Recent report from US commanders in Iraq have stated al Qaeda in Iraq has been set back by a combination of the latest offensive and the willingness of local Iraqis to turn on the terror group. Based Osama bin Laden’s latest audiotape, al Qaeda central command agrees that the fight against the US and the Iraqi government is not going well.
A clearer picture of Osama bin Laden’s view on the state of jihad in Iraq emerges after the release of the full transcript of Osama bin Laden’s latest audiotape, Not only does bin Laden admit errors in the Iraqi leader’s ability to unite the tribes and Sunni insurgent groups, he views the situation in Iraq as dire for al Qaeda. Bin Laden accuses his foot soldier of “negligence” for failing to properly employ IEDs, laments the unwillingness of Iraqis who do not wish to attack their brothers in the police and army, and closes his statement by saying “the darkness [in Iraq] has become pitch black.”
Al Qaeda, IEDs, and “negligence”
Bin Laden addresses a tactical failure of al Qaeda in Iraq’s IED cells. He clearly is unhappy with their performance, and indicated the failure to employ IEDs efficiently against U.S. forces is due to “negligence.” He is also concerned about the infiltration of Iraqi and American spies.
I tell my brothers: beware of your enemies, especially the hypocrites who infiltrate your ranks to stir up strife among the Mujahid groups, and refer such people to the judiciary. And you must check and verify, and avert the Hudood through doubts. You must protect your secrets and excel in your actions, for among the things which sadden the Muslims and the delight the unbelievers is the hindering of some combat operations against the enemy because of negligence in any of the stages of preparation for the operation, whether it be reconnaissance of the target, training, integrity, and suitability of weapons and ammunition, quality of the explosive device or other such arrangements. And when you lay a mine, do it right, and don’t leave so much as one wounded American soldier or spy.
US and Iraqi Security Forces have specifically focused on targeting IED and suicide bomb cells over the course of the summer. In some cases, IED cells have been captured wholesale by conventional and special forces and in other cases IED emplacers have been killed in groups of five to 15 while attempting to plant their weapons by Coalition aircraft. In Anbar province, al Qaeda in Iraq has failed to kill a single US serviceman by IED since September 10. It seems bin Laden is acutely aware of this.
Osama bin Laden is often portrayed as a spiritual leader and figurehead detached from day-to-day operations, but this recent speech merely reinforces what we already know about him. An engineer by training, bin Laden is very interested in the planning and execution of attacks and operations. The 9/11 Commission Report stated bin Laden was personally involved in reviewing the operational attack plans for the embassy bombings, the Cole, and 9/11. He immerses himself in the technical details and the tactics used by his operators, and keeps apprised of the situation on the battlefields.
A split with the insurgency over attacking the Iraqi Security Forces
While bin Laden repeatedly admonishes his leaders for failing to build the relationships with Sunni tribal groups and allied insurgent groups, he continues to push attacks on Iraqi police and soldiers. This attitude has pitted some of the more nationalist Sunni groups away from al Qaeda, as they loath to attack their own countrymen, instead viewing the US and Coalition forces as the enemy.
Bin Laden tells the Iraqi people to “beware of … those in the land of the Two Sanctuaries in particular, who forbid the Mujahideen from fighting the army and police of the traitors – like al-Alawi, al-Jafari and al-Maliki – although they know that they are tools of the American occupation helping it to kill the people of Islam which is obvious apostasy on the part of the soldiers.”
The violent attacks against the Iraqi Security Forces, particularly in Anbar province during the winter and spring of 2007, were accompanied by strikes against the families and tribes which supported the establishment police and army units. Mishan al-Jabouri, a leader in the Islamic Army in Iraq and the proprietor of Al Zawraa, an insurgent TV channel, attacked al Qaeda in Iraq for intentionally targeting members of the Iraqi Army and police forces. Al-Jabouri and other Sunni insurgents believed those joining the security forces were acting in the best interest of Iraqis.
Contempt for the Saudi king
In the next paragraph, bin Laden shows his contempt for Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who he describes as “the idol-king of Riyadh” and “the biggest promoter of the American-Zionist project in the region.”
And worst of all is that these men of knowledge consider the idol-king of Riyadh to be guardian of the Muslims’ affair, and call on the Muslims to rally around him, although they know that he is the biggest promoter of the American-Zionist project in the region, and is one of those who called on it to invade Iraq. These, “they are the enemies, so beware of them. Allah curse them, how they lie!” (63:4)
Earlier in the speech, bin Laden chastises Abdullah for backing the deployment of African peacekeepers to Darfur in Sudan. He refer to Abdullah as “the governor of Riyadh” who “again sought to convince the Sudanese president, this time to implement the demands of the United Atheist Nations to allow the entrance of Crusader forces to Darfur.” Bin Laden described the Darfur peacekeeping mission as “a brazen occupation” and stated “only an infidel apostate seeks it or agrees to it.”
Darkness. Where are the mujahideen?
While bin Laden clearly sees the situation in Iraq as dire — he said “the darkness has become pitch black” — he holds out hope that the vanguard fighters of al Qaeda can hold the line until reinforcements arrive.
In closing, I tell our people in Iraq, the patient ones garrisoned on the first line of the religion and sanctities of the Muslims: the malice has increased and the darkness has become pitch black, and with the likes of you, nations reinforce themselves and climb summits.
He calls on Muslims of the Middle East to rejoin the fight, challenging their honor and willingness to fight when they are needed.
So where are those who prefer the religion to the lives of themselves and their children? Where are the people of Tawheed and those who topple the banner of unbelief and polytheism? Where are those who find torture to be pleasant and don’t fear the blows? Where are those who find difficulty to be easy and bitterness to be sweet, because they are certain that the fire of Hell is much hotter? Where are those who go out to fight the Romans, as on the day of Tabuk? Where are those who pledge to fight to the death, as on the day of Yarmuk? Where are the soldiers of the Levant and the reinforcements of Yemen? Where are the knights of the Quiver (Egypt) and the lions of the Hijaz (western Saudi Arabia) and al-Yamamah (central Saudi Arabia)? Come and aid your brothers in Mesopotamia and relieve them by coordinating with them by way of dependable guides.
An outside view
Al Qaeda, via As Sahab Media, its propaganda arm, resists the interpretation of bin Laden’s speech. As Sahab attacked Al Jazeera for “counterfeiting” the facts of his speech. As Sahab posted the video online at the Ekhlaas forum, along with the following note in English: “Note: We are publishing the whole speech of Shiekh Osama Bin Laden After the tremendous amount of Counterfeiting of the facts and altering the purposes and objectives of the Speech by AL-Jazeerah Satellite channel which ignored all the pillars of honor professional media.”
Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor of al-Quds al-Arabi who interviewed bin Laden in 1996, disagrees. Atwan stated in a published editorial that this is the first time al Qaeda admitted errors and was seeking to rectify the situation in Iraq. He noted al Qaeda’s zeal in enforcing its radical ideology on Sunni Iraqis turned the majority of Sunnis against the terror group.
“Launching diatribes against others and imposing a particular theological school of thought on everyone, has allowed al-Qaeda’s enemies to gain an advantage,” Atwan said. “In particular, it’s helped the Americans to win the trust of certain tribal leaders. In this way, for the Iraqis the enemy has become al-Qaeda and not the occupying forces.”
In Ramadi, “the city that al Qaeda leaders once declared the seat of a new Islamic caliphate and capital of the Iraqi insurgency,” the Anbar Awakening held a march honoring Sheik Sattar Abu Risha, the leader of the movement who was slain by al Qaeda 40 days ago. The parade lasted four two hours and Iraqi government officials were in attendance. There were no attacks on the procession.
“Al-Qaeda never wanted to see the sons of Anbar to unite and form security forces. Now I think we have broken their back by building the police and security force,” said Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, the brother of Sattar who succeeded him as the leader of the Anbar Awakening. “Let them come forward and show their faces…. Let them come out, we will fight them.”
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