Red on red explodes: Al Qaeda assassinates Sunni insurgent leader?

posted at 6:47 pm on March 27, 2007 by Allahpundit

I’ve been meaning to link this LA Times story all day but got sidetracked, which was lucky. New facts are coming out. The gist of it is that Zal Khalilzad, the outgoing U.S. ambassador, insists there’s a fracture between AQ and the homegrown Sunni jihadis and that some of the latter might be willing to lay off if the government reaches out. Is there any reason to believe that’s true? Yeah, actually.

Insurgent leaders and Sunni Arab politicians say divisions between insurgent groups and Al Qaeda in Iraq have widened and have led to combat in some areas of the country, a schism that U.S. officials hope to exploit.

The Sunni Arab insurgent leaders said they disagreed with the leadership of Al Qaeda in Iraq over tactics, including attacks on civilians, as well as over command of the movement…

Insurgent leaders from two of the prominent groups fighting U.S. troops said the divisions between their forces and Al Qaeda were serious. They have led to skirmishes in Al Anbar province, in western Iraq, and have stopped short of combat in Diyala, east of Baghdad, they said in interviews with the Los Angeles Times.

Supposedly, Khalilzad’s talking to at least seven groups, the two most prominent of which are the Iraqi Armed Forces, a Baathist outfit, and the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a Baathist/Islamist mix. According to the Times, the latter operates in Diyala province, where much of AQ is supposed to be operating now after having fled Baghdad ahead of the surge. AQ wanted them to join the Islamic State of Iraq, the Sunni umbrella jihadist organization; both groups have allegedly refused.

A few hours after the LAT story, Reuters hit the wire with a report of jihadis having killed the son of Thahir al-Dari, a prominent Sunni sheikh in Anbar who’s joined the tribal “awakening” against AQ. The son’s name: Harith al-Dari. Turns out Harith’s uncle, also named Harith al-Dari, leads the jihadist Muslim Scholars’ Association and opposes the anti-AQ “awakening.” He’s been called “Iraq’s most wanted Sunni leader.”

As for Harith the younger, sounds like yet another case of innocent civilians caught up in AQ’s war on Sunni tribes in Anbar, right? Not exactly:

A military leader of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a major Sunni Arab insurgent group, was killed Tuesday in an ambush west of Baghdad, the group said in an Internet statement.

Harith Dhaher al-Dhari died when gunmen fired rocket propelled grenades on his car in the Abu Ghraib district, according to a district official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals…

The group, in a statement posted on the Internet said: “The 1920 Brigades mourns its martyr, the brave leader Harith Dhaher Khamis al-Dhari who fell today, his honorable blood spilled on the battlefield of his jihad (holy struggle) in Abu Ghraib.”

What we have here, in all likelihood, is the terrorism equivalent of one mafia family whacking the leader of another for cooperating with the police. Which seems shockingly stupid given that we’re planning a major offensive against AQ in Diyala, where the 1920 Brigades operate and where intel from their informants will be very valuable.

And the plot gets thicker still. According to Reuters, Thahir al-Dari is the leader of the al-Zobaie tribe — the same tribe to which Salam al-Zubaie, the Sunni deputy prime minister of Iraq, belongs. Al-Zubaie was himself seriously wounded in an assassination attempt earlier this week which Iraqi sources believe was an inside job perpetrated by a relative. That makes sense now: it sounds like the family is split between pro- and anti-jihadist factions led by Uncle Harith and Thahir, respectively, and Salam happened to pick his security detail from the wrong side.

The jihadis aren’t just fighting each other, of course. Today they laid siege to a U.S. base outside Fallujah with two truck bombs and no fewer than 30 gunmen armed with RPGs. Tally: 15 terrorists killed, eight troops wounded, seven lightly enough to return immediately to duty.

Meanwhile, it sounds like I’m not the only one who’s coming around, grudgingly, towards partition.


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Killing each other, is in these peoples’ blood. It has been for over 1,000 years now.

amerpundit on March 27, 2007 at 6:59 PM

Partition will happen whether we want it or not.

bbz123 on March 27, 2007 at 7:10 PM

Not too far fetched. Same thing has happened in Chechnya. Putin is using the non-AQ rebeles to fight AQ there. The same sort of issues were exploued:

In the front line of Putin’s secret war
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/27/wchech27.xml

TheBigOldDog on March 27, 2007 at 7:18 PM

Killing each other, is in these peoples’ blood. It has been for over 1,000 years now.

amerpundit on March 27, 2007 at 6:59 PM

Sorry, I don’t believe this.
They are being taught and shown another way by using the processes of a peaceful democracy.
The preference to use slaughter of innocents for the last 1,300 years has come from putting the most violent hadiths of the Koran into practice.
( Modern Islam must reform itself.)

Partition will happen whether we want it or not.

bbz123 on March 27, 2007 at 7:10 PM

Partition is the worst thing that could happen to Iraq. A unified Iraq is the goal.
I hope and pray that these negotiations keep going well–the Sunnis (Baathists) are starting to “get it”–that Al Queda is their enemy and not their friend.
Very good news indeed.

Jen the Neocon on March 27, 2007 at 7:36 PM

Sorry, I don’t believe this.
They are being taught and shown another way by using the processes of a peaceful democracy.
The preference to use slaughter of innocents for the last 1,300 years has come from putting the most violent hadiths of the Koran into practice.
( Modern Islam must reform itself.)

Earth to Jen: the gates of ijtihad are closed. The Qur’an will never be interpreted any other way, and all the strong ahadith relating to jihad support violent jihad. The constitution of Iraq enshrined shari’ah. Are you getting it? The Iraqis, if you can call them that, are a bunch of tribalist nuts. The only moderately sane ones are the Kurds, who simply want to separate from the Arabs. They hate the Arabs. LET THEM! Let the Arabs battle amongst themselves. There is no stopping it. Doesn’t anybody on this blog read JihadWatch?

PRCalDude on March 27, 2007 at 7:41 PM

I see two choices. Partition and Iran ends up with 1/3 to 1/2 of Iraq. No partition and they get it all.

Of course neither would be the outcome if we had leaders with the willpower to implement Total War.

JayHaw Phrenzie on March 27, 2007 at 7:52 PM

For what it’s worth, the 1920 Revolution Brigades announced last week a division into two corps. The statement is here. The communique doesn’t say so, but reading between the lines, it appears the split was brought about due to division within the ranks. I could be wrong. Perhaps logistics were the reason.

What’s interesting in light of today’s news of Harith Dhaher al-Dhari’s death in the Abu Ghraib district is that the 1920 corp that “owns” operations there issued a statement yesterday rejecting calls to negotiate with the Iraqi Government saying that one of its “jihadist missions is not to allow the establishment of such governments that fragmentized the land and sold it for the cheapest price to please its occupying masters.”

Local Sunni jihadists in Iraq may be opposed to Al Qaeda using Iraq for its internalionist aspirations but, if the statement is to be believed, they’re still not ready to join the “Safavi” government of Maliki, which, according to Khalilzad, is a deal breaker.

ganeshpuri89 on March 27, 2007 at 8:01 PM

I believe integration might be more likely than partition *if* the new act to bring more of the old Baathists into government succeeds *and* Allawi succeeds in getting a political bloc together that spans sectarian loyalties. A bloc of Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni parties with enough seats to make a difference is not as far-fetched as it was a month ago particularly with a key shiite party leaving their sectarian bloc and not ruling out joining Allawi’s “Salvation Front” or whatever it’s called.

All the signs I am seeing are very encouraging. Most of all, it looks like the most restrained and disciplined of the groups who opposed civilian slaughter are moving to the government side. This will make them appear to be protectors of the average citizen and the other side look like common criminals. Without the moderating influence of the more disciplined insurgents, the remaining supports of Al Qaida in Iraq and members of the Islamic State of Iraq are likely to go off in an uncontrolled rampage of mayhem. While this might cause casualties to remain high for a while, it isn’t sustainable and will absolutely turn the population against them. They are going to shoot themselves in the foot.

crosspatch on March 27, 2007 at 8:05 PM

Earth to Jen: the gates of ijtihad are closed. The Qur’an will never be interpreted any other way, and all the strong ahadith relating to jihad support violent jihad. The constitution of Iraq enshrined shari’ah. Are you getting it? The Iraqis, if you can call them that, are a bunch of tribalist nuts.

What’s ijtihad? Are you a Muslim?
The Koran has been interpreted other ways–ask around.
The constitution of Iraq didn’t enshrine shar’iah.
The Iraqis want to be free to live in peace (just like us) without the tyranny of a Saddam Hussein, the mad mullahs of Iran, the Taliban or the Waahab Saudi royal family.

Jen the Neocon on March 27, 2007 at 8:14 PM

McClatchey:

This morning gunmen attacked the car of Sheikh Harith al Thari the son of the tribal leader Sheikh Thahir al Thari not far from his house. The attackers wanted to kidnap him, he and his companion resisted and killed some of the attackers. The attackers used an RPG rocket and destroyed the car. Later in the day the 1920 Revolution Brigades announced he was one of their field leaders. Sources from the area said he was a media man for the Brigades and his death comes after refusing to pledge loyalty to the Iraq Islamic State, Al Qaeda linked group.

ganeshpuri89 on March 27, 2007 at 8:14 PM

The Koran has been interpreted other ways–ask around.
The constitution of Iraq didn’t enshrine shar’iah.
The Iraqis want to be free to live in peace (just like us) without the tyranny of a Saddam Hussein, the mad mullahs of Iran, the Taliban or the Waahab Saudi royal family.

What planet are you from? Ijtihad is the scholar consensus regarding the Qur’an and Sunnah. When I say, “the gates of ijtihad are closed,” I’m using an Islamic term to say, “the gates of scholarly consensus are closed.” It’s been this way since about 1000 AD. Google ‘ijtihad,’ you’ll see.

People who believe that death is better than life and subscribe to an ‘inshallah’ (allah willing) fatalism do not just want to have a better life. The only way to get them to better themselves is to separate them from their religion.

Yes, the Iraqi constitution states that no law made may contradict shari’ah.

PRCalDude on March 27, 2007 at 8:33 PM

*scholarly consensus*

PRCalDude on March 27, 2007 at 8:33 PM

This isn’t new, we’ve reading abut interfaction fighting for years now, just not at this level. Hopefully it’ll expand until the A.Q.s are all dead and the insurgents are so weak that they can’t attack out Troops anymore. THAT’S when they’ll stop fighting. Let’s pray that all of this negotiating is for real and that the Iraqis turn on the foreign jihadis.

Our Troops today took out two truck bombs … not much on the news about it. Thank God they stopped this attack and thanks to HotAir and Lucianne and other internet for gettin’ the word out, doin’ the job the enemedia won’t do.

Tony737 on March 27, 2007 at 8:34 PM

I sure hope that we’re tapping into this rift between the A.Q.s and the Iraqis. Like the way the False Prophet tricked pagan and Jewish tribes to turn against each other so that he could divide and conquer them.

Tony737 on March 27, 2007 at 8:40 PM

“Yes, the Iraqi constitution states that no law made may contradict shari’ah.”

This may be what it says, but that doesn’t amount to “enshrining shari’ah.”

Ijtihad is the scholar consensus regarding the Qur’an and Sunnah. When I say, “the gates of ijtihad are closed,” I’m using an Islamic term to say, “the gates of scholarly consensus are closed.” It’s been this way since about 1000 AD. Google ‘ijtihad,’ you’ll see.

You toss off these Islamic concepts as if they were settled when I would suggest to you that they’re not–these views are different depending on whether one is Sunni, Shi’a, Salafi or Waahab.
This is the root of the sectarian fights between them and it has been thus since the 8th Century when Mohammed died and his succession was disputed.
Iraq is now a democracy that is trying to be a place where all Muslims can live in peace and that is what the fight is about now, because while U.S., British and other Allied soldiers have been killed and injured, the primary deaths and casualties have been the Iraqis themselves and it seems even these local Sunni warlords have had enough.
They are making noises that they’d rather give up their jihad and stop killing their fellow Iraqis and fellow Muslims than pursue the takfiri fight for strictly religious reasons and the promise of their 72 virgins in paradise.

Jen the Neocon on March 27, 2007 at 8:46 PM

What is becoming clear is that the Sunni-Shiite conflict is no more tractable that the Israeli-Palestinian one. Unless someone comes up with a clear plan how to bring about a unified Iraq, we are just going to have to start to plan an exit that doesn’t result in immediate civil war as we pull out. As day follows night there is eventually going to be a repeat of the 300 dead in the Marine barracks of Lebanon, and then because of domestic political pressure there won’t be time to plan an orderly withdrawal.

Handing of responsibility of orderly governance of regions to puppets of Iran and the Saudis may at least force them to treat Iraqis as real people and not just instruments to cause pain to the US. Perhaps we can retain on the ground presence in the Kurdish areas. If we wait for the inevitable disaster we won’t likely have time to make such arrangements.

pedestrian on March 27, 2007 at 9:06 PM

You toss off these Islamic concepts as if they were settled when I would suggest to you that they’re not–these views are different depending on whether one is Sunni, Shi’a, Salafi or Waahab.
This is the root of the sectarian fights between them and it has been thus since the 8th Century when Mohammed died and his succession was disputed.
Iraq is now a democracy that is trying to be a place where all Muslims can live in peace and that is what the fight is about now, because while U.S., British and other Allied soldiers have been killed and injured, the primary deaths and casualties have been the Iraqis themselves and it seems even these local Sunni warlords have had enough.
They are making noises that they’d rather give up their jihad and stop killing their fellow Iraqis and fellow Muslims than pursue the takfiri fight for strictly religious reasons and the promise of their 72 virgins in paradise.

Jen the Neocon on March 27, 2007 at 8:46 PM

This quote deserves to be debunked in full.

Sunnism and Shi’ism is an argument about succession.
Salafism and Wahabism are strains of Sunnism.

All four schools of Sunni jurisprudence and both schools of Shia jurisprudence teach violent jihad. There are a tiny minority of Muslims who believe in some form of secular Islam, but they are persecuted and always lose. Anybody Muslim who tells you otherwise is practicing taqiyya, another term you ought to familiarize yourself with. You really ought to buy ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam’ and read it before making these statements.

The Sunni warlords have had enough – of al Queda. Al Queda is a challenge to their power. They themselves will become the next sponsors of jihad once the dust settles. We’re running into the same problem the British ran into when they took Mesopotamia from Turkey in the 1920s. It’s history, repeating itself: http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/015806.php#more

PRCalDude on March 27, 2007 at 9:11 PM

Al-Zubaie was himself seriously wounded in an assassination attempt earlier this week which Iraqi sources believe was an inside job perpetrated by a relative.

This comports with Robert Spencer and his assertion that the religion condones murder of family if it will further the interests of Islam.

Troy Rasmussen on March 27, 2007 at 9:20 PM

PRCalDude,

I think I’m as frustrated with the ignorance of Jen the Neocon as you are, she just doesn’t get it. She sounds like an apologist to me, maybe even a troll. Islam will not reform, not now or ever! Jen get a clue!

NeverSubmit on March 27, 2007 at 9:36 PM

Invite them all to a truce meeting, and open fire.

That would be Mohammad’s solution.

These are Machiavellian despots who want power to institute their own warped brand of the vicious dogmas of a pedophile warlord.

There’s no hope until they leave Islam.

(Or until Islam leaves our lovely Earth.)

Mentally, they’re there already.

Gone

profitsbeard on March 27, 2007 at 9:37 PM

NeverSubmit on March 27, 2007 at 9:36 PM

It’s apparently too much to ask that people read anything these days. Robert Spencer vlogs here once a week, and nobody heeds him. If we could at least get conservatives to wake up…

PRCalDude on March 27, 2007 at 9:45 PM

Never Submit, maybe so, but we’ve got to give them a chance.
If they are unable to reform, then the way will be clear.
But we’re not there yet.
If they can keep their faith while eschewing jihad, OK.
If they can’t and this manifests itself as more bloody attacks and especially attacks on Western cities and civilians, then what must be done, will be done.
But there’s no reason to assume the worst is happening in Iraq just now as PRCalDude does.
I live in hope that they will “get it.”
I don’t believe that the Sunni Baathists are coming to the table so that they can be the boss of the takfiri jihad and not AQ.
(The Sunnis aren’t gonna win. They’re way outnumbered for starters.)
In that AQ has been using Iraqi children as targets, the tipping point towards sanity may be at hand.

and PRCalDude, I’m very familiar with taquiya, thank you. It’s the “idjithad” that’s new. Frankly, Arabic, especially as it applies to Islam, is not a language I ever wanted to know and still don’t. Screw them and their idiotic concepts.
I did some Googling on the web and “idjithad” seems to be the Islamic (mostly Sunni) promotion of independent scholarly thought whose goal is to arrive back at the same place as the views held by the doctrinaire crowd.
IOW, it’s a pretense of encouraging free thought while doing the opposite.

Jen the Neocon on March 27, 2007 at 9:53 PM

PRCalDude, by the way, I do go to JihadWatch and I own both the PIG to Islam and Robert Spencer’s books.
I think we’re both on the same side of this argument, but I do think you’re being way too pessimistic.
If this were “24,” I guess I’d be Pres. David Palmer and you’re Powers Booth (VP Daniels).

Jen the Neocon on March 27, 2007 at 10:26 PM

I hate to admit it, but I’ve lost track of all the players.

I am going to have to wait for the HBO mini-series that replaces the “Sopranos” to follow the crime family here.

Maybe we should call it the “1920 Revolution Brigades”….

Cue the music….

PinkyBigglesworth on March 27, 2007 at 10:32 PM

The division I’d like to see the most is peeling Syria off of Iran. Egypt and Jordan have a lot more in common with Syria (all majority Sunni–all Arab) than Iran (Shiite and Persian). I think Assad is a big enough pussy that if we just scared the living crap out of him as bad cop, Egypt and Jordan, who are deathly afraid of Iranian hegemony (esp with nukes) could be good cop, and talk us out beating the living shiite out him. Too bad the Saudis are so slimy–they could really be helping out right now–like by driving the price of oil below Iran’s high profitability point.

All these bogus states that the Brits created; was it their last laugh for giving up their empire? Speaking of–I question Iraq’s right to exist. Kidding, but hey, why should Israel be the only one?

smellthecoffee on March 27, 2007 at 10:43 PM

“Sunnism and Shi’ism is an argument about succession.”

Originally, yes, but they have diverged more over the years. The Shiites, for example, mark their graves with headstones or other monuments like we do, the Sunnis think that is wrong and call the shiites “grave worshipers”. The Shiites have a concept of “temporary marriage” which the Sunnis see as simply an institutionalized form of prostitution or allowance for adultery.

So there are quite a lot of differences between the two besides simply the line of succession of the Caliph.

Salafis are what the followers of Wahhabi would call themselves. A quick paste from Wikipedia:

‘The term “Wahhabi” (Wahhābīya) is rarely used by members of this group. The term they use to describe themselves is “muwahhidun”, translating as “unitarians.” Another common term used is “Salafi,” translating as “followers of the pious forefathers,” ‘

crosspatch on March 27, 2007 at 11:38 PM

You know in the ancient world they took their false gods quite seriously and that was just the way the world was. I don’t think the ancients could imagine a world without Zeus or Apollo, and look what happened.

The moon god of Islam, though popular, is particularly vulnerable to the information age. It’s no big leap to envision a world where Islam simply loses steam and fizzles out. For women in particular who are horribly mistreated in Islamic countries the end of Islam would be a welcome sight indeed. It won’t happen in our or our children’s generation but I think it’s inevitable that it will happen.

Mojave Mark on March 28, 2007 at 12:49 AM

This just shows that our counterinsurgency tactics are working. While the “insurgents” turn on each other, we win hearts and minds of those who really count by restoring safety and building schools and hospitals, etc. These groups always begin fighting amongst themselves. And our tactics work, but they take time.

If we weren’t in such a rush to cut and run, we might understand that. But unfortunately one of our major parties here at home has declared and insurgency of its own. (Too bad we don’t have any allies who would come to our aid.) I think that, in time, the American people will also realize who really cares about their safety and turn against the insurgents, but, as I say, it takes time.

flataffect on March 28, 2007 at 4:26 AM

AP, do you have a monster-sized, color coded chart on your wall with all these different people, factions and relationships drawn out? Because trying to keep it all straight is giving me a headache -I need a pretty picture.

taznar on March 28, 2007 at 9:40 AM

The moon god of Islam, though popular, is particularly vulnerable to the information age. It’s no big leap to envision a world where Islam simply loses steam and fizzles out. For women in particular who are horribly mistreated in Islamic countries the end of Islam would be a welcome sight indeed. It won’t happen in our or our children’s generation but I think it’s inevitable that it will happen.

Mojave Mark on March 28, 2007 at 12:49 AM

It’ll definitely happen at the day of judgment. Many of these ancient Near Eastern gods lasted several thousand years.

PRCalDude on March 28, 2007 at 12:02 PM