Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Captured Papers Show Weakening Insurgency | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55286800

A Jordanian woman during a protest against the visit last week of four Islamic Action Front party deputies to the wake of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, in Amman (EPA)

A Jordanian woman during a protest against the visit last week of four Islamic Action Front party deputies to the wake of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, in Amman (EPA)

A Jordanian woman during a protest against the visit last week of four Islamic Action Front party deputies to the wake of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, in Amman (EPA)

BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP – A document purportedly captured in an al-Qaida hideout portrays the insurgency in Iraq as being in “bleak” shape, saying that it is losing strength and proposing ways to stir up trouble between the U.S. and Iran to divert American attention.

On Friday, a suicide bomber struck a Shiite mosque during prayers in Baghdad, killing at least seven people and wounding 18, police said, as violence persisted despite a driving ban and increased security measures aimed at restoring order in the capital.

Earlier Friday, the U.S. military said a key terror leader linked to the deaths of at least six coalition soldiers was captured in Karbala, a day after the local council issued strong protests over the arrests of three members.

The military said Iraqi soldiers, assisted by coalition advisers, conducted an early morning ground assault raid on Thursday in the Shiite holy city, 50 miles south of Baghdad, and captured “a high-ranking terrorist network commander without firing a shot.”

The suspect was identified by the military as Sheik Aqeel.

“Aqeel commands a Karbala terrorist network and is wanted for assassinating Iraqi citizens and planning and ordering attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces,” the military said in a statement.

Meanwhile, American and Iraqi forces have killed 104 insurgents in 452 raids nationwide since al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed last week, the U.S. military said.

Arrests, weapons seizures and money shortages are taking a heavy toll on al-Qaida’s insurgency in Iraq, according to the three-page transcript released Thursday by the Iraqi government, which said it reflects al-Qaida policy and the terror organization’s cooperation with groups loyal to Saddam Hussein.

There was no way to confirm the authenticity of the information attributed to al-Qaida, and U.S. and Iraqi officials offered conflicting accounts of when and where it was seized.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office said Iraqi forces found the document in al-Zarqawi’s hideout after the June 7 U.S. airstrike that killed him.

However, U.S. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the document had been taken from a computer in a raid during the three-week operation to track down al-Zarqawi.

Caldwell said sweeps across Iraq since al-Zarqawi’s death led to 28 significant arms caches. He said the raids included 255 joint operations and 143 by Iraqi forces alone.

The al-Qaida document said its insurgency was being hurt by an increase in U.S.-trained Iraqi forces, by widespread arrests and seizures of weapons, and by a crackdown on financial outlets.

According to a translation provided by National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie, the document said the best way to overcome the “current bleak situation” would be to involve U.S. forces in a “war against another country” or hostile group.

The way to do this, the document said, “is to try and inflame the situation between America and Iran” or between the U.S. and followers of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric.

It suggests carrying out a range of terrorist acts for which it will falsely implicate Iran, including bombings in the West and kidnappings. It also recommends declaring the existence of a relationship between Iran and terrorist groups, and disseminating bogus confessions showing that Iran has weapons of mass destruction.

Vice President Dick Cheney said the document, if authenticated, shows the terrorists know they are losing the war.

The words “are fascinating because they do reveal — obviously whoever wrote them, assuming they are authentic — somebody who believes they are on the losing end of the engagement,” Cheney said on the Sean Hannity radio show.

“I think the psychological business here is really enormously important as well, too. Somebody said the other day that … the way we win is when … the terrorists finally become convinced that we won’t quit.”

Al-Rubaie called it “the beginning of the end of al-Qaida in Iraq.”

“Now we have the upper hand,” he told reporters. “We feel that we know their locations, the names of their leaders, their whereabouts, their movements, through the documents we found during the last few days.”

Mustafa Alani, a terror expert at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai, said he did not believe the document was authentic.

“I wonder why they would put their strategy down in writing, even on a computer. These people learned a good lesson a long time ago,” he said, recalling that one of al-Zarqawi’s computers was seized earlier.

Terror consultant Evan Kohlmann called Alani’s criticism “simplistic.”

“They do have to write these ideas down somewhere. At a certain point, you have to have written records,” said Kohlmann, the New York-based founder of globalterroralert.com.

But, Kohlmann said, “it’s impossible to say” whether the document is authentic. “Without knowing the author, it’s really impossible to know the document’s credibility, its relevance and its significance.”

The U.S. military has in the past released documents it said were seized from Al-Qaida in Iraq, including one in February 2004 reportedly written by al-Zarqawi complaining that if the insurgency fails to prevent the handover of sovereignty, “then there will be no choice to pack our bags and move to another land…”

In May, documents were released that showed the group was concerned about disorganization within its cells in the capital area, with one extremist describing them as simply “a daily annoyance” to the Iraqi government.

Despite the document’s pessimistic assessment and a fresh security crackdown in Baghdad, new violence erupted in the capital Thursday and at least 24 killings were reported throughout the country.

A bomb in a parked car detonated in a southwest Baghdad neighborhood, killing at least three civilians and wounding 14. In an even deadlier attack, gunmen shot and killed 10 men riding a bus in the industrial area of Baqouba, close to where al-Zarqawi was killed.

The U.S. military said Abu Ayyub al-Masri, an Egyptian with ties to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network, has taken over from al-Zarqawi as head of al-Qaida in Iraq. Al-Masri apparently is the man that the terrorist group identified in a Web posting last week as its new leader — Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, a nom de guerre, said Caldwell.

The military showed a picture of al-Masri — who was named in a most-wanted list issued in February 2005 by the U.S. command and who now has a $200,000 bounty on his head — wearing a traditional white Arab headdress.

Al-Qaida has been responsible for numerous attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, where the American death toll has now hit 2,500, according to the military.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi prime minister pressed forward with a plan to begin reconciling Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian groups. But he canceled a planned announcement of the program, apparently after disagreements with Sunni Arab and Kurdish members of his coalition government.

Al-Maliki has opened the door for talks with insurgents opposed to the country’s political process as part of his national reconciliation initiative, but said any negotiations would exclude terrorist groups. The plan could include a pardon for some prisoners.

Yassin Majeed, an aide to al-Maliki, denied reports that talks were on with armed groups of any kind. “There is absolutely no dialogue with any armed group at the present time.”

An Iraqi soldier secures an empty street in central Baghdad (AFP)

An Iraqi soldier secures an empty street in central Baghdad (AFP)

Photo released by the U.S. military of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, alias Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (R)

Photo released by the U.S. military of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, alias Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (R)