“The Painful Truth: Al-Qaeda is Losing the War in Iraq”

That’s the title of a post by hamzacom on the Faloja forum.  In it, he draws an analogy with Afghanistan just after the U.S. invasion.  It was a time of defeat for the mujahids but now they are resurging.  The same will happen in Iraq. Other forum members are predictably annoyed by hamzacom’s pessimistic title.  Abu `Umar al-Masri retorts that it is merely “a knight’s stumble,” not a loss.  Qannas al-Dawla al-Islamiyya (“The Islamic State’s Hunter”) is even more optimistic: “We will never lose the war as long as God is with us.” Others share hamzacom’s pessimism but are nonchalant.  “If al-Qaeda has lost the war, what’s the problem?” Shabab Lubnan (“Youth of Lebanon”) states blithely.  “There really isn’t a problem.  There are a number of Jihadi groups that possess the idea of al-Qaeda even if they do not aid (the organization) publicly.  It is possible for these groups to

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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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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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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

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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

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New Issues of Two Jihadi Journals

Issue 28 of Sada al-Jihad is out.  Articles include, “Hamas Responds Negatively to the Invitation of Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri” and “The Intellectual Pollution of the Followers of the Salafi-Jihadi Method.” A new journal, Qadaya Jihadiyya (Jihadi Issues), has also be released.  The production quality is better than most of the Jihadi journals and the articles look interesting.  There is a “Strategic Issues” section, reminding me of Abu `Ubayd al-Qurashi’s column in the Ansar journal.  It has two articles: “The Islamic State of Iraq and Early Signs of American Failure” and “Regional Alliances and the Path of Jihad.”  Another section, “Thoughts of a Mujahid,” has the memoir of someone who attended the al-Faruq training camp. Document (Arabic): 8-8-08-faloja-issue-28-of-sada-al-jihad Document (Arabic): 8-12-08-faloja-issue-1-of-qadaya-jihadiyya

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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

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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

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Islamic State of Iraq Online Media Distribution

Just in time for Craig Whitlock’s helpful survey of Jihadi internet propaganda, Ekhlaas member Usud al-Tawhid (Lions of Monotheism) has posted a message about the Islamic State of Iraq’s method of media distribution. The message is by an Abu al-Zarqa’ al-`Iraqi, who claims to be a member of the ISI. AZ warns forum members not to post media material from Iraq outside of official channels online. He relates that he once made this mistake when he published clips of an attack carried out by a certain “Dr. Fathi” (probably alluding to this). AZ’s action angered people in the ISI’s Media Ministry and resulted in AZ and another brother being hauled before a Sharia tribunal. A brother informed AZ that Furqan is the only entity that can publish media material for the ISI. By this, AZ says, the brother meant that members of the ISI’s Media Ministry in al-Furqan were the

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