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June 15, 2006
A Treasure From The Trove

Iraqi officials released a document found in the run-up to the Zarqawi mission that discussed al-Qaeda in Iraq tactics and strategy, accompanied by a gloomy prognosis for the AQI network. In the memo, the author acknowledges that the momentum had shifted to the Americans and that AQI would quickly run out of time and recruits, and proposed starting another war with America as a distraction -- preferably with Iran:

A blueprint for trying to start a war between the United States and Iran was among a "huge treasure" of documents found in the hideout of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraqi officials said Thursday. ...

While the coalition was continuing to suffer human losses, "time is now beginning to be of service to the American forces and harmful to the resistance," the document said.

The document said the insurgency was being hurt by, among other things, the U.S. military's program to train Iraqi security forces, by massive arrests and seizures of weapons, by tightening the militants' financial outlets, and by creating divisions within its ranks.

"Generally speaking and despite the gloomy present situation, we find that the best solution in order to get out of this crisis is to involve the U.S. forces in waging a war against another country or any hostile groups," the document said, as quoted by al-Maliki's office.

According to the summary, insurgents were being weakened by operations against them and by their failure to attract recruits. To give new impetus to the insurgency, they would have to change tactics, it added.

"We mean specifically attempting to escalate the tension between America and Iran, and American and the Shiite in Iraq," it quoted the documents as saying, especially among moderate followers of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq.

"Creating disputes between America and them could hinder the U.S. cooperation with them, and subsequently weaken this kind of alliance between Shiites and the Americans," it said, adding that "the best solution is to get America involved in a war against another country and this would bring benefits."

This corroborates the memo discovered in April by US forces during a raid on a terrorist safe house, one in which an anonymous AQ analyst claimed that "every year is worse than the previous year". The analyst also wrote that AQI had started to run out of munitions and weapons, and that they appeared unable to resupply their cells. It also calculated the number of AQI members in Baghdad at 110, perhaps coincidentally close to the 104 killed throughout Iraq in the massive sweep by Iraqi and American forces this week. (See Update for a clarification on this sentence.)

No one should be surprised by AQI's intent to start a war between Iran and the US. For them, it would have been the best of all possible events. The Americans would have to disengage from Baghdad and its environs. leaving the motivated but inexperienced Iraqi security forces in charge. It would also have placed American power directly in oposition to the Shi'ites, whom Zarqawi wanted to kill in great numbers, if possible. All of that would have given Zarqawi and his Islamist lunatics an opportunity to grab power, or failing that, to topple the elected government and have a more friendly strongman take Saddam's place in Baghdad.

Our efforts in Iraq have put an end to that kind of plotting. Had we bailed out of Iraq last year as Jack Murtha had demanded, or this year as John Kerry now insists, we would not have had the intel and the opportunity to put those plans to an end along with the AQI leader proposing them as their last-ditch solution. AQI and the other terrorists understand that we are winning, even if our own leaders do not or will not comprehend it.

UPDATE: CQ reader Burt in the comments notes that I mixed apples and oranges in comparing the total AQI members, and he's correct (but I didn't intend on misleading people). The earlier AQI total referred to their agents in Baghdad, while the roundup numbers come from nationwide raids. I've fixed the text above.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 15, 2006 10:44 AM

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