The Chameleon Strategy

Muhami al-Dawla (“Defender of the State”) has written an essay on Ekhlaas titled, “The Connection between the State of Islam and the Taliban is the Strategy of the ‘Chameleon.’”  His argument is that the Taliban’s recent successful surge in Afghanistan is the result of using “chameleon cells,” which are small, well-organized, armed bands that 1) blend into the population, 2) do not take orders from a commander, and 3) have penetrated the state security apparatus. Muhami claims that the Taliban borrowed the strategy from the Islamic State of Iraq, which used it after the tribal Awakenings.  The chameleon groups in Iraq are able to carry out attacks on Awakening leaders because of their infiltration of the Awakening security forces.  Moreover, their presence in these forces means that they can undertake attacks for which the Awakening leaders get blamed. Muhami argues that the Taliban has adopted this strategy because it is

Read More »

The Adventures of Sinam

On August 9, a member of the Islamic State of Iraq announced–via an intermediary on the Ekhlaas forum–the death of Sinam al-Ramadi. Sinam was an al-Qaeda member who operated in Ramadi and who participated on a number of forums, including Faloja. On the day of the announcement, an Ekhlaas member named Halima posted an eyewitness account of Sinam’s capture. The account is interesting for the light it sheds on al-Qaeda’s activities in Anbar province and for what it tells us about the hectic lives of forum fighters–Jihadi forum members who are also active militants. Halima writes that on Thursday, August 7 a certain Dr. Khattab `Ali al-Hayani was arrested in Haqlaniya, near Haditha. U.S. troops and Iraqi police had discovered evidence in Hayani’s home proving that he was Sinam al-Ramadi, one of the members of al-Qaeda in Ramadi. Sinam had left Ramadi for Kirkuk, Diyala, Bayji, and finally Haditha, where

Read More »

Spinning the Failure of the Islamic State of Iraq

More evidence that the failure of the Islamic State of Iraq is severely demoralizing Jihadis, at least in the Arabic-speaking world. Asad al-Jihad2, a popular commentator, has written a new booklet, “The State of Islam Remains Defiant.” In it, he seeks to assuage growing doubts about the viability of the Islamic State of Iraq: Upon reflection, some may say, “The Islamic State of Iraq is still in the right. So why are things becoming so difficult for it, its enemies joining against it from all sides?” (p.7) The answer is that God is testing the resolve of the mujahids in Iraq, the same answer Yaman Mukhaddab gave in July to dispel the pessimism of the Hesbah forum members. On the Faloja forum, Hafid al-Husayn has a similarly defiant title for his post: “The State of Islam Remains, Despite the Tricks of the Tricksters.” Hafid acknowledges that things are not going

Read More »

Jihadis Apprehensive About the Future

Jihadica reader Jallen asks some good questions about the pessimism of Jihadis regarding Iraq: How long have forum members been pessimistic over Iraq? Is the pessimism widespread or just a few members in one forum? Is pessimism over Iraq matched by increased optimism over Afghanistan or are these independent? It depends which forum you read. On Hesbah, there is a more frank discussion of the fortunes of al-Qaeda in Iraq (at least judging from the posts that leak out). This is probably because Hesbah is a closed forum full of old Jihadi hands, so members don’t have to be so guarded. The opposite is true on Ekhlaas, where newbies take turns one-upping each other with paeans to al-Qaeda. No one wants to be a downer. But since the end of 2007, I’ve noticed a steady increase in posts on Ekhlaas that say, “Just wait, a major victory is right around

Read More »

Iraq a Sinking Ship for al-Qaeda, Afghanistan the Lifeboat

Earlier this week, I noted that members of the Hesbah forum are increasingly pessimistic about Iraq. And in May I wrote about the death of Sulayman al-`Utaybi, an al-Qaeda leader in Iraq who had left for Afghanistan after his dismissal from his post. Here’s what I wrote at the time: That he headed straight for Afghanistan makes me wonder if this is a sign of things to come as AQ gets squeezed out of Iraq. Now the Washington Post gives us further evidence that Iraq is a sinking ship for al-Qaeda and Afghanistan is the lifeboat, at least for the senior leadership. Amit Paley has written a well-sourced article on the departure of Abu Ayyub al-Masri (aka Abu Hamza al-Muhajer), the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, for Afghanistan. Here’s what we learn from the article (sources in parentheses): Foreign fighters AQ is diverting new recruits to Afghanistan and Iraq. (U.S.

Read More »

Jihadis Despair of Iraq

Yaman Mukhaddab, a popular contributor to al-Hesbah (the most exclusive Jihadi forum), wrote an essay on July 21 in which he expressed alarm at the low morale and pessimism of some of his fellow forum members on account of al-Qaeda setbacks in Iraq. One brother, he notes, said that the jihad in Iraq is ending like the jihad in Algeria (badly). Another brother criticized Mukhaddab for being optimistic about Iraq. A third said the situation is out of control and the outcome is already known. Mukhaddab responds that such pessimism is unwarranted.  As scripture says, victory will come after severe testing.  And things can turn around at any time.  If AQ is able to strike the U.S. or if the U.S. strikes Iran, the mujahids in Iraq will benefit greatly (he doesn’t explain why). Mukhaddab ends by reminding his readers that there was a similar level of despondency after the

Read More »

Walking the Talk: Forum Members Travel to Afghanistan and Iraq (Pt. 4)

When we left Harbi, he had met a Algerian Jihadi who told him how to get to Iraq. According to Furqan al-Junubi’s account, Harbi and two other Kuwaitis–Abu Salih (`Abd Allah Salih al-`Ajami), and Abu Talha (Nasir) al-Dawsari–pledged to go to Iraq and die there. They called this “The Pledge of the Houris” (the virgins promised to those allowed to enter Paradise–martyrs are a shoe in). Al-Miskin al-Muhajir was with them, but he could not go due to personal circumstances (he was able to go to Afghanistan latter–see part 1). I haven’t been able to find much on Dawsari, but there’s plenty on `Ajami. He was actually being held in Guantanamo until the U.S. transferred him to Kuwaiti custody in 2005; the Kuwaits acquitted him of all charges. By the time `Ajami met Harbi, he was married, had one child, and was financially comfortable. Those who knew him thought he

Read More »

Leaderless Jihad in Iraq? Not So Much

The U.S. military has just released a large number of captured al-Qaeda documents from Iraq to CNN. It seems that most (all?) of the documents are from the headquarters of the security commander for Anbar province, Faris Abu Azzam (killed 18 months ago). There are no links to the original documents, so we’re left with Michael Ware’s excellent rundown of the juicy bits. In the past, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center has been the main conduit for these sorts of materials, but in recent months the military has been going direct with major news outlets. Based on Ware’s summary, here are some of the documents in the collection: 2005 memo warning that executing sinners and traitors in public will alienate their families and invite their revenge December 2005 minutes of senior al-Qaeda commanders meeting in western Iraq to plan a three-month campaign that will begin in mid-January 2006. The campaign,

Read More »
Latest Jihadica