Tag Archives: al qaeda in iraq

Abu Musab Zarqawi, Think Different. (The Muslim Brothers Already Are).

Praise be to God who gives strength to Islam with His victory….,” by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, U.S. Central Command, 9 January 2006, http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/Shared%20Documents/What%20Extremists%20Say.aspx?PageView=Shared (from ZenPundit).

Long before he began his blog, or even guest blogging here, tdaxp has focused on al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He often knows better. Note this time, though.


Zarqawi should follow the Muslim Brothers. He should think different.

The Party can be considered the Iraqi branch of the — a scary politico-terrorist organization that assassinated Anwar Sadat. But the is supporting elections in Iraq, while Zarqawi’s terrorist group “” is opposing them. Why?

Because the Iraqi Islamic Party is thinking different.

Or more specifically: because the Iraqi Islamic Party is thinking higher.

While the classic work Man, the State, and War lists three levels of international politics analysis, really there are five:

Mnemonic Level Example
Man Individuals George Bush, Osama bin Laden
His Friends Groups Republican Party, al Qaeda
the State States United States, Iraq
Her Friends Alliances NATO, Arab League
War Systems The underlying assumptions

In his letter, Zarqawi castigates the Iraqi Islamic Party for ignoring the Groups level of analysis

We address a message to the Islamic Party, inviting it to abandon this rough road and ruinous path it pursued. It was about to destroy the Sunnis and implicate them in relying on worldly life and accepting the jahiliyah [pre-Islamic] rule, which they disguised as legitimate interests. They should have called on people to perform jihad for the sake of the almighty God and to grieve over our sisters and brothers in the prisons of the worshippers of the cross, instead of rejoicing and dancing in streets to celebrate an imaginary victory and alleged conquest. Where is their zeal for religion and Muslims?

As well as the States — the IIP seems unconcerned with seizing Iraq!

“This Party coordinated contacts with Zalmai Khalil Zad, the U.S. ambassador, who is ruling Iraq, when he met with their leaders in the Green Zone before voting on the infidel constitution, and told them: Vote on the constitution and have what you want. Thus the deal was struck and the Party started to give tempting bribes to certain tribal chiefs to convince them of the need to participate in the elections. What did they get in exchange? A seat in parliament was promised if the tribal chiefs promised to preserve the security of the U.S. forces in their areas. A religion is being sold and a jihad stopped in exchange for a seat in a parliament that does not prevent harm or fight infidelism. Has madness reached the extent that a man should sell out his religion for worthless mundane offers?

At these levels Zarqawi is right in his criticisms: Sunnis make up only 15% of all Iraqis, so a democracy would not favor Sunnis.

But the Iraqi Islamic Party isn’t looking at group and states — its looking at alliances and systems.

While Zarqawi is nickle-and-diming in Iraq, the Iraqi Islamic Party (along with the ) is looking at the Arab world.

The Muslim Brothers want Syria, where they would in a free election.
The Muslim Brothers want Egypt, where they would win a free election.

By thinking simply, Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq are fighting the US and against democracy to take one country.
By thinking different, the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Muslim Brothers are working with the US for democracy to take many countries.

The Muslim Brothers know better. They think different.

Al Qaeda is Losing (but has a chance on the Euphrates)

Al Qaeda as Warfighting Entity,” by George Friedman, Stratfor Geopolitical Intelligence Report, 2 August 2005, http://junkpolitics.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/08/02/stratfor-geopolitical-intelligence-report-al-qaeda-as-warfig.html.

George Friedman, author of America’s Secret War on geopolitical analyst recently sent out an email looking at the Global War on Terrorism. His conclusion: bin Laden is losing.

First, Friedman writes that the Global War on Terrorism is a real war

Karl von Clausewitz wrote that war is the continuation of politics by other means. In order for the United States to be engaged in a war with al Qaeda, three things seem to be necessary.

  • Al Qaeda must be an entity that is capable of making and enforcing decisions. There can be no war without strategy and tactics, and no strategy and tactics without a command structure.
  • Al Qaeda must have political goals that are in some sense practical. Punishing the infidel is not a political goal: It is not intended to achieve a political outcome, nor is it intended to create or influence regimes.
  • Al Qaeda must have a warfighting strategy that it is pursuing. Its actions must fit into the paradigm of war and make sense from a military standpoint.

In our view, all three of these criteria are met. This does not mean that al Qaeda will or won’t be successful; it simply means that al Qaeda’s behavior can be properly understood in terms of war.

Second, al Qaeda has achievable goals

Al Qaeda also has political goals. Indeed, it differs from prior groups that used terror tactics by the fact that it embarked on the war with political goals. The long-term goal — creating a caliphate encompassing all the lands it deems to be part of the dominion of Islam — was not the immediate goal. Rather, al Qaeda’s immediate goal was to increase the effective Islamist opposition to existing Muslim regimes to force at least one successful uprising. The means toward that end were two-fold: First, to demonstrate in the Muslim world the vulnerability of the United States — the patron of many of these existing regimes — and second, to force a response from the United States that would increase either contempt or effective hostility among Muslims. If the United States refused combat, this would be a sign that it was a paper tiger. If it surged into the Islamic world, this would prove the United States was the enemy. Either way, al Qaeda thought it would win.

Third, al Qaeda’s mistake was assuming that hatred and distrust of America would translate into anti-American attacks

If they made an error, it was only in assuming that genuine anti-Americanism and hatred of local regimes supported by the United States would translate into effective anti-Americanism that could be leveraged to al Qaeda’s advantage. Public sentiment matters in democratic regimes; it doesn’t matter in warfare very much. Consider: Most of Europe hated the Germans and their occupation during World War II. Anti-German feeling was overwhelming. Nevertheless, this did not translate into effective anti-German sentiment. European states were never in a position to overthrow German power. That required an external intervention. In Vietnam, on the other hand, anti-Americanism proved effective: It turned into a warfighting process.

Fourth, the only place al Qaeda has been close to successful has been in the Sunni Arab provinces of Iraq

Where al Qaeda miscalculated was in assuming that sentiment would turn into effective sentiment. Thus far, except in four Sunni provinces in Iraq, that hasn’t happened. But that it didn’t happen was neither pre-ordained nor obvious. Al Qaeda knew what it was doing.

Conclusion: America is winning

At this point, al Qaeda is losing the war from the standpoint of its own strategic goals. No Muslim regime has fallen since Sept. 11, save two — Afghanistan and Iraq — that fell to the United States. The Iraqi resistance showed extreme promise for a very long time, given American miscalculations. Anti-Americanism had turned effective. However, the shifting calculus among the Sunni elders has threatened to undermine support for al Qaeda’s man in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and the Sunni nationalist insurgency — onto which al Qaeda has clamped parasitically — has been in danger of disruption. This, coupled with serious breaches in al Qaeda’s global system, forced the group into a desperate counteroffensive.

The Euphrates War truly is the central front in the Global War on Terrorism.

Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq on the Leviathan and the SysAdmin

A Not-so-grand Strategy,” by Bill Roggio, The Fourth Rail, 19 July 2005, http://billroggio.com/archives/2005/07/a_notsogrand_st.php.

Former Professor at the Naval War College Thomas P.M. Barnett breaks the military’s job into two roles: the Leviathan and System Administrator. The Leviathan “kills people and breaks things.” The System Administrator “builds states and builds nations.” If you have a strong Leviathan but weak SysAdmin, you win the war and lose the peace.

Now, Abu Zarqawi’s al Qaeda in Iraq is seeing the wisdom of that split as well


Al Qaeda in Iraq and Zarqawi now appears to recognize the futility of conducting military operations alone to achieve victory in Iraq. The SITE Institute reports the recently released publication of Zarqawi’s magazine, Thurwat al-Sinam, discusses grand strategy, which extends beyond pure combat operations.




This issue is the first edition of the publication to explicitly reference military strategy, delineating five sectors or “fields” of jihad: military, security and intelligence, medical, information, and economic. Throughout the issue, the authors reiterate that if the mujahideen focus only on military operations, regardless of their successes in battle, they will lose the jihad on other fronts. They provide examples such as Afghanistan and Bosnia wherein an alleged military victory by the mujahideen was overturned in the eyes of the international community because the mujahideen neglected other sectors of warfare. Of particular interest as a non-military based threat to the mujahideen is the creation of a “peaceful Islam” which has “nothing to do with the original religion” and is spread by “information media all over the earth” in the hopes that “the infidels will succeed in this which they could not do militarily”.




The dilemma for al Qaeda is that it is an overwhelmingly military organization [like the Pentagon — tdaxp], whose finances are specifically set up to support military operations, weapons acquisitions, training, recruitment and infrastructure. There is very little energy devote to the softer aspects of grand strategy – wining the hearts and minds in the areas of economics [jobs, business, education, etc.] and humanitarian care [like the Pentagon — tdaxp]. Al Qaeda cannot match the West’s superiority in these areas. And even if they tried, their ideological makeup makes the prospects success unlikely. The rejection of al Qaeda by local Iraqis sympathetic to their cause makes this clear.



al Qaeda in Iraq and the United States have the same goal: to win. If we are going to beat them, we have to build a SysAdmin faster than they do.


Update: Mark wonders why Mr. Zarqawi has a “FRIGGIN’ MAGAZINE.” Maybe it is a spin-off from his blog?

Corruption versus Zarqawi

Concerning Cruelty And Mercy, And Whether It Is Better To Be Loved Than Feared,” by Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince, 1513, http://www.drizzle.com/~jcouture/1_world/zzz_the_prince/0405a%20Prince%2016%20to%2018.htm.

Sunnis Working on Iraq Constitution Slain,” by Sameer Yacoub, Associated Press, 19 July 2005, http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050719/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq (from Captain’s Quarters).

Iraq is corrupt. This helps us.

Deaths are tragedies. Murders are monstrosities. But in our souls, we ultimately accept these things as part of the world. God calls people, and they come home.

But money, that’s a different matter. Murders are forgiven. Thefts aren’t.

As Machiavelli wrote centuries ago:


Men more quickly forget the death of their father than the loss of their inheritance


It is this force that is hurting Zarqawi in Iraq.

Take the recent news that two Sunni Arab lawmakers were recently assassinated


Gunmen assassinated two Sunni Arabs involved in the drafting of Iraq’s constitution Tuesday, another blow to U.S. and Iraqi efforts to draw members of the disaffected community away from the insurgency and into the political process.

Mijbil Issa, a committee member, Dhamin Hussein al-Obeidi, an adviser to the group, and their bodyguard died in a hail of gunfire from two vehicles as they left a restaurant in Baghdad’s Karradah district, police said.

Issa, a prominent lawyer, was among 15 Sunni Arabs appointed last month to the 55-member constitutional committee — made up mostly of Shiites and Kurds — to give the Sunni minority a greater voice in building a new Iraq. Ten other Sunnis, including al-Obeidi, were named as advisers to the committee.


In Iraq, a high-ranking government job does not just mean that you are on the people’s payroll. It means work for your brothers and cousins as advisers and senior secretaries, it means work for your smarter nephews as junior secretaries, It means work as bodyguards for your “regular guy” nephews. It means money for their wives and things for their children.

In a non-corrupt Iraq, these murders would be seen merely as murders. Merely a premature departure from the mortal plane by elder statements. But in a corrupt Iraq, murder of government officials means theft from dozens, if not hundreds, of family members.

Zarqawi’s attempt to eliminate Sunni participation in the drawing of the Iraqi Constitution means theft from hundreds, if not thousands, of Iraqis.

Corruption will hurt Zarqawi, and there’s no easier way to “hearts and minds” than that.

Zarqawi the Innovationist

Reaping What It Sowed,” by Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 4 May 2005, http://nytimes.com/2005/05/04/opinion/04friedman.html.

As I blogged before, Zarqawi does know better. He is not crazy and he is not insane. He has a specific program for the people Iraq that he wants to implement. He is using classic 4GW (fourth generation war) techniques to do this. The odds are against him, and he knows this. But the odds were against Lennin, Mao, and Pol Pot too. And like these men, he is not stupid. He lives in a danerous country were men with guns are trying to kill him. If he was dumb he would be dead.

Also, Zarqawi is a rationalist. Zarqawi wants to reorder society on rational Islamist lines. He does not like the way “things have always been” and he has a clear, articulated system for the new things should be. That he basis his dream on his view of what Mohammed’s friends in the 7th century did no more makes him a “traditionalist” than Lenin’s belief of primitive communism made that revolutionary a “traditionalist.”

Therefore, Thomas L. Friedman is wrong when he writes

In the modern incarnation of each of these struggles, members of the Sunni-Traditionalist-jihadist minority are losing. And the more that becomes evident, the more violent they will become – because their whole vision is in danger of being repudiated by fellow Arabs and Muslims.


Having lost the argument with their own community, and unable to offer any program, the Sunni-Traditionalist-jihadists seem to have become totally unhinged, with people becoming suicide bombers at the rate of three and four a day.

Now if there is a rationalist-traditionalist debate in Islam…

But these bombings are also signs of the deeper struggle that the U.S. attempt to erect democracy in Iraq has touched off. My friend Raymond Stock, the biographer and translator of Naguib Mahfouz and a longtime resident of Cairo, argues that we are seeing in Baghdad, Cairo and Riyadh the modern incarnation of several deeply rooted and interlocking wars. These are, he said, the war within Islam between Traditionalists and Rationalists, which dates back to Baghdad in the ninth century; the struggle between ardent Sunnis and Shiites, which dates back to succession battles in early Islam; and the confrontation between Islam and the West, which dates back to the Arab conquests of the seventh century and the Crusades.

… then Zarqawi is a fellow traveler to the feminists, Muslim arab nationalists, and allthe other innovationists.

It is dangerous to underestimate our enemies, or to simplify their motives. Friedman’s column does just that.

They Hate Their Freedom

Sure Sounds Like They Hate Our Freedom,” by “Mark,” Zen Pundit, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/01/sure-sounds-like-they-hate-our-freedom.html, 23 January 2005.

The always informative Zen Pundit ways in on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s rant against Shia, democracy, and freedom. Comments his, emphasis mine

The always ghoulish Abu Musab al-Zarqawi released a new tape declaring that democratic governance itself was blasphemous and that everyone involved in the Iraqi election, candidates, election officials and voters – all of them – should be killed:

We have declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it….Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion,” [he said, and that is ]”against the rule of God….Americans to promote this lie that is called democracy … You have to be careful of the enemy’s plots that involve applying democracy in your country and confront these plots, because they only want to do so to … give the rejectionists[ Shiites?] the rule of Iraq. And after fighting the Baathists … and the Sunnis, they will spread their insidious beliefs, and Baghdad and all the Sunni areas will become Shiite. Even now, the signs of infidelity and polytheism are on the rise….For all these issues, we declared war against, and whoever helps promote this and all those candidates, as well as the voters, are also part of this, and are considered enemies of God”

To further accent the point, Zarqawri’s group beheaded a couple of hapless Iraqis.

The more I hear of Zarqawri’s messages in context with his group’s terror tactics the more he seems like a fetishistic serial killer using Islamist mummery as window dressing. All of the voters are enemies of God? Millions of fellow Arab Sunni Muslims ?

Say what you want about Osama bin Laden but he isn’t out to annihilate his own people on a flimsy pretext by beheading them one or two at a time.

Even apart from the Big Lebowski reference, right on. It’s nice to see an enemy finally gave a coherent set of complaints. What’s interesting in the statement?

1. Zarqawi clearly spells out that Shia are the enemy. Good. This means that Secretary-designate Rice’s dual-track political-military plan is working. We have successfully turned part of the insurgency (al Qaeda in Iraq) against both the majority of the population and former insurgents (especially al Sadr’s Mahdi Army).

2. Zarqawi clearly states that democracy and freedom of religion are his enemies. Nice to hear.

3. Zarqawi is talking to Ba’athis. He warns them that they are in danger of being concquered by the Americans and being forcibly converted to Shiism. (Not that his plans are any gentler). I don’t know if he is trying to speak to the Ba’athi leadership or to lower-ranking members. If he is trying to speak to the leadership, and is honestly warning them that if they lose, they will be forced to await the Occupted Mahdi, it is sad. Could Zarqawi truly have such a simplistic view of the world that even secular Ba’athis are at heart good Sunnis like him? Alernatively, he may be trying to speak to the Ba’athi masses. Perhaps they are not truly indoctrinated, and are as malleable as he presumes.

If any of these possibilities are true, its good for us. An enemy deprived of situation awareness is a crippled enemy. And if the masses are nonideological, it opens the door to reconcilliation with the people after the leadership is crushed.

Thanks for the clarification, Abu.

Salafists take a Ba’ath

I only have one question then,” by Thomas Freridge, tdaxp, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/01/13/a_genius_speaks.html, 14 January 2005.

I only have one question then……why the previous animosity between the baathist party and al-quaida?

There are clear ideological differences. The Ba’ath want a multireligious centralized Arab state. I do not believe it is slanderous that they admired the Nazi Party for nearly achieving this among “Europeans.” While National-Socialists could be Catholic, Protestant, Nordic Pagan, Mystic, etc, all were subordinated in a ethnic-based totalitarian state.

The Islamists (Wahabis, Salafists, al-Qaeda, “al-Qaeda in Iraq” (the old “Jihad and Polytheism”)) want a monoreligious centralized multinational state. al-Qaeda has recruited French, blacks, hispanics, Chinese, Arabs, Philipinos, etc.

I think the struggle in Iraq was so vicious because they were recruiting among the same group — the heavily westernized, mobile, and education Sunni Arab Muslim minority. As the sanctions and the Saddam tyrannt destroyed Iraq, each began to coopt the other’s rhetoric. But they have different utopias — each sees its own “future worth creating.”

Strafor hsa sad that anywhere from a half to two-thirds of insurgent violence in Iraq is Ba’athi. Most of the rest is al-Qaeda and copycats.

If I am reading Zen Pundit correctly, his argument is this: The Ba’ath are functioning in a terror-cell system devised before the war. The terror-cell system is reinforced on tribal and clan lines, which makes it more motivated but less resistant to counterattack. The plan of the terror-cell is to destroy the leadership and technocrats of any government or party that opposes them. They will attempt to do the same thing to our army (the have attempted assassinating U.S. civilian and military officials). They will do the same to any other army in Iraq (say if we leave and Iran, Saudi, Syria, etc tries to invade). If they are current more violent that the rest of the insurgency combined, then I assume that the Salafists will be the next to go after the drive out “foreigners.” And the numbers seem to be on their side.

Al-Qaeda has faith in God. If they win in Iraq, it is due to the glory of God. If they lose, it is part of God’s larger plan. If they die in Iraq, they shall be rewarded as martyrs.

They have common enemies, and they have long tried to use each other, but they are not friends. I remember seeing pictures of the Ba’athi general and his son who were burned alive in Fallujah. And we have to destroy them both.