Al-Qaeda: We’re Losing In Iraq

While it’s no surprise to anyone paying attention to what’s really going on in Iraq, another captured al-Qaeda communique shows how badly Iraq is going for the terrorist group:

At the same time, the Americans and the Government were able to absorb our painful blows, sustain them, compensate their losses with new replacements, and follow strategic plans which allowed them in the past few years to take control of Baghdad as well as other areas one after the other. That is why every year is worse than the previous year as far as the Mujahidin’s control and influence over Baghdad.

“Quagmire” my ass. Al-Qaeda’s strategy has been to try to undermine the war at home through highly-visible, but militarily ineffective actions:

4. The policy followed by the brothers in Baghdad is a media oriented policy without a clear comprehensive plan to capture an area or an enemy center. Other word, the significance of the strategy of their work is to show in the media that the American and the government do not control the situation and there is resistance against them. This policy dragged us to the type of operations that are attracted to the media, and we go to the streets from time to time for more possible noisy operations which follow the same direction.

This direction has large positive effects; however, being preoccupied with it alone delays more important operations such as taking control of some areas, preserving it and assuming power in Baghdad (for example, taking control of a university, a hospital, or a Sunni religious site).

Al-Qaeda’s strategy all along has been quite easy to figure out. In 1993 when the US was chased out of Mogadishu, Somalia, Osama bin Laden came to the realization that the enormous military might of the United States could easily be defeated by a group of lightly-armed thugs. All it took was to kill a few Americans and the American public would lose their taste for war and abandon the field of battle. In 1997, Peter Arnett interviewed bin Laden and asked him about the Battle of Mogadishu. Bin Laden replied:

The U.S. government went there with great pride and stayed there for some time with a strong media presence wanting to frighten people that it is the greatest power on earth. It went there with pride and with over 28,000 soldiers, to a poor unarmed people in Somalia. The goal of this was to scare the Muslim world and the whole world saying that it is able to do whatever it desires. As soon as the troops reached the Mogadishu beaches, they found no one but children. The CNN and other media cameras started photographing them (the soldiers) with their camouflage and heavy arms, entering with a parade crawling (on the ground) and showing themselves to the world as the “greatest power on earth”. Resistance started against the American invasion, because Muslims do not believe the U.S. allegations that they came to save the Somalis.A man with human feelings in his heart does not distinguish between a child killed in Palestine or in Lebanon, in Iraq or in Bosnia. So how can we believe your claims that you came to save our children in Somalia while you kill our children in all of those places?

With Allah’s grace, Muslims over there, cooperated with some Arab “Mujahideen” who were in Afghanistan. They participated with their brothers in Somalia against the American occupation troops and killed large numbers of them. The American administration was aware of that. After a little resistance, The American troops left after achieving nothing. They left after claiming that they were the largest power on earth. They left after some resistance from powerless, poor, unarmed people whose only weapon is the belief in Allah The Almighty, and who do not fear the fabricated American media lies. We learned from those who fought there, that they were surprised to see the low spiritual morale of the American fighters in comparison with the experience they had with the Russian fighters. The Americans ran away from those fighters who fought and killed them, while the latter were still there. If the U.S. still thinks and brags that it still has this kind of power even after all these successive defeats in Vietnam, Beirut, Aden, and Somalia, then let them go back to those who are awaiting its return.

It’s clear what Bin Laden thought of American determination in the face of terrorism – he believed the United States to be little more than a paper tiger – a force that could be easily swept aside by a determined force. After nearly five years of constant attack, al-Qaeda is realizing now that the situation has changed. The September 11 attacks steeled American resolve rather than shattering our will.

However, that doesn’t mean that bin Laden’s observations about American weakness were entirely wrong. One of President Bush’s greatest strengths is that he has the determination not to allow al-Qaeda to win this war of attrition. The same cannot be said of many of his opponents. The forces that argue for ignominious withdrawal from Iraq play right into bin Laden’s hands. He wants the US to think that Iraq is unwinnable. Al-Qaeda desperately needs some kind of victory in Iraq as its greatest strength has been its ability to strike back at the “Crusaders” and win. Arab culture is based on an honor/shame model in which the victorious are praised and the weak reviled. When bin Laden spoke of the “strong horse” and the “weak horse” he was revealing a bit of the psychology of terrorism. If al-Qaeda becomes the weak horse, they will begin to lose their hold on the Arab imagination and slowly wither away. Only through victory against the Americans can al-Qaeda prove that they deserve to be the vanguard of what they see as the coming Islamic caliphate.

With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad trying to position himself as the leader of the Islamic revolution, al-Qaeda faces the greatest existential threat that it has ever faced. A US withdrawal in Iraq would be the saving grace of their ideological movement, which is precisely why we cannot allow their propaganda to sway us.

Iraq is not a quagmire. Failure is not an inevitability, and those who espouse such ideas are acting as little more than useful idiots for the enemy. Our soldiers understand what’s at stake here far better than the general population. Al-Qaeda knows they must win – and if we want to defeat them, Iraq is the battleground in which to do it. If we fail to understand that, only then is defeat an inevitability. This war won’t be lost in the streets of Baghdad or the palms of the Euphrates, it will be lost on Main Street USA. We cannot allow the bravery of our soldiers be lost to the pettiness of our politicians.

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