Thursday, May 08, 2008

Al-Masri the Egyptian falls

Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq was captured today in the northern city of Mosul according to the Iraqi ministry of defense. Al-Masri's life parallels that of al-Qaeda itself. Born an Egyptian he followed al-Qaeda's fortunes from the Middle East to Central Asia and back. According to US sources, Masri was born in 1967, "joined the Muslim Brotherhood, and in 1982 ... joined Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which later became part of al-Qaeda. He went to Afghanistan in 1999, where he became an explosives expert. In 2004 he was put in charge of al-Qaeda’s overseas networks, and in 2006 he succeeded al-Zarqawi as the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq."

Intrestingly enough, Masri was captured in Mosul. Bill Roggio says Al Qaeda’s senior leadership was thought "to be attempting to regroup in Mosul. US and Iraqi forces have killed several key al Qaeda leaders in Mosul over the past several months". Mosul, you will recall, is the hub of one of the remaining al-Qaeda ratlines along the Euphrates. General Petraeus in testimony to Congress in early April, provided a interesting chart showing Mosul to be the hub of one of the remaining "ratlines" or infiltration routes stretching down from Syria. It was natural for al-Masri to be somewhere in the vicinity.

Bill Roggio says "Al Qaeda in Iraq's last major ratline into Syria spans westward from Mosul into Tal Afar and the crossing point at Sinjar. The terror group is waging a brutal campaign to prevent the Iraqi Army and US forces from securing the province."

Because of his broad involvement in al-Qaeda's international operations, al-Masri's capture would be a setback for al-Qaeda not only in Iraq, but to its overall organization. Reuters reports:

If confirmed, the arrest would be another blow for Sunni Islamist al Qaeda in Iraq, which has reeled under a wave of U.S. military operations in the past year. ... Now the American forces have taken him to identify him," Askari said.





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19 Comments:

Blogger NahnCee said...

Wow, Reuters admits that Al-Q is reeling. With nary a word about American forces losing and American casualties and American post-traumatic stress disorder ... or Abu Ghraib.

Things aren't going to be much better for him back in Egypt if he ever manages to get out of Gitmo, since Egypt is also increasingly swirling down the tubes with street riots over hunger and lack of food.

5/08/2008 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Wretchard - you might this of some tactical interest, too:

http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/2008/05/fleet-positions-itself-for-war.html

5/08/2008 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

What doesn't come out in your article is that it was Iraqi Security Forces which made the arrest. And there's no more code of Omerta in the Al Qaeda, it seems. One of this guys homies was captured, and led the Security Forces right to the man when he was sleeping.

5/08/2008 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger reoconnot said...

At the rate things are proceeding in Iraq the naive pacifist Obama (God help us if he is elected POTUS) may not be able to concede Iraq to al Qaeda and Iran after all.

5/08/2008 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger patrick neid said...

Without a second thought I would have to practice my water boarding skills on this guy.

5/08/2008 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

Every day, the Iraqi forces are getting stronger and the Iraqi government is finding ways to work together. Antipathy against Iran is widespread as Iran is overplaying its hand in Iraq and Lebanon. Antipathy against al-qaeda in Iraq has never been higher.

5/08/2008 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

What doesn't come out in your article is that it was Iraqi Security Forces which made the arrest.

Victory is cumulative. The Iraqi Security Forces, liaison with the Kurdish Peshmerga, the Battle of Mosul, the takedown of the ratlines -- all of this was an investment of billions and thousands of lives. The Iraqi Security forces didn't exist only a few years ago.

I was listening to a General Officer of an allied country who described how it took five years to add a couple of battalions to his force and then remarked that when he was in Iraq they were adding that many a month. Of course it didn't happen by magic. In the end a bunch of guys got up every day and did it. Rain or shine. Snow or sandstorm. Damn the IEDs, full speed ahead.

Events like al-Masri's capture highlights the fact that wars are often won by systemic developments. Behind the Marianas Turkey Shoot, for example, was the naval aviation training program, the Grumman Hellcat, the CIC, the fast carrier task forces. All the cumulative stuff.

But I'd like to suggest the most important development is the process of organizational learning. Winning wars is often the consequence of learning faster and keeping the resulting human capital than your opponent. Every American loss is a tragedy, but the AQ is losing human capital at a far greater rate. The prisons are full of AQ, many of them the investment of years of terrorist training. Al-Masri himself is a prime example. One moment he was the epitome of the terrrist. The next instant he was in cuffs.

5/08/2008 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

W: But I'd like to suggest the most important development is the process of organizational learning.

The US Navy has been doing carrier ops at a high tempo, in both peacetime and war, since the days of the Battle of Coral Sea. Part of this included one tragic "learning experience" witnessed very closely by John McCain, a major fire on the Forrestal that took three days to quench. All of this has created an unbroken reservoir of skills and lessons-learned and muscle memory that can't be learned by cribbing it from the internet. China can try to keep up, but the laws of compound interest apply here.

5/08/2008 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Obi's Sister said...

Cheers! May they bury him UNDER the jail!

5/08/2008 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Blogdanovich said...

Excuse me while I run out to my back yard and fire my automatic weapon into the air while going "la-la-la-la-la-la-" really fast.

5/08/2008 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

I haven't seen this report confirmed by US military authorities yet.

So this story for now is just a story.

Iraqis often overstate their case.

5/08/2008 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

reoconnot - and the real irony, of course, is that that testament to his lack of judgment will only help him in the election.

5/08/2008 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger Ikez said...

Richard,
It's worth noting that internal al Qaeda documents I've seen, former CIA director (and Iraq-al Qaeda link skeptic) George Tenet and Lt. Gen. William Caldwell all place al Masri in Baghdad in 2002. A year before the invasion. This goes right to the point of your recent post on Saddam and al Qaeda that I've been meaning to talk to you about.

It was an excellent post and I was wondering if you could please email me about it. I'd greatly appreciate it.

Keep up the great work.

5/08/2008 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

This is very good news, if it is true. Unfortunately, this is maybe the 4th or 5th time he has been reported to be captured or killed. I am waiting for Centcom confirmation, before I break out the hats and hooters.

5/08/2008 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Fat man: I am waiting for Centcom confirmation, before I break out the hats and hooters.

Fan of the 'Dan I see.

5/08/2008 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Lucky Pierre said...

Teresita wrote, "The US Navy has been doing carrier ops at a high tempo, in both peacetime and war, since the days of the Battle of Coral Sea. Part of this included one tragic "learning experience" witnessed very closely by John McCain, a major fire on the Forrestal that took three days to quench. All of this has created an unbroken reservoir of skills and lessons-learned and muscle memory that can't be learned by cribbing it from the internet. China can try to keep up, but the laws of compound interest apply here."

Not forever, Ter. Remember the downsizing of the US military in the 1990's? A lot of those skill-sets were lost with the people, and here comes Obama with his hammer and sickle. Meanwhile China's military expenditures continue to grow explosively. China is, along with the United States, one of the largest land-masses in the temperate zone, which has the makings of a new superpower.

5/08/2008 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Quig said...

Looks like it's not happening.
Al-Qaeda chief in Iraq 'not captured'
THE US military has denied that Al-Qaeda in Iraq chief Abu Ayyub al-Masri - who carries a US bounty of $5.3 million - had been captured by security forces.

US military spokeswoman Major Peggy Kageleiry said the detained individual was not Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, whose real name according to the military is Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

Yesterday, state television Al-Iraqiya reported that a man calling himself Muhajir was captured by Iraqi forces in the northern province of Nineveh.

"They did not catch Abu Hamza al-Muhajir. Somebody with same name but not connected with him. It is not him,'' Major Kageleiry said.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23671400-12377,00.html

5/09/2008 01:46:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 05/09/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

5/09/2008 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger joe buz said...

Wrong tango it seems but tell me, what is to be gained by announcing that you have captured a command and control type bad guy? Would it not be better to keep this information under wraps for at least a month or two?

5/09/2008 10:37:00 AM  

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