Cracks in Jihad?
Two separate reports, one from the Associated press, and another from ABC News (via Belmont Club), indicated that al Qaeda may be encountering difficulties due to recent operations in the Sunni Triangle. Abu Musab al-Zarqari, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, is angry at Muslim leaders for not doing enough to incite the faithful to take up the cause of Jihad.
An audiotape purportedly made by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi lashed out Wednesday at Muslim scholars for not speaking out against U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying they have "let us down in the darkest circumstances."
It was unclear whether the tape posted Wednesday on the Internet was intended as a direct threat against Iraq's Sunni religious establishment, who have come under attack recently with the slaying this week of two Sunni clerics by gunmen.
"You have let us down in the darkest circumstances and handed us over to the enemy. ... You have quit supporting the mujahedeen," said the voice on the tape, purported to be al-Zarqawi's. "Hundreds of thousands of the nation's sons are being slaughtered at the hands of the infidels because of your silence."
"You made peace with the tyranny and handed over the countries and the people to the Jews and Crusaders ... when you resort to silence on their crimes ... and when you prevented youth from heading to the battlefields in order to defend the religion," he said.
"Instead of implementing God's orders, you chose your safety and preferred your money and sons. You left the mujahedeen facing the strongest power in the world," he said. "Are not your hearts shaken by the scenes of your brothers being surrounded and hurt by your enemy?"
Moral support may not be the only problems for the insurgency and al Qaeda in Iraq. They are actively begging for manpower and leadership from Afghanis, Chechens, Palestinians and others sympathetic to the cause. The loss of Fallujah and the continuing operations in the Sunni Triangle may be having a devastating effect on enemy command, control and communications.
The new message opens with a plea for advice from Palestinian and Chechen militants as well as Osama bin Laden supporters in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "We face many problems," it reads in Arabic, "and need your military guidance since you have more experience."
The problems, the message says, are the result of losing the insurgent safe haven of Fallujah to U.S. troops. It says the insurgency was hampered as checkpoints and raids spread "to every city and road." Communications broke down as insurgents were forced to spread out through the country. The arrest of some of their military experts, more "spies willing to help the enemy," and a dwindling supply of arms also added to the organizational breakdown, it reads. But the message also lists new "advantages," claiming insurgent groups are spreading -- to Mosul, Tikrit, Baghdad, and as far south as Basra.
Belmont Club wisely warns that the ABC report may be an enemy ruse. The same also applies to Zarqawi's admonishment of the ulema. If these reports prove reliable (as they have in the past), they bode well for prospects of successful elections in Iraq and the overarching military strategy to draw out and fight al Qaeda in the Middle East.