Nov 24 2007
A bit busy this Thanksgiving weekend, hope everyone is had a great Thanksgiving day. We are spending some excellent family time together, so blogging will be light for a few days. But I won’t leave folks totally high and dry, so here is a Fly By of some interesting stories on al-Qaeda and Iraq.
One of the most interesting articles I ran across was a historic perspective on al-Qaeda. It seems one of the largest events to influence and initiate al-Qaeda was, of course, a terrorist attack in 1979 which briefly took over Mecca:
On November 20, 1979, scores of armed militants — some say, numbering in their hundreds — took over the holiest of mosques, the Grand Mosque, in Mecca. Their objective — to force the Saudi royalty, who they hated, out of power and install an Islamist government in Riyadh.
In a startling new book, The Siege of Mecca, The Wall Street Journal reporter Yaroslav Trofimov has penetrated the veil of secrecy the Saudi authorities has cast over the horrifying episode all these years and revealed how that militant operation came to inspire Al Qaeda [Images] and bin Laden, who founded his International Islamic Front, as a reaction to the Saudi monarchy’s decision to invite the American military into the kingdom before the first Gulf War.
The articles explains how spreading and supporting Wahhabism became the price the Saudi Kingdom had to pay to regain control of Mecca. It is an eye opener.
Interestingly, another story that is coming out in stages (and which I noted before) is the release of a new Jihadists handbook by one of the founding fathers of the modern Jihad which is shaking the world of Islamic Extremism. The new handbook renounces al-Qaeda’s tactics in Iraq because they killing more innocent Muslims than anyone else. It joins a rising chorus of rejection of al-Qaeda in the Muslim community.
In fact, there is a story out this week which is covers the experience of one disillusioned al-Qaeda supporter from Saudi Arabia which I also noted before:
A young Saudi, who was brainwashed to fight in Iraq where he narrowly escaped death and suffered scarring to his face and hands in a failed suicide attack, recently called on young Saudis not to follow in his footsteps and be wary of militant groups in Iraq.
Ahmad Abdullah Al-Shaie, a young Saudi from Buraidah who describes himself as a victim, told Al-Riyadh newspaper that he was brainwashed into going to and fighting in Iraq. â€œThe Iraqis who were supposed to train me and prepare me to fight the occupation tried to kill me by making me an unwilling suicide bomber,â€ said Al-Shaie, who was tricked into driving a truck full of explosives.
As with many things in Iraq this year, I suspect we may start seeing a lot more of these kinds of stories, the disillusioned and lied to Muslims who step up to condemn al-Qaeda and further destroy its credibility in the Muslim communities of the Middle East.
In Iraq our efforts to dismantle and destroy al-Qaeda are moving apace. We have more AQI leaders in custody along with some large weapons caches. Even more good news here. It is this day-by-day dismantling of AQI which, in my opinion, is chipping away at the terrorists and shrinking their forces to the point Iraq can finally work its final way to victory.
But extremists never learn the lesson that extremism will fail when faced by the forces of freedom. It is not a hard choice in terms of preference, it is a question of how much time does it take the oppressed to become so fed up with the oppressors they will rise up and destroy them. Somehow the Iraqi Shiites militants have concluded they can succeed were al-Qaeda failed. It seems these Shiite militants are responsible for the latest round of bombings in Iraq. I think they will find themselves at the end of a rope for their actions – a Shiite rope.
A few bombings cannot change the momentum of 25 million people dedicated to a bright future. It’s just not possible to shift human forces of the size taking shape in Iraq with such small incidents. You can raise the ire of the masses and become rapidly extinct if you poke at them, but you can’t make the change course or follow your cause if they are adamant about going in an opposite direction.
To understand the situation in Iraq look at who the Iraqis fear upon their return to Iraq as refugees. It is not the American military, as some liberal reactionaries might conclude in a moment of biased conjecture:
Those returning make up only a tiny fraction of the 2.2 million Iraqis who have fled Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. But they represent the largest number of returnees since February 2006, when sectarian violence began to rise dramatically, speeding the exodus from Iraq.
Many find a Baghdad they no longer recognize, a city altered by blast walls and sectarian rifts. Under the improved security, Iraqis are gingerly testing how far their new liberties allow them to go. But they are also facing many barriers, geographical and psychological, hardened by violence and mistrust.
Days after she returned from Syria, 23-year-old Melal al-Zubaidi and a friend went to the market on a pleasant night to eat ice cream. It was a short walk, yet unthinkable only a month ago for a woman in the capital. Still, her parents were nervous, and Zubaidi wore a head scarf and an ankle-length skirt to avoid angering Islamic extremists.
Iraq is not going as anyone expected. Some of us had views extremism, once tasted, would be spat out by the broader Muslim community. But even we underestimated the brutality of al-Qaeda and how it would sow rejection through its atrocities on Muslims. Their brutality is a driving force, just not driving people in the direction the expected.