A letter captured from al-Qaeda details the tactics they hope to use in order to come back from their declining position. John J. Kruzel of the American Forces Press Service reports on some of its contents.
Use silenced guns to kill coalition forces at Iraqi security checkpoints, smuggle weapons in gradual shipments to reduce the risk of detection, and poison Iraq’s water supply with nitric acid to spread disease and death. ...
Such tactics were fleshed out in a terrorist letter intended for Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the foreign-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. But the document never reached Masri. Instead, coalition forces lifted it from the body of a terrorist they killed last month during an operation 30 miles northwest of Baghdad.
The proposed AQI countersurge has two components. "Leadership operations" -- a campaign of targeted assassination against the toughest Iraqis ranged against them and political terrorism aimed at exacerbating divisions in Iraqi polity. The AQI will exploit the fact they no longer have the liability of incumbency in certain areas and can assume the role of opposition. Readers will remember that much of the revulsion against AQI stemmed from their attempts to impose a strict Islamic Caliphate. Now that they no longer control "City Hall" in their localities and can assume the role of 'Robin Hoods' against 'oppressors'.
Providing a glimpse into the proposed inner workings of al-Qaida in Iraq, the author discusses the need to split jihadists into three groups: snipers, assassination experts and martyrs. Each well-trained group should have an emir, or unit commander, at the lead. Through a series of coordinated surprise attacks, groups should work in unison to “bring down the city or the area,” he wrote.
In addition to outlining extremist combat methods, Safyan advocated waging economic and psychological warfare, and his roadmap for success hinged on “continuous conflict” between Iraq’s Shiite government, Sunni members of “Awakening Movements” and Kurdish nationalists.
“This will lessen the pressure against us and the Mujahidin brothers in all of Iraq when the enemies fight among themselves and weaken,” according to the handwritten Arabic letter, penned in blue ink on lined paper, that coalition forces captured in a remote farmhouse March 5 along with a suicide vest and computer equipment.
Rather than attempting to gain victory, the AQI has now settled for a strategy of denial of victory. As Mark Kukis of Time observes, "the missive captured by U.S. forces argues that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) must work to sow disunity among the thousands of Sunni fighters who've turned against the insurgency and now work with the Americans. Iraq's economy must be hobbled and its oil and gas fields and electrical infrastructure attacked, urges the insurgent strategist who signs his name as Abu Safyan from Diyala. 'We must always leave the economy in psychological conflict,' Safyan wrote. 'They can never have stability�so that they keep busy with themselves and not be able to unite against us.'"
The possibility that this strategy was actually being put into effect was suggeted by "a series of bombings this week in Sunni areas of Iraq – in some cases targeting the Awakening Councils, or sahwas, that have resisted the spread of militant Islamist extremism ... on Thursday, a suicide bomber struck a funeral for two brothers – killed the day before –who had joined the Awakening Council in Albu Mohammed, 90 miles north of Baghdad. The blast killed at least 50 mourners, many of them thought to be sympathizers of anti-Al Qaeda groups.
After fruitlessly pursuing a policy of mass terrorism and attempting to stir up a civil war with the Shi'a, the AQI has reverted to the classic terror tactic of targeting the people who throw in with the Coalition. During the Algerian War, the FLN killed far more Algerians than French soldiers. The main goal of terrorism is to terrorize the population; this makes the classic counter-insurgency challenge to find ways to protect the population from terror.
Further proof that AQI was putting the tactic of bringing "down the city or the area" through a coordinated attack was suggested by a Reuters report that a "group of al Qaeda bombers has slipped into Baghdad to carry out a wave of car bombs and suicide attacks, the U.S. military said on Friday. The unusual warning came after a spate of deadly bombings this week struck areas in northern Iraq, where al Qaeda Sunni Arab militants are known to be active.
"Information collected by coalition forces states that numerous AQI (al Qaeda in Iraq) terrorists have entered the Baghdad area with the purpose of carrying out vehicle-borne improvised-explosive devices or suicide vest attacks in the Karkh district of central Baghdad," the military said in a statement.
The good news is that the Coalition has anticipated the threat. In fact, the release of the letter detailing the tactics must have been a subtle warning to the listening public of the change in the AQI's tactics. The US presence in Iraq has become an irresistible strategic magnet for Jihadi groups of all sorts. By their way of thinking an American humiliation in Iraq would result in a world-wide victory for the Jihad. It is a challenge that slowly consuming the bulk of terrorist effort.
The Jihadi leadership feel confident that the economies of conflict will eventually wear down the US: that American counterinsurgency efforts will always be an order of magnitude more expensive their their murderous projects and therefore unsustainable. But Iraq is also the foundry of a counter-terrorist consciousness not only in the Muslim world but in the West. If the terror victory in Iraq means a victory for political Islam and the Left, the flip is side is that a loss there will mean a global defeat for them.
The conflict in Iraq has done more to forge attitudes towards political Islam than any previous event; a cradle not only for the Western antiwar Left, but also for generation of Westerners who first gained a deep and real operational education of the reality of terror there. The contrast between the classrooms of these two groups could not be more stark. One side will have learned their narrative from teach-ins, movies, classroom lectures and newspaper reports. The other will have learned Arabic, the subtleties of tribal culture, the finer points of Islam and have seen at first hand how things are.
The AQI looks ready to take things to the next level. Let's see what the response is.
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