Monday, 17 October 2005

Zarqawi's bloodbath sets fanatic against fanatic

Al-Qaeda may be losing the battle for hearts and minds, suggests Austin Bay at TechCentralStation, and the partial means for that defeat he suggests has been the "relentless, nihilistic bloodbath" orchestrated in Iraq by Al-Qaeda's Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. "In Iraq, [Zarqawi's] theo-fascists have been spilling Arab blood," and in doing so they have been losing Arab support. The promise of democracy and the destruction of Al-Qaeda's claim to "speak on behalf of Islam" have done further damage to their blood-soaked amibitions.
Arabs have also seen the Iraqi people's struggle and their emerging political alternative to despotism and feudal autocracy.

Zarqawi's murder spree has revealed fissures among Al-Qaida fanatics. Last week, the United States released a letter coalition intelligence believes Al-Qaida's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, sent to Zarqawi [noted here at 'Not PC' last week]. Zawahiri describes Iraq as "the greatest battle for Islam in our era." But Iraq has become a political and information battle that Zawahiri realizes Al-Qaida may be losing. According to
The New York Times, Zawahiri told Zarqawi to attack Americans rather than Iraqi civilians and to "refrain from the kind of gruesome beheadings and other executions that have been posted on Al-Qaida websites. Those executions have been condemned in parts of the Muslim world as violating tenets of the faith."

In February 2004, Zarqawi acknowledged a democratic Iraqi state would mean defeat for Al-Qaida in Iraq. To defeat democracy, he has pursued a strategy of relentless, nihilistic bloodbath. It's a brutal irony of war: In doing so, he is losing the war for the hearts and minds.
Let us hope so.

[UPDATE: Alan notes below that doubts about the letter have been raised, first by Al-Qaeda -- well, they would say that, wouldn't they -- and also by Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Cole, who has been much-quoted, says the letter "raises questions for me as to its authenticity."]

[UPDATE 2: Iraqi Bloggers Central have their own thoughts on Cole's "gut" which tells him "the letter is a forgery." An "outrage to logic" is what they call Cole's reasoning.]


  1. The letter is probably a fake, as mentioned on CNN and BBC, as well as many other news sources. Here is a good explanation as to why it's likely to be fake.

  2. 1) The sole source for suggestions the letter is 'probably fake' are posts on Islamic militant forums and websites. On the other hand the US military Central Command says they're real. Who to believe!? Professional soldiers or Islamists who think hacking off peoples heads will bring them closer to an Islamic superstate?

    2) Wasn't Juan Cole the guy who seriously suggested Zarqawi was a fictional character invented by the United States?

    3) Cole has long tied himself to a storyline of the passionate nationalist Iraqis defending themselves against the American occupiers and their hegemonic imperialist democratic elections. al-Zarqawi and Al Qaeda pose a little problem to Cole because because Zarqawi is not Iraqi, and Al Qaeda is largely dominated by non-Iraqi salafi Muslims.

    Here's a good example of Cole's overly wordy inane mutterings from last year, before the Iraqi elections:

    Nationalism is made not only by unity but by conflict, by struggles and compromises. Post-Ba’ath Iraqi nationalism is characterised by pan-Islamic themes because of the powerful role of religious parties now. Sunni radicals such as the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin (already a martyr to his followers) and Shia radicals like Moqtada al-Sadr (who may well may become a martyr) are now, in the eyes of many Iraqis, symbols of opposition to the occupation of Arab land by foreign troops, Israeli, British or US.

    The US envisaged its presence in Iraq as a grand nation-building exercise. How ironic that so many Iraqis are coming together with the goal of expelling the US. In the 19th century the Ottoman sultan, Abdulhamid II, and the reformer, Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, launched the pan-Islamic project - the unity of Sunnis and Shia against European imperialism - but it always failed. The US hyperpower seems finally to be nudging the movement from a dream into political reality.

    Knowledgeable about Arab politicians and customs? Yes. Shows disturbing approval for nutball "nationalist" terrorist groups? Yes.

  3. Here is the Counterterrorism Blog's coverage of the letter itself, the author Walid Phares wonders if it's been around for quite a few months already:

    I attempted to monitor the "Jihadi Chat" regarding the so-called letter. To my surprise, the next day, a letter was being read in a couple chat rooms. It was a lengthy text of about 30 minutes. All of the points summarized in the daily media were included, but the oral paragraphs were much longer. The "moderator" said he was reading the letter from the "doctor"; hence it is assumed to be the same letter. The moderator also mentioned that this document was also read back in August, but I had no way to confirm it. My first conclusion though was that the so-called letter -or a copy- was indeed released internally within the Tanzeem (organization) for dissemination and "discussion." That day, I had no evidence about the first date of the internal release, nor who released it to the network all the way to the "rooms." Was it released back in July, since July or after segments of the letter transpired in the Western press?

  4. And the CIA's published copy of it:

  5. Here's an interesting history and analysis of Zarqawi:

    Anyone who wants to believe there's no such things as 'black ops', illegal actions committed by a government or military, in order to advance a political or military agenda, only need to study a bit of history to learn a few dark truths. Ever heard of 'Operation Northwood', an officially planned operation that focused on destroying US civilian planes in order to blame it on Cuba? Luckily it never made it past the final approval. But what if it did? And what if other similar operations were approved? Read more about it here: And what about the Phoenix Program, an operation during the Vietnam War that put US troops behind enemy lines, killing anyone - civilian or military - that they thought were involved with the North Vietnamese, and generally creating terror amongst the civilian population in the hope of reducing support for the NVA.

    And today we have coalition forces allegedly found dressed as Arabs, engaging in terrorist activities against Iraqis, in an effort to apparently lay the blame on terrorists, insurgents and even Zarqawi and others. It puts into question the legitimacy of many of the coalitions claims that suicide bombs and terrorist attacks against Iraqis themselves are actually by Iraqi or foreign terrorists, when those 'foreign terrorists', etc, could very well be US or British special forces engaged in black ops.

    These questions wouldn't need to be asked if we'd never found information that supports coalition involvement in anti-coalition terrorist activities, for some as yet unknown purpose.


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