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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



    Bill Roggio at the always-on-target the fourth rail has an interesting fascinating post today on possible stress fractures in the ranks of al Qaeda. He cites two sources that quote al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqari scolding Muslim leaders for

  • Marlin says:

    I was most encouraged to read the following quote in a 11/24 article in the NY Times.
    ‘Also on Tuesday, a spokesman for Sheik Ghazi al-Yawar, the Iraqi president and a Sunni, said that Mr. Yawar had formed a political party to run in the elections, the Iraqis’ Party, and that it included the current ministers of defense and industry’.
    Sheik al-Yawar was openly against the attack on Fallujah. If he has gotten past the attack and moved on to the elections that is a good thing.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Good news indeed, it shows that some Sunnis want to contribute to the political process, despite differences with the interim government. Thanks for the link.

  • Ryan says:

    The insurgency does seem to be weakened but it would be a huge mistake to assume that Zarqawi is even close to the driving force behind it. 98% of insurgents are Iraqis are most are loyal to the old regime and/or afraid of Shiite domination of the country. They don’t want Sunnis to lose the preferential treatment that they used to enjoy. The leaders of the Fallujah insurgency were an electrician and mosque preacher from the town, not Zarqawi. Is there any concrete evidence that Zarqawi is even in Iraq at all??

  • Bill Roggio says:

    The 2% number you are citing is inaccurate, and the number was 5% with captured fighters from Fallujah. No word on the number from the dead, and as al Qaeda is more apt to fight to the death, I think this number is the one we need to make an accurate assessment. The military believes a good bit of al Qaeda fled, and reports from captured and escaped fighters in Fallujah seem to bear this out. This will also skew the numbers. Zarqawi was very influential in both Fallujah and in the insurgency, and Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, the most wanted and influential from the regime’s most wanted deck of cards, and his sons have sworn allegience to Zarqawi.
    You are underestimating Zarqawi’s importance. Now this does not mean the capture of Zarqawi would mean the end of the fighting, but it would deal a heavy blow to the jihadis.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Also note that only the first part of this post deals with Zarqawi. The second article sourced is from Abu Ahmed al-Baghdadi….

  • Ryan says:

    It wasn’t 5% of the captured fighters. It was 24 out of 1000. That’s what I read anyways.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    OK, I read higher. You completely discount the rest of the argument, I assume you see no merit in it?

  • Ryan says:

    No, your argument had merit. I just made a comment on the first part because I was a little rushed for time. I don’t think capturing Zarqawi or any of the leaders will end or even weaken the insurgency. They will simply be filled with others. I’m not saying that if we had the chance to nab Zarqawi that we shouldn’t get him because he’s a threat to the homeland too. But the way to defeat this is through pinpoint operations generally (except for situations like Fallujah), good intelligence and advancement of reconstruction and political process. Basically, we have to kill or capture thousands of their men without leaving someone angry enough to fill their spot. Having the election on time is going to be huge. We should try and always be on the offensive to keep them off guard and disrupt their planning. Sunni leaders also have to be consulted about their concerns.

  • No Illusions says:

    Fallujah update

    Two items of importance top recent developments. The first isn't really today's story, but a confirmation of communications emanating from anti-government forces. The second is the conference held earlier today among representatives of se…


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram