U.S. Intelligence officials believe they “just missed” Zarqawi. DNA testing is being conducted to ensure the identity of those killed. According to Brig. Gen. Said Ahmed al-Jubouri, Mosul’s Chief of Police, the raid on the safe house was spurred on by a tip from a neighbor.
While Coalition forces continue the hunt for Zarqawi and other high profile leaders, facilitators and technicians, there is a debate over the effectiveness of the Coalition’s intelligence gathering capabilities. The Washington Post reports that there are an increased amount of tips from “Iraqis unhappy with Zarqawi and his operation, These tend to be traditional Iraqi leaders — sheiks and imams — upset with the organization, especially its recent execution of Sunni Arabs in Ramadi.”
The Los Angeles Times characterizes the hunt for Zarqawi as a “failure” and states “Iraq’s Insurgency Mastermind Stays a Step Ahead of U.S… because his network has a much better intelligence-gathering operation than they do.” The article postulates the Iraqi people are unwilling to cooperate with Coalition efforts out of fear of retribution, but then gives examples of Coalition successes in dismantling Zarqawi’s network:
The chart identified seven “Tier 1” operatives, or those defined as having direct ties to Zarqawi, including Abu Azzam, described as the “emir of Iraq”; Abu Abdallah, a military leader in Ramadi; Abu Umer a-Kurdi, considered a master builder of homemade bombs in Baghdad; and leaders of Zarqawi’s organization in Mosul and Haditha and western Al Anbar province.
It also listed 38 “Tier 2” operatives killed or captured and 71 in “Tier 3,” many of them Iraqi and foreign fighters or leaders of cells, Lynch said.
“Given [the] many, many sources of intelligence and information, we have great success at killing or capturing his leaders, his cell leaders, his coordinators and his lieutenants, and this chart just continues to expand, and eventually, he’s going to be on this chart,” Lynch said.
Coalition forces continue to work to dismantle al Qaeda’s network. Most recently, Abu Ibrahim was captured in Baghdad. He was “a technology expert, advisor and supplier to al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists and leaders in Baghdad… associated with the al Qaeda in Iraq Baghdad propaganda cell… He provided his expertise in the procurement of video equipment, video editing equipment, and computer programs.” Ibrahim will very likely have intimate knowledge of al Qaeda’s computing and communications capabilities.
The Telegraph reports on a joint SAS [British commandos] and U.S. Delta Force hit team tasked to hunt suicide bombers in Baghdad. According to the report, three suicide bombers with explosive vests were killed over the summer “acting on intelligence obtained by an Iraqi agent working for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).” There is a “network of Iraqi spies working for the CIA and MI6” which is feeding intelligence to Task Force Black.
While the hunt for Zarqawi continues, he will be forced to divert greater energies to protecting his safety. This may shield al Qaeda in Iraq’s leader, but the senior and middle management, as well as the rank& file of the organization has had no such protection.