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CENTCOM announced today that they had captured al-Qaeda correspondence in Iraq that discusses the state of the insurgency, especially around Baghdad but also around the entire country. Far from optimistic, the documents captured in an April 16th raid reveal frustration and desperation, as the terrorists acknowledge the superior position of American and free Iraqi forces and their ability to quickly adapt to new tactics.
In these passages, the AQ terrorist author -- described as a person "of significance" due to the extensive analysis applied -- often refers to the elected Iraqi government as the "Shi'ites":
A glance at the reality of Baghdad in light of the latest events (sectarian turmoil)
1. It has been proven that the Shiites have a power and influence in Baghdad that cannot be taken lightly, particularly when the power of the Ministries of Interior and Defense is given to them, compared with the power of the mujahidin in Baghdad. During a military confrontation, they will be in a better position because they represent the power of the state along with the power of the popular militias. Most of the mujahidin power lies in surprise attacks (hit and run) or setting up explosive charges and booby traps. This is a different matter than a battle with organized forces that possess machinery and suitable communications networks. Thus, what is fixed in the minds of the Shiite and Sunni population is that the Shiites are stronger in Baghdad and closer to controlling it while the mujahidin (who represent the backbone of the Sunni people) are not considered more than a daily annoyance to the Shiite government. The only power the mujahidin have is what they have already demonstrated in hunting down drifted patrols and taking sniper shots at those patrol members who stray far from their patrols, or planting booby traps among the citizens and hiding among them in the hope that the explosions will injure an American or members of the government. In other words, these activities could be understood as hitting the scared and the hiding ones, which is an image that requires a concerted effort to change, as well as Allah’s wisdom.
The author of this analysis acknowledges two truths. First, rather than representing any real existential threat to the government, the insurgency only rises to the level of a "daily annoyance". This clashes with the depiction in the American media of the Zarqawi network as a mass destabilizer, a description that even AQ rejects. The terror analyst also recognizes that the tactics used by the terrorist network have largely alienated even the Sunnis by killing those who represent no threat to AQ -- the "scared and the hiding ones". AQ, he says, needs an image makeover.
2. The strength of the brothers in Baghdad is built mainly on booby trapped cars, and most of the mujahidin groups in Baghdad are generally groups of assassin without any organized military capabilities.
3. There is a clear absence of organization among the groups of the brothers in Baghdad, whether at the leadership level in Baghdad, the brigade leaders, or their groups therein. Coordination among them is very difficult, which appears clearly when the group undertake a join[t] operations.
This passage admits that the foreign insurgents not only do not have any organization or military capabilities, but also resist coordination. In some ways, that makes discovering and neutralizing them more difficult, but it also keeps AQ from holding any territory or controlling the area in any meaningful way. Their assets in Baghdad cannot even coordinate with each other to carry out joint operations, indicating a poor system of communications -- likely brought about by American and Iraqi offensives against the network.
4. The policy followed by the brothers in Baghdad is a media oriented policy without a clear comprehensive plan to capture an area or an enemy center. Other word, the significance of the strategy of their work is to show in the media that the American and the government do not control the situation and there is resistance against them. This policy dragged us to the type of operations that are attracted to the media, and we go to the streets from time to time for more possible noisy operations which follow the same direction.
This direction has large positive effects; however, being preoccupied with it alone delays more important operations such as taking control of some areas, preserving it and assuming power in Baghdad (for example, taking control of a university, a hospital, or a Sunni religious site).
This is a frank admission that the only effect that AQ has made is to convince the media -- presumably the American media -- that the situation cannot be controlled, despite their acknowledgement that they represent nothing more than a nuisance. It also cautions against falling in love with seeing themselves on the TV, because the cost of such operations results in a lack of assets for holding real territory. Right now, they cannot even hold a university, let alone a city or suburb.
At the same time, the Americans and the Government were able to absorb our painful blows, sustain them, compensate their losses with new replacements, and follow strategic plans which allowed them in the past few years to take control of Baghdad as well as other areas one after the other. That is why every year is worse than the previous year as far as the Mujahidin’s control and influence over Baghdad.
The terrorists realize that their control over the Sunni Triangle -- their power base -- has waned with each passing year. It also acknowledges the great strength of the American military: its ability to quickly adapt and persevere. The "clear and hold" strategy adopted by military commanders in conjunction with the training of the Iraqi army has forced AQ to the brink of irrelevancy, and they know it.
5. The role that the Islamic party and the Islamic Scholars Committee play in numbing the Sunni people through the media is a dangerous role. It has been proven from the course of the events that the American investment in the Party and the Committee were not in vain. In spite of the gravity of the events, they were able to calm down the Sunni people, justify the enemy deeds, and give the enemy the opportunity to do more work without any recourse and supervision. This situation stemmed from two matters:
n First, their media power is presented by their special radio and TV stations as the sole Sunni information source, coupled with our weak media which is confined mainly to the Internet, without a flyer or newspaper to present these events.
n Second, in the course of their control of the majority of the speakers at mosques who convert right into wrong and wrong into right, and present Islam in a sinful manner and sins in a Muslim manner. At the same time we did not have any positive impact or benefits from our operations.
In other words, the Americans are winning the media war in Iraq. That's something that the American media has yet to report in any substantive way. The memo also indicates that the mosques have largely turned against the insurgents, apparently excoriating them for sinfulness. Their continuing murder of Iraqi civilians and police have only made that impression worse.
6. The mujahidin do not have any stored weapons and ammunition in their possession in Baghdad, particularly rockets, such as C5K Katyosha or bomber or mortars which we realized their importance and shortage in Baghdad. That was due to lack of check and balance, and proper follow-ups.
The insurgents have finally run low on ammunition, and AQ cannot resupply them in Baghdad. That sounds like a critical tipping point for AQ in Baghdad.
7. The National Guard status is frequently raised and whether they belong to the Sunnis or Shiites. Too much talk is around whether we belong to them or not, or should we strike and kill their men or not?
It is believed that this matter serves the Americans very well. I believe that the Committee and the Party are pushing this issue because they want to have an influence, similar to the Mujahidin’s. When and if a Sunni units from the National Guard are formed, and begin to compete with the mujahidin and squeeze them, we will have a problem; we either let them go beyond the limits or fight them and risk inciting the Sunnis against us through the Party’s and the Committee’s channels.
I believe that we should not allow this situation to exist at all, and we should bury it before it surfaces and reject any suggestion to that effect.
The terrorists understand that their only hope in fighting the Iraqi army is if the Sunnis do not enlist. As soon as the Sunnis start enlisting in large numbers, AQ runs the risk of murdering family members of the dwindling support they currently still have. Integrating the Iraqi Army will provide the biggest blow to AQ ambitions in the nation, and almost guarantees to put them on the run for good.
The rest of the document evaluates the commanders in the field for AQ, and they sound like a sorry lot. The expertise of the Baghdad commander is limited to transporting cars for conversion to booby-traps; otherwise, the analyst notes, he's rather "simple" and has no grasp of strategic matters. The commander for Northern al-Karkh worries about his own personal security, because the Americans have his picture and voice print -- so all he does is hide out.
At the end, we find this gem:
Northern al-Karkh groups are estimated at 40 mujahid, so is the Southern Karkh. They could double that number if necessary. Al-Rassafah groups in general is estimated at 30 mujahidin as I was informed by the commander of al-Rassafah. These are very small numbers compared to the tens of thousands of the enemy troops. How can we increase these numbers?
This plaintive assessment shows how weakened Zarqawi has become at the hands of the Americans. Between the three commands in the Baghdad area, AQ has a grand total of 110 mujahid, admittedly no match for the thousands of American troops in Baghdad and the thousands of Iraqi troops we are training and putting into play. No wonder Zarqawi has given up on suicide missions -- he has almost nothing left.
This document shows that we have just about triumphed over the AQ network in Iraq, and AQ knows it. Hopefully, the American media might finally start reporting it.
UPDATE: Added the final quote and edited the description.
UPDATE II: Michelle Malkin isn't holding her breath about the press covering this, but my good friend and fellow NARNian John at Power Line notes that the AP actually did report on the documents. They did manage to miss the point about how they have been successful only in manipulating the American media.Sphere It View blog reactions
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