Iraqi Jihadis Analyze Coalition Strategy

BY Herschel Smith
14 years ago

Pretext and Thesis

Abdul Hameed Bakier of The Jamestown Foundation gives us an interesting review of Iraqi jihadis and their analysis of the surge and security plan in Iraq.  The analysis is posted over jihadi web sites and forums from multiple individuals, but the focus of the analysis is what they find to be three strategic phases.

Preliminary phase—Intelligence

This phase started three to four months before the actual implementation of the plan. Because a lack of intelligence was the major reason for U.S. failures in previous operations, this phase concentrated on collecting intelligence on different jihadi factions. The rivalry between various jihadi factions compromised jihadi security and secrecy, denying the resistance the element of surprise in their operations. U.S. forces succeeded in penetrating the secrecy shield of the jihadis, allowing intelligence units to analyze jihadi groups in different operational sectors and “hot spots.” The behavior and relations between the people of Iraq were examined and comprehensive intelligence situation reports were prepared.

Defensive operations phase

The objective of this phase was an all-out confrontation with various jihadi detachments, characterized by sustained direct contact by U.S. forces and Iraqi police units. This phase included defining areas of confrontation with jihadis, confining and isolating these areas, constructing camps and control points in these areas and setting up ambushes along routes frequented by jihadis.

Interception phase

Using military and control points, U.S. and Iraqi forces launched search and interception operations. The size of the search operations in Iraqi cities was unprecedented. Consequently hundreds of jihadis were detained in a matter of weeks and a significant number of arms caches were uncovered. Finally, the U.S. military command inflicted serious damage to the morale of the jihadis by turning its military personnel loose on the cities and villages of Iraq, bombing at leisure any target they deemed hostile.

In a related subject, another jihadi website calls upon the leaders of different jihadi detachments to unite in order to recover from U.S. and Iraqi military operations (, December 26, 2007). The writer, using the alias “Jabhat al-Iraq” (Iraqi Front), says: “Dare I say that we, in the turmoil of the war, concentrated on attacking the enemy and forgot to strengthen our lines of defense against penetrations which led to contentions among us. We must unite all jihadi groups under one jihadi project.” Jabhat al-Iraq reminds jihadis how Baghdadis defeated Persian besiegers in 1732 without any help from the Ottoman Empire by uniting ranks and improving the training of their troops.

The call to unite all Iraqi jihadis may have a short-term positive effect on some Sunni insurgency groups with mutual religious, social or political inclinations, such as the Iraqi Sunni tribes and former Baathists. On the other hand, the Salafi-Jihadi extremists of al-Qaeda are unlikely to practice the religious tolerance needed to form a long-term Coalition with moderate Muslim tribesmen, much less with the despised Baathists.

Analysis and Commentary 

It is true that U.S. intelligence has been compiling data on individuals for at least three years, the most recent innovations in use being biometrics (including retinal scans and finger prints).  It is also true that there have been intelligence-driven kinetic operations, e.g., kinetic operations against the insurgency yields a catch of people or data and information, which leads to further kinetic operations due to the intelligence yield, and so on.  Finally, it is true that U.S. troops have been more proactive in the field, have conducted more kinetic operations, and have created greater force projection than in the past.  All of these observations could have easily come from a study of Milblogs or other reports.  Here the usefulness of the jihadi analysis ends.

The call to unite insurgent groups is no different than Osama bin Laden’s recent call to do the same.  While the U.S. has successfully implemented the strategy of breaking away the indigenous insurgency in Iraq by payments to concerned citizens, work programs and potential incorporation into the security forces or police, the indigenous insurgents were never fighting for religious motivation as were the jihadis.  As to the real reason for the self-destruction of the insurgency, the tribal sheikhs answered bin Laden’s call to align with al Qaeda by responding that their torture and brutality was rejected by the tribes.  The jihadi analysis of their failure is flawed, in that they still don’t understand their blunders.  They gratuitously ascribe to the U.S. forces what only they could do – lose the hearts and minds of the people.  Major General Gaskin has stated that the coalition gains in Anbar are permanent.

Their call for uniting the jihadi groups will go unheeded, but a more recent tactic has been the increase in spectacular suicide and car bomb attacks.

A US commander on Wednesday said the number of “spectacular” assaults by Al-Qaeda in Iraq has increased although the overall number of attacks was down and 20 key militants have been killed or caught.

Major General Mark Hertling, commanding general of coalition forces in northern Iraq, gave no specific examples of what he termed “spectacular” attacks, referring only to big car bombs and to suicide attacks.

“These spectacular events and intimidation are designed to incite fear in the population,” Hertling told a news conference in Baghdad.

Suicide bombers have continued to carry out bloody attacks in recent weeks, with one killing 25 people and wounding 85 on Christmas Day, when he slammed his vehicle into a truck carrying gas cylinders at a checkpoint in the northern oil town of Baiji.

The same month, a woman suicide bomber killed 16 people in the offices of a local anti-Qaeda front in Muqdadiyah, in Diyala province, while another bomber killed 13 people inside a cafe near the Diyala provincial capital Baquba.

To be precise, this is not insurgency; it is terrorism.  I exactly predicted the use of these high visibility flash-bang events (in lieu of more traditional insurgency operations among the population or in direct confrontation of U.S. troops) in an interview by Jim Vicevich of WTIC Newstalk 1080 out of Hartford, Connecticut almost two months ago.

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Comments

  1. On January 10, 2008 at 12:38 am, Snooper said:

    Sounds like a Jihadi Tet to me.

    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/247147.php

  2. On January 10, 2008 at 1:03 am, Herschel Smith said:

    I think you’re saying the same thing I am.

    HPS

  3. On January 10, 2008 at 4:40 pm, Brian H said:

    No, I think the Tet image is flawed; Tet was a co-ordinated push be NVA troops and deep penetrations by guerilla cells into protected areas to try to destabalize the whole front and country. It failed to do either, but the third rail, creating an illusion of US defeat in the minds of the US public, succeeded. And that was sufficient.

    AQ has nothing like the resources to achieve #1 or #2, and probably not even #3; Petraeus has been far too consistent and persistent in his puncturing of the defeat bubble the MSM had been building and inflating with the aid of the Democrats, aka Copperheads. The show-blasts are less effective than previously, partly by their very discontinuity with field operations or wider AQ successes: they are the exceptions that prove the rule.

  4. On January 10, 2008 at 4:41 pm, Brian H said:

    Erratum: destabilize, of course, not “destabalize”!

  5. On January 10, 2008 at 5:01 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    I agree Brian. I was being gracious to my previous commenter. The Tet offensive and this tactic, and the participants, have little if anything in common. I agree with your assessment.

    But boy oh boy, do I love it when othur peopel make spelng erors! I make enuff of mi owwn.

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This article is filed under the category(s) al Qaeda,Iraq,Jihadists and was published January 10th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

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