Ouch and ouch
Two enemy successes were in the news today. Bill Roggio reports that Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, the founder of the Anbar Awakening movement, was murdered in a car bomb attack outside of his home in Ramadi.
Sattar's murder is a serious blow to the Anbar Awakening and the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq beyond the borders of Anbar province. Sheikh Sattar has been instrumental in organizing tribal sheikhs and former Sunni insurgent groups such as the 1920s Revolution Brigades and the Mujahideen Army to band together and fight al Qaeda in Iraq.
Sattar and the Anbar Awakening spread its influence through tribal and insurgent connections into Salahadin, Baghdad, Diyala, and Babil provinces. Here in the Haswa region, US military officers and Iraqi sheikhs credit the Anbar Awakening with providing both the inspiration and material support to organize against al Qaeda in Iraq. US military officers described the spread of the resistance against al Qaeda in Iraq in southern Baghdad and northern Babil provinces as “arcing from Anbar in the west to the east.”
In Europe, Jose Maria Sison has been released from detention by a Dutch court because prosecutors couldn't provide evidence he directly ordered the murders of two men in the Philippines from the Netherlands. Philippine Commentary has been following events.
Sison's files do not contain information that he incited others to commit serious offenses according to the accusations.
The court also believed that the presumptions that Sison ordered the assassinations of his two former comrades as stated by the widows and alleged triggermen “were insufficiently concrete”.
“The statements of the widows and the marksmen, to which the [Dutch] Public Prosecution Service appeals, only refer to the fact that they assume that the murders have been committed by order of the CC of the CPP and therefore an order originating from the accused being the chairman,” said the court decision. ...
the Court recognized that there are many indications in the files which support the point of view that the accused is still playing a leading role in the Central Committee [CC] of the CPP as well as in the military branch of the CPP, the New People's Army (NPA)," it added.
In other words the Dutch court has evidence from the triggermen themselves that the hits were ordered by by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines and that there are "many indications" that Sison is in fact the Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, but there is no smoking gun. Although Sison will be released from detention he remains a suspect in the murders.
Sison is once again on the verge of getting away with his crimes. The Left has mounted a huge political campaign to free him, accusing the Dutch government of torturing Sison, threatening to suspend peace talks in the Philippines and to unleash war and has gone so far as to declare that dire consequences might befall Dutch citizens because of "outrage" at the charges against the Communist chieftain. In the meantime very little public political support for Sison's prosection has been heard anywhere, excepting a few sites on the blogosphere.
The enemy strikes back. We can never take our gains for granted. A moment's complacency and it can all be reversed. One lesson common to both the Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha assassination and Sison's murder charges is the central importance of controlling and influencing allies in a terrorist war. During the Algerian War, the FLN killed far more Algerian Muslims than French soldiers or civilians. Sison has probably killed more members of the Communist Party than the Army of the Government of the Philippines. Terrorist wars are not won by attacking military targets. They are won by controlling populations through ideology and fear. Bill Roggio's recent account of counterinsurgency efforts in Haswa describes how the Coalition and al-Qaeda are contending for the support tribal leaders and the local population. That contest will be won in large part based on which side is thought to provide the most protection. Counterinsurgency is only partly about "hearts and minds". It more about which side promises a greater chance of survival. Al-Qaeda's assassination of Sheikh Sattar sends the message it will stick at nothing to impose its will. Sison, by ordering the murder of any who oppose him, shows by his actions he understands terrorism well. The Dutch judge, but contrast, illustrates how poorly the West understands the game and goes some way to explaining why they are losing it.