02-14-2004, 11:56 PM
David Warren: Zarqawi's Trolls
The New York Times's Dexter Filkins â€” a journalist I would normally not mention favourably â€” has put us all in his debt by publicizing a document that has fallen into U.S. military custody in Iraq. It is a 17-page plea, apparently from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to his Al Qaeda colleagues elsewhere. The document is the terrorist equivalent of a grant application.
Since the liberal media will not tell you more about Zarqawi than that he has "alleged ties to Al Qaeda", I will tell you about him (on the basis of intelligence sources that are mostly German). He is a Palestinian with a Jordanian passport, who ran a terror training camp in Afghanistan, near Herat, that investigated chemical and biological weapons. His own personal branch of the jihadist international, Jund al-Shams, enjoys the material support of Iran's ayatollahs, and specialized briefly in providing Al Qaeda members escaping from Afghanistan with new identities and documentation. His foot soldiers are now trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guards in camps in Persian Baluchistan, then forwarded through Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, and Syria, into Iraq, with logistical help from Hezbollah. Some may now be entering Iraq through Saudi Arabia.
Zarqawi also has a history of contacts with the former Ba'athist regime in Iraq, and was at one time the centre of a triangle whose points were Hezbollah's Imad Mughniyah, Al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein's pet Palestinian terrorist, the late Abu Nidal. His lieutenants run the Ansar al-Islam operations in Iraq. He also recruits young jihadis from Germany, France, and Britain, through al-Tawhid and several other European-based terror networks. More than 100 of his operatives have been arrested over the last couple of years, many of them in Turkey and across Europe, but also as far afield as Latin America.
Oh, and he is on one leg, having lost the other in an incident in Afghanistan. Saddam's doctors fitted him with a prosthetic replacement in Baghdad, during the summer of 2002.
Interesting guy, almost certainly now in Iraq himself, and probably at the top of the current American most-wanted list. His "grant application" â€” the contents of which I only know through Mr. Filkins's transcriptions â€” make sense to me because they confirm what I have previously tried to explain to my readers. The purpose of the insurgent attacks in Iraq are not to drive the U.S. and British troops out, immediately â€” the terrorists themselves don't think that can be done, and Zarqawi gives an assessment of the situation there, from the terrorists' point of view, which is every bit as bleak as the one we heard in the last smuggled tape of Osama.
The more immediate objective is to create total chaos in Iraq. â€¦
(David Warren in The Ottawa Citizen, February 11, 2004)
Quoted from IronPants Refuge, LINK HERE (http://pub47.ezboard.com/fironpantsrefugefrm6.showMessage?topicID=668.topic )
02-15-2004, 05:20 AM
THE STRATFOR WEEKLY
13 February 2004
Pakistan Braces for the American Storm
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has begun warning his
country that if it does not root out al Qaeda, the United States
As part of its self-declared "war on terrorism," the United
States has been involved in the Afghan theater of operations for
more than two years, since it succeeded in overthrowing the
Taliban government in late 2001 by employing a strategy heavily
dependent upon local allies. Since then, U.S. efforts have
followed a bifurcated path: maintaining some semblance of order
in Kabul -- where the "national" government resides -- and
bombing any concentrated pockets of resistance.
The strategy makes sense. Unlike the Soviet occupation of 1979-
1989, the United States is not attempting to control the entire
territory of Afghanistan. Split as it is by the Hindu Kush
mountains -- and a plethora of ethnic groups with little to no
sense of a shared history -- the country probably is not capable
of forming a unified state in the traditional sense. The least
violent existence that Afghanistan can hope for is probably to
have a very weak central government in which the various regional capitals -- Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif -- exercise de facto sovereign control.
The U.S. strategy, then, is geared toward maintaining the fiction
of a "united" Afghanistan, without providing any troops to
enforce central rule. The NATO-led International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) patrols only Kabul and the immediate
surrounding area, while various regional militias rule their
The strategy is not exactly brilliant, but -- considering
Afghanistan's history and geography -- it is probably one of the
few that could work. As a side effect, it leaves al Qaeda and its
sympathizers free to prowl largely where they will and conduct
hit-and-run nuisance attacks.
For al Qaeda, this is far from a happy state of affairs.
Afghanistan can no longer be used as a major training facility,
and the network has been funneling most of its fighters into
Iraq. A smaller presence in Afghanistan is a more vulnerable one,
so al Qaeda has done what any business would do under similar
The mountainous border region of the Afghan-Pakistani border
region is porous, relatively unguarded and home to the Pushtun
ethnic group that straddles national boundaries. Al Qaeda,
unhobbled by state loyalties, has most likely moved its core
personnel into this region, where it is more complicated for U.S.
forces to operate.
But more complicated does not mean impossible.
The Bush administration is looking for the end game. Al Qaeda has proven unable to mount a major strike on U.S. targets since Sept. 11, 2001. The attacks that have occurred -- Casablanca, Bali, An Najaf, Riyadh, etc. -- have been far less ambitious in scope, carried out by affiliate groups and, most importantly, have not touched the U.S. mainland. The next major push from the United States will be an attempt to roll up al Qaeda's prime senior members themselves.
As with all other major policy pushes in 2004, the White House
has its eye on domestic politics as well. Melting down al Qaeda
into a commemorative coin set to present to the American voter
just in time for Nov. 4 would, of course, be a nice touch from a
White House perspective. Doing that, however, means rolling into
Pakistan with a lot more than a disposable State Department
officer with snazzy shoes and a sharply worded demarche. Unlike
Afghanistan, Pakistan is a real country with a real army -- and
real nuclear weapons. Hence, at the highest levels, Washington
has been tightening the screws on Islamabad -- most recently
regarding the indiscretions of its nuclear development team.
Musharraf has received the none-too-subtle message, and this week began preparing his country for the inevitable onslaught -- and spurring it into action so that the United States might not need to come calling with a whole division of troops when it comes.
In a Feb. 10 interview with the New York Times, Musharraf made it clear that the onus of responsibility for the nuclear technology
leaks was on the CIA, which he said had not provided any proof
about the nuclear proliferation until quite recently. While the
primary message of "don't blame me or push me around" came
through loud and clear, there was also a secondary, more subtle,
message: "Show me proof and I'll act."
The buzz in Pakistan this week, at least according to the Daily
Times, is that CIA Director George Tenet paid Islamabad a secret
visit on Feb. 11. In short, Musharraf was preparing the public
for what sort of terms would be necessary for him to cater to
Washington's wishes, and Washington just might have provided the appropriate information about al Qaeda's new digs in Pakistan.
That brings us to a more recent statement by Musharraf concerning militant activity. Speaking at Pakistan's National Defense College in Rawalpindi on Feb. 12, Musharraf said, "Certainly everything [within Afghanistan] is not happening from Pakistan, but certainly something is happening from Pakistan. Let us not bluff ourselves. Now, whatever is happening from Pakistan must be stopped and that is what we are trying to do."
On Feb. 10, Musharraf outlined what Washington would need to do to get him to move. On Feb. 12, he made it clear to other power brokers within Pakistan what needed to be done. Stratfor expects a third, more direct, statement to tumble from Musharraf's lips in the near future.
The issue now is simply one of timing. The Afghan-Pakistani
border currently is difficult to navigate: Mountains plus winter
equals no tanks. Once spring arrives, however, the United States
can roll in and -- in theory -- nab all the appropriate
personalities, just in time for the Democratic National
Convention in July. If the Bush administration can pull it off,
more Democrats than Howard Dean will be screaming.
The plan is not quite as neat as it seems. Northern Pakistan is
rugged territory, but people actually live there and like it.
Most are none too pleased with what the United States has been
doing across the border in Afghanistan of late. This region,
dubbed the Northwest Frontier Territories, is heavily Pushtun and
is rife with al Qaeda supporters. Rolling into it would not be
In the hopes of heading off what would likely be a bloody U.S.
intervention in Pakistan, Musharraf is trying to make the case
for a major Pakistani military offensive against al Qaeda and its
supporters in these tribal areas.
The Pakistani president is in quite an uncomfortable position,
attempting to balance his role as a trusted U.S. ally in the war
against militant Islamism, while leading a country where anti-
Americanism is at a fever pitch. Despite Musharraf's attempts to
proceed with caution, decisions resulting from the U.S. pressure
are critically injuring his domestic image.
Musharraf has long stressed that his government furnished the
United States with only minimal assistance in terms of logistical
support, intelligence-sharing and so forth, and that Pakistani
troops are not committed to campaigns outside the country. Both
Interior Minister Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat and Information
Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed routinely deny that U.S.
intelligence and military forces are engaged in any operations in
Pakistan against al Qaeda/Taliban suspects, particularly when
arrests are made or suspected militants are killed in shoot-outs.
Hayat and Ahmed have gone to lengths to underscore that Pakistani forces are doing the actual work, while the United States is merely providing intelligence and logistical support in the background.
U.S. troops conducting a large-scale operation inside Pakistan
would take away the Pakistanis' we're-doing-it-ourselves factor
and could well fracture the Pakistani military, not to mention
prompt a backlash from the public.
But Musharraf has no illusions about where he falls on the U.S.
priority list. If destroying al Qaeda once and for all means
losing the Pakistani president, well, the United States has
survived Pakistani regime changes before. Therefore, Musharraf
issued an oblique warning to his country that it needs to do a
housecleaning -- before the rat-a-tat of U.S. M16s is heard
across the Northwest Frontier.
It is unclear just how Musharraf will be able to muster the
support necessary for this latest step his government has had to
make in the wake of Sept. 11. Initial signs are promising. So far
jirgas (councils) of the Utmanzai and North Waziristani tribes
have decided to set up militias to hunt down foreign militants.
It is far too early to evaluate the tribes' seriousness -- much
less their success -- in the matter, but it is obvious that the
political dialogue has been sparked.
Islamabad does not have much time to get results. Warmer weather soon will set in, and the ISAF already is taking over policing duties in Afghanistan from U.S. forces, which will free up even more U.S. forces for a counterinsurgency offensive, should
Islamabad fail to get the job done.
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