Abu Musab al Zarqawi and his "al Qaeda in Iraq" are being picked apart by American troops and Iraqi police and soldiers. One result of this is more knowledge of exactly what al Zarqawi and his organization are doing, and why (or at least the reasons they give themselves). All this comes from the mass of recently captured documents, and arrest of people who have worked for al Zarqawi. All this has revealed that, in the last two years, al Zarqawi and his chief lieutenants have met, at least five times, in nearby Syria or Jordan, to plan their strategy. Such meetings inside Iraq are considered too dangerous because of the constant presence of American intelligence efforts, and the speed with which American troops react once they have the scent. One such meeting was held about a month ago, in Syria, and al Zarqawi ordered a maximum effort to kill Americans, even if many Iraqi women and children were killed in the process. That campaign did increase, by about twenty, the number of Americans killed, but it also killed over 500 Iraqis, and over 300 terrorists. Al Zarqawi apparently considers this a victory, and wants more of it.
Al Zarqawi was always known as something of a thug, whose solution to any problem was the application of more violence. It was pure chance that he was the most senior al Qaeda guy in Iraq when Saddam fell. Al Zarqawi may not be a brilliant strategist, but he knows how to avoid capture, and gives rousing speeches to the troops. He is a true believer, and willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. The Sunni Arab Iraqis who are backing al Qaeda (with cash, safe houses, and technical assistance) face death as "traitors" if they try to withdraw this support. Even with that threat, many Iraqi Sunni Arabs are backing away from al Qaeda and the wild eyed al Zarqawi. Sometimes its because they have lost a family member to a terrorist attack, but often its because their clan or tribe, because of many such losses, has decided to give peace, and democracy, a chance.
In response to faltering Iraqi support, al Zarqawi has been bringing in more foreigners. This has been produced a mixed lot of volunteers. When you call for all suicidal religious zealots to join you, some strange people will show up. Autopsies of suicide bombers has revealed that three of them had Downs Syndrome (a genetic disorder that results in mental retardation). Islamic countries tend to keep the mentally ill at home, living in extended families. Those who are able to get about, can come and go as they please, and some have apparently come to Iraq to die for Islam. This apparently explains the suicide car bombs that have been set off by remote control, even though a suicide bomber was at the wheel.
Iran has been appalled at this slaughter, and wants no part of it. Iran's foreign minister visited Iraq this week, and pledged to stop the movement of al Qaeda members through Iran. Despite the anti-Shia tone of al Qaeda propaganda, Iran has long looked the other way as al Qaeda moved people and material through Iran. It will be difficult to stop all of this, because not all the senior clerics who control (but do not run) the Iranian government, believe al Qaeda is on the wrong track in Iraq. Even Iran has it's al Zarqawis.
Many of the al Qaeda volunteers are from Saudi Arabia. This makes sense, as most of the money, and Islamic conservatism that created al Qaeda, came from Saudi Arabia. The intellectual foundations of the movement came from Egypt (the Moslem Brotherhood movement). There have been a number of Egyptians found among the al Qaeda dead in Iraq. Many of the foreign volunteers balk at al Zarqawi's "kill 'em all" tactics, and return home, or get killed making futile, and suicidal, attacks on U.S. troops or bases. Thus al Zarqawi is increasingly dependent on the mentally ill, or morally depraved, to carry out his "kill 'em all" attacks.
Saudi Arabia is at war with al Qaeda terrorists at home, where the government has wiped out most organized al Qaeda operations. The Saudis won't admit it, but they are willing to let individual Islamic terrorists head north to Iraq. That saves the Saudi police the trouble of finding them, and the Saudi courts and prisons the effort to deal with them. "Up north" these murderous young men find either death, or a reality check. Some, however, are impressed with the efficiency of the Baath Party officials in organizing the killing campaign. Some of the Saudi volunteers are returning home better educated in the ways of conducting terror campaigns. As a result, the Saudi police are still looking for Islamic terrorists, especially those who have gone north, survived, and come home. These are dangerous men.
Meanwhile, al Zarqawi has to deal with leading a lot of deranged and depraved men. This is becoming almost comical, if it weren't so tragic. Mass murderers and mental incompetents managed by Saddam supporters trying to restore a dictatorship, all led by a Jordanian thug with a one track mind and a fast mouth. Welcome to Iraq.