The Waning of Al Qaeda in Iraq

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 3 months ago

There has been recent chatter over jihadist web sites that point to yet another attempt at consolidation of insurgent forces.  SITE Intel gives us the translation.

Following both the announcement of the Mujahideen Shura Council’s establishment as an amalgamated insurgency group in Iraq and Sheikh Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi selected as its Emir in mid-January 2006, there has been much chatter amongst the online jihadist community on this issue. Following the announcement about the Council, the Jihadi forums ran a “Thousand signature campaign on supporting the Mujahideen Shura Council,” which indeed, the online jihadists posted their signatures. Members stressed the unification of the mujahideen under one flag as a boon for the insurgency; one suggesting that Ansar al-Sunnah join the Council to further bolster the unification, and another in an interview on a forum, Hani el-Sibaei, a former leader of the outlawed Egyptian group Islamic Jihad, who now runs an Islamic affairs research center in London, who congratulates the Council.

Another member of a jihadist forum addressed the seeming disappearance of Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Emir of al-Qaeda in Iraq, stressing that the Muslims should not follow Western pundits and analysts who equate jihad in Iraq with one man in Zarqawi. He congratulates the founding of the Mujahideen Shura Council and its Emir, Sheikh Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, and states: “The jihad did not stop and what it proves is that jihad is continuous until now with the Grace of Allah”.

The Mujahideen Shura Council is composed of eight insurgency groups in Iraq: al-Qaeda in Iraq, Victorious Army Group, the Army of al-Sunnah Wal Jama’a, Jama’a al-Murabiteen, Ansar al-Tawhid Brigades, Islamic Jihad Brigades, the Strangers Brigades, and the Horrors Brigades, collaborating to meet the “unbelievers gathering with different sides” and defend Islam.

It is noteworthy that the jihadists are calling for a combination of forces, these same forces battling each other in the earlier days of the insurgency in Ramadi, as we covered from Army intelligence sources in Al Qaeda, Indigenous Sunnis and the Insurgency in Iraq.  For instance, it was never al Qaeda which controlled the hospital in Ramadi.  Rather, it was Ansar al Sunna, and al Qaeda stayed out of the innermost parts of Ramadi due to the inherent danger.  Each sect of Sunni insurgency fought with all other sects, and this inability to combine forces is part of its failure.

Just as remarkable is the followup press release of al Qaeda in Iraq (the internet swarm was obviously preliminary to this more formal action by al Qaeda), in that the strategy is only ostensibly one of jihad against the evil Crusader Americans, and is in reality one of the power and cultural identity of Sunnis.

The purported leader of al-Qaida’s affiliate in Iraq called in a new Internet audiotape Tuesday on Sunni fighters who switched sides and joined the American push to pacify Sunni areas of the country, to return to the insurgency.

In the recording, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who allegedly heads the Islamic State of Iraq, called on Sunni unity and urged Sunnis in the Iraqi army, police and the so-called “Awakening Councils” to abandon fighting the mujahideen, and instead turn their guns toward the “Crusader” enemy shorthand for U.S. troops in Iraq.

The 30-minute audio was posted on Islamic Web sites known as clearing houses for militant messaging. Its authenticity could not be independently confirmed. Washington-based SITE Institute which monitors militant Internet messaging, also intercepted the recording.

No photo has ever appeared of al-Baghdadi, whom the U.S. describes as a fictitious character used to give an Iraqi face to an organization dominated by foreigner al-Qaida fighters. The U.S. has said that under interrogation, a top al-Qaida member revealed that speeches by al-Baghdadi who often echo the messages of his patron, Osama bin Laden are read by an actor.

“The scholars of the faith and the honorable sheiks of the tribes are charged with calling and urging the children of the Sunni sheikdoms to leave the army and the police … and the Awakening Councils, on the basis that all arms … be directed at the Crusaders and those who support them,” al-Baghdadi said in the latest recording.

The Sunni fighters who went to the American and Iraqi government side have contributed nothing to benefit the Sunni nation in Iraq, al-Baghdadi claimed, and were themselves deceived by unfulfilled promises of payments and contracts with the U.S. and Iraqi forces.

The Awakening Councils first surfaced last year in the Sunni province of Anbarwest of Baghdad, but have since also spread to other Sunni-populated areas in central Iraq.

Al-Qaida has never publicly acknowledged losing control in the Anbar to the U.S.-Iraqi anti-insurgency push, but al-Baghdadi has in the past blasted the Awakening Council’s “collaboration” with the U.S. troops in the region.

Noting that five years have passed since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, al-Baghdadi claims the “enemy has reaped humiliation and loss” and faces an “exceptional state” of economic collapse.

Meanwhile, the al-Qaida affiliate will remain firm on the path of jihad, al-Baghdadi said.

Allegedly motivated by Sunni tribesmen wishing an end the Sunni infighting, al-Baghdadi claimed a project has been agreed upon in which a committee of scholars will intervene to resolve conflicts in Sunni areas between tribes, mujahideen, and others.

Referring to the recent U.S.-Iraqi drive to flush al-Qaida out of northern Iraqi strongholds around the city of Mosul, al-Baghdadi warns Sunnis there to exercise “caution.”

“The malice against you is great, and you will see humiliation if you abandon your children, the mujahideen. They are from you and for you. They are the source of your pride and honor. They are the secret of your power,” he said.

There is no call for the Shi’a to abandon the fight against al Qaedain the name of jihad.  The fight, says the spokesman, is about the source of their pride and honor, the secret of the Sunni power.  The days when the Sunni believes that he will return to power in Iraq as part of the majority party are gone, and the appeal of al Qaeda to this quaint notion is a sign of its waning power.

You are currently reading "The Waning of Al Qaeda in Iraq", entry #1042 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) al Qaeda,Ansar al Sunna,Iraq,Sunni Insurgency and was published April 15th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

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