After Tal Afar, al Qaeda strikes in its predictable and brutal fashion: suicide bombs and terror. In Baghdad, a suicide bomber lures in Shiite day-laborers, blows up his truck. Reports indicate 114 killled and 156 wounded in this single incident. Mohammed at Iraq the Model states eleven separate explosions in Baghdad ocurred in today. According to Zarqawi today’s attacks are revenge for al Qaeda’s losses at Tal Afar, and the beginning of “all out war against the Shiites”.
Zarqawi’s terror campaign achieves its desired effect. Coalition successes in northern and westerner Iraq are overshadowed by the gruesome images of mass casualty assaults. Suicide bombs are a show of force, but not a measure of al Qaeda’s power. al Qaeda has neither the popular support, the skill nor the means to govern in Iraq. Its real power lies in the ability to create fear. But the Iraqi people have not given in to fear, rendering al Qaeda’s only weapon ineffective.
As the Iraqi government is not ready to provide for its own security, it is dependent on the United States for vital assistance. Therefore, al Qaeda’s only hope of success in Iraq is to destroy the will of the American public and create the conditions for a hasty withdrawal. They are deftly manipulating our own media in an attempt to accomplish this goal. Zarqawi depends on the fact that the Western media will give his terrorist attacks top billing while regulating successful Coalition operations such as Tal Afar to the back pages, or support the cause by subtlely portraying American soldiers as criminals or thugs.
The terrorists continue to lose ground to the Coalition, and despite the inaccurate reports of terrorists “melting away” as opposed to fighting in Tal Afar, they have suffered serious casualties. Col. Robert B. Brown, commander of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division’s Stryker Brigade Combat Team, states that al Qaeda has been seriously degraded in northern Iraq. Eighty percent of the network has been killed or captured. Sixty to seventy percent of the terrorist killed were foreigners. Most terrorists are now in their mid-teens, and inexperienced. Mortar attacks are down from three hundred a month to six.
But while al Qaeda has taken losses over the summer, they still have the capacity to inflict mass casualty attacks in the heart of the country. Today’s attacks in Baghdad demonstrate this fact.
Zarqawi has threatened to conduct a “great Ramadan offensive” this October in an attempt to deter the referendum on the Iraqi constitution. Flash back to January of 2005, when al Qaeda also threatened to thwart the historic election of the Iraqi assembly. al Qaeda made the same threats, the Iraqi people raised purple thumbs in defiance, and al Qaeda’s vaunted attack failed to materialize until months after the election.
The Iraqi people will go to the polls and vote again, dealing yet another ideological blow to the jihadis and their fascist allies. And the Coalition will continue the hunt.
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