Updated: 5/16/2006; 2:48:46 PM.

Current events
Post-9-11 events and analyses


daily link  Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Going after Iraq's most wanted man: If they get him in October, it could help Bush.  Background:  "Mr. Zarqawi's Iraq-based group, Tawhid and Jihad, claims responsibility for beheading hostages, kidnappings - including two Americans and a Briton last week - attacks on churches, and the bombings of Iraqi police stations that have left more than 400 people dead. US bombs rain down almost daily on Fallujah, targeting alleged Zarqawi associates and killing roughly 70 people this month. But some terrorism analysts, and old associates who spent time with Zarqawi in a Jordan prison, say he runs an organization separate from Al Qaeda. They say that killing the poorly educated, tattooed Jordanian - or many of his followers - will do little to slow the wave of terrorist attacks inside Iraq.

"Just like with Osama, if you were to kill him today, it wouldn't make a difference at all to these networks he's helped create,'' says Rohan Gunaratna, a counterterrorism expert and author of "Inside Al Qaeda." "While much of the suicide bombing in Iraq is coordinated by his network, it's being driven from the bottom up. Regional and local operational leaders plan and execute attacks. Zarqawi probably doesn't know much about them ahead of time and he doesn't need to."

This doesn't mean the shadowy Zarqawi isn't an important contributor to Iraq's instability. But analysts such as Mr. Gunaratna say that .. Zarqawi is just the most visible figure today in a tight-knit group of operatives, many with guerrilla and terrorist training gained in Afghanistan. If this analysis is correct, the damage is already done. While Zarqawi may be captured or killed, his network is now largely autonomous [and] civilian casualties brings more Iraqis and foreigners to the cause.

The US has "killed some important individuals but the power of the network is such that they're able to replace them. They're living in a war zone where the generation of new members is easy,'' says Gunaratna, because of the conviction of many that they're fighting an infidel invader. "Iraq has clearly become the new land of jihad, like Afghanistan produced the last generation of Mujahidin, Iraq is creating the new generation." ..

analysts - as well as German and Italian government court documents in cases against Zarqawi associates - say it's clear now that while Zarqawi has had contact with Al Qaeda members in the past, he has sharp tactical differences with the organization and appears to be operating a wholly separate network. Shadi Abdallah, a Zarqawi associate arrested on charges of running a terrorist cell in Germany, has told interrogators that Zarqawi saw himself as a rival of Al Qaeda, not an ally.US officials now say they don't believe he lost a leg, and analysts such as Gunaratna say there is no evidence he had ties to Hussein's regime.

After failing to find work that year in Jordan (at one time he told friends he wanted to open a small fruit-stand), he returned to Afghanistan, where European court documents allege he founded a training camp for his group, Tawhid and Jihad (which roughly means "Oneness of God and Holy War.")

After the US invasion of Afghanistan, he fled to northern Iraq, where he began putting his Iraq network together with the help of Ansar al-Islam. The first suicide attack in Iraq attributed to him occurred in August last year, against the Jordanian Embassy."

  6:13:20 PM  permalink  

A Liberal Strategy: Nice rhetorical formula. "George W. Bush: Out of Touch. Irresponsible. Unconcerned. Wrong for the American People."  8:24:31 AM  permalink  

Terror report revision arrives: "In April the U.S. government released its yearly report called "Patterns of Global Terrorism." This edition showed a welcome decrease: the number of people wounded in terrorist incidents in 2003 fell to 1,593 from 2,013 the year before. The decrease in injuries, as well as in deaths and in terrorist incidents, prompted Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to say, "You will find in these pages clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight."

Then, in June, the State Department updated the original document's incorrect statistics and revealed that terror-related injuries in 2003 in fact totaled 3,646. This number, according to mathematicians, is higher than 2,013. The updated report also revealed more deaths [625 instead of 307] and terrorist incidents in 2003 than had the first document. The new data raise a question: If the interpretation of the original report led the deputy secretary of state to the conclusion that "we are prevailing in the fight," has the corrected report compelled him to announce that we are losing the fight? "

  12:38:05 AM  permalink  

Chris Dickey: Frequently Unasked Questions: "you can tick off the disaggregated triumphs [after 9/11]: Using conventional war against the Taliban, Bush ended a loathsome, fanatical regime that had provided shelter to an organization openly at war with the United States. Using the full resources of the C.I.A. and other agencies, the Bush administration then hunted down, with great success, most of  the key Al Qaeda operatives who had planned and facilitated the attacks on New York and Washington. By January 2003, the shooting war and the covert actions against those terrorists had been won. Job well done. .. But in its quest for absolute security against all enemies real and imagined, whether powerful or impotent, the Bush administration found its own victories impossible to acknowledge. ..

Wise policy would have been to intimidate and isolate Saddam Hussein, who posed a separate problem. And in fact he was isolated, he was intimidated. Another triumph. .. [In Jan 2003,] the goal should have been to calm the international scene and build cooperation. The cancer of Al Qaeda had largely been cut out. The challenge was to keep it from metastasizing. This was the moment for the war of ideas to begin in earnest and international cooperation to be at its height. This was the time when terrorist recruiters could have been isolated and their lies exposed.

Instead, our impulsive, almost petulant invasion of Iraq did just what so many of our friends and allies warned it would do. It created a whole new hot-bed of fanaticism, and an inspiration to terrorist recruiters everywhere.

By pretending the War on Terror is one all-embracing fight, Bush has created a war he has no idea how to win. At the same time, hes succeeded in pulling together many separate enemies. No, terrorism is not a force of nature. But we have done a lot to create the perfect storm."

  12:00:14 AM  permalink  

 
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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 2:48:46 PM.