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Al Qaeda's gameplan


Walsingham

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6274116.stm

 

Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's strategic team coach making his plans quite clear.

 

1. Removal of the coalition from Iraq

2. Overthrow of Iraqi government (an elected government to the best of my knowledge)

2. Move on to violent overthrow in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

 

 

Can you say 'domino theory'? I thought I'd post this because I've noticed a degree of skepticism about the whole involvement in Iraq thing. I'll say it again for the cheap seats. It doesn't matter why we're there. We have to win now. Even if we're just being selfish.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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Its interesting how different articles on the same subject produce differing reports.

 

al-Qaida Video Reflects Group's Troubles

 

 

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Jul 5, 4:38 PM (ET)

 

By LEE KEATH

 

BAGHDAD (AP) - A new video by al-Qaida's deputy leader Thursday left no doubt about what the terror network claims is at stake in Iraq - describing it as a centerpiece of its anti-American fight and insisting the Iraqi insurgency is under its direct leadership.

 

But the proclamations by Ayman al-Zawahri carried another unintended message: reflecting the current troubles confronting the Sunni extremists in Iraq, experts said.

 

The Islamic State of Iraq, the insurgent umbrella group that is claimed by al-Qaida, has faced ideological criticism from some militants, and rival armed groups have even joined U.S. battles against it. A U.S.-led offensive northwest of Baghdad - in one of the Islamic State's strongholds - may have temporarily disrupted and scattered insurgent forces.

 

"Some of the developments suggest that it (the Islamic State) is more fragile than it was before," said Bruce Hoffman, a Washington-based terrorism expert at the Rand Corp. think tank.

 

 

Al-Zawahri "is trying to replenish the Islamic State brand," he said. "It's time to reassert its viability, but how connected to reality that is, is another issue."

 

In the unusually long video - at just over an hour and a half - al-Zawahri depicted the Islamic State of Iraq as a vanguard for fighting off the U.S. military and eventually establishing a "caliphate" of Islamic rule across the region.

 

"The Islamic State of Iraq is set up in Iraq, the mujahedeen (holy warriors) celebrate it in the streets of Iraq, the people demonstrate in support of it," al-Zawahri said, "pledges of allegiance to it are declared in the mosques of Baghdad."

 

He called on Muslims around the world to "support this blessed fledgling mujahid garrison state with funds, manpower, opinion, information and expertise."

 

But al-Qaida in Iraq - the group that claims allegiance to Osama bin Laden's goals - has been put on the defensive. Some Sunni insurgent groups have publicly split with it, distancing themselves from its bomb attacks on Iraqi civilians and accusing al-Qaida of trying to strong-arm their members into joining.

 

One influential faction, the 1920 Revolution Brigades, has openly helped U.S. forces in new offensives against al-Qaida in and around Baghdad, and some Sunni tribes have turned against it in western Anbar province.

 

U.S. forces have focused on al-Qaida-linked fighters in their security clampdowns in Baghdad and so-called "belts" around the city in recent weeks. That has brought an increase in American casualties, but insurgent and militia attacks appear to have fallen.

 

Still, bloodshed can hit at any time. A car bomb Thursday killed 17 people and wounded 28 when it blasted a photographers' shop in a Shiite part of Baghdad, where a bride and groom were inside getting their wedding photos taken as their relatives and friends waited outside, said an official at the nearest police station.

 

The bride and groom were among the wounded, with minor injuries, said an official at the hospital where the victims were taken. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

 

North of Baghdad, insurgents attacked an Iraqi police convoy, killing five policemen. Other police in the convoy then opened fire, killing six civilian passers-by, said a police official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

 

In his video, al-Zawahri did not mention last week's failed car bombing attempts in Britain, which British authorities are investigating for al-Qaida links. That suggested the video, posted Thursday on an Islamic militant Web site, was made before the alerts in London and the airport attack in Glasgow.

 

But Hoffman said the timing of its release suggested al-Zawahri wanted to use the London attacks to call attention to al-Qaida and portray it as at the head of the global jihad.

 

The al-Qaida No. 2 laid out a strategy, saying in the near-term militants should target U.S. and Israeli interests "everywhere" in retaliation for "attacks on the Islamic nation" in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

 

The long-term strategy calls for "diligent work to change these corrupt and corrupting (Arab) regimes." He said Muslims should "rush to the fields of jihad" in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia "to defeat the enemies of the Islamic nation" and for "training to prepare for the next jihad."

 

Al-Qaida's declaration of the Islamic State of Iraq last year was a dramatic move aimed at staking out its leadership of Iraq's insurgency. Allying itself with several smaller Iraqi Sunni insurgent groups, it presented the Islamic State as an alternative government within Iraq, claiming to hold territory.

 

Although groups inspired by al-Qaida have been behind some of the most shocking attacks of the four-year Iraq war - including some against Shiite holy sites - most experts say the fighters comprise only a small part of an insurgency dominated by Iraqi Sunnis.

 

"The tapes always pretend that everyone is in the al-Qaida column," said Brian Jenkins, a writer and commentator on global terrorism.

 

He said the al-Qaida leadership's "greatest fear is irrelevance."

 

Even their declaration of the Islamic State quickly met resistance. Some Islamic extremist clerics in the Arab world said it was too soon to declare an Islamic state because the qualifications were not yet met.

 

Al-Zawahri dismissed those who refuse to recognize the Islamic State "because it lacks the necessary qualifications" even while he acknowledged it had made unspecified mistakes.

 

He urged critics to work with the Islamic State "even if we see in it shortcomings," and said Islamic State leaders should "open their hearts" to consultations. "The mujahedeen are not innocent of deficiency, error and slips," he said. "The mujahedeen must solve their problems among themselves."

 

Rita Katz, director of the SITE Institute, which monitors terrorist-related activity around the world, said she didn't have "any doubt" that al-Qaida in Iraq is linked to bin Laden's network.

 

"It surely seems today that al-Qaida in Iraq is a branch of al-Qaida's leadership in Afghanistan-Pakistan," she said.

 

In other attacks around Iraq on Thursday, two American soldiers were killed and two were wounded by a roadside bombing in south Baghdad, the U.S. military said. It said the bomb was an explosively formed penetrator - a type of weapon which the Americans say is provided to Shiite extremists by the Iranians. Iran denies the allegation.

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Well spotted. You recal we had a thread about this very point a short while back. The Sunnis have begun to wake up to the fact that if things go belly up completely and Al Qaeda get in then it's not going to be a state run by the good ole boys. It'll be boredom and bible (koran) studies for all and straight to bed after dinner.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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That's always been Al Qaeda's game plan. Doesn't mean they'll able to carry it to fruition if we leave, however. There are other players in the equation, and if we were to depart today, I'd say that an Iran-backed Shiite "crescent" is a definite possibility over Al Qaeda-led Iraq (one has to realize that Al Qaeda, despite being the most visible terrorist organization, has never "ran" any country - they don't have the capability, and can only play a supporting role). Saddam, for all his villainy, was able to keep Al Qaeda in check quite effectively, so their victory sans the US is far from assured.

 

I also don't think the question is whether we should stay, but what we could do if we stay. Prolonging the status quo for ten more years isn't an efficient expenditure of lives and resources; if victory is not possible, then it's better to pull out sooner than later - after we've thrown even more men and money into the hole.

 

You stay the course if it'll eventually lead to victory. You don't stay the course for the sake of staying the course. Delaying the inevitable is great when done to preserve peace and security for just a little while longer, but "peace and security" is far from what I'd describe the state of Iraq today. What if our presence is what produces instability and a civil war is necessary for Iraq to ever see peace? It isn't a simple matter of staying to prevent Al Qaeda from taking over - it's a matter of asking what geopolitical and moral goals are satisifed by staying. Geopolitically, a South Korea-like Iraq is a significant boost to our desired hegemony over the Middle-East, so if we're confident that we can effect such a conclusion, then we should stay. But if we're incapable of effecting such a conclusion, then geopolitically we should leave now, before our national infrastructure and image are strained even more by the war. Morally, we should do what the Iraqi people want us to do, because ultimately that's the only moral justification we have for invading the country and installing a democracy there; if the Iraqi people want us to leave, then that's their right as a sovereign, democratic state. If we refuse to do so "for their own good," then I question the sincerity of our pledge to uphold Iraqi freedom - you can only go so far with the "freedom is not free" routine before you cease to become free altogether.

Edited by Azarkon

There are doors

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Azarkon, fair points.

 

1. If we bail, the result won't be a transition into a tripartite state. Iran would push forward, and be met with Saudi Arabia pushing back. It's not just consistent with their strategic imperatives, but would also let them 'burn off' a bunch of unruly young men. Turkey has already been building troop deployments along its border with Kurdistan ready for this eventuality. Fun for everyone! Except the Iraqi people caught in the middle.

 

2. You are quite correct in saying that simply staying for the sake of honour is not a classically sensible thing to do. Although I recall Churchill saying in cabinet after Dunkirk that staying in the war and failing and being conquered was better than declaring peace. I feel we have a moral imperative to try now, whatever the cost. But then I also believe it is perfectly feasible, provided we can rally domestic support. Never forget that the disruptive forces in Iraq are also struggling to maintain motivation.

 

3. This is not to say that domestic support is the only issue. Lurking in the background is the rising urban dissent across the middle-east caused by over-population and lack of economic growth. Unless more can be done in Egypt, Syria, Saudi and so on, then the problem may escalate anyway. But if this is correct then pulling out will only ensure the gravitation of these dissatisfied elements towards Al Qaeda, the vanquishers of the West.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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1. Quite right, and that's partly why it might be futile to say unless we can somehow address the regional interests of other players. I'm not talking about expanding the warfront, necessarily, but the current status isn't going to improve until the neighboring states start cooperating with us. For example of what could be a best-case scenario, see: http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IG07Ak04.html (I don't necessarily agree with the author's hypothetical scenario, but I can see why Iran would never accede to cooperation so long as the US maintains a threatening military presence in Iraq).

 

2. I think our moral imperative depends on the will of the Iraqi people, since that's basis of our remaining moral justification (ie we're there to help them). Ultimately it's their country, not ours (which makes it a very different situation than Churchill at Dunkirk), and therefore they should have the final say as to whether we stay if we were judging this situation from a strictly moral perspective.

 

3. Unfortunately signs indicate that we've already lost the war for hearts and minds in the Middle-East, and that's really what matters in determining who would gets blamed in the event of an implosion, Al Qaeda or no Al Qaeda. As it is now, even if Al Qaeda's leaders are taken out of the picture, other groups would undoubtedly use our presence to rally support, and that's one important question that you've got to ask - if we pull out, would they still target the US? Many people believe so, claiming that Islam's real goal is the overthrow of the West. But just as many people suggest that if we were genuine in our pull out from the Middle-East, they'd go back to fighting amongst themselves and leave us alone. One thing's for sure, however - even if the US pulls out, Israel can't, and they're at the core of Islamist demands for US pull-out (ie we'll leave you alone if you stop supporting Israel). To effect a real pull-out might not, in this respect, be feasible. In which case, might as well stay, right? But then the world is rallying against us, particularly the Muslim world (even countries like Indonesia, simply because they fear the US's threat to their religion), and we could be in deep doo-doo if we became the symbol against which a world-wide Islamic movement gathers. Alas, I fear that this might be a situation in which there just isn't an altogether correct solution, and that we'd be paying for our decision either way.

Edited by Azarkon

There are doors

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1. Certainly Iran has turned out to be a far more keen player in the game than anticipated. This was in part due to the slightly lacklustre efforts had been making in Afghanistan. I think the assumption was that they might repeat the performance. Howeevr, it seems that being just across some nice flat country, and containing some of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam has engaged their attention. Not to mention the oil in the South. Iran must be borne in mind, but at the same time I really don't much fancy the notion of selling the Iraqis into Iranian hands just for the sake of expediency.

 

2. The question of legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi public is crucial, as you observe. Last time I checked the official line of the elected government is that we are still welcome. Granted this could be the prattling of some Quisling or other, but I don't get that impression. There are plenty of fractious bastards in the Iraqi parliament (as is right and proper) and they would be perfectly capable of passing an independent motion asking us to get stuffed. Correct my assumptions by all means.

 

3. Decapitation of Al Qaeda achieving instant victory is now a nonsense. Al Qaeda have established themselves as a franchise like Maccy Ds. The operational and tactical methodology is out there. All it takes is a strategic leader to inspire people and focus operations into a campaign. Since they use the Maoist notion of wrecking everything until even a bunch of addled tehology students are as credible as the government, it's not terribly hard.

 

The crucial weakness is the underlying principles of inspiration. As you say, it is not feasible to remove the 'grievance' justification. What we can do is fragment the movement by shaking confidence in its claim to invincibility. In a way Al Qaeda have as much staked on Iraq as we do. If they lose here, with all the advantages at the outset, then people may look in other directions for leaders. Of course, if the Arab states keep locking up partial moderates then they won't have that option.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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