Zawahiri the XO

The US military has given CNN letters that Zawahiri wrote in March 2008 to senior al-Qaeda commanders in Iraq (hat tip SK). Much of the content has been filtered through an MNFI spokesman so it’s hard to use CNN’s summary to assess al-Qaeda’s fortunes in Iraq. Nevertheless, since the summary fits with the bleak picture that has been emerging these past few months, it’s worth noting. I’ve rearranged the information for ease of reference: Zawahiri letter to al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri, March 2008. Letter was captured in April during U.S. op that killed AQI Information Minister Abu Nizar. Abu Nizar was an intermediary between Masri and AQ Central. The letter was found on Abu Nizar’s person. Leadership: Masri too isolated to keep watch of his operatives. Zawahiri questions Masri’s ability to lead AQI. Poor Communication with AQ Central: Zawahiri concerned that he is not getting regular updates

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The Strategic Effects of 9/11, Part 2: Provoking the Tyrant of the Sea & Air

Continuing: The main strategic question of the ’80s was how to mobilize Muslim youth to fight the Soviet incursion into the Islamic world while local conflicts were distracting the youths’ attention. After the fall of the USSR the question became, why provoke the sole remaining superpower?  Is the US comparable to the USSR?  After all, the latter was attacked in Afghanistan at the nadir of its power. Even more sensitive questions have been raised, like what was the Sharia basis for defying the Taliban emirate and suddenly attacking the US?  Was it worth ignoring the interests of the Taliban for the sake of a frivolous war?  Did Palestinians benefit from 9/11 when Sharon exploited it as a pretext to use excessive force in the Palestinian territories?  Did it help Iraqis? The most troubling question has been: was the strike an attempt to escape the jihad’s setbacks that came in Egypt,

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The Strategic Effects of 9/11, Part 1: America & the World Before the Strike

To continue the series, here’s my summary of part 1 of Abu al-Fadl’s study: American strategy experts overlook the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan as the decisive event that ended the Cold War. Instead, they focus on the USSR’s and Eastern Europe’s attraction to Western culture. The myth promulgated by these experts is that soft power defeated the USSR without firing a single bullet. This is the myth of Western values that produce miracles. This myth doesn’t explain the reason for putting nukes in Europe for half a century; the star wars program under Reagan; Brzezinski’s ingenious idea to destroy the USSR from the inside by breathing life into oppressed Islamic peoples; or why Reagan praised Afghan militants as freedom fighters. As one of the preeminent neo-realists in American foreign policy, Stephen Walt, said, the Soviet withdrawal from the arena of conflict in the ’80s left the U.S. in a position

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The Strategic Effects of 9/11: Introduction

In commemoration of the seventh anniversary of 9/11, Faloja member Abu al-Fadl Madi has been serially posting chapters of his new study, “The Strategic Effects of the Raid on New York and Washington.” He started posting in early August and it looks like he will finish on or around 9/11.  Abu al-Fadl’s study looks interesting, so I’ll be summarizing it throughout the week. In early July, Abu al-Fadl announced his series as follows: Since the seventh anniversary of September 11 is rapidly approaching amid the dust rising from battles on many fronts, especially in Afghanistan, the graveyard of invaders, I propose to begin studying the strategic landscape that followed the events of September 11, as well as the possibilities and prospects to which the attacks gave rise, to say nothing of its effects. The following is a summary of the introduction he posted in early August: American strategists don’t agree

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Lamenting Loss of Anbar, Apprehensive of Jihad’s Future in Iraq

In response to Bush’s recent statement that al-Qaeda lost Anbar Province in Iraq, Ekhlaas member Abu Mu`adh al-Maqdisi defiantly writes that it is the U.S. and its allies that lost the province. Nevertheless, he tacitly admits the truth of Bush’s words, writing: “War has ups and downs. Soon, by the permission of God, Anbar will return and the law of God will be applied in it. However, ye are an impatient people.” Mukashshir Anyabahu (“Bares His Teeth”) replies that the people of Anbar, not just the Awakening members, deeply betrayed the mujahids. Mu`adh optimistically responds, “As long as the Commander of the Faithful Abu `Umar al-Baghdadi is present, there is no need to worry.” To which Mukashshir retorts: You have no idea of the extent of the betrayal and apostasy which transpired in Iraq, especially in Anbar….The people of Iraq completely betrayed the mujahids and allied with everyone who had

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Cold vs. Hot Terrorism

Hesbah pundit `Abd al-Rahman al-Faqir has been writing a series of essays he collectively calls “Real War vs. Symbolic War.” The point of the essays is to explain the difference between terrorist attacks (symbolic war) and other types of military violence (real war). One of his essays, “Cold Terrorism,” examines the decision-making of groups choosing between killing for the sake of eliminating enemies without drawing attention to themselves (cold terrorism) vs. killing to provoke a response against themselves (hot terrorism). The following quotes are from a recent English translation: * Can we afford not to take the responsibility of the operation? * Does the safety of the performers take precedence over the attack or otherwise? * The ease of performing the operation and the available means * Are we ready to tackle the retaliation of the enemy or not? If the aim is to get rid of the enemy without

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Although I was away on vacation for the last week and a half, I read all of the excellent posts from everyone who guest blogged during my absence.  Chipotle Mystery, Scott Sanford, and Mike Honcho: I owe you one.  (By the way, make sure to check out Mike Honcho’s blog, The Tel’nik.  It’s a great resource for Caucasus-related analysis.)

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From the Ingush Front: Intel Units Paved the Way for a Better Jihad

[Mike Honcho]  The Ingush State of the Caucasus Emirate released a statement last week via Kavkaz Center highlighting some its failures and successes since the 2nd Chechen War. While it contained the usual lip service to mujahidin unity and the need to expel the Russians from the Northern Caucasus, it also detailed how, even though outnumbered and outgunned, the establishment of Special Operation Groups (SOG) proved tremendously effective in eliminating apostates, hypocrites, and traitors. The message begins with an admission of bad judgment, stating that the mujahidin realized they had been too lenient on some of their fellow Ingush who were employed in the Republic’s security and military services. Allegedly there was an unwritten agreement between the mujahidin and local security forces. The agreement was that as long as Muslims and resistance fighters were left alone, the focus of mujahidin attacks would be on the Russians and that state employees

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The Army of Islam Moves to Unify Palestinian Jihadi Organizations

[Scott Sanford]  On 28 August 2008, the Army of Islam (AI), a Gaza-based and al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist entity that gained notoriety for the kidnapping of BBC reporter Alan Johnston, issued a statement in response to what the AI claimed were many calls to unify Palestinian jihadi organizations under one banner. In the statement, the AI asserted that it is willing to accept any group into its fold as long as the group adheres to the AI’s Islamic standards. It stated that it is a Salafi organization and that anyone raising partisan, nationalist, patriotic, socialist, secular, or democratic flags are infidels. Additionally, it claimed that anyone wishing to unify with the AI must publicly disavow such ideologies and pledge its loyalty to the jihadi, Islamic banner. The AI claimed that its dogma and actions are based on several factors: 1. Global jihad, the AI does not differentiate between jihad in the Palestinian

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