AQI leaders bugging out?

posted at 8:05 am on July 31, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Iraqi intelligence says that al-Qaeda in Iraq’s leadership has taken a powder.  The main leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, has taken several of his top commanders and fled to Afghanistan or Pakistan, leaving behind an organization in chaos.   AQI mid-level commanders insisted to the Washington Post that the leadership just needed to touch base with the home office and would come back any time they desired:

The leader of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq and several of his top lieutenants have recently left Iraq forAfghanistan, according to group leaders and Iraqi intelligence officials, a possible further sign of what Iraqi and U.S. officials call growing disarray and weakness in the organization. …

Some al-Qaeda in Iraq members blamed the group’s troubles on failed leadership by its head since 2006, an Egyptian who has used the pseudonyms Abu Hamza al-Muhajer and Abu Ayyub al-Masri. Some of the fighters said they have become so frustrated by Masri that they recently split off to form their own Sunni insurgent group.

Abdullah al-Ansari, an al-Qaeda in Iraq leader in Fallujah, said in an interview with a Washington Post special correspondent that Masri had traveled to Afghanistan through Iran and designated Abu Khalil al-Souri, the pseudonym of another top leader of the group who came to Iraq in 2003, to run the organization in his absence. …

Makki Fawaz al-Milehmi, a senior leader of the group north of Fallujah, said in an interview with the Post special correspondent that Masri has left Iraq twice before and was going to meet with “some of our brothers” in Afghanistan. “The rumors now are saying that he escaped and this is not true. He just traveled,” said Milehmi, who accused the U.S. government of spreading the rumors to hurt the morale of the group. “He will come back to Iraq anytime he wants, like he has done before.”

Does that really make any sense?  AQI got pushed out of Mosul, Nineveh, and Anbar over the last eighteen months.  Now the Iraqi Army has taken aim at their last real stronghold in Diyala, with American forces in strong support.  Normally, a commander that had a commitment to victory would stay in the theater to direct his forces at this point, not suddenly remove himself and his top lieutenants to a place a thousand miles away for “consultations”.

The US takes a more cautious tone than does Iraqi intelligence, but they see the same dynamic.  AQI has failed in Iraq, and the AQ structure has to decide whether continuing the fight there is worth the losses they will take.  Recruitment has fallen precipitously for this theater as the Iraqi Sunnis have turned against AQI.  Foreign fighters have slowed to a trickle, and they could be used to better effect in Pakistan and Afghanistan, at least at the moment.

However, AQ understands that a withdrawal from Iraq would be a public-relations disaster.  They garner recruits by convincing them that Allah has given them a mission to restore the Caliphate and take over the world.  How can that be true if the infidels destroy them in Iraq, right in the geographic center of the Islamic world, and even its Muslims defeat them?  A retreat would cripple their prestige; it would make them just another set of nutcases with guns, explosives, and money, and perhaps running low on all three.

The likely conclusion will be that AQ stops sending men and support to AQI while publicly supporting their efforts.  Instead of explicitly admitting defeat, they will let AQI die quietly under the boots of the Iraqi Army while pretending it still exists in any meaningful form.  They can add it to their list of fantasies.


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AQI has failed in Iraq, and the AQ structure has to decide whether continuing the fight there is worth the losses they will take.

This is what the Defeatocrats don’t understand. The objective in war is not to decide that our losses aren’t worth it and turn tail and run. The objective is to make the enemy decide his losses aren’t worth it.

However, AQ understands that a withdrawal from Iraq would be a public-relations disaster. They garner recruits by convincing them that Allah has given them a mission to restore the Caliphate and take over the world. How can that be true if the infidels destroy them in Iraq, right in the geographic center of the Islamic world, and even its Muslims defeat them? A retreat would cripple their prestige; it would make them just another set of nutcases with guns, explosives, and money, and perhaps running low on all three.

And this is how AQ will ultimately be defeated–military defeat coupled with loss of public stature. The road is long and the struggle is hard, but victory can be achieved.

backwoods conservative on July 31, 2008 at 8:22 AM

Abdullah al-Ansari, an al-Qaeda in Iraq leader in Fallujah, said in an interview with a Washington Post special correspondent

Makki Fawaz al-Milehmi, a senior leader of the group north of Fallujah, said in an interview with the Post special correspondent that

“Our” newspaper reporters have interviews with Al-Qaeda leaders? Why isn’t the reporter required to divulge info. about our enemy’s location to the US military, or prosecuted for aiding the enemy?

JiangxiDad on July 31, 2008 at 8:31 AM

Sounds like everybody was called back to home base for a final stand. Hopefully we’ll give them a fine sendoff once they arrive.

Too bad we don’t head them off at the pass (Iran).

Hening on July 31, 2008 at 8:31 AM

So,basically then, AQ is homeless in Iraq,
and now AQ is heading back to Pakistan,
somebody should tell Pelosi that the housing
market is bad all over! Haha

canopfor on July 31, 2008 at 8:32 AM

canopfor on July 31, 2008 at 8:32 AM

Shhhh. Don’t tell Pelosi nothing. She’ll go out of her way to tell AQ that San Fran is a sanctuary city.

Guardian on July 31, 2008 at 8:35 AM

canopfor on July 31, 2008 at 8:32 AM

Pelosi will most likely offer AQ members safe haven in her sanctuary city (San Fran)…

Keemo on July 31, 2008 at 8:37 AM

Guardian on July 31, 2008 at 8:35 AM

Having the same thought, we were.

Keemo on July 31, 2008 at 8:38 AM

sinking ship ——————————> rats

ej_pez on July 31, 2008 at 8:40 AM

The problem with AQ is that they are like cancer. Each time you think you have them beaten, they come back, they come back different than they were before, and they come back with a vengence. Before we start tossing the confetti on their demise, we should still stand at the ready and expect anything.

pilamaye on July 31, 2008 at 8:42 AM

SShh. Don’t tell Pelosi nothing.

Guardian on July 31,2008 at 8:35AM

Guardian: I’m glad President Bush didn’t listen to Pelosi’s
plan of free rent for AQ in Iraq,and instead sent
in the US Military to serve AQ their eviction
order! haha:)

canopfor on July 31, 2008 at 8:44 AM

Ummm… what the hell is a Washington Post “special correspondent,” and why isn’t he/she/it being frogmarched into a holding cell at this moment?

wccawa on July 31, 2008 at 8:57 AM

It’s that fn George W Bush’s fault!

TheSitRep on July 31, 2008 at 9:07 AM

AQ in Iraq, has been a myth for the longest time.
It’s a 1500 year olde battle between Muslim religious sects.

You still don’t get it…!
———————————–

You want to get AQ…?
Go where they throw down their bedrolls…Afghanistan!

Olde soldier sends…!

J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 9:10 AM

AQ in Iraq, has been a myth for the longest time.
It’s a 1500 year olde battle between Muslim religious sects.
J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 9:10 AM

Sheep… Don’t let “facts” get in the way and ruin your day.

Keemo on July 31, 2008 at 9:16 AM

Keemo on July 31, 2008 at 9:16 AM

In Vietnam my team medic once admonished me.

“Hey Sarge, where are the dirty bastards?
We can’t fight ‘em where they ain’t!”

J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 9:22 AM

J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 9:22 AM

It’s a 1500 year old battle between Muslim religious sects.

That portion of your comment has truth to it. The rest of the comment is just plain ignorant of the facts, esp. as it relates to the past several decades. Terrorists have come from many sects & different countries. Many of them are simply “hired thugs” trying to carve out a living in a region where “trades” are hard to come by. Does it really matter; they all are out there killing innocent people. Their fatal mistake was killing Americans on American soil; which was an AQ mission.

Keemo on July 31, 2008 at 9:32 AM

“Their fatal mistake was killing Americans on American soil; which was an AQ mission.
Keemo on July 31, 2008 at 9:32 AM

Damn Keemo, that part you got right…!

Congradulations…!

J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 9:37 AM

J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 9:22 AM

I have had several family members fighting in this war from the very beginning; (3) of them remain in Iraq today. My sources for information are pretty dang reliable. AQ, Iranians, Syrians, & others; they all have come to Iraq to take a shot at killing Americans.

Keemo on July 31, 2008 at 9:42 AM

“Many of them are simply “hired thugs” trying to carve out a living in a region where “trades” are hard to come by. Does it really matter; they all are out there killing innocent people…”

I seem to remember “Rummy” sayin’ something like that?

“…just a bunch of dead enders.”
“…it’s only a matter of time.”

Yeah airhead… just 1500 years more or less!

J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 9:43 AM

“…My sources for information are pretty dang reliable. AQ, Iranians, Syrians, & others; they all have come to Iraq to take a shot at killing Americans.
Keemo on July 31, 2008 at 9:42 AM

Dang…I hate when that happens…!

What, pray tell… might we do to rectify that revoltin’ situation..?

J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 9:50 AM

Ed, they will just send women, and mentally handicapped children strapped with explosives to blow civilians up where possible. It’s called a radical Islam backup plan.

saus on July 31, 2008 at 9:54 AM

J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 9:50 AM

I’m 54 years old. My country has been at war, or living in the treat of war for most of my life time. History tells us that mankind has a thing about war. Based on this “history of war” thing, it’s probably a good thing to have a really powerful military just in case some country wants a piece of our asses. It’s also a good thing (if we are to be in a war) to have the battle grounds be somewhere other than on our home soil. Pick a spot far away from our own spot, send our warriors to that spot, and the enemy will come to us so that they can have their chance to play the game of their choice.

Not real complicated; been going on for centuries now.

Keemo on July 31, 2008 at 10:08 AM

Dear Fellow Insurgents,
If my camel’s ass starts looking smaller, it’s because I’m putting distance between me and you.

Lovingly,
Abu

whitetop on July 31, 2008 at 10:11 AM

“…Pick a spot far away from our own spot, send our warriors to that spot, and the enemy will come to us so that they can have their chance to play the game of their choice. Keemo on July 31, 2008 at 10:08 AM

Bejeebus Keemo, were you ever a soldier once?

Holy Jesus, Mary and Joseph…

“…send our warriors to that spot, and the enemy will come to us so that they can have their chance to play the game of their choice.

Hot damn, where can I get some of that?

J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 10:20 AM

whitetop on July 31, 2008 at 10:11 AM

You da man “W”!
That’s what I wanna see!

J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 10:24 AM

Iraqi intelligence says that al-Qaeda in Iraq’s leadership has taken a powder. The main leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, has taken several of his top commanders and fled to Afghanistan or Pakistan, leaving behind an organization in chaos.

Syria too. As the WaPo story says:

In a sign of what U.S. officials describe as their success in eliminating Sunni insurgents inside Iraq, the American military has recently identified an al-Qaeda in Iraq leader outside the country as a major target, according to the senior U.S. intelligence analyst.

The leader, Abu Ghadiya, the nom de guerre of a Mosul native whose real name is said to be Badran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih, was identified in February as a senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leader based in Syria who controls the flow of the majority of the group’s foreign fighters, money and weapons into Iraq, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Buy Danish on July 31, 2008 at 10:28 AM

“We’re not running away like scared little girls. We’re just, ahem, traveling.”

Sweet.

Cicero43 on July 31, 2008 at 10:32 AM

Does that really make any sense? …
… Normally, a commander that had a commitment to victory would stay in the theater to direct his forces at this point, not suddenly remove himself and his top lieutenants to a place a thousand miles away for “consultations”.

If you live by the code, “Run away, and live to fight another day”, then yeah, this makes perfect sense.

Remember we are dealing with Islamic not Western culture and priorities. In every single battle of this war the top AQ leadership has run to ground in every dangerous situation leaving their troops and lieutenants to die for them.

Lawrence on July 31, 2008 at 10:34 AM

They are looking over their shoulder; Scared witless.

Johan Klaus on July 31, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Typical for this type of “religious fanatic”. Run and hide. Notice that you don’t see the leadership rushing to martyrdom, they fool some semi-idiot into wearing the boom vest and turning thenselves into purée. The leaders are too cowardly important. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

TooTall on July 31, 2008 at 12:51 PM

AQI leaders bugging out?

I’d bet they read it first in the New York Times, Al Qaeda’s chief source of info, and propaganda machine!

byteshredder on July 31, 2008 at 12:58 PM

Thank you Whitetop for the best laugh ive had in days.

aceinstall on July 31, 2008 at 1:48 PM

RHIP.

MB4 on July 31, 2008 at 1:58 PM

How can that be true if the infidels destroy them in Iraq

Elementary. If they destroy infidels elsewhere. Allah doesn’t care where they destroy infidels just as long as they destroy them.

MB4 on July 31, 2008 at 2:02 PM

“Hey Sarge, where are the dirty bastards?

J_Gocht on July 31, 2008 at 9:22 AM

“Hey Medic, just don’t look too conspicuous, it draws fire.”

MB4 on July 31, 2008 at 2:10 PM

Let me suggest that leaving some form of organization there is not just about “saving face”.

Think “Tora Bora” or even Fallujah where they leave a relatively small number of fighters in place to hold military forces while the leadership escapes to live to fight another day. This is classic vanguard action.

In the overall, scheme of things, for all those years everyone has claimed that bin Laden wanted the US distracted in Iraq so he could do other things, this would be the actual moment that was exactly true.

As long as Iraq gives even a remote appearance of instability, generals who have just won a victory will be overly cautious in letting it slip away. More troops will stay in place while Afghanistan goes to the dogs.

Politically, geographically, economically and logistically, Iraq is more valuable than Afghanistan. However, it would be extremely ignorant to let the Talibs and AQ get enough power they can overrun or try to overrun entire bases or turn Afghanistan into IED central.

I think we need to be cautious in Iraq, but not so cautious that we handicap ourselves in the long run.

Kat_Mo on July 31, 2008 at 3:18 PM

Had a conversation with a couple Middle Eastern college students a while ago. Good kids. Parents immigrated here back in the 1980′s. Naturally, the conversation took a turn toward Iraq and Afghanistan, though mostly Iraq, most Arabs don’t think much of Afghanistan, its an ethnic thing, I suppose.

But at one point in one of our conversations, one of the young men showed my a small leaflet, in Arabic, extolling the virtues of the current “jihad.” Almost immediately, they all said this is NOT the jihad the Koran says all good Moslems must undertake daily. They said this “jihad” is nothing more than another Mahdi wannabe trying to take control of the Koran, and Islam, for his own benefit. In other words a false Prophet.

One of the other guys then said something really profound. Said something to the effect of “If this was the real struggle to bring Islam to all the world, then why is AQ losing?”

He went on to cite a number of bits from bin Ladin and others right after 9-11, that AQ and Islam would soon ride across the world, that the West would fall on their faces before Islam, that the victory of Islam was in their grasp, and so one and so forth. He, and the others, pointed out that jihadis movements failed or were faltering in any number of places around the world. That the bulk of the jihadis, to their understanding, are common criminals and thugs, just louthing platitudes from the Koran, but just plain thugs through and through.

So, my fence-sitting Moslem friends…IF this is(was) the final struggle for the total victory of Islam, why is AQ losing?

As Believers, can you explain why Allah would permit such humiliations of these “noble” warriors? Why are the jihadis in Iraq using women? Children? Mentally handicapped? Why are they running away? And why has Allah not made the entire global nation of the Faithful rise up alongside AQ, willingly, sacrificing themselves by the thousands and thousands so Islam will be victorious in this war and bring down the apostate West?

One would think that if this jihad thing was good in the eyes of Allah, Allah would be doing everything under the sun to make sure it was working out?

coldwarrior on July 31, 2008 at 6:15 PM

coldwarrior on July 31, 2008 at 6:15 PM

Good to hear from you once again…

Keemo on July 31, 2008 at 6:56 PM

Hey, Keemo, Been laid up a bit for the past several months or so. Good to be back. Had an awesome set of exchanges yesterday re Pakistan with a couple of folks who were really educated on the subject. Got a nice note from Ed as well. Yep. Good to be back.

coldwarrior on July 31, 2008 at 7:29 PM