Monday, February 11, 2008

Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point on Al-Qaeda in Iraq

By 2007, the Bush administrations assertions that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was debunked to death. Dick Cheney made the illogical and false statement that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was because Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had links to Al-Qaeda.

“He took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the al-Qaida operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June,” Cheney told radio host Rush Limbaugh during an interview. “As I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq.”

Taken at face value: the U.S. military must spend more blood and tressure to hunt al-Zarqawi than hunt Osama bin Laden/Al-Qaeda on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point has studied Al-Qaeda documents U.S. military personal obtained in the field. It turns out Al-Qaeda does very good record keeping. The findings show al-Zarqawi did not join Al-Qaeda until 2004.

Al-Qa’ida’s allies began moving into Iraq even before U.S. forces entered the country in early 2003. After fleeing Afghanistan and traversing Iran, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi slipped into Northern Iraq some time in 2002. At that time, Zarqawi’s organization was called Tawhid wa’l Jihad (Monotheism and Struggle) and was built around a backbone of Jordanians, Syrians, and Kurds that either rushed to join him in Iraq or had been working with the Kurdistan-based jihadi group, Ansar al-Islam.

Zarqawi did not join al-Qa’ida until October 2004, when he swore allegiance to Usama bin Ladin. The new organization was called Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn which was commonly known in the West as al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI). The agreement between Zarqawi and his new masters belied important disagreements that remained even after Zarqawi formally joined al-Qa’ida. Zarqawi was sometimes critical of al-Qa’ida’s willingness to cooperate with “apostates” against other enemies and, unlike Bin Ladin, fervently argued that al-Qa’ida’s “Near Enemy”—apostates and the Shi’a—were more dangerous than its “Far Enemy”—the United States and the West.

Al-Qaeda attempted to form ties with the Ba’athist insurgents. Al-Qaeda's ideology, kill all tactics and pure craziness made this impossible. The Ba’athist are members of Saddam Hussein's army. These are professional soldiers fighting for nationalism. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is made up of foreign-born Muslims that fanatical andpoorly-educated. This is why the different ethnic factions are more than happy to help Gen. David Petraeus destroy Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Cheney's claim that Iraq had ties to Al-Qaeda continues to get shot down. The Vice-President is solely intent on fear-mongering and propaganda. Straight talk is will never be Cheney's forte.

The pro-Al-Qaeda supporting groups are doing a good job of failing on their own. The Islamic State of Iraq attempts to maintain the image of an actual government. Their Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is a cabinet department with no actual office. The ISI may not even have a leader.

The U.S. spokesman in Baghdad, General Kevin Bergner, even claimed to have intelligence that Abu Umar al-Baghdadi is a fictitious character created to front the ISI while non-Iraqis pulled the strings.

The Combatting Terrorism Center finds the insurgency is largely made of Iraqis. Al-Qaeda is not the main group fighting and killing American soldiers.

Most of Iraq’s militants do not suffer that strategic problem. The vast majority of militants in Iraq have nothing to do with al-Qa’ida, and they are focused on Iraqi problems: security, distribution of power and money, and sectarianism. Those insurgents are a mix of Sunni nationalists, Ba’thists, Shi’a militias, and Islamist organizations. Mistaking any of these groups for al-Qa’ida is not simply wrong, it is dangerous.

The Bush administration continues to blur the line between the Iraqi-born insurgents and Al-Qaeda. The White House always puts message and politics over sound policy decisions.

The report finds the Iraq occupation is inspiring young Muslim men to take up arms against the United States. The idea the occupying Iraq is making America safer is bogus. I have tried figuring out why President Bush has stayed in Iraq. THe only logical reason is he doesn't want to be known as the man that lost Iraq. Bush can blame the next President for Iraq.

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At February 12, 2008 3:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I have written to a contact at CTC that this statement in the report is inaccurate. In fact, Zarqawi was integral to the Millennium Plot in Jordan, which was an al Qaeda operation. He may not have been a card carrying member so to speak, but he was working with al Qaeda for some time.

This is all very well established and that statement is misleading.

Hopefully that gets fixed. By the way, there is a ton of evidence in captured documents that Saddam worked with al Qaeda. Check out my book, Both In One Trench: Saddam's Secret Terror Documents at

At February 13, 2008 5:06 PM , Blogger Vox Populi said...

bush is still trying to get in to iran. That's his goal.


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