Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

There have been some inter-jihadist squabbles that have surfaced over the last several months that smell of a black-op—the case of ‘Abu Usamah al-‘Iraqi’ comes to mind—but today’s message from someone calling himself ‘Jihad al-Ansari’ and addressed to the head of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, seems to be the real thing; it genuinely reflects the bitterness that had crept in between the Al-Qaeda, the benefactors of al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State, on the one hand and the other jihadist groups active in Iraq.

In fact, a more excited observer (not me) would even go so far to call all that’s been happening of late a 'jihadist meltdown'. I certainly believe that enough bad-blood has been spilt that would forestall any attempts at reconciling Al-Qaeda with the other groups: there are multiple reports that Al-Qaeda is going all out to intimidate the Ansar al-Sunnah, 1920 Revolt Brigades and the Islamic Army in Iraq into submission and that there are running battles among these factions in Anbar Province and in the rural areas around Baghdad. Jolly good fun!

Below is my rough translation of some excerpts from al-Ansari’s letter that I found here (get it before it gets removed—it’s ruffling quite a number of jihadist feathers). Notice how al-Ansari plays up Iraqi identity (the dignity thing, and the date trees) to highlight the ‘foreignness’ of Al-Qaeda.

I have no idea who al-Ansari is supposed to be, or in whose name he is speaking, but he does seem to be talking from a certain level of authority, and with a manner that suggests that the Al-Qaeda leadership would know of him. Towards the end, al-Ansari publicly declares that he refuses to give his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq.

The key sentence in there, which reflects what is happening inside the Sunni insurgency is “We have started to fear the fighters of Al-Qaeda more than we fear the Mahdi Army gangs.”

BTW, I have heard an Iraqi source tell me, by phone from Baghdad, that some of these other insurgent groups (the ones with parts of their leadership in Damascus) are gossiping that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi is a former Saddam loyalist called Hisham al-Ghurairi. The jury is still out on whether al-Ghurairi was an officer at the Special Security Apparatus or the General Security Directorate, or an Iraqi Army officer. Others say that he was directly linked to the Presidential Office at the palace. Whatever he was, al-Ghurairi spent some stints as the overseer of the Muntheria border crossing with Iran, and at the Treibil one with Jordan.

If al-Baghdadi is in fact al-Ghurairi, then the much-hallowed claim that he’s of a Husseinite pedigree would be false. The Ghurair tribe (south of Baghdad, almost exclusively Sunni) is believed by most specialists to be descended from the ‘Abda branch of the Shammar Confederation. There is one unsupported claim out there that has the Ghurair descended from the early Muslim commander Khalid bin al-Walid, but that would make them Qurayshites and not Husseinites—descendants of Hussein bin Ali, the prophet’s grandson.

For the record, I am leaning against believing that al-Baghdadi is one and the same as Hisham al-Ghurari.

Al-Ansari’s letter:

[To my] Brother Abu Omar al-Baghdadi
[My] Brothers the leaders of Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia

I wish to emphasize the word ‘Brothers’, with all its meanings and connotations, so that it would hopefully remain as the reassuring safety valve to prevent matters from escalating between us, so that disagreement does not reach its furthest limits, and then defeat would be the reward for all of us, should we wish it or not…

This letter to may be a continuation of an conversation we started in a previous letter, that we sent to you on 13 Dhul Qi’dah 1427 AH, corresponding to 4 December 2006 AD, [entitled] the Firm Structure…and it was addressed to [our] brother Abu Hamza al-Muhajir…And we wished to advise you over the issue of declaring the Islamic State, and we wanted to clarify some issues that we discussed at the time…We put forth many questions and queries, and we waited for an answer or a follow-up from you about it…And we thought that the moral and religious obligation would entail that you would take the initiative and reply to us…

But what happened in the aftermath was very unfortunate
We didn’t receive a reply from you!...And you chose to remain silent!
And your correspondents and men began a fierce defamation campaign against our group on the internet forums, and spread lies about us, and lashed out with an avalanche of swear words and slander and takfir, some of which reached such a level of vulgarity that one would have imagined to hear only in the streets, and not on the electronic sites that supposedly represent—it is said—a jihadist Islamic media!!

…It was that the courage to discuss [matters] failed you, and you chose to be silent and ignore every step or initiative to open a dialogue channel with you, leaving the talk through your media channels, to every ignorant and fanatical [person], saying what is inappropriate by way of threats and vulgarity…

…Brother Abu Omar al-Baghdadi,
It’s been four months since you began to establish the project of your State, disregarding all those around you, and we say honestly that matters have deteriorated in this period in a way that we didn’t hope for, and because of the steps you have undertaken through all means there resulted uncountable negative results, that have damaged the jihadist corps, and greatly tarnished the reputation of the jihad and the mujaheddin.
The most prominent of these results and the worse that has come about because of your solitary step, was the commencement of many of your groups and members of your organization, so as to show your authority over Muslims in Iraq, to attack and insult all people, and to agitate against those who refuse to pledge allegiance to you…And in this most recent period, this pattern has been increasing, and many of your groups are capitalizing on the delicate situation, to peddle the idea of the State according to its beliefs, and to do so by attacking the people, and to harass every citizen, whether he was innocent or not…!

Attacks of all kinds and colors…Some of which were through insulting people in the streets with swear words and slander, or through threatening them with weapons if someone whispered disapproval of these behaviors…
Some other groups transgress over other jihadists, who are outside the confines of your alleged State, and this transgression develops sometimes into killing them treacherously or sanctioning the spilling of their blood…
Some other groups allow themselves to appropriate whatever they fancy from homes or funds for themselves under the justification that it belongs to the Islamic State!
Some other groups give themselves weird mandates, such as raiding homes, and frightening residents, and arresting any individual they suspect, or formulating accusations as they wish…
Have matters really descended to this level?!
When will your pride be moved after your groups have begun to mimic the actions of the enemies of Allah in trespassing over what’s holy…?!
…Do you know oh brother Abu Omar that appropriating cars and cell phones and money has become a common act among many of your groups…

…We say all this, knowing that [your] organization was formerly not as it is today…But your reckless striving to gather mujaheddin around your banner, while thinking that this would strengthen your organization and facilitate the declaration of your State in an independent manner, is specifically what drove your group to opt for horizontal growth (quantity) over vertical growth (quality)…And for that was the dangerous effect of bringing in every ignorant and unscrupulous individual, to join your ‘State’!...
And I don’t know…Do you want to drive your organization towards collapse and dissolution, because of the sins of these sinners…And I say, to be fair, that they are not necessarily the dominant strain among your cadres, but the ratio of their activity is gradually becoming publicly dominant, and the bad reputation falls upon all without distinction…

…Do you know that your groups have attacked our mujaheddin three times so far!

…It is reasonable for you to squander the fighting effort towards assassinating and killing the mujaheddin who refuse to pledge allegiance to you, or those from the general body of the Muslims, at these trying times, when the efforts of the infidels are coalescing against the Muslims in Iraq? A few days ago, one of the sheikhs of the mosques of Baghdad said to me: “We have started to fear the fighters of Al-Qaeda more than we fear the Mahdi Army gangs”…
…Since when has the threat of murder been the correct manner by which to extract a pledge of allegiance?!
Do you think that through this manner we will hurry to pledge allegiance? Don’t you know [as an Iraqi], that the Iraqi will give you [the shirt off his back] if you speak to his pride, but if your begin to threaten him, he will strive to avenge his dignity, not fearing death…

…We do not accept injustice or harassment, and on this basis, I see that I should be the first to publicly refuse to pledge allegiance, and I declare that I will stand against it in its present form that it is following, through murder and arrogance and attempts of attacking the people and extorting their money…
This is not a declaration of war against you, but it is a strong cry that may succeed in awakening you from this dangerous condition you have fallen into…The Al-Qaeda organization would be honored and respected, if it takes justice and wisdom and fighting the infidel occupier and their Safavid agents, as its guidance, and then we will be honestly inclined to support it, for it needs us and we need it, and a brother cannot dissociate from, or make do without, his brothers…But he who transgresses, and follows the manual of aggression and tyranny, we do not fear him or respect him…
Our duty mandates that we will not hesitate to move against anyone who takes jihad as an instrument to attack innocents, or abducts them under the guise of questioning…And we will not allow anyone to sully the reputation of jihad in Iraq…
You may tell yourself that we are small in number in front of you, and that [we] may not be able to enforce what we say…and truthfully I tell you that we are even fewer than you believe, but we do not waver in answering the call of justice…
Have you ever noticed the date palms of Iraq, as they rise high, mighty, strong, stubborn and dignified…
We shall, by the power of Allah, like the date trees of Iraq, stand before anyone who transgresses over Islam and the Muslims…
Allah is Great…Allah is Great…Allah is Great…
Your Brother,
Jihad al-Ansari
9 Safar 1428 AH
26 February 2007 AD

Friday, February 23, 2007

Al-Qaeda Bandwagons on Alleged Rape Case, Uses Occasion to Show Leader Still Active

In a seven minute speech released yesterday as an audio file and posted on several jihadist websites, Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s chief, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, addressed the recent rape allegations made by “Sabreen al-Janabi” against officers of the Public Order Forces that she made in an interview with Aljazeera TV that aired late Tuesday.

Although Al-Muhajir didn’t directly address last week’s press reports that asserted that he’d been wounded in recent fighting with Iraqi troops north of Baghdad, the timing of his message clearly meant to dispel those reports.

Like much of the media-hype surrounding this bogus rape allegation, Al-Muhajir goes all out in feigning indignation and vowing revenge:

Today, honor has been ruptured, and religion has been desecrated, and shame has caught up with all Muslims. Today, the dog has waded into the honor of the pure one, and the debauched, deviant infidel has trampled the veil of the modest one.

Speaking on behalf of the ‘Prince of the Faithful’, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq to whom Al-Muhajir his pledged his and Al-Qaeda’s allegiance, he continues:

Our master the Prince of the Faithful tells you, oh youths of the State of Islam, that [he] is not your prince or you his soldiers until the ground is drenched with the blood of the infidels. Annihilate their checkpoints, burst into their [military] bases. Cut off their limbs, and detach their hearts from their bodies. [Do] battle today, today we erase despair, today we spill blood, [our] honor is reeling from injustice.

Hinting that the mujaheddin have been a little languid in their pursuit of jihad of late, al-Muhajir demands:

Our prince is adamant, and says: I demand every mujahed to take his weapon from its hiding place and not to put it aside until he meets Allah as a martyr or Allah gives us victory.

Addressing “Sabreen Janabi”, al-Muhajir promises:

To you oh pure and modest one, your reward is with Allah, so be patient and know that more than three hundred [native] Iraqi fighters have asked to be enrolled in martyrdom operations, and that in just the first ten hours of hearing the news [of the rape]; fifty of them are [from the] Janabi [tribe], and twenty of them have asked to marry you if you are not already married. We are coming oh sister, and we will not forget to avenge [you].
Then, he turns to damn Iraq’s leaders, focusing on the Sunnis among them:

“Allah, [show your judgment against] Nouri al-Maliki, Tareq al-Hashimi, Adnan al-Dulaimi, Salam al-Zobaee, and Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, for they have lied to you and slandered the names of their free tribes, and they have deceived and betrayed their nation, until honor has been ruptured in the name of politics and diplomacy and the rights of the Sunnis. Allah, avenge yourself of them, and show us one of your miracles, [by bringing down] your speedy revenge on them and those who issued fatwas allowing the Sunnis to enter the [National] Guard and the Public Order [Forces]…

…The Soldier, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir

Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia has been stepping up its propaganda attacks against the Sunnis in the government: the media arm of the Islamic State of Iraq, al-Furqan, released a one hour “documentary” about the Sunni leadership and the timeline of their “treacherous” participation in the political process under the title ‘The Harvest of the Defeatists’ last week.

Jihadist groups have been falling all over themselves to bandwagon on the “Sabreen Janabi” story—a 17 minute statement issued by the ‘Emir’ of the Islamic Army of Iraq was put out today—and much of the Arab world has been gripped by this saga, which was marshaled to show just how evil the Maliki government really is and that the American ‘surge’ is coming apart.

Problem is, there’s no “Sabreen Janabi”.

The 20-something accuser’s real name is Zaineb Abbas Hassan al-Shimmeri from the area of Sabi’ Bour north of Baghdad, according to Deputy Interior Minister for Intelligence Affairs Maj. Gen. Hussein Ali Kamal (a Kurd), in an interview given today to Radio Sawa (Arabic). She may even be originally from a Shi'a family, according to a source of mine, and may have been banished by her family over honor issues, before she began servicing the needs of jihadists and other assorted organized crime syndicates—whatever those services may be.

According to General Kamal, al-Shimmeri (a tribe that has nothing to do with the Janabis) is a divorcee who is currently legally attached to two other husbands, one of them already in the government’s custody on charges of aiding the insurgency and kidnapping. A corpse has been exhumed from the garden of a former home that she’d lived in with her detained husband, and one former kidnapping victim has come forward and identified her as a member of an abduction ring.

So much for Sabreen's honor, and the twenty Janabi lads who’ve lining up to wed her. Poor al-Muhajir is now stuck with hundreds of suicidal boys ready to burst over this perceived slight to Muslim ‘honor’; I guess they’ll just have to wait for Aljazeera’s next ‘Breaking News’ story.

General Kamal admitted that al-Shimmeri was roughly manhandled by the police, and that in itself should be illegal, but I’m pretty sure that, given all the plentiful evidence that’s been released, that there’s been no rape incident here.

So for all the western and Arab media that got duped, the latter most willingly, by this jihadist black-op disguised as high drama, I say: tough luck.

I’m impressed by how the Iraqi government dealt with this issue: Good work.

BTW: I ready to acknowlegde this now: al-Muhajir, although speaking in classical Arabic, pronounces some words with a muted Egyptian accent. I have been reluctant to belief that he's actually Abu Ayyub al-Masri, as claimed by US intelligence, and that for a variety of reasons; I'm warming up to the idea at this point, or at least the idea that he's originally from Egypt.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Insurgents’ Dirty Laundry on Air

I was wondering how the current spate of jihadist-on-jihadist strife is going to be revealed to the public at large, but I never contemplated that it will be done on a jihadist satellite station, Al-Zawra, and through the person of the slimy nutcase who owns it, Mishaan al-Jebouri.

Al-Zawra TV had become the premier jihadist propaganda tool; it was mostly focused on entertainment programming but began to air pro-insurgency rhetoric after Jebouri was stripped of his parliamentary immunity on charges of corruption and aiding the insurgency. What Al-Zawra basically did was to retransmit the jihadist videos that are being posted on the internet—mostly scenes of attacks on U.S. soldiers and Iraqi troops—to a much larger pan-Middle Eastern audience through the use of satellite technology; an audience that for the most part is not connected to the web. This made Al-Zawra immediately popular across the region, and it was being lauded by jihadists everywhere, even though some had expressed doubts over its ‘opportunistic’ management.

But a few days ago, Al-Zawra began running some anti-Al-Qaeda messages in its news ticker, and the jihadists began to mumble and some even penned invectives against al-Jebouri.

Yesterday, however, Al-Jebouri gave a whole anti-Al-Qaeda speech and this drove the jihadists berserk: the premier jihadist organ had begun to badmouth the jihad!

These are al-Jebouri’s main points:

-Al-Qaeda provoked the Shi'as and then failed to protect the Sunnis from retaliation.

-Al-Qaeda is forcing all the other insurgent groups to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq under Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, and is punishing the hold-outs.

-Al-Qaeda is killing and abducting Sunni notables who were part of the insurgency.

-Al-Qaeda wants to impose a Taliban-like Islamic State on Iraqi Sunnis, who are the worse for it—they don’t even have enough to eat.

-Al-Qaeda killed an emissary sent by al-Jebouri, who has wanted to negotiate with al-Baghdadi.

-Iraqi Sunnis across the board are preparing to clash with Al-Qaeda as is already happening in Anbar Province.

Al-Jebouri gets into details and names names, and he addresses his speech to Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, questioning the validity of pledging allegiance to an anonymous phantom.

There is nothing new here for veteran readers of Talisman Gate, for I recently wrote:

Al-Baghdadi also feels compelled to tell his fighters to take it easy with the other jihadist groups, which have yet to join the Islamic State of Iraq, while at the same time telling the holdouts that their obstinacy smells of sedition. There are other reports that insurgents are clashing among themselves as Al Qaeda imposes its hegemony over one and all, to the point that al-Baghdadi is compelled to tell his guys that "I am certain that the sincere monotheists are surely coming" our way "eventually, so be tender, be tender."

And before that I wrote:

For most Sunnis, the insurgency has come to be about communal survival, rather than communal revival. They no longer harbor fantasies of recapturing power. They are on the run and are losing the turf war with the Shiites for Baghdad.

Sunni sectarian attacks, usually conducted by jihadists, finally provoked the Shiites to turn to their most brazen militias — the ones who would not heed Ayatollah Sistani's call for pacifism — to conduct painful reprisals against Sunnis, usually while wearing official military fatigues and carrying government issued weapons. The Sunnis came to realize that they were no longer facing ragtag fighters, but rather they were confronting a state with resources and with a monopoly on lethal force. The Sunnis realized that by harboring insurgents they were inviting retaliation that they could do little to defend against.

Sadly, it took many thousands of young Sunnis getting abducted by death squads for the Sunnis to understand that in a full-fledged civil war, they would likely lose badly and be evicted from Baghdad. I believe that the Sunnis and insurgents are now war weary, and that this is a turnaround point in the campaign to stabilize Iraq.

Still, major bombings will continue for many years, for Al Qaeda will remain oblivious to all evidence of the insurgency's eventual defeat. The Baathists, and jihadist groups like Ansar al-Sunna, the Islamic Army of Iraq, and the 1920 Revolution Brigades, may be collapsing due to aimlessness and despair, but Al Qaeda still enjoys the clarity of zealotry and fantasy. Right now, they are arm-twisting other jihadist groups to submit to them and are also taking credit for the large-scale fighting that continues in Iraq.

My own little reading of al-Jebouri’s little speech is that this was spurred on by Syrian Intelligence. Sure, some may say it’s the Barzanis, or the Jordanians, or even the CIA. But al-Jebouri, who is now hiding-out in Damascus, may have been prodded into this by his Syrian hosts who, according to a source, are getting information that Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia is moving resources and personnel from Iraq to Syria in preparation for launching operations against the regime there and beyond in Lebanon and Israel. There is a cryptic line that al-Jebouri says that seems to add credibility to this theory: “We will not allow Iraq to turn into a dangerous place that threatens the countries of the region under any pretext…”

I did not watch al-Jebouri’s speech, but his words were transcribed onto a jihadist website (I got it from over here) by someone calling himself ‘Sami9000’ and I asked someone who had seen the speech and he confirmed that the transcribed text was accurate. Today, jihadist websites and discussion forums are abuzz with denunciations of al-Jebouri.

My personal opinion of al-Jebouri still stands—he’s as low as they come—but his little stunt will sow more confusion and acrimony among jihadists, which is always a good thing. If the Syrians are indeed behind it, then it’s also an indication that they may shifted their policy away from enabling the insurgents or turning a blind eye to the jihadist re-supply and recruitment networks operating on Syrian soil.

Here’s my rough translation of ‘Sami9000’s’ transcribed text:

Despite all that the Al-Qaeda organization has contributed in challenging the occupation, but they have also broken the back of national unity in Iraq and they resulted in bringing great suffering upon Iraqis, and the Al-Qaeda organization bears [responsibility] for a large part of the bombings among civilians, and that [manner of] targeting does not differentiate between a Sunni or a Shi’i or a child, and the targeting of Shi'as is a crime in every respect, and we condemn anyone who has committed such acts.

These acts gave the excuse for the Safavid sectarian militias, of which we absolve our Shi'a [brethren], it gave the excuse for it to retaliate and go to the Sunni neighborhoods to kill 4 or 5 or 10 times the number that was killed of the Shi'as.

…Al-Qaeda couldn’t protect people!! And Al-Qaeda bears responsibility for the displacement of 2 million Iraqis!! Because it conducted the bombings that set things ablaze…

…Al-Qaeda has a political program that it wants to implement in Iraq…

…Unfortunately, and I say this to all the Muslim audience and all those sympathizers with the Iraqi jihad, some members in the Al-Qaeda organization have begun assassination operations against heroic symbols of the resistance, unfortunately! Why? Because some groups in the Al-Qaeda organization or what they call today the Islamic State want us to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and its leader, or else you are supposed to sit aside and are barred from conducting any jihadist operation under any resistance banner apart from that of Al-Qaeda. I say to Sheikh Abu Omar: how can you force us to pledge allegiance to someone whose real name we don’t know? How do you want us to pledge allegiance to a State that we don’t know who its ministers are? How do we pledge allegiance to a State where we don’t know who is the minister, or the governor, or the leader or its emir? No names and nothing else, and no places either, and how do you want us to pledge allegiance to a State which we weren’t consulted about at the time of its declaration.

…How do you want us to pledge allegiance to the sectarian Islamic State of Iraq with its sectarian title!! And at the same time we oppose and challenge the federalist project, and oppose the [Vilayet-el-Faqih]!! Just as we oppose the hegemony of the sectarian parties on the political process!! Your [plan] will lead to sedition!!

…Why was Omar Mahmoud al-Falahi killed? The preacher and imam of the Nazzal mosque in Fallouja, before he was [about to deliver a sermon], and he is one of the sincere resistors of Fallouja!! And one of the heroes, and those who are respected, so why was he killed, and why was Sheikh Muhanned al-Ghurairi killed, when he was one of the founders of the People of Iraq Conference, and you know and everyone knows that our brother Saddam al-Nu’aimi in the Sbeilat area near Abu Ghraib had three brothers arrested by the Safavids, and you know that a group from your end came and performed an attack near his fourth brother’s shop, which is his livelihood, and the army of occupation responded and his brother was killed in the response, and he stood and began to insult the Al-Qaeda organization, and what did you do to him, you took him and you threw his body onto the trash heap, because usually those who are abducted by the Al-Qaeda organization, we never find their bodies. And to this day we don’t know the place of the martyr Sheikh Hassib al-‘Arif, you kill people and then don’t say where their bodies are?! Who killed Maj. Gen. Wajeeh Bara’, was he an agent of the occupation or an infidel? You would always kill the imams on Friday on their way to [deliver the sermon on] the pulpit, why was Sheikh Ahmad Faraj killed? Because he said don’t fight among civilians.

…Have you heard in Islam that messengers get killed?! I sent a messenger to you with a letter to negotiate with you and you kill the messenger! One of your brigades in the Province of Salahuddin and in the district of Beiji-Tikrit killed a messenger who had gone to talk to you, they killed him! I don’t want to reveal more details and names because everyone will fall into security troubles, and it will weaken the resistance but I will tell you a story: now you want one of the sheikhs of the Arab Jebour area in the Dora area to hand over his son to be killed, have you heard of a father handing over his son, especially if he doesn’t think he’s committed a crime from his perspective. I tell you the issue is that you have somebody who killed many Iraqis in the Dora area, he kills officers, he imposes taxes and fines on people, he kills soldiers and policemen, and he kills resistors who refused to pledge allegiance to you, so the son of the sheikh killed this man of yours, but only after your man killed more than 50 men in Dora, and you want his father to turn him in without an investigation, without a trial!! Is this the State you want to establish? To kill people without an accusation, or investigation, without a judge or nothing.

…Is it religiously lawful for you to forcefully take the ammunition of other resistance groups because they refuse to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State, yes you have, and I don’t want to pledge allegiance to you, I am not your partner in the sectarian fighting, I am not your partner in the murder of civilians, I cannot pledge allegiance to killing a policeman or a soldier or a civilian!! The [sectarian] expulsions are due to you and for these acts you bear full responsibility.

…Today, the capital of your Islamic State in Ramadi is [undergoing a] starvation, inside the city of Ramadi there are areas that the government cannot reach, that doesn’t have [cooking] gas, or flour, and no one can enter Ramadi, even the government is powerless to do so because you control it and the people don’t have bread, which means that forcing us to pledge allegiance to the State, whose territories we don’t know, means you are forcing us to commit suicide.

...Okay, so if the Arabs come to perform jihad does that [allow you] to turn us into slaves because you are fighting the occupier, to force us to become subjects of this State.

…Last week you blew up the police station in Dora, then the police station in Hawija yesterday, then the police station in Ramadi today, then the bombing at ‘Kilo 5’, you say these stations are [outposts] of the occupation, and we say that the Green Zone government serves the occupation, and it is a sectarian government, but [as regards] these policemen, we issued fatwas from sheikhs whose fatwas we hold valid that said that [it was lawful] to enter the police [service], or the army, better than militias coming in, these people would enforce security in areas, [they] are from the people of Dora and Hawija, you shoot at all the symbols of the state, and you blew up the police station thinking that it is an infidel state, these are not [part of] an infidel state! Those are our sons, they went to become soldiers in these areas based on legal fatwas issued by those whose fatwas we hold valid.

…You may think we have a project similar to that of Sheikh Bazi’ Abdel-Sattar, the head of the Ramadi Rebels Council, and I tell you no, I tell you that that Bazi’ started this project after you killed his father, and killed his brothers, maybe Sattar has a relationship with the occupation, and maybe his brother had one too, but their father has nothing to do with this case and you killed him, and now some of those who used to fight [as part of] the resistance in Ramadi have joined the Ramadi Rebels Council to fight you, why did you kill Sheikh Nasr, and this man I saw at many occasions and conferences defending Iraq, and you drove whoever is connected to Sufism in Ramadi to splinter [away], and you know what this resulted in.

…And today you abducted Sheikh Naji Jebareh, who has defended Ba’athists and returned them to their jobs, and rehired many officers, and he had honorable stances, and you can say that he had links to the occupations and the government, and I have definitive information that he is still alive and in a certain district, and I am certain that if his family knew he had been killed they would do the same as Sattar Bazi’ did to avenge his father, and we hope that you release him so that the efforts will not collide in Salahuddin Province, and it doesn’t become a repeat of what happened in Ramadi, my motives are patriotic…

…We were trying to make some gains for our people so we brought them into the army and into the government and we succeeded in [providing] some services but you came in and hit us and started to [declare us] infidels.

…Sheikh Abu Omar, maybe you yourself don’t know what is being done by some of the brigades…And maybe one of the biggest motivators for me to give this message was your murder of Namis Khidhir, who you know was one of the resistors of the occupation, and then Namis went to visit a neighboring country and once he got to Hawija, they killed him, and on what basis? Which court took this decision? This is a matter we cannot allow, today you kill Namis, and if empowered by Allah you will kill everyone else, and unfortunately we cannot accept this method…

Why have you been besieging the Zoba’ tribes for 5 days now? Was it because some of them refused to pledge allegiance, please, we do not want to weaken those soldiers resisting [the occupation]…

…As far as we’re concerned the Islamic State of Iraq is being managed against us, and we will not accept it at all, if you wanted to fight the occupation that is one thing, but you want in return for your fighting of the occupation to establish an Islamic State as had happened in Afghanistan, then [we say] no…

…We will not allow Iraq to turn into a dangerous place that threatens the countries of the region under any pretext, these Arabs that you have about you, let then go and fight in their own countries and not among us, we don’t need Arab volunteers for the Iraqis are psychologically and logistically mobilized at the current time to smash the occupation, and we say to the incoming Arabs who want to come to fight that we don’t need you and that we are capable of defeating the occupation through the strength of the Iraqis, so release the abductees that you have taken, and stop killing policemen, soldiers and state employees and everything associated with the Iraqi state because the situation has reached a point that we cannot accept…

…We will glorify your names in [this] country’s history and we know that there are heroes from Al-Qaeda, from the Arabs, who have been martyred in massive operations, [but] there is a difference between a forced pledge of allegiance and one derived from fondness, and I warn you that in areas apart from Ramadi the situation is changing whereby all will cooperate to confront you.

Friday, February 16, 2007

New Column: Fiery, Dangerous Words

This week's column is Fiery, Dangerous Words.

Essentially: anti-Shi'a fatwas will turn into burning oil wells in the Persian Gulf.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The WaPo on Zobaee

The Washington Post has a front-page story today about Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam Z. al-Zobaee (Ernesto Londono, ‘For Eminent Sunni, Lessons in Weakness,’ February 10, 2007) lamenting the fact that poor little Mr. Zobaee, a Sunni, gets no respect as is commensurate with his rank from the big bad Shi'as who run the government. The Shi'as allege that Mr. Zobaee is somehow involved with jihadist terrorists, chiefly the Islamic Army of Iraq faction, and that’s why they keep him out of the loop on security matters, even though he is Deputy Prime Minister for ‘Security Affairs.’

Gee, where could they have gotten such a crazy idea about Mr. Zobaee?

Well, maybe they had seen a recent front-page story in the New York Times (Marc Santora, ‘Sectarian Ties Weaken Duty's Call for Iraq Forces,’ December 28, 2006) that opened with:

The car parked outside was almost certainly a tool of the Sunni insurgency. It was pocked with bullet holes and bore fake license plates. The trunk had cases of unused sniper bullets and a notice to a Shiite family telling them to abandon their home. ''Otherwise, your rotten heads will be cut off,'' the note read.

The soldiers who came upon the car in a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad were part of a joint American and Iraqi patrol, and the Americans were ready to take action. The Iraqi commander, however, taking orders by cellphone from the office of a top Sunni politician, said to back off: the car's owner was known and protected at a high level.

For Maj. William Voorhies, the American commander of the military training unit at the scene, the moment encapsulated his increasingly frustrating task -- trying to build up Iraqi security forces who themselves are being used as proxies in a spreading sectarian war. This time, it was a Sunni politician -- Vice Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie -- but the more powerful Shiites interfered even more often.

Deputy PM Zobaee is an expert in animal excrement: his PhD thesis was about the benefits of organic manure, according to a source. He was a professor at some college in Diyala, and wasn’t a Ba’athist. His cousins from the Zoba’ tribe (headed by Harith al-Dhari) got themselves involved in the insurgency, and he became somewhat of a front for them. However, he was very obsequious to the Americans from the beginning, and some people in the U.S. Embassy found that endearing, and insisted on promoting him as a ‘moderate Sunni insurgency sympathizer.’

There was a big and unreported flare-up recently in the cabinet after Zobaee’s rogue ‘Commission for Counterterrorism’ was uncovered; it was staffed by ex-regime intelligence officers and it was managed without anyone in the government knowing about it, or knowing about how it got its funding. It set up offices all over southern Iraq, and was allegedly collecting information on the Shi'a political parties, prompting accusations that it was a CIA job. Zobaee was made to shut it down after he was confronted with evidence by PM Maliki.

Zobaee has been now tasked as the overseer of the new Baghdad security plan, or the ‘surge,’ alongside two deputies, Barham Salih and Ahmad Chalabi. Chalabi was busy yesterday re-opening Sunni mosques in Sha’ab and Sadr City.

In another measure of how poorly the Post’s Zobaee story was written, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the Sunni Arab Speaker of the Parliament, is mistakenly identified as “a Sunni Kurd."

How can one claim to know anything about Iraqi politics and still misidentify Mashhadani as a Kurd?

In other news, the Sadrists and the Islamic Party (Sunni) are supposed to sign their ‘peace-treaty’ today at President Talabani’s house. This accord aims to put an end to sectarian cleansing in Baghdad’s mixed neighborhoods and to allow those who have been forced to flee to go back to their homes.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A hunch, and a salute...

I have a hunch that today's arrest of the Deputy Health Minister, Hakim al-Zamili, by Iraqi commandoes has something to do with the abduction on November 19, 2006 of Ammar al-Saffar, who formerly occupied the same post at the Ministry of Health. Al-Saffar (born 1950 in Baghdad, graduate of Mustansiriyya University with a degree in Business Administration, left Iraq in 1978) was a high level Da'awa Party member and was close to both ex-PM Ibrahim al-Ja'afari and current PM Nouri al-Maliki. He was abducted from his family home near Maghrib Street in Waziriya by a renegade squad of the Mahdi Army, according to a knowledgable source. The source added that al-Saffar had been threatened by the Sadrists who control the Health Ministry to give up his post for one of their own or else they would hurt him or his family. Al-Saffar had been living outside the Green Zone with his elderly mother, and with minimal security. His wife and children live in London.

There have been ongoing negotiations between the Da'awa Party and the Sadrists to secure his release, but some believe that al-Saffar is already dead.

In other news, the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger has a great story about the 'Snake Eater'. This line of thinking conforms to the alternative counterinsurgency techniques that I was writing about: see my post from December 1, 2006, 'Go Smart'.

New Column: Blackout of the Press

I have a new column out today, 'Blackout of the Press,' where I plow into the New York Times; I have come to accept media bias from all sides, but I get incensed when this bias becomes too blatant, and wanders into the realm of censorship.

One can find a translation (with commentary) of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi's latest speech here, and his first speech can be found here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Al-Qaeda Claims Credit for Chinook Shoot-down Today

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi's Islamic State of Iraq, Al-Qaeda's newest front organization, has put out a press release (Arabic) claiming credit for shooting down the Chinook helicopter (actually a CH-46 according to the U.S. military) in the Garmah area, north of Fallouja. There's been no word about casualties yet.

Al-Qaeda is promising to release footage of the helicopter shoot-down at a later stage. They are saying that this attack is part of al-Baghdadi's declared 'Dignity' offensive.

Al-Qaeda has also recently claimed credit for shooting down a Black Hawk helicopter near the twon of Buhruz in Diyala Province, and an Appache helicopter in the Taji area north of Baghdad.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How is this a scoop for CNN? (Updated)

Okay then, I’ll say it one more time: I have a serious problem with Michael Ware’s style of reporting; I think it's deceitful and hyperbolic.

CNN's Mr. Ware sent in a report about an Iraqi lawmaker who is alleged to have taken part in the bombing of the American and French embassies in Kuwait in the early 1980s. Ware presents this story as a major scoop.

Yet he doesn’t source this scoop to the Kuwaiti press at all, which first broke this story two and a half months ago! That makes Mr. Ware a fraud, in my book.

And I wrote about it on Talisman Gate at the time (November 26, 2006), see ‘Top Maliki Advisor May Be Wanted Terrorist.’

UPDATE, Wednesday, February 7, 2007:

This is how the New York Times (James Glanz and Marc Santora, 'Iraqi Lawmaker Was Convicted in 1983 Bombings in Kuwait That Killed 5 Americans,' February 7, 2007) covered it:

Mr. Jamal, who also goes by the name Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, meaning the engineer, was first identified as a wanted terrorist a month ago by Strategic Policy Consulting, an Iranian dissident group in Washington that gets much of its information from the People’s Mujahedeen, the largest and most militant group opposed to Tehran.

However, it was only on Tuesday, when CNN confirmed the group’s assertion, that American officials acknowledged they were investigating the case. But several Iraqi officials who know Mr. Jamal said there was little doubt that he was involved in the bombing in Kuwait.
No, no, no: This story was first reported by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Ra'i al-'Aam TWO AND HALF MONTHS AGO! I've also had a bone to pick with Glanz's reporting in the past. Remember the Samarrae story?

Mithal Alusi in the WSJ Today

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal published a great profile about Mithal Alusi, a secular democrat and a member of the Iraqi parliament.

Alusi is an example of why a democratic Iraq is worth fighting. In a couple of days, on February 8th, we mark the second anniversary of the murder of his two sons, my friends, Ayman and Jamal.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Intelligent Dissent: Al-Qaeda Plays Lead Role in Sunni Insurgency

Huge scoop by the New York Sun’s Eli Lake today, ‘Spies File A Dissent On Qaeda.’ Here’s an excerpt:

Disputing the view that Al Qaeda plays only a small role in the overall Sunni insurgency in Iraq, four of America's 16 intelligence agencies have obliged the Directorate of National Intelligence to provide a formal dissent to the 90-page classified Iraq assessment issued last week.

Those agencies include the Treasury Department's Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the military intelligence bureaus of the Army and Marines.

According to two sources familiar with the addendum, the dissenters argue that the Baathist wing of the umbrella Sunni terrorist group has ceded authority to Abu Ayoub al-Masri, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq who replaced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The majority view, endorsed by the CIA, the National Security Agency, the State Department, and others, holds that a majority of the Sunni insurgency is still comprised of Baathists and Sunni nationalists.

In some ways, the majority view bolsters the argument that Iraq is not a central front in the war on Al Qaeda, making it politically easier to favor a precipitous withdrawal of American forces from the country. In this respect, it undermines President Bush's own recent arguments for his war strategy.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

British ‘Soldier of Heaven’ Identified

When Iraqi troops stormed the compound operated by the ‘Soldiers of Heaven’ Shi'a cult a week ago, a British passport was found among the wreckage. This document fueled speculation among some Iraqi observers of an alleged role for British intelligence in fostering the well-financed and disciplined cult.

Talisman Gate has learned that the British passport probably belonged to a British citizen of Iraqi ancestry, who had owned a barber’s shop in the Moseley district of Birmingham. According to a source with first hand knowledge of the man and his travels, ‘Mohammad’ [first name] traveled to Iraq about a month ago after selling his prosperous business, taking his wife and his 2 year-old son with him.

Mohammad’s family had lived in the Dora neighborhood south of Baghdad, but had been recently forced to flee to the Najaf area by Sunni militants. In Najaf, Muhammad’s family was apparently taken in by the ‘Soldiers of Heaven’ cult, but it seems likely that the family had established links with cult beforehand.

Only a few weeks prior to his departure, Muhammad had become a British citizen. He had been living in the United Kingdom since 2001.

It is not ascertained whether Muhammad himself got killed in the raid, but the source claims to know that Muhammad’s mother had died.

Before leaving for Iraq, Muhammad had told the source that “the Mahdi [Messiah] is about to emerge,” and that he was going “to do humanitarian work” in Iraq.

Muhammad, a handsome young man, was known to drink alcohol and to frequent discos, and did not strike those who knew him as particularly religious; however, he seemed to be enthralled by Shi'a millenarianism.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Al-Qaeda Is Losing It

No really, Al-Qaeda is losing it. Its mind, that is. And, if you read between the lines, it’s losing the battle too.

First of all, I’d like to say that I really enjoy getting it right. C’mon people, show the love.

It is really gratifying when mass murderers corroborate all my contentions about them, and in such a timely manner.

All joking aside, today’s message from Abu Omar al-Baghdadi is very, very fascinating.

Al-Baghdadi is the head of the Islamic State of Iraq, which was established on October 15, 2006. Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia was the driving force behind the formation of this state, and then proceeded to pledge allegiance to it and dissolved itself into it. Thus, there is no entity that describes itself as Al-Qaeda operating in Iraq anymore; there’s only the ‘Islamic State of Iraq.’

This is al-Baghdadi’s second publicized speech.

Here are the main highlights:

-Al-Baghdadi declares the beginning of the ‘Dignity’ offensive, which will only cease after President George Bush signs the surrender papers.

-It seems that he sees his fighters despairing of the battle, and he needs to cajole them with threats from Allah.

-He accuses those other mujaheddin who have yet to pledge allegiance to him of recalcitrance, but seems to see the need to tell his own fighters to take it easy when dealing with the holdouts. Clearly, there's some inter-jihadist strife going on. Add a new ‘war’ in Iraq to your lists: jihadist on jihadist.

-He wants to rile up the French, the Russians and the Chinese against America. Are these the countries Al-Qaeda views as potential allies, or at least fellow America-haters?

-Al-Baghdadi seems to think that Belgium is a world power. Huh?

-Al-Baghdadi claims that the jihad has resulted in the death of 75,000 American soldiers.

-Al-Baghdadi would like the leaders of North Korea to give him some credit for allowing their nuclear program to go through.

-He warns the Ba’athist regime in Syria against striking a deal with the Americans.

-He claims to know exactly how America’s strike against Iran is going to go down.

-Al-Baghdadi calls the leaders of Hamas “a bunch of idiots” for working with the Iranians.

-He wants to resettle Palestinian refugees in the place of displaced Shi'as.

Al-Baghdadi’s speech is actually only 17 minutes long, but there is an opening segment that lasts for 6 minutes at the beginning that contains gunfire sound effects, and features highlights from the speech. This segment is also interspersed with Islamic chanting, and refrain of the song goes something like this: “Patience, patience, Oh Baghdad, the invading army will be annihilated, and we will kill all the bastards.”

Here’s my rough translation of al-Baghdadi’s speech, with some commentary here and there:

[Translations of all Koranic verses are from http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/, specifically the Yusufali versions]

The al-Furqan Institute for Media Productions is pleased to present the speech by the Prince of the Faithful, Abu Omar al-Qurayshi al-Husseini al-Baghdadi, the Emir of the Islamic State of Iraq, titled ‘Glory from Allah and an Imminent Victory’:

“O ye who believe! when ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them.”
This verse is from the Anfal sura, no. 15.

“(O Unbelievers!) if ye prayed for victory and judgment, now hath the judgment come to you: if ye desist (from wrong), it will be best for you: if ye return (to the attack), so shall We. Not the least good will your forces be to you even if they were multiplied: for verily Allah is with those who believe!”
This verse is also from the Anfal sura, no. 19. I think it refers to the battle of Badr; the first pitched battle waged by the Muslims against the ‘infidels.’ The significance of choosing this verse follows the theme put forward in earlier pronouncements by al-Baghdadi; that the Islamic State of Iraq is following in the footsteps of the nascent Muslim city-state founded by the Prophet Muhammad at Medina.

It should be [known] that one of the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon the mujaheddin is to unify them under [the banner of] monotheism and [to allow them] to build, with their blood, the State of Islam anew, after the winds of Communism and Nationalism and Secularism had stormed the ummah, which led to the endurance [by the ummah] of the harshest torture, and the deepest repression, and its purity was pillaged…to be abducted by the wolves of the [Crusaders] and the foxes of the Jews, and for their entrails to be torn by the serpents of the tyrants and the scorpions of the majus.

The ummah would be the global community of Muslims. The majus in this context would be Iranian Shi'as: majus is a derogatory Islamic term denoting all non-Muslim Persians such as the Zoroastrians.

Until Allah prepared for this ummah some men who will not sleep after injury and who despise laxity, and in whose veins run the blood of their ancestors, the companions [of the Prophet Muhammad] may Allah look kindly upon them…

…Until Allah [bestowed victory] upon [them] and they laid the foundations of the State of Islam anew in the land of al-Rashid,

Al-Rashid refers to Haroun al-Rashid, an 8th century Abbasid Caliph whose reign, in Baghdad, was considered one of the golden epochs of Islam—by the Sunnis that is; the Shi'as remember him as a usurper and a tyrant.

And [through their deeds], [good] tidings [arrived] that lighten the chests and soothe the hearts, and that spite the hateful enemy, and make the friend happy, but the Crusaders gathered their malice and spewed its vengefulness, and declared several times that their war against us is a Crusading ideological war, and just recently it was said by their idiot leader Bush that “this is an ideological war” and it was repeated by one of their sages, the former head of Israeli intelligence, who said, “a third world war has started between the West and radical Islam.”

So after fighting us through their agents and acolytes for years, here they are leading the war openly, and this way we got what we wanted and what we planned for, because war with the agents does not deal with head of the evil, and to destroy the beast we had to draw it from its lair, and so it happened.

And thus the idiot [Bush] led his army to where we can ambush it, and lay bombs [in its path], and when his feet have sunk into the muck and the ropes of our sons have been wound around his neck, and they closed off the roads, and shut all the doors in his face, and secured the net around him, and when he saw that he’d been surrounded, he conjured up all his demons, be they humans or genies, consulting them and asking for help.

The [consultants] realized that there is no salvation for those [arrayed against him] were the soldiers of Allah, [who are aided] with angels…So they gathered their malice, and they hooted and drummed, and they declared their new-old security plan.

And as such, we herald to our people, the Sunnis, that today we are declaring a plan called the ‘Dignity Plan’ that will be wider and more secure, with Allah’s will and strength, and it won’t include Baghdad solely but will rather encompass all the lands of the State of Islam, where we will enlarge the battles, and [this plan] will end when Bush declares his failure and signs a treaty of defeat, from which he will walk away humiliated and dejected, Allah willing.

The goals [of the plan] are:

First, to protect our people and our honor.

Second, to excise the wherewithal of the apostates and to pounce on what remains of their enclaves and the bases of their heresy.

The ‘apostates’ in this context would be the Iraqi government and the Iraqi state.

Third, to slit the throat of the Crusader giant and to seize the opportunity presented by the collapse in morale of its soldiers and their leaders.

Fourth, to gather the ranks of the mujaheddin and to cement the foundations of the State of Islam, may Allah preserve its glory, so oh ye Muslim youths, put before your eyes the [images of] infant corpses, and the voices of [mourning mothers], and the sighs of elderly men, and ignite the volcano of rage, and burn the land from under the feet of the Jews and their underlings, and annihilate their army, and destroy their machines, and shoot down their plans, and lay in wait for them. Ambush them in homes, in valleys, around corners. Use nightfall as your cover, and turn their mornings into fire, and know that your ancestor, ‘Abadeh ibn al-Samit, said to Jebleh ibn al-Ayhem, the agent of the Romans, “Oh Jebleh, do you not know how Allah has made us victorious over you, and your tyrant has fled, and we know that those who remain with you are going to be easy for us to overcome, and we do not fear them, and we have waded through much blood and have come to find that Roman blood is the sweetest, so do not miss out on it, for they shall leave tomorrow and you will regret it.”

‘Abadeh ibn al-Samit was one of the early Muslims, he died in 654 AD, and the above oral tradition is attributed to him. The term ‘Romans’ refers to the Christian Byzantines whom the early Muslims pushed out of Egypt and the Levant.

Roast their flesh with IEDs! Tear out their limbs with bombs! And rip out their hearts out with the fear of snipers, and know that the best defense is offense, and don’t dare to put aside your weapons until the war is over, and “And slacken not in following up the enemy: If ye are suffering hardships, they are suffering similar hardships; but ye have Hope from Allah, while they have none” and know that victory comes with patience, so do not waver or be saddened for you are [the chosen ones] if you are faithful.

The Koranic verse that is cited is from Al-Nisa sura, no. 104. This verse was revealed at the Battle of Uhud, where the early Muslims were roundly defeated. This connotation seems to indicate that al-Baghdadi sees the recent setbacks suffered by Al-Qaeda as only temporary.

Allah had counseled you in war and He said, “O ye who believe! When ye meet a force, be firm, and call Allah in remembrance much (and often); that ye may prosper, And obey Allah and His Messenger; and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: For Allah is with those who patiently persevere,”

These verses are from Al-Anfal, no.s 45 and 46.

And may your battle-cry be “Allah is Great, Allah’s Religion is Victorious” and raise your voices with it, and remember its meaning in your hearts, for we do not fight for nationalism, but [we fight] to make the word of Allah supreme.

And I would like to emphasize the following facts to my brothers among the mujaheddin who have yet to pledge allegiance to the State of Islam:

First, they are brothers to us, and we will defend them with our selves and tongues, and we do not accuse them of [being] infidels or pagans, but we do find recalcitrance in their tardiness in taking [upon themselves] the duty of our time, which is [to strive for] unity under Allah, by joining their brothers in the State of Islam, especially since we see the infidels are gathering their malice and are advancing [upon us] as a single front, then shouldn’t we fight [the infidels] as a single front too? Allah adores those who fight in His cause as a single front.

Second, I say to my brothers the soldiers of the State of Islam, protect your brothers the mujaheddin, and don’t let them hear from you anything but good things and see good things, since we are still in the phase of establishment, and the laws of the State of Islam are unknown to many, and I am certain that the sincere monotheists are surely coming [our way], so be tender, be tender, with the flock of Allah.

Oh free men, the world today lies under the cruelty and tyranny of a nation of slaves who inadvertently became stronger than their masters, [who gained] an economic strength and a martial strength, not through their brains and efforts, but by stealing the riches of [other] nations whether they be brainpower or resources. Oh free men, that nation of slaves and drugs, America, looks harshly and condescendingly upon all the nations of the earth, and not only the “Muslim terrorists” as they say, for the new masters of the White House have shown recently a seething and exposed hostility against the French-German-Belgian alliance.

I had a moment when I first heard this: Belgium? Why Belgium? When did Belgium get to be important?

France owes its freedom to [America] and for this it must always pay a price, first in its dignity [by showing] subservience, and second, [to pay a price] in its economy, and third, to reduce its military influence in any means, and [for this] they kept [France] away from the military council of the NATO alliance, and they did not rest until they sabotaged the European rapid reaction force project. The American lance would not sit idle as its currency falls in a major way before the euro, and the economies of many countries have switched [to the euro], and in a short period of time the dollar has lost more than 40 percent of its value.

If al-Baghdadi doesn’t win this year’s Noble Prize in Economics, then that’s it, I’m boycotting all Swedish products in protest. He should at least be hired as a CNBC analyst.

And not much needs to be said about [America’s] hostility to China, for it is so rude to the point of being bizarre, and we all remember the crisis over the American spy plane over Chinese territory and how [the Americans] forced the Beijing government to hand it back in mint condition, and not only that but forced them to sign a treaty allowing America to spy on China if this [activity] was done from nearby international waters.

And then there was Bush’s grand insult to the Beijing government when he said, regarding the crisis in Taiwan, that “we will help Taiwan to defend itself.”

As for the Russians, well, they have lost everything. The allies of yesterday have turned into the foes of today.

And America treats its agents, the Arab rulers, in humiliating and disdainful manner, so humiliating and disdainful that it begs one to wonder, for Saudi Arabia is now the incubator of terrorism, after the monk’s garment that was being worn by the House of Salool to [deceive] the faithful into worshiping the tyrant has stopped [being useful] to the American master.

The jihadists refer to the Royal House of Saud as the ‘House of Salool’—I don’t understand the background to this.

And Musharref’s insanity and his unbridled lunge towards Uncle Sam has turned against him, for “he does not cooperate sufficiently” according to Cheney. And what [Musharref] got in return was [America giving] generous nuclear deals to the erstwhile enemies of his country, the Indians.

Oh ye oppressed in the world, we call upon you to halt a [reckless] leviathan that only feels those with heavy feet.

I don’t know what that is supposed to mean.

Allah has enabled us to kill more than 75,000 soldiers and many multitudes more have been wounded and disabled, many of whom are mercenary gang members who are running after a green card, and their reward was to be dumped into the valleys, rivers and seas after their secret mass graves in the Iraqi desert were uncovered.

So now Al-Qaeda is alleging to have killed 75,000 Americans soldiers and that the US government is covering up this fact by disposing of the corpses. Hmmm, I see another Lancet report in the works, citing al-Baghdadi’s numbers without hesitation.

And let North Korea know that it owes its nuclear tests to the mujaheddin in Iraq, for [Korea] is one of the points in the alleged axis of evil.

Al-Qaeda would like a free nuclear bomb from North Korea in recognition of its efforts. Isn’t that grounds for going after North Korea?

In addition, the Persians have gathered more [cards] through which to maneuver, even though we hate this fact.

And the Ba’athists of Syria need to know that had it not been for the jihad of the sons of Mesopotamia, then they would have been hanging from the scaffolds today. Thus, we advise and warn them not to fall into the same trap that was set for Musharref, and to shake hands with Washington in order to halt the jihad in Iraq, because this is not beneficial for them on all counts.

Wow, this is a very interesting threat to the Syrian leadership: “there but for the grace of Allah go I.” He’s basically warning them of a fate similar to Saddam’s—the hangman’s noose. Al-Baghdadi is also clearly perturbed that the flow of recruits, funds and maybe even arms across the Syrian border may be disrupted.

Oh ummah of Islam! We stand at the same point that was stood upon by the companions with the Prophet, peace and prayers be upon him, at the start of the Medina phase, and our battle with the Persians has started as it has with the Romans, but the matter of the Persians is easier and more banal than that of the Romans, and it will especially be so after the impending limited American nuclear strike against Iranian military and nuclear facilities, which will come after the anticipated failure of Bush’s security plan for Iraq that will force Bush to draw up a treaty by which he will withdraw from the State of Islam, and that will give him the opportunity to halt the expansion of the Persian Empire after the Americans had come to realize that a conventional war is useless—especially after their bitter experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The American Congress has reached a conclusion that entering a long struggle with the Iranians will anger their allies, and thus the Americans will loose many of their cards, thus a limited nuclear strike against reactors and Iranian military facilities would be best, and hereby I ask the Sunnis of Iran from this day hence to stay away from large Iranian military bases and especially the nuclear ones, and [I ask them] to coalesce around one another and unite their ranks for the day when their enemy is to be broken is at hand, Allah willing.

Somebody needs to tell Patrick Fitzgerald that someone’s gone and leaked America’s Iran war plans to Abu Omar al-Baghdadi! Quick, hurry! The Romans in the context above would be the West.

Oh ummah of Islam! My beloved ummah! The majus have profited off of our people in Palestine, and they were aided in doing so by a bunch of idiots who threw themselves into the lap [of the Iranians],

Al-Baghdadi is calling the leaders of Hamas a “bunch of idiots.” Hmmm.

But by Allah’s wisdom and ability, He exposed the malice and cruelty [of the Iranians] for their grandsons and sons among the rafidha of Iraq are visiting all sorts of torture and murder upon the Palestinians [residing] in Iraq, and are forcing them to flee to the borders of the nearby countries, where they sleep on the ground under the stars, and have fallen between the hammer of Iraq’s rafidha, and the anvil of Syria’s Alawites, and Jordan’s Jews.

Rafidha is a derogatory term for Shi'as.

And today, as part of the responsibility I bear, I call upon my people, the Palestinians, to return to the Islamic State of Iraq and especially to [the provinces of] Anbar, Salahuddin and Diyala, for we have prepared tens of villages for them with the best houses and farms and fields, crisscrossed by rivers, and protected by the men of the State of Islam, that were awarded to us by Allah [as booty] from the sons of Ibn al-Alqami, and to Allah be our thanks…

“The sons of Ibn al-Alqami” is another derogatory term for Shi'as; al-Baghdadi is referring to the Shi'a villages that have been ethnically cleansed in these predominately Sunni provinces.

…Rejoice oh our people in the State of Islam, and know that your prayers are the firmest arrows in our quiver…

Your brother, Abu Omar al-Qurayshi al-Husseini al-Baghdadi

14 Muharrem 1428 AH [February 2nd, 2007]

Friday, February 02, 2007

Al-Qaeda Claims Credit for Helicopter Shoot-Down (Update, Saturday, February 3, 2007)

The 'Islamic State of Iraq', the organization that fronts for Al-Qaeda in Iraq, has issued a press release (Arabic) taking credit for shooting down the Black Hawk helicopter that crashed in the Taji area (north of Baghdad) today, resulting in two American fatalities.

Let's hope that the American press would at least mention this claim when reporting the story; it is further proof that what is referred to as the 'Sunni insurgency' is increasingly becoming Al-Qaeda's war against the Americans and the Shi'as in Iraq.

The US media has been using the generic term 'insurgent' to describe the militants even when groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq are claiming credit for specific attacks. This practice has got to end, and the American audience needs to be told that America's soldiers are actually fighting Al-Qaeda when engaging 'insurgents' in Iraq.

UPDATE: the Al-Qaeda release identified the helicopter as an Apache helicopter and not a Black Hawk, as I had written above.

FOLLOW UP, Saturday, February 3, 2007:

This is how the New York Times covered it today (Marc Santora, ‘2 Killed as U.S. Helicopter Is Shot Down Near Baghdad,’ February 3, 2007, p. 7):

Before the military had confirmed the crash, a militant group was already taking responsibility and promising to post a video of the attack on the Internet.

The Washington Post was only slightly better (Ernesto Londono, ‘U.S. Copter Crash in Iraq Kills 2 In Fourth Such Incident This Year,’ February 3, 2007, p. 11):

Military officials did not say what type of helicopter it was or how it crashed. But Iraqi police and an insurgent group that asserted responsibility for the crash identified the craft as an Apache and said it had been shot down by a shoulder-fired antiaircraft missile.

“We are saying to the enemies of God that the airspace of the Islamic state of Iraq is prohibited for you, just like its land,” the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni insurgent group, said in a statement posted on its Web site. “God opened for the soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq new ways to confront your aircrafts.”

At least the WaPo story mentioned the ‘Islamic State of Iraq,’ but neither it nor the NYT piece made mention of that spooky yet related word: Al-Qaeda. Isn’t it a bit misleading to say that the Islamic State of Iraq is just another ‘Sunni insurgent group’? Isn’t the fact that it is a front for Al-Qaeda relevant to the war on terror?

The editors of those two papers certainly seem to think that the Al-Qaeda affiliation is not relevant to the story that their readers get to see, and hence, not relevant to the debate in the United States over Iraq.

There is something very troubling about that.

I wonder how they are going to cover what’s transpired in today’s news, namely Al-Qaeda revealing its new military offensive in Iraq under the name ‘The Dignity Plan’.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq, announced the plan in an audio message posted on several jihadist websites today (I will write about it soon). Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, Zarqawi’s successor as head of Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, had pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi in early November 2006.

As part of Al-Qaeda's new ‘Dignity’ offensive, the Islamic State of Iraq has issued press releases today claiming credit for the bombings in Kirkuk (eight bombings), and the fighting in the city of Mosul (a curfew was declared), and in Diyala and Salahuddin provinces.

How will the media dodge the Al-Qaeda affiliation now?

If it were up to me, I’d think that the point I made in my Turnaround in Baghdad column a couple of weeks ago is very relevant: battling the insurgency now essentially means battling Al Qaeda.

UPDATE, Sunday, February 4, 2007:

Both Sunday print editions of the New York Times and the Washington Post make not mention of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi/Islamic State of Iraq/Al-Qaeda.

The Iraq-related stories they carry today describe the violence in Kirkuk, Baghdad and Mosul, but make no mention of Al-Qaeda’s press releases claiming responsibility for that violence.

It’s astounding, and I can’t find any possible rationale behind these omissions. Is there a media blackout that we’re unaware of?

Yesterday’s Associated Press story (Byline: Steven R. Hurst) confuses Abu Omar al-Baghdadi with Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi (whose name is rendered in the AP story as Abu Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi), the head of the now-defunct Shura Council of the Mujaheddin; I think that Abu Omar and ‘Abdullah Rashid are two different persons:

An Iraqi militant group tied to al-Qaida in Iraq announced, meanwhile, it had launched its own new strategy to counter the coming U.S.-Iraqi crackdown.

In an audiotape posted on a Web site commonly used by the insurgents, a voice purported to be that of Abu Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, said the group would "widen the circle of battles" beyond Baghdad to all of Iraq. Al-Baghdadi heads The Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of insurgent groups in Iraq.