Anbar Iraqis Share Al-Qaeda Intelligence
CNN reporter Michael Ware stumbled onto a treasure trove of al-Qaeda in Iraq document and multimedia archives recently, supplied to him by the leaders of Sahwa al-Iraq (Iraq Awakening) who seized them from captured al-Qaeda terrorists in Anbar province. His full report is scheduled to air during the 10PM (EDT) hour on CNN, and this morning his report was teased by the cable network during its morning show. The relevant preview clip is provided below.
The documents and digital footage reveal the true nature of al-Qaeda in Iraq, specifically its Anbar province manifestation, and Ware and CNN share the tip of the iceberg of what they were provided by our Iraqi anti-al-Qaeda allies. It is proof of what can be learned when journalists actually venture beyond the wire and leave the Green Zone and their hotels behind. Ware should be commended for that.
That said, he still gets it wrong in the sense that he concludes that al-Qaeda in Iraq is an Iraqi terrorist organization. It is true that the vast majority of the AQI footsoldiers are and were Iraqis recruited locally. However, it cannot be discounted that leadership and strategic direction comes from and came from al-Qaeda Arabs originally from other countries. The current leader's nom de guerre, al-Masri, means 'the Egyptian,' while Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was from Zarqa, Jordan. Furthermore, there were 'Iraqis' who had been with al-Qaeda since pre-9/11 who were sent in and elevated to leadership roles.
Thus, it should also be considered that those 'Iraqis,' not unlike those from other countries who also trained at al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, shed their 'nationalist' identities in the transformation process into what al-Qaeda glorifies as 'mujahideen,' truly Terrorists Without Borders - or Irhabi Sans Frontier.
So how 'Iraqi' are these AQI leaders, really? Ask a Ramadi member of Sahwa al-Iraq, or ask the terrorist himself, and both will most certainly respond the same: Not much, or not at all.
It is this non-Iraqi leadership and strategic direction which dictated the necessity to import foreign al-Qaeda suicide bombers to implement the ruthless strategy employed. Native Iraqis simply would not blow themselves up - not for Allah, not for virgins, and not for al-Qaeda. It is not a stretch of logic to conclude that if al-Qaeda in Iraq were truly an Iraqi group - of Iraqis, led by Iraqis - the strategy would reflect such. It does not. Because it is not, regardless the number of Iraqi footsoldiers.
After all, the fact that AQI is not an Iraqi entity is precisely why the leadership of al-Qaeda deemed it necessary to create the fictional role of a notional leader for the equally notional Islamic State of Iraq, "Abu Omar al-Baghdadi." The 'part' is known to be played by an Iraqi actor. This is so because al-Qaeda desperately needed the organization to take on an Iraqi face in order to hide the obvious; that - as reflected by its leadership and strategy - al-Qaeda in Iraq is and was a foreign invasion with foreign leadership and much local recruiting.
So just keep that in mind when watching what looks to be an otherwise illuminating report tonight at 10PM (EDT) on CNN.
UPDATE: Last night's CNN segment on AQI can be seen in full along with brief initial analysis here: