Friday, April 18, 2008

The CounterSurge

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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21 Comments:

Blogger Brock said...

I hope the fact that AQI intends to indiscriminately poison water supplies gets lots of press attention in Iraq. I mean, it's not like Iraqis don't already have plenty of reasons to side with us, but more reasons can't hurt.

4/18/2008 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Brock: I hope the fact that AQI intends to indiscriminately poison water supplies gets lots of press attention in Iraq. I mean, it's not like Iraqis don't already have plenty of reasons to side with us, but more reasons can't hurt.

My side is the side that has been trying to build clean water infrastructure in Iraq, so if some Iraqi fucktards finally come aboard because we intercepted a note threatening to poison their water, my attitude is not so much to cheer but to say "Where the hell have you been?"

4/18/2008 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

my attitude is not so much to cheer but to say "Where the hell have you been?"

Yeah, because that would be like, you know, positive. And you just can't have THAT now, can you!

4/18/2008 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger IrishCicero said...

"Fucktards."

That's a term that needs to be used again.

4/18/2008 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

"so if some Iraqi fucktards finally come aboard because we intercepted a note...,

You really haven't got a clue do you? You are just so totally lost in this to make an attempt at rational thought would be painful wouldn't it? You are pathetic, aren't you? And shameless too? why don't you and habu go get a room somewhere, as it seems you two entertain one another so well. Too bad you can't seem to figure out that no one else here is entertained by the charade.

I have nothing further to say on that subject.

4/18/2008 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Now would be a good time to utilize whatever goodwill and good connections there are to be found in the neighborhood to interdict the flow of jihadists. Yeah I know it is easier said, but surely some effort that dead ended in the past would bear fruit today in light of the surge?

The Iraqi army and Security forces have their work cut out for them for it is they who must ultimately be the guarantors of individual Iraqi's safety. They will need all the help and luck they can get.

4/18/2008 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

So the terrorists decide that the answer is … more terror. And more of the same kind of terror. In other words, “When all you have is a hammer….”

I wonder if this is because this is all these guys can think of is more of the same, and serious innovation consists of “I know, we’ll have a sale on terror on Thursdays!” or is it something more basic?

The military always has trouble with looking at things in any way but use of their own individual Specialty Codes but Al Queda seems to have taken such monomania to a new level.

So, what could they do? Their best hope lies in the useful idiots of the West, but they don’t seem to recognize that.

4/18/2008 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

RWE, AQ might decide the center of gravity of Iraq lies in America, and use mass-terror here, to try and elect Barack Hussein Obama. Offering a "deal" if Americans elect Obama.

While that might be stupid, there are enough reasons from a distance (from America) why AQ's leadership and Obama would both think it wise. Neither understands Americans much I think. It has worked in Spain. Which has pacifists who abhor the military as Defense Minister (she's pregnant).

Much of the feminist-leftist-pacifist West encourages AQ at every turn. So it's not out of the question that a wave of bombings or a mass casualty attack this summer could be seen as AQ's way of staving off defeat.

Probably 3/4 of the Democratic Party would respond to terrorism here at home by offering talks with AQ.

4/18/2008 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Wadeusaf: The Iraqi army and Security forces have their work cut out for them for it is they who must ultimately be the guarantors of individual Iraqi's safety. They will need all the help and luck they can get.

When Americans threw off the yoke of King George III did we need the French Army to patrol Boston and New York for 100 years to make sure we didn't burn our own bridges and grain silos, or poison our own well water? When Americans die for their own country that's noble, but when they die for somebody else's country (South Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq) that's just a waste.

4/18/2008 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Whiskey_199: Probably 3/4 of the Democratic Party would respond to terrorism here at home by offering talks with AQ.

The only talking we would do would be to read them their rights. You think in stark terms, Whiskey. Its either total war, or total surrender. What about treating al-Qaeda like the Mafia and arresting the MFers?

4/18/2008 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

"What about treating al-Qaeda like the Mafia and arresting the MFers?"
....................................

Why don't the Filipinos arrest all the members of ASG in the southern Philippines?

Why didn't the Russians arrest the armed terrorists during the Beslan massacre?

Why didn't the Northern Alliance just arrest the members of the Taliban?

4/18/2008 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger ECM said...

"What about treating al-Qaeda like the Mafia and arresting the MFers?"

Wow...this is a blast from the past. Not only have I not heard the thoroughly discredited idea of treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue in *years*, but I can't believe I'm actually reading it on The Belmont Club of all places.

Are there people that still believe this is a sane, productive, policy to pursue? In 2008? I mean, outside of the fever swamps on the left (not that I imagine even they are really interested in anything of the sort, mind you).

4/18/2008 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...


Son of Dutch defense chief is killed in Afghanistan


Van Uhm's father, Gen. Peter van Uhm, was installed only Thursday as the Netherlands' defense chief.

The prime minister called Van Uhm's death "an unprecedented tragedy," and the weekly meeting of the Dutch Cabinet was briefly stopped so ministers could reflect privately.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed that the militants knew in advance about Van Uhm's movements and planted a mine that killed him, but the Dutch government rejected the claim.

"Our information is that there is no indication of any link between this cowardly deed and the fact that it was the son of the defense chief," Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told reporters in The Hague.

4/18/2008 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

ECM: Wow...this is a blast from the past. Not only have I not heard the thoroughly discredited idea of treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue in *years*, but I can't believe I'm actually reading it on The Belmont Club of all places.

George Bush, 9/20/01:

"Tonight, we face new and sudden national challenges. We will come together to improve air safety, to dramatically expand the number of air marshals on domestic flights, and take new measures to prevent hijacking. We will come together to promote stability and keep our airlines flying, with direct assistance during this emergency. We will come together to give law enforcement the additional tools it needs to track down terror here at home. We will come together to strengthen our intelligence capabilities to know the plans of terrorists before they act, and find them before they strike."

4/18/2008 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

Why don't the Filipinos arrest all the members of ASG in the southern Philippines?

Why didn't the Russians arrest the armed terrorists during the Beslan massacre?

Why didn't the Northern Alliance just arrest the members of the Taliban?

4/18/2008 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

RWE, the Viet Cong did essentially the same thing. Their program was to convince the villagers that they couldn't count on security from the South Vietnamese and the Americans. They figured that they would scare everyone into accepting their protection. There's *a* blast from the past, not the one that ecm was talking about but still in the same vein.

4/18/2008 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

So, then, we don't think that Iran is a state sponsor of Al-Q, and that Al-Q will continued to concentrate on Iraq because that is what Iran has told them to do, and what Iran will fund them to do?

4/18/2008 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

Teresita why don't we just deputize Morgan Spurlock and have him arrest Osama bin Laden when he finds him? That oughtta work real well.

4/19/2008 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger mark said...

Wretchard wrote: "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."

Occasionally, observers of the US--AQ war look at historial analogies that are useful. Attention to the history of the Barbary War, gives Americans (some of them, anyway?) insight into the centuries-long struggle of the US against Islamic supremecists.

Another analogy that gets sporadic attention is the comparison of AQ to the Assassins. Yes, the Assassins were Shia-related, and the analogies aren't perfect, but there are many interesting match-ups, including the strategies for hijacking doctrine to support violent political means and ends. Terror is very effective. Leaving a note for a prospective victim works for Assassins of any kind, whether they be Ismaili, AQ, or Don Corleone.

The hopeful note re. the Assassins analogy is that the Assassins were utterly destroyed by the invader Mongol Halagu Khan. The less than hopeful note is that there's always another group that picks up the terror tool, because it's such a gosh-darned effective one.

4/19/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

This is just one more reminder that GWB's strategy has been sucessfull. I keep wondering how the American Media, which uniformly hates all things Bush, will keep this from the American public?

I still giggle everytime I hear the Democrat candidates say they will "end" the Iraq war.

One thing for certain, American military intelligence wouldn't have released that letter accidently. I'm not 100% certain why they did, but I'm certain they know what they are doing.

GWB will be remembered for out-smarting Al-Qaeda. I am sooo thankful that GWB is in the whitehouse!

4/19/2008 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

dla said...

"This is just one more reminder that GWB's strategy has been sucessfull. GWB will be remembered for out-smarting Al-Qaeda. I am sooo thankful that GWB is in the whitehouse!"

I am also thankful for our President George W. Bush. I am proud to have voted for him and would do so again.

4/19/2008 02:29:00 PM  

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