sites. Not the kind of stuff you read about in the Western media. According to al Qaeda, their collapse in Iraq was steep and catastrophic. According to their stats, in late 2006, al Qaeda was responsible for 60 percent of the terrorist attacks, and nearly all the ones that involved killing a lot of civilians. The rest of the violence was carried out by Iraqi Sunni Arab groups, who were trying in vain to scare the Americans out of the country.

Today, al Qaeda has been shattered, with most of its leadership and foot soldiers dead, captured or moved from Iraq. As a result, al Qaeda attacks have declined more than 90 percent. Worse, most of their Iraqi Sunni Arab allies have turned on them, or simply quit. This “betrayal” is handled carefully on the terrorist web sites, for it is seen as both shameful, and perhaps recoverable.

This defeat was not as sudden as it appeared to be, and some Islamic terrorist web sites have been discussing the problem for several years. The primary cause has been Moslems killed as a side effect of attacks on infidel troops, Iraqi security forces and non-Sunnis. Al Qaeda plays down the impact of this, calling the Moslem victims “involuntary martyrs.” But that’s a minority opinion. Most Moslems, and many other Islamic terrorists, see this as a surefire way to turn the Moslem population against the Islamic radicals. That’s what happened earlier in Algeria, Afghanistan, Egypt and many other places. It’s really got nothing to do with religion. The phenomenon hits non-Islamic terrorists as well (like the Irish IRA and the Basque ETA).

The senior al Qaeda leadership saw the problem, and tried to convince the “Al Qaeda In Iraq” leadership to cool it. That didn’t work. As early as 2004, some Sunni Arabs were turning on al Qaeda because of the “involuntary martyrs” problem. The many dead Shia Arab civilians led to a major terror campaign by the Shia majority. They controlled the government, had the Americans covering their backs, and soon half the Sunni Arab population were refugees.

Meanwhile, the “Al Qaeda In Iraq” leadership was out of control. Most of these guys are really out there, at least in terms of fanaticism and extremism. This led to another fatal error. They declared the establishment of the “Islamic State of Iraq” in late 2006. This was an act of bravado, and touted as the first step in the re-establishment of the caliphate (a global Islamic state, ruled over by God’s representative on earth, the caliph.) The caliphate has been a fiction for over a thousand years. Early on, the Islamic world was split by ethnic and national differences, and the first caliphate fell apart after a few centuries. Various rulers have claimed the title over the centuries, but since 1924, when the Turks gave it up (after four centuries), no one of any stature has taken it up. So when al Qaeda “elected” a nobody as the emir of the “Islamic State of Iraq”, and talked about this being the foundation of the new caliphate, even many pro-al Qaeda Moslems were aghast. When al Qaeda could not, in 2007, exercise any real control over the parts of Iraq they claimed as part of the new Islamic State, it was the last straw. The key supporters, battered by increasingly effective American and Iraqi attacks, dropped their support for al Qaeda, and the terrorist organization got stomped to bits by the “surge offensive” of last year. The final insult was delivered by the former Iraqi Sunni Arab allies, who quickly switched sides, and sometimes even worked with the Americans (more so than the Shia dominated Iraqi security forces) to hunt down and kill al Qaeda operators.

If you can read Arabic, you can easily find these pro-terrorism sites, and see for yourself how al Qaeda is trying to explain its own destruction to its remaining supporters. While it’s common to assume the Information War has been going against the West, this was not the case when you checked with what was going on inside the enemy camp.

Haha…”involuntary martyrs”. That’s “collateral damage” with a twist.

Funny you mentioned the number of al Qaeda members. Lawrence Wright just did a 14 page article for the New Yorker called The Rebellion Within (I read this in it’s entirety yesterday from a Lucianne link…), discussing the internal disagreements and lack of loyalty and control over rogue members. It’s worthy of reading in it’s entirety, but here’s a couple of excerpts of his information.

BTW, much of this article runs hand in hand with Wordsmith’s “rejection al Qaeda theology” post today as well.

Pg 14: According to a recent National Intelligence Estimate, Al Qaeda has been regenerating, and remains the greatest terror threat to America. Bruce Hoffman, a professor of security studies at Georgetown University, says that although Fadl’s denunciation has weakened Al Qaeda’s intellectual standing, “from the worm’s-eye view Al Qaeda fighters have on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, things are going more their way than they have in a long time.” He went on, “The Pakistani government is more accommodating. The number of suicide bombers in both countries is way up, which indicates a steady supply of fighters. Even in Iraq, the flow is slower but continues.”

Still, the core of Al Qaeda is much reduced from what it was before 9/11. An Egyptian intelligence official told me that the current membership totals less than two hundred men; American intelligence estimates range from under three hundred to more than five hundred. Meanwhile, new Al Qaeda-inspired groups, which may be only tangentially connected to the leaders, have spread, and older, more established terrorist organizations are now flying the Al Qaeda banner, outside the control of bin Laden and Zawahiri. Hoffman thinks this is the reason that bin Laden and Zawahiri have been emphasizing Israel and Palestine in their latest statements. “I see the pressure building on Al Qaeda to do something enormous this year,” Hoffman said. “The biggest damage that Dr. Fadl has done to Al Qaeda is to bring into question its relevance.”

An excerpt preceding this, which addresses those “tangentially connected” members…

Pg 12: Zawahiri has watched Al Qaeda’s popularity decline in places where it formerly enjoyed great support. In Pakistan, where hundreds have been killed recently by Al Qaeda suicide bombers—including, perhaps, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto—public opinion has turned against bin Laden and his companions. An Algerian terror organization, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, formally affiliated itself with Al Qaeda in September, 2006, and began a series of suicide bombings that have alienated the Algerian people, long weary of the horrors that Islamist radicals have inflicted on their country. Even members of Al Qaeda admit that their cause has been harmed by indiscriminate violence. In February of this year, Abu Turab al-Jazairi, an Al Qaeda commander in northern Iraq, whose nom de guerre suggests that he is Algerian, gave an interview to Al Arab, a Qatari daily. “The attacks in Algeria sparked animated debate here in Iraq,” he said. “By God, had they told me they were planning to harm the Algerian President and his family, I would say, ‘Blessings be upon them!’ But explosions in the street, blood knee-deep, the killing of soldiers whose wages are not even enough for them to eat at third-rate restaurants . . . and calling this jihad? By God, it’s sheer idiocy!” Abu Turab admitted that he and his colleagues were suffering a similar public-relations problem in Iraq, because “Al Qaeda has been infiltrated by people who have harmed its reputation.” He said that only about a third of the nine thousand fighters who call themselves members of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia can be relied upon. “The rest are unreliable, since they keep harming the good name of Al Qaeda.” He concludes, “Our position is very difficult.”

Good article, eh Wordsmith? You had linked to a NYPost article, so wasn’t sure you saw this.

It’s actually a story months ago that snuck under the radar. I blogged on this back in Nov 2007. Wright’s article brackets that post with far more historic depth on the history between Dr. Fadl, aka Sayd Imam. I knew they had some bad blood, but Wright thoroughly filled in the blanks.

PS: Where’s your post here? You showed up in my email box, but I don’t see it here. Are you caught by the spam machine???


Back in my infantry days, one of our axioms was “Find them, fix them, finish them.

But, there was a corollary that was not so famous. It was “Let them find you, fix them, finish them.

Both work well.