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Old 07-11-2007   #1
SWJED
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Default Al Qaeda in Iraq

SWJ Blog - Al Qaeda in Iraq – Heroes, Boogeymen or Puppets? By Malcolm Nance.

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Four years on in Iraq, the White House still portrays the war as a life and death struggle between the forces of good, the US led Multi-national forces, and the forces of evil, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

With the advent of the new “surge” strategy, the media ledes have been triumphing the numerous coalition “anti-Al Qaeda” operations in Anbar province including the areas of Karmah, Baqubah and the Sunni neighborhoods of Baghdad. These operations have the intent to secure Baghdad and other major urban areas from insurgent terrorism. The strategy writ simple is to deny the insurgents an urban sanctuary and killing ground as well as to secure the Iraqi population from their sectarian attacks through a series of wide-area operations. But are we fighting the right enemy?...
Much more at the link...
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Old 07-15-2007   #2
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Default Good discussion...

... at Lightfighter.
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Old 07-15-2007   #3
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Default Two Blog Responses

Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail – Al Qaeda and its Role in the Iraq Insurgency

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The attempts to minimize the role played by al Qaeda in Iraq in the larger Sunni insurgency took a significant step over the past week. Clark Hoyt, the public editor of the New York Times, claimed that the media had become complicit in the government's attempts to paint the entire Sunni insurgency with an al Qaeda brush. Also this week, Malcolm Nance published an article at the Small Wars Journal claiming al Qaeda is being given too much credit for the violence in Iraq. In the article, titled "Al Qaeda in Iraq--Heroes, Boogeymen or Puppets?," Nance claims al Qaeda is but a bit player in the Iraqi insurgency and is largely controlled by the Baathist remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime. To Nance, al Qaeda is both a U.S. Boogeyman and Baathist Puppet…
Michael Goldfarb at The Weekly Standard’s WorldWideWeekly.com - Al Qaeda in Iraq: Not Just a Boogeyman

Quote:
Roggio just posted what I think is the definitive takedown of the argument put forward earlier in the week by Small Wars Journal contributor Malcolm Nance. Nance's theory is that al Qaeda is basically a bit player in the insurgency--small, but lethal--and that the administration is trying to hype the threat the group poses in order to convince the American people that withdrawing from Iraq would be the equivalent of surrendering in the war on terror. Suffice to say, Roggio isn't buying it…

Nance's essay strikes me as part of a larger, renewed push by the antiwar crowd to discredit the idea that the war in Iraq has any real connection to the war on terror--as Roggio points out, the New York Times put in its two cents last Sunday with a piece by the public editor declaring that "President Bush and the United States military in Baghdad are increasingly pointing to a single villain on the battlefield: Al Qaeda...
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Old 07-15-2007   #4
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Default Malcolm's Response to Roggio

at The Fourth Rail:

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Thanks for the entertaining response but in quickly and forcefully responding to my analysis, which preceded the recent media debate, you make numerous claims that I never made. In fact you posted what I actually said right under the errors. Perhaps thats an editing mistake.

I recommend you read the blog entry a little more carefully and take the opportunity to read my book, the Terrorists of Iraq (www.terroristsofiraq.com).

As I live in the theater of operations (not Washington), speak Arabic and work with the Iraqis who are risking their life for us - I am just as deeply invested in my field intelligence assessments being right as you are about your opinions, but my life and that of many others depends on it being exceptionally right all of the time so its not just a semantics debate for me. One thing is certain, I never underestimate the enemy in Iraq ... any of them -ever.

Additionally, the excellent counter-insurgency & counter-terrorism experts at Small Wars Journal (www.smallwarsjournal.com) provide varied and scholarly opinions which may help clarify some facts.
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Old 07-15-2007   #5
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Default One Thing Though

Differences of opinion expressed through reasoned - and well sourced - debate is fine and that is what we are here for.

That said, statements such as the one Goldfarb made in his WorldWideWeekly piece tend to irk me and smack of attempting to shut down or discredit an opposing view through "political labeling / stereotyping".

Goldfarb:

Quote:
Nance's essay strikes me as part of a larger, renewed push by the antiwar crowd to discredit the idea that the war in Iraq has any real connection to the war on terror...
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Old 07-15-2007   #6
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Quote:
Nance's essay strikes me as part of a larger, renewed push by the antiwar crowd to discredit the idea that the war in Iraq has any real connection to the war on terror--as Roggio points out, the New York Times put in its two cents last Sunday with a piece by the public editor declaring that "President Bush and the United States military in Baghdad are increasingly pointing to a single villain on the battlefield: Al Qaeda...
Dave,

I picked up the same one. Sloppy labeling and equally sloppy analysis. I would bet that Goldfarb has never served a day in the US military but claims to be pro-war whatever that means. For him I have a response taken from the little kid on Meet the Fokkers....

A$$ H@LE

Tom
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Old 10-15-2007   #7
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Default Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled

15 October Washington Post - Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled by Tom Ricks and Karen DeYoung.

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The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.

But as the White House and its military commanders plan the next phase of the war, other officials have cautioned against taking what they see as a premature step that could create strategic and political difficulties for the United States. Such a declaration could fuel criticism that the Iraq conflict has become a civil war in which U.S. combat forces should not be involved. At the same time, the intelligence community, and some in the military itself, worry about underestimating an enemy that has shown great resilience in the past...
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Old 12-19-2007   #8
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CTC, 19 Dec 07: Al-Qa'ida's Foreign Fighters in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar Records
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Al‐Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar Records is the latest in a series of reports from the Combating Terrorism Center drawing on newly released information from captured al‐Qa’ida documents maintained in the Defense Department’s Harmony Data Base. The report is a preliminary analysis of records containing background information on foreign fighters entering Iraq via Syria over the last year. The data used in this report was coded from English translations of these records and undoubtedly contains some inaccuracies due to imprecise translation as well as through errors in the transcription process. The CTC plans further studies based on the Sinjar Records and expects to hone and improve the accuracy of our database as we do so.....
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Old 12-21-2007   #9
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Default Al-Qaeda Adapts its Methods in Iraq as Part of a Global Strategy

Interesting report from the Jamestown Foundation:


For the last few months, reports from Iraq have been indicating a tangible decline in insurgency and terrorist operations. For the first time since 2003, the Iraqi people are enjoying a sense of security in the streets of Iraq, although skeptics claim it is the calm that precedes the storm. The stabilizing security situation comes amid claims that al-Qaeda has been defeated or at least has been seriously crippled in Iraq (alerhab.net, November 24). Has al-Qaeda actually been defeated and subjugated by the coalition forces in the Iraqi arena? Taking al-Qaeda’s past and current behavior into account while monitoring Iraq’s jihadi websites, one is presented with strong indications that al-Qaeda is adapting to the new realities on the ground while avoiding direct confrontation with the coalition forces. The global strategy of al-Qaeda since 9/11—as posted in al-Qaeda’s internet forums—sheds further light on the terror plans it has designed to lure and engage Americans in various fronts in the region...
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Old 02-07-2008   #10
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On a related note:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle3320938.ece

From The Times
February 7, 2008

Children 'taught to kidnap and kill at al-Qaeda camp' in Iraq

*
Admiral Smith and Major-General Mohammed al-Askari, an Iraqi army spokesman, said they were releasing the videos to highlight al-Qaeda’s growing use of woman and children and deepening depravity.

They were clearly seeking to build on the widespread disgust inspired by the terrorist group’s use of two mentally disablen women last Friday to attack two crowded pet markets in Baghdad, killing about 100 people. The explosives attached to the women were detonated remotely and they may not even have known what they were doing. They were also teenagers, the military said yesterday.
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Old 06-11-2008   #11
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Default Papers give peek inside al Qaeda in Iraq

I found this Michael Ware report quite interesting. The AQI bureacracy is incredible; just like those little finance ladies in tennis shoes from the old days in the Army...

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Papers give peek inside al Qaeda in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- With Christmas 2005 approaching, the princes of al Qaeda's western command were gathering. They'd been summoned for something special -- to plot a three-month campaign of coordinated suicide, rocket, and infantry attacks on American bases, checkpoints, and Iraqi army positions.

1 of 2 In al Qaeda in Iraq's hierarchy, prince designates a senior leader, and these princes had been gathered by the most senior among them, the prince for all of Anbar province itself.

This commander, his name not recorded in al Qaeda's summaries of the meetings and referred to only by rank, spent that December fleshing out his vision for the wave of assaults with the gathered subordinates who would lead his combat brigades.
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Old 07-26-2008   #12
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CTC, 23 Jul 08: Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout: al-Qa'ida's Road in and Out of Iraq
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This report analyzes al‐Qa`ida in Iraq’s (AQI) operations from spring 2006 to summer 2007 and is being issued with a trove of AQI documents captured by coalition forces near Sinjar, Iraq. The documents include almost 600 AQI personnel records for foreign fighters crossing into Iraq, AQI contracts for suicide bombers, AQI contracts for fighters leaving Iraq, narratives written by al‐Qa`ida’s Syrian smugglers, and AQI financial records. The CTC also acquired demographic information on all Third Country Nationals (TCNs) in detention at Camp Bucca, Iraq. Most of this data has not previously been released to the public.....
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Old 03-25-2009   #13
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CTC, 16 Mar 09: Dysfunction and Decline: Lessons Learned From Inside Al‐Qa`ida in Iraq
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Al‐Qa`ida in Iraq (AQI) is a shadow of its former self, primarily because broad sectors of Iraq’s Sunni population rejected it after more than three years of active and tacit cooperation. That AQI’s ideological extremism alienated many Iraqis is well understood, but radicalism alone does not fully explain AQI’s decline: poor leadership, vulnerable communication mechanisms, tension between Iraqi and foreign members, and weak indoctrination efforts contributed to strategic and tactical blunders that alienated even other Sunni insurgents. In lieu of major social and political shifts (which are possible) that offer AQI a sustained safe‐haven, these dynamics are unlikely to change dramatically; they serve as important obstacles to AQI’s resurrection. Conversely, al‐Qa`ida elements elsewhere, primarily along the Afghanistan‐Pakistan border, are hindered less by these weaknesses. There are lessons from the fight against AQI that are applicable in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but al‐Qa`ida’s operations there are likely to be much more durable than those in Iraq.

Section I of this paper traces al‐Qa`ida in Iraq’s transition from welcome partner to mortal enemy of Iraq’s Sunni insurgents, focusing particularly on the Islamic Army of Iraq. Section II draws on declassified internal AQI correspondence and open sources to describe how external pressures—from U.S. forces and tribal sources—exacerbated AQI’s fallout with other insurgents while rending the movement from within. Section III assesses AQI’s prospects in Iraq and the impact of AQI’s failure on the future of the global jihadist movement. Section IV offers recommendations for containing AQI in the future and for applying the lessons of AQI’s demise to other elements.....
Complete 36-page paper at the link.
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Old 03-25-2009   #14
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The very flawed concept of "Global Insurgency" has caused most to really mis-understand AQ in general, and AQI specifically.

It is far more accurate to look at AQ as a non-state organization that has no populace, but that through the power of the information tools of globalization is able to take advantage of a legal "sanctuary of status," as well as to a lesser degree sanctuary of poorly governed populaces and sanctuary of state borders to conduct a very state-like unconventional warfare campaign. This campaign is primarily to take down the Saudi Monarchy, but also other western legitimized governments of the region; with a secondary and supporting objective of breaking US support to the region in order to facilitate success of the primary objective.

So:

AQI is not part of the Iraqi Insurgency, they are there conducting UW to incite, guide, and support the Iraqi insurgency.

There are three general categories of insurgency, and all three existed in Iraq: Separatist (Kurd), revolutionary (Sunni), and resistance (Shia) in rough breakdown. None of these are AQ, and all are made up of Iraqis. Iran conducted UW as well in support of the Shia insurgency.

"Foreign fighters" in AQI are largely nationalist insurgents from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Lybia, Algeria, and Morocco that want to change their own governance at home and who traveled to Iraq to support the second objective of breaking the US support to the region. Expect this brand of support to shift to Afghanistan along with the US. Where we go, they will go.

None of these are "Terrorists," though all use terrorist tactics. If you describe your foes by their purpose for action it is far easier to separate them and design effective tactics for dealing with each. If you conflate them all as "terrorists" you are just shooting your way into a quagmire. Similarly misrepresenting AQ as waging "global insurgency" confuses our solutions for dealing with them as well.
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Old 05-13-2008   #15
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I recently had a chance to see the Sinjar data through a software demo which produced some of the stat's on the foreign fighters. I wish I had the data now as I type.

Additionally, Newsweek just did a story on the Sinjar data and looked at Darnah, Libya, a dead-end city. http://www.newsweek.com/id/132938?from=rss

There were a number of different outcomes from the Sinjar data when I reviewed it beyond the city of origin, it included which fighters donated to the cause, how much was donated, skills, who recruited them, and indicated there was only a handful of movement facilitators working the number of fighters entering into Iraq via Syria, at least to this location. The data would indicate an HR shop was busted, and there others with other movement facilitators bringing in the bodies. I did not notice, but were the fighters from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from a Wahabbi background leaning towards very anti-West, and some instances anti-Islam other than Wahabbi? The Saudi Arabia piece is probably not obtainable due to the lack of this pone piece of data. Additionally, further analysis the Sinjar data may show a difference in why each fighter was heading in to Iraq?

In reviewing the article by Mr Watts, the recommendation leans towards conducting surrogate operations around established governments to stem the flow of foreign fighters, or change the landscape of a nation. No government is going to allow another nation to microscopically focus on flash point cities. But, working through the country team at the embassy can provide information back to planners to assist identifying possible hot spots of interest and why these hot spots exist, and possibly how to deal with these locations. Some of the ideas behind why a foreign fighter is recruited may be no different than looking into inner-city gang’s and their recruitment in the United States and elsewhere. Is it culture and society, dead-end from the government, and a lack of being able to provide for oneself or one’s family (also culturally linked)? Cultural analysis is key to any actions simple or complex in future operations. Will analysis across the economic and social aspect of the M.E. and North Africa provide a better insight into the FFN in IZ? This is yet to be determined.

In respect to finding linkages to the current FFN in Iraq and Afghanistan, one solid linking line is religion. But what is next; culture or nationalism? Motivations will be different between males and females and this is another aspect to be reviewed as there have been female suicide bombers.

But, what happens when the region changes, it’s not the Trans-Sahel or the Middle East. Is it up-risings in Bolivia, Colombia, or Korea? The same the analysis will need to be performed to identify who is recruited and for what reasons; nationalistic, ideology or theological, cultural, desperation, or just for money and glory?

In looking at the future of complex operations, Irregular Warfare, Hybrid Warfare (pick a term), will FFN' be classified as the surrogate fighters for other entities? These entities can be mafia or organized criminal elements, insurgencies, or some other form of activity. The fact a FFN needs money to pay for fighters and equipment comes from smuggling cigarettes and drugs and their sales starts to link organized crime into insurgent activities as quickly as donations from believers in the cause.
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