Iraq: May 4, 2005


The capture of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Zarqawis laptop computer last month  led to a series of additional raids, which resulted in many key al Qaeda members killed or captured, and the seizure of still more documents. Among those documents was a letter from one of Zarqawis subordinates to his boss. There are complaints of poor leadership and lack of direction. The letter writer says that all Zarqawi calls for are more and more suicide bomb attacks, without any apparent strategy. The subordinate complains that he does not even see Zarqawi anymore. This is understandable, because the growing number of Sunni Arabs disenchanted with terrorism, have been giving more and better tips to the Iraqi police. This has led to more raids that are getting closer to nailing Zarqawi himself, who is spending most of his time evading capture. Tellingly, some American intelligence officers in Iraq have set up a betting pool on when Zarqawi will be caught. 

Meanwhile, Zarqawi has plenty of money (from the Baath Party), volunteers (Islamic conservatives who want a religious dictatorship) and explosives (left over from the enormous quantities Saddam bought during the 1980s for the war with Iran, and held on to after that war ended in 1988.) But many of Zarqawis subordinates, the guys who recruit, equip and train the suicide bombers, are dismayed at the lack of progress. For them, all their efforts are simply making them unpopular. In the Baghdad area, for example, where many Sunni Arab terrorist supporters live, during the last six months, there have been about twenty attacks a day against Americans. But only about one in ten of these attacks will result in an American getting killed, compared to a much larger number of terrorists and Iraqi civilians. Many potential recruits have backed off because they do not want to get themselves killed while murdering civilians, or in futile attempts to kill Americans. Al Qaeda has become like a cornered beast, mad with rage and snapping at anything within range, including its own young. Al Qaeda in Iraq has no future, and a present that is increasingly unpalatable to its own members. 


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