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April 22, 2006
Hitting Them In The Wallet

It turns out that the man killed by Pakistani forces near Khaar two days ago had a key role in what is left of al-Qaeda, and also had information that more clearly shows the connection between the bin Laden network and the Iraqi foreign insurgency:

Documents found on an operative for Al Qaeda who was killed by Pakistani forces showed that he was an explosives expert and a money carrier who appeared to be distributing cash to the families of Qaeda members, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the organization's leader in Iraq, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said Friday.

The operative, Marwan Hadid al-Suri, 38, also known as Abu Marwan, was shot to death on Thursday during a gunfight outside Khaar, a tribal area close to the Afghan border, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao said.

A notebook found on Mr. Suri contained details and diagrams of bomb circuits and chemicals used to manufacture explosives, including TNT and C-4, said the intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. "This is a big achievement because he was Al Qaeda's explosives expert," Mr. Sherpao said.

A diary written in Arabic contained a list of families of senior Qaeda operatives who received regular cash payments from the organization, including relatives of Mr. Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The list did not give the whereabouts of the families, but it described paying $2,500 per family every three months. According to the list, each family was also paid $500 per child every three months.

One interesting aspect of the Marwan case is his assignment to two very distinct tasks, which indicates that AQ may have some trouble getting higher-level competency. Normally an organization like AQ would not use one of its explosives experts as a bagman; the risk of exposure heightens dramatically when someone has to interface so often with others in the network and at banking institutions. Ideally the terrorists would want someone with specialized operational knowledge to remain hidden as much as possible. The fact that one of their explosives experts had to double as the paymaster tends to imply that they do not have enough reliable people to handle each task separately.

The notes on cash disbursements puts an end to the speculation that the leader of the Iraqi foreign insurgency, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, assumed the role of an AQ leader as a public pose. The regular payment of $2500 per quarter to his family indicates that AQ indeed accepts him as a leader and in fact pays him a salary commensurate with his assignment. That kind of money goes a long way in Jordan, Iraq, and other places in the Middle East. This gives yet another indication that the fight against the Zarqawi network in Iraq is no distraction from the war on terrorism but instead gives us another front on which to fight al-Qaeda.

The final irony in this story is that Marwan didn't get killed as a result of a raid, although his home was the target of the earlier American attack on Bajaur that initially generated reports of Ayman al-Zawahiri's death, which later was shown as a near-miss. His bus in Khaar got stopped at a regular security checkpoint, and Marwan shot a soldier trying to get away. He knew the value of the information he carried with him -- the pay receipts, plans for explosives, and four grenades for good measure -- and apparently panicked. The other soldiers at the checkpoint shot him while he tried to run away, providing an ignominious end to this Islamofascist lunatic.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 22, 2006 8:18 AM

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