"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

Gap opens between Al Qaeda and allies

From Josh Meyer writing for the LA Times.

Al Qaeda increasingly faces sharp criticism from once-loyal sympathizers who openly question its ideology and tactics, including attacks that kill innocent Muslims, according to U.S. intelligence officials, counter-terrorism experts and the group's own communications.

A litany of complaints target Osama bin Laden's network and its affiliates for their actions in Iraq and North Africa, emphasis on suicide bombings instead of political action and tepid support for, or outright antagonism toward, militant groups pressing the Palestinian cause.

These complaints show the increasing "intellectual turbulence" occurring within the extremist Muslim community. This phenomenon is discussed in detail here, here, and here.

Zawahiri is attempting to limit this "intellectual turbulence" with his Q & A sessions. It is this rift between extremists which Coalition forces must use and exploit as an information operation as part of the instruments of national power to defeat Al Qaeda.

There already exists speculation that Al Qaeda is having a hard time sustaining recruitment to continue its war in Afghanistan and Iraq. With lower recruitment, some comes lower economic support. In addition, Al Qaeda's popularity is waning in Pakistan as it has in Iraq as citizens are seeing the extreme violence which Al Qaeda perpetuates.

It appears this rift is expanding as more and more Muslims, to include past extremists, are asking tough questions and not getting good answers from the Al Qaeda leadership.

The surge of American forces in Iraq not only allowed the Al Anbar Awakening to rise and spread across Iraq, but it also allowed this "intellectual turbulence" spread outside of Al Anbar into the rest of Iraq and now take center stage among Al Qaeda extremists worldwide.

As Iraq continues to prosper and increase the wealth of its citizens through freedom and democracy, many Muslims are beginning to question Al Qaeda's motives more and more while questioning American's motives less and less.

It is difficult to say the US invaded Iraq for oil when Iraqis are passing oil laws and negotiating contracts with many oil companies not of American origin.

It is difficult to keep recruitment and revenues up when Al Qaeda in Iraq's spectacular bombings are killing 20, 30, 0r 40 or more Muslims at a time, to include defenseless women and children.

It is difficult to suppress anti-Al Qaeda feelings when the popular Bhutto was gunned down in cold blood by extremists. It was well known the US worked within the Pakistani government to allow not only her return but also the chance for her to run again for Prime Minister, only to be gunned down by extremists. The assassination of Bhutto was truly a highly visible symbol of extremists killing innocent women and children across the Muslim world.

Al Qaeda's message of violent jihad is beginning to fall more and more on deaf ears. The Great Satan is not so evil anymore as it has brought freedom and prosperity to not only Shiites, but also to Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq. These three major groups are seeing Americans not as an occupier, but as a builder of countries and societies. American is clearly seen as a just arbiter in Iraq between these three groups.

If we had cut and run a year ago, Al Qaeda's crescent in northern and western Iraq would be growing right now. Iran's crescent would have control over all of central Iraq. Instead, President Bush showed Muslims he will stick with them to allow a democracy to foster and grow in the heart of the Middle East. Al Qaeda only got more violent. Both actions, working in tandem, created the "intellectual turbulence" we see today.

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Bin Laden turns heat on Saudi Arabia

From Asia Times Online. HT for Sea2Sea Blog.

Michael Scheuer discusses Bin Laden's latest released on 29 December 2007. In it, Bin Laden shifts attention to the leadership of Saudi Arabia noting,

He asks the Iraqi mujahideen how they can trust Saudi King Abdullah, who is the "malignant foe" of Islam, the "main US agent in the region" and a man who took it on himself "to tempt and tame every free, virtuous, and honest person with the aim of dragging him to the path of temptation and misguidance ... [and] the path of betraying the religion and nation and submitting to the will of the Crusader-Zionist alliance". The Americans are defeated, bin Laden concludes, but to assure God's victory the Iraqi mujahideen must reject Saudi overtures and direction if they are "not to waste the fruit of this chaste and pure blood that was shed for the sake of consolidating religion and entrenching the state of Muslims".

While he is still stating that US forces are defeated in Iraq, he notes the Iraqi Mujahideen may not be able to consolidate victory due to Saudi Arabian interference, namely support of the national unity government in Iraq, noting this is what Saudi Arabia got the Afghani Mujahideen to do with the Communist Afghani government. He states this prvented the Mujahideen from consolidating power in Afghanistan.

Mr. Scheuer's analysis follows:

Bin Laden and his senior lieutenants are reliving what for them is a familiar nightmare. In one of the greatest ironies of the post-1945 era, Islamist fighters have proven that with great, prolonged and bloody effort they can claim the military defeat of superpowers - the USSR and the United States - but cannot consolidate victory when confronted by the wiles, funds and religious establishment of the Saudi leadership. While it is clear in the December 29 tape that bin Laden rates the Saudis as the main obstacle to God's victory in Iraq, there is little indication of what he intends to do to destroy Riyadh's ability to stymie the mujahideen there as it did in Afghanistan.

One possibility - though bin Laden did not allude to this - would require a rethinking of al-Qaeda's grand strategy. Although bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been consistent in their three-fold grand strategy - to drive the United States from the Muslim world, destroy Israel and incumbent Muslim regimes and settle scores with the Shi'ites - they now face a situation where the Saudi regime has not only so far prevented the unification of Islamist leaders, but is allegedly preparing the Sunni Iraqi insurgents it supports for a civil war with Iraq's Iranian-backed Shi'ites.

While I concur that the Saudis are fearful of a democratically elected national unity government as it will eventually lead to their downfall because their own citizens will begin to see what oil riches and freedom brings to average Iraqis, I do not believe the Sunnis in Iraq are in a position win a civil war against the Shiites, with or without Saudi assistance.

We need not forget that the Sunni insurgency started and gained steam with the ultimate goal of ridding Iraq of occupying US Forces. However, this initial impetus changed when Sadr's militia begun indiscriminately killing Sunnis by the truckloads as retaliation for the mosque bombings and other Al Qaeda attacks. Sunni insurgents turned on Al Qaeda due to its indiscriminate killing of fellow Sunnis and extremist version of Islam it espoused, which has never had much support in secular Iraq.

Sunni insurgents found the only way to rid themselves of extremist Al Qaeda elements was to seek American help. With switching sides, they begin to receive American money, support, and an opportunity to gain a voice back in Iraq with the recent passing of The Accountability and Justice Law. They have even been able to gain fore political leverage with the "memorandum of understanding" with the Kurds. They will not squander this new found power for another war which they cannot hope to win.

Finally, Al Qaeda has not been absent in Saudi Arabia as the article implies. In fact, the government of Saudi Arabia has taken great care in killing and detaining insurgents, executing deradicalization operations in its prisons, changing many imam minds against extremism, and protecting its oil facilities since 2004 when Al Qaeda declared war on these facilities.

While Saudi Arabia can do more, the Wahhabi influence which dominates government has to be dealt with over time, else Saudi Arabia will see itself in a civil war.

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How to deal with terrorists.

Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews), has a damning article regarding how to deal with terrorists.

Top Islamic Jihad official Abu Ahmed was interviewed recently by local Arab reporters. The interview was published online, and then quickly removed. However, Israeli investigators managed to find and translate the interview, which reveals the factors that go into the terrorist leadership’s decision-making process.

Among other things, Abu Ahmed admitted in the interview that the security fence built by Israel has made it more difficult for terrorists to carry out attacks. Even more effective, he said, is the Israeli strategy of targeting terrorist leaders. He also said that Islamic Jihad often refrains from firing rockets due to fear of the possible Israeli response.

Abu Ahmed’s words provide aid to Israel’s diplomatic efforts. Israel’s critics often argue that fighting terrorism is ineffective, and that Israel must make concessions in an attempt to appease terrorists instead. The interview with Abu Ahmed shows that terrorists are discouraged by IDF operations, and that terror can be defeated using military means.

So, according to Abu Ahmed, to reduce terrorists' attacks, peaceful, democratic countries should target terrorist leadership and respond harsely against terrorist groups when they strike.

Who would have thought this tactic would work?

Surely not our Democrat lawmakers who feel if we "cut and run" when terrorists attack, they would respect us and then come to the negotiating table freely, reay to negotiate their surrender.

The question is simple, "cut and run" or "Troop surge". The answer is the same answer we all learned when dealing with bullies at school. If one continues to let the bully pick on him/her, then the bully will keep on pushing. However, if one stands up to the bully, the bully almost always retreats.

Terrorists are no different than bullies at school. That is why they hide behind women and children when they conduct vicious attacks and like Sadr, Nasrallah, and Osama, run when the going gets tough. They do not lead from the front, but instead expect their followers to die for their hopeless cause as they run away to hide in caves.

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