Chains around Zarqawi's Mind
Michael Totten reports from Iraq, transcribing conversations with Iraqis. He makes the interesting observation that it wasn't so much the killing and mayhem that al-Qaeda was engaged in that ultimately destroyed their legitimacy among the population -- it was the illicitness and alien character of it all. Money quote:
“Can you describe what Al Qaeda did here?” I said.
“The Al Qaeda organization is the enemy of Iraqis and of Americans,” Mahmoud said. “We are Muslims. Sunnis. Al Qaeda came through Islam and used it to enter Iraqi lands. They are killers, insurgents, they don't respect humanity. They don't belong to Islam or have religious beliefs. They have no kind of religious beliefs.”
Don’t assume Mahmoud is dissembling when he says this. It may appear that some Muslims are being overly defensive by saying Osama bin Laden is not a real Muslim, but there is a solid case to be made that radical Islamism is, in fact, a totalitarian cult unhinged from the religion as it is actually practiced by the majority. It is they, after all, who blow up mosques in Iraq. I know of at least one mosque in Ramadi that is considered “blackened” because insurgents used it as a base. No one will set foot in it now.