The Media Weapon

MEMRI translates an interview with terrorist leader Muayed al-Nasseri, the commander of the Ba’athist terrorist group “the Army of Muhammad” — a group that was formed by Saddam Hussein before the collapse of his regime. Al-Nasseri provides an interesting look into the sources and methods of the terrorist insurgency in Iraq:

Interrogator: Who are the leaders of the Ba’th Party in Iraq?

Muayed Al-Nasseri: Today, the leader of the party is ‘Izzat Ibrahim. He is the leader of the party in Iraq. Next in line is Fadhl Al-Mashhadani, who is responsible for the local organizations within Iraq. Then, there is Muhammad Yunis Al-Ahamd, who is responsible for the organization outside Iraq. He is currently in Syria.

Interrogator: Did you get support from the countries of the region?

Muayed Al-Nasseri: Yes, sir… Many factions of the resistance are receiving aid from the neighboring countries. We in the Army of Muhammad… The fighting has been going on for almost two years now, and there must be aid, and this aid came from the neighboring countries. We got aid primarily from Iran. The truth is that Iran has played a significant role in supporting the Army of Muhammad and many factions of the resistance. I have some units, especially in southern Iraq, which receive Iranian aid in the form of arms and equipment.

This is no surprise, as it’s long been believed that the Syrians have been funding the Ba’athist terrorists operating in Iraq. The Syrian government would love nothing more than for Iraq to become another Lebanon – in which case Syria would ensure that they could use Iraq as a base for Syrian-sponsored terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizb’Allah. Al-Nasseri continues:

In addition, as I’ve told you, Syria… Cooperation with Syria began in October 2003, when a Syrian intelligence officer contacted me. S’ad Hamad Hisham and later Saddam Hussein himself authorized me to go to Syria. So I was sent to Syria. I crossed the border illegally. then I went to Damascus and met with an intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel “Abu Naji” through a mediator called “Abu Saud.” I raised the issues that preocupied Saddam Hussein and the leadership. There were four issues: First, the issue of the media; second, political support in international forums; [third], aid in the form of weapons, and [fourth], material aid, whether it is considered a debt or is taken from the frozen Iraqi funds in Syria.

Al-Nasseri is revealing more than just the Syrian element involved in the terrorist campaign in Iraq, he’s revealing some of the linchpins of the terrorist strategy. The terrorists know that they cannot defeat the United States militarily. It’s nearly suicidal to try. Even the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, considered a defeat for the US, was a horrendously one-sided engagement in which thousands of Viet Cong were killed by US forces fighting in well-trained and efficient groups.

What Hussein learned from Tet and also the Battle of Mogadishu was that the way to defeat America was by using the media against them. That’s exactly what is going on in Iraq now. Lt. Col. Tim Ryan, a serviceman who was involved in the Battle of Fallujah notes the terrorist’s media strategy:

I believe one of the reasons for this shallow and subjective reporting is that many reporters never actually cover the events they report on. This is a point of growing concern within the Coalition. It appears many members of the media are hesitant to venture beyond the relative safety of the so-called “International Zone” in downtown Baghdad, or similar “safe havens” in other large cities. Because terrorists and other thugs wisely target western media members and others for kidnappings or attacks, the westerners stay close to their quarters. This has the effect of holding the media captive in cities and keeps them away from the broader truth that lies outside their view. With the press thus cornered, the terrorists easily feed their unwitting captives a thin gruel of anarchy, one spoonful each day. A car bomb at the entry point to the International Zone one day, a few mortars the next, maybe a kidnapping or two thrown in. All delivered to the doorsteps of those who will gladly accept it without having to leave their hotel rooms — how convenient.

The scene is repeated all too often: an attack takes place in Baghdad and the morning sounds are punctuated by a large explosion and a rising cloud of smoke. Sirens wail in the distance and photographers dash to the scene a few miles away. Within the hour, stern-faced reporters confidently stare into the camera while standing on the balcony of their tenth-floor Baghdad hotel room, their back to the city and a distant smoke plume rising behind them. More mayhem in Gotham City they intone, and just in time for the morning news. There is a transparent reason why the majority of car bombings and other major events take place before noon Baghdad-time; any later and the event would miss the start of the morning news cycle on the U.S. east coast. These terrorists aren’t stupid; they know just what to do to scare the masses and when to do it. An important key to their plan is manipulation of the news media…

Indeed, Lt. Col. Ryan is exactly right — the terrorists realize that by manipulating the news that comes out of Iraq, they can drive down public opinion and force the US to pull out. It’s what Gen. Giap did after Tet. It’s what Mohammad Farah Aidid did in Somalia. It’s what Osama bin Laden believed that he could pull off. Now, it’s Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athists and Ayman al-Zawahiri who are once again playing from the same playbook.

And once again, the media is falling for it, hook, line, and sinker.

The fundamental problem here is that the media has lost their faith in this country. Ernie Pyle would have never reported news that would reduce the morale of troops in the field or embolden the enemy. He understood that he had an obligation to this country as a journalist and as an American. That didn’t mean that his reports suger-coated the realities of war — quite the opposite. What it meant was that he wouldn’t have sat in a Berlin hotel while former SS ministers fed him whatever propaganda they wanted. He went out in the field with American troops and reported what they saw, not what the enemy wanted him to see.

It is sad that the legacy of Ernie Pyle has long since been forgotten and the media continues to place their own personal partisanship and sheer laziness ahead of reporting the real story in Iraq. It is even worse that the first instincts of so many is to assume the worst of American while barely touching on the sheer barbarity of those we’re fighting in Iraq. It is tragic that the death of Margaret Hassan is almost never mentioned, but the (still egregious and horrible) events at Abu Ghraib are mentioned at every turn.

The enemy knows our weakness, and their useful idiots in the press continue to play right into their hands.

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