More Middlemen

Al Qaeda’s middle managers continue to take a beating. Two senior commanders, one in Saudi Arabia, and one in Turkey, have been removed from action. The dismantlement of al Qaeda’s middle managers – its most senior field operatives with extensive knowledge, training and contacts in the jihadi world – is crucial to reducing al Qaeda’s abilities to carry out mass casualty attacks.

In Saudi Arabia, Salah Mohammed al-Aufi, the commander of the Saud branch of “the deviant group” – the Kingdom’s term for al Qaeda – has been killed in a gunfight after Saudi security forces launched multiple raids against suspected al Qaeda hideouts in Riyadh and Medina. One other “deviant” was killed, and ten others were arrested. al-Aufi follows a long line of Saudi commanders and leaders killed or captured since al Qaeda launched its war against the Saudi regime.

In Turkey, Luai Sakra, an al Qaeda operative of Syrian descent was detained “on suspicion of involvement in the November 2003 suicide bomb attacks in Istanbul, and Turkish police have said he was also hatching a plot to blow up Israeli cruise liners in the southern Turkish resort of Antalya.” Sakra also claims to have fought along side Zarqawi in Fallujah as well as provided material support to the 9-11 hijackers. While the connections to Zarqawi will no doubt raise the cries of invasion and occupation of Iraq inspired terrorism, his jihadi credentials begin prior to the Iraq war.

Like the motivations behind the attacks in Bangladesh (“Besides calling for Islamic rule in Bangladesh ” ) demonstrate, “[Sakra’s] jihad didn’t start with Zarqawi.” Al Qaeda has deftly promoted the “Iraq is responsible for terrorism” meme, despite the reams of evidence for al Qaeda attacks completely unrelated to Iraq {see flash presentation, 2M download}, and the media and opponents of the war have freely and carelessly propagated it. Iraq is merely a red herring designed to divide the West and sap its morale and will to fight.

Despite the obstacles placed in front of the United States and her allies, remarkable progress has been made in dismantling al Qaeda’s middle management. It is no small task to root out the infrastructure of a shadow terrorist organization, on its home turf and often amidst friendly populations. Defeating al Qaeda and its violent Islamist ideology will require a non-military solution which includes the rejection of their ideology by the Muslim world.

The elimination of the violent terrorists of al Qaeda is also required, as these jihadis will not eschew violence for a political solution. The elimination of al Qaeda’s middle management is crucial to reducing the effectiveness of al Qaeda and to leading to its eventual military defeat. Without experienced leaders, the ability to plan and carry out dramatic attacks is compromised, and al Qaeda’s status and prestige is reduced, affecting their recruiting, fundraising and sympathetic support. The military defeat can hasten the rejection of al Qaeda in the Muslim world, exposing them as the weak horse.

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

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  • Marlin says:

    I believe the inability of the rocket attack in Jordan this morning to actually hit anything significant is also an indication of deteriorating capabilities within Al Qaeda.

  • RAZ says:

    To those who argue that the capture and killing of these middle management types is of little use since the AQ organization will rapidly replace them, I respond — wouldn’t you rather face your enemy’s “B” team or “C” team than their “A” team?

  • Steve says:

    Re comment #1:
    “I believe the inability of the rocket attack in Jordan this morning to actually hit anything significant is also an indication of deteriorating capabilities within Al Qaeda.”
    From what I read, these were Katyusha artillery rockets, which are not notable for their accuracy. The results achieved were, IMO, probably about what one could reasonably expect from such weapons.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “I believe the inability of the rocket attack in Jordan this morning to actually hit anything significant is also an indication of deteriorating capabilities within Al Qaeda.”
    The reality with most of these rockets is that they need to be “walked” into their targets. Hanging around to get off more than a couple of shots is not a good idea as many US forces have “counter battery radar”, once they have located the impact point, they can counter fire to the exact point of origin of any mortar or rocket. Zarqawi’s clowns know this, having learned the hard way.
    If there were 3 rockets, there were most likely 3 triggermen in different locations. Fire and Flee is SOP for terrorists. The likelihood that they hit their intended targets is pretty close to zero.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Update on 42id AOR –
    Gen Taluto –
    “We have turned over or closed nine forward operating bases (to Iraqi forces),” Taluto said in an interview Aug. 17. “We will soon turn over the palace that has served as our headquarters.”
    IMHO – 10 FOB’s in one AOR, when there are 106 FOB’s in the entire theatre is huge.

  • Canucklehead says:

    I don’t understand why Luai Sakra would claim a role in 9/11? If Al Qaeda is supposed to win, his place in history would be assured by Al Qaeda historians.
    On the otherhand, if Luai Sakra, a longtime Al Qaeda member who knows the ins and outs of Al Qaeda sees that his organization is headed for oblivion, I could understand why he would want to cement his place in history.

  • leaddog2 says:

    The real problem for the future is the “terroist sleeper cells” embedded at the Associated Press, CBS, ABC, NPR, Air America, the NY and LA Times, Boston Globe and Minneapolis Star-Tribune. They are the really dangerous ones.

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