More Middlemen in Mosul; Back to the Euphrates

The Coalition continues to dismantle Al Qaeda’s network in northern Iraq. Yesterday Col. Robert Brown described the degradation of al Qaeda in the north, summarized here; “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.”

Today, Multinational Forces-Iraq stated that three more senior al Qaeda commanders in the Mosul region have been detained, based on intelligence from local Iraqi citizens. Captured were Abu Muhammad, “a terrorist battalion commander for Al-Qaeda in Iraq in Mosul” ; Abu Shayma, “a cell leader under Abu Muhammad” ; and Abu Abd al Karim. Karim was the driver for the recently killed Abu Zayd, the former Emir of al Qaeda in Mosul, who succeeded Abu Talha (the commander of Ansar al-Islam prior to its official merger with al Qaeda), after he was captured by the Coalition. The succession is dizzying.

Another interesting fact about Karim is that he was elevated from Zayd’s driver to a terrorist cell leader in Mosul. This highlights the continuous vacuum that needs to be filled due to the relentless assault on al Qaeda’s network up north. Promotions occur at a furious pace; drivers to promoted cell leaders, cell leaders to battalion leaders, battalion leaders to Emirs. Inexperience quickly moves up the ranks, degrading the network’s effectiveness.

There is no better way to dismantle a terrorist organization than by striking at the middle managers. The Coalition is quite effective at this in the north. It has been effective because of tips from local Iraqis, the continuous presence of the Coalition and the application of this intelligence onto successful operations designed to kill or capture the most deadly leaders of the local networks.

The model being used up north will be applied to the local networks along the Euphrates ratline when the time is right. Coalition commanders are certain that al Qaeda’s attacks on Baghdad emanate from the river region. According to an unnamed senior Central Command officer; “We believe these attacks were spawned in the west, then the bombs migrated from the Euphrates River valley the heart of Zarqawi’s network is not in Baghdad, we’re quite confident of that In a corridor from Syria to Baghdad is where he’s nested right now.” Gen. John Abizaid, CENTCOM commander, concurs; “The insurgency is much more pushed to the west in Iraq this year than it was in the previous years I actually regard that as a sign that the insurgency is having a hard time getting established elsewhere.”

The question that remains is if the time to forcefully move into Anbar has come. The human loss and political fallout from al Qaeda’s bloody attacks may necessitate the acceleration of the timeline to push westward along the Euphrates River.

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

15 Comments

  • Well well well,
    The head and the tail will both soon be under Iraqi/Coalition control. Then the middle will be left to starve.
    One thing that makes me wonder. I recall reading a long time ago Wretchard’s analysis of the terrorist general’s press release that they were in comfortable control of certain towns which he listed. Wretchard noted these (perhaps you did too Bill, I only recently started reading your blog regularly) towns formed three lines. Two to Syria which we are currently working on and one to Iran.
    Is the Iranian ratline next? Or are we just not hearing about it? With occasional stories about high quality arms shipments beign intercepted near the Iranian border, it sounds like this is going to be the last job.

  • Rookie says:

    Iran is aiming at arming Shiite religious militia, but of course welcomes any US casualty. For this it supplies Sunnis also with some weapons, just in case. “Divide et impera”.
    I fear that after Sunni-based terrorism will be eventualy drenched in blood by Iraqi/Shiite government, we will see the ugly face of Shiite extremism at work… no tips here from local population, as it will not be targeted en masse to trigger popular outrage.
    The secular Iraq is too weak, too scared and compromised by complicity with saddam in order to speak…

  • leaddog2 says:

    If the Iranian theocracy ceases to exist (and I suspect it will) then Iraq’s secular people will have No FEARS!

  • Rookie says:

    If…
    I’m afraid that with China being interested in buying oil to expand his market-based socialist economy, Rusia selling nuclear technology to sustain whats left of their socialist type economy, eu issuing “strong worded letters” and US engulfed at home by extreme left activism, the opportunity of free Iran passed away, for time being…

  • Rookie says:

    Just in:
    Iran offers nuclear know-how to Islamic states
    //news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050915/wl_nm/nuclear_iran_islamic1_dc
    I really mean this: I hope chechens will be the first ones to have it and blow Moscow to smithereens. Russian bastards are responsible for maintaining many of today problems, and they keep doing it.

  • The Honest Liberal says:

    I read some interesting things from Michael Moore and George Galloway recently. They have demonstrated that if you repeat something many times, it becomes true.
    Case in point :
    1) 60% of the US public believes this war is a failure. This is because we liberals, who control the media, have shrewdly avoided reporting any of the US victories in Iraq, and instead have flooded the media with Abu Ghraib, etc. Now, only 40% still support the war, despite a free election and only 1900 troops dead. It took MUCH more effort for us to convince the American public that they were losing in Vietnam. Americans didn’t get too bothered about Vietnam until 30,000 troops had died.
    2) Hurricane Katrina : A natural disaster. Yet, we managed to persuade many Americans that Bush’s incompetence and desire to exterminate blacks are the primary story. The mayor and governor are Democrats, but we managed the media so well that all the scorn goes to Bush, AND the issue of racism could be worked in to make him look even worse.
    America is completely at the mercy of the left. We will very soon suceed in either converting the US to Marxism, or weakening it so much that it does not matter in world affairs anymore.

  • hamidreza says:

    Honest Liberal, you are implying that a bunch of semi-literate ideologues (western anti-enlightenment reactionary leftists) with little standing but with some influence in the media, can hijack the national agenda and US foreign policy. Seems to me to be of tall order.
    There is no doubt that the reactionary left has been successful in the media and the “talking-head” “bleeding hearts” departments – but as the Hitchens debate showed, where 40% of the audience was pro-Iraq and pro-invasion, and Galloway was amputated, you guys have a long way to go.
    Besides, your understanding of Marxism seems to be somewhat short. If you think that by taking over policy and public and state agenda, you will turn a capitalist state in to a socialist state, then I bet you do not understand what socialism is about. (Hint – socialism has to do with the mode of production, and not with the media).
    I can see your seriousness, and let me say it is not funny. You know facts and truths have a way to come through, no matter how the left wishes to obfuscate and relativize and complexify. If anything, there is a backlash in Europe going on today against mindless leftism (Merkle, Sarkozy, inheritors of Fortuyn, etc.). The turning point came about when your darlings the home-brew Islamists decided to take a subway ride in London. This was a disaster for your half-baked state-capitalistic social-national agenda, and admit it.

  • The Honest Liberal says:

    But our primary goal, of simply weakening the US, is certainly successful.
    This is the left-wing agenda. That is why no liberal is disagreeing with me. This is the goal of the Galloway wing.

  • M says:

    On Iran:
    For one thing, unlike Iraq, it represents a genuine WMD threat. Saddam’s chemical and biological weapons – not to mention his nuclear program – proved a figment of the Western intelligence services’ imagination.
    As a potential foe, Iran is on a different scale to Iraq. It is nearly three times as populous and its potential for mischief-making is unrivalled. Unlike Iraq, it could block the Straits of Hormuz, passage for 40 per cent of the world’s traded oil. Iran is a Shia country, with close ties to, and potentially disruptive influence on, the Shia majority in Iraq.
    The diplomatic uproar over an attack on Iran would eclipse the Iraq controversy. If the US went into Iran, it would do so virtually alone, with not even the semblance of the “Coalition of the Willing” that unseated Saddam. Even Britain would be missing. Instead Israel – the one country that could never go to war with Iraq – might be America’s only ally, inflicting yet more damage, were that possible, to the standing of the US in the Islamic world.
    Sam Gardiner, who for two decades has conducted exercises at the National War College and who played the role of National Security Adviser in an Iranian scenario, summed up its judgments in two blunt sentences. Mr President, “you have no military solution for the issues of Iran. You have to make diplomacy work”.
    The indications are that Mr Bush may grasped this reality; in other words a President who prides himself on telling it like it is, may for once be bluffing. Certainly his pre-inauguration deeds, as well as his words, tilt toward a strategy of negotiation.
    Moreover, the proclaimed policy of rebuilding fractured alliances with Europe and other allies would be a sham.

  • GJ says:

    What most have forgotten about WMD’s is that Iraq, we found out, was outsourcing their program to Libya. After the fall of Baghdad, Libya decided to end that program, and we took those WMD’s from them and stored them here.

  • leaddog2 says:

    Honest Liberal,
    You are Dreaming! Trust me, I know! I am just recently back from Iraq. The astounding success of our military in Iraq alone will soon blow away any Socialist “wet-dreams” forever! You have No Clue as to the real world! Heh! Heh!
    Remember, Afghanistan votes for more Freedom on Sunday and Schroeder will be history in Germany. The Iraqi’s will elect a NON-SOCIALIST, NON-COMMUNIST and most likely NON-Islamist parliament in December.
    Socialism has NEVER SUCCEEDED anywhere, EVER! It is on the ashheap of history! Whine all you choose! You will NEVER CHANGE those facts!
    Go ahead and remain ignorant. No one with any intelligence cares what any socialist liberals think. Heh! Heh!

  • The Honest Liberal says:

    leaddog2,
    You obviously don’t comprehend simple text. What I said is :
    You people did not read my message :
    ‘Why do we want another socialist/Marxist state? Because some of us who are leaders of the movement will be at the top of the ruling order, which would be a great position to be in, just like it was in the Kremlin or in the Chinese CP.’
    This is why liberal leaders want socialism. So we can be the rulers.
    Can your intellect grasp this? I doubt it.
    And if the Iraq War is going well, who cares? In reality, we liberals in the media have persuaded the American public that it is a disaster. That is why approval is at 40%.
    So, leaddog2, why is approval for the Iraq War, and for Bush, just 40%? That means we liberals are winning, winning in our goal of ruining America.

  • leaddog2 says:

    Honest Liberal,
    You write klike Howard Dean. He is also POLITICALLY and BRAIN Dead!

  • hamidreza says:

    Honest Liberal – your tongue-in-cheek is better suited for DailyKos. Have you tried over there? What is the point of preaching to the convert, if you are as sincere as you try to project?
    The forum here is to discuss military, counterinsurgncy and nation building matters that do not appear elsewhere. And remember, you are never as right, as when you win. Winning will settle arguments and will buy hearts and minds, here and in Iraq. Nothing speaks louder than success.
    And we are witness to this happening today in Iraq, and that is why we are here. And the less the MSM talks about it, the sweeter it is going to be when the Islamofascists are all in cages or in coffins, and the western reactionary left cries “WTF?”.

  • A better world one terrorist at a time

    From MNF-Iraq: Coalition Forces captured a senior al-Qaida leader and five suspected terrorists during a raid in Mosul Dec. 14. The terrorist leader was captured when Coalition Forces raided a known terrorist meeting place. The terrorist leader was att…

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