Update: Note this from the ABC story:
In blooper-type footage from a Zarqawi video released last week, the al Qaeda in Iraq leader is seen fumbling with a machine gun…. Lynch said Zarqawi decided not to publicize the piece, which shows him decked out in New Balance sneakers. In it, he said, Zarqawi had trouble firing his automatic weapon and needed assistance from an aide, and his associates “do things like grab the hot barrel of the machine gun and burn themselves.”
Update: The military has released images from the tape. As Mandy Patinkin said in The Princess Bride, “Humiliations galore.”
The ABC link says the video was recovered in the Youssifiyah area, 12 miles south of Baghdad.
Update: Bill Roggio is covering the story at the Counterterrorism Blog, and reminds readers that he wrote about Zarqawi’s apparent discomfort with the machine gun back when the tape first aired.
Update: Keep your eye on Getty Images. If experience is any guide, they’ll be the first with vidcaps. There’s some stuff already from Lynch’s briefing already posted over there now.
Update: Reuters reports. “Zarqawi is zooming in on Baghdad, we are zooming in on Zarqawi.”
Update: More details about the recovered documents from the AP:
“We believe that he is getting facilitation for foreign fighters and funds out of Syria” and that his focus of operations is currently in the Baghdad area, Lynch said.
“He is focusing his efforts inside of Baghdad. Baghdad is his center of gravity,” Lynch said.
That belief was supported by a series of planning documents also seized in the raids in the Youssifiyah area raids, which was used as a staging area for the suicide attacks, he said.
The documents spelled out al-Zarqawi’s strategy in Iraq – focusing on the Baghdad area and targeting the Shiite majority while reducing the number of attacks in Sunni Arab areas.
Update: Here he is. Hi-larious. Watch the turd in the mask raise his arm in triumph when the great warrior finally manages to squeeze off a few.
Fox has the full story, as well as a four-minute video report. Click and view.
Update: Here’s a quick-hits list of recent articles about Zarqawi and AQ that make his imminent capture/killing less far-fetched than it’s been before.
- Michelle’s post a week ago about a near-miss between Z-man and U.S. special ops Task Force 145 in Youssifiyah, the same area where today’s tape was recovered.
- A fantastic rundown from Security Watchtower about Task Force 145’s many other successful operations in the area.
- Yet another report on Task Force 145, this time from StrategyPage.
- A NY Post article from Sunday about Zarqawi’s recent difficulty recruiting suicide bombers.
- A NY Times analysis the same day noting evidence of discord within the AQ leadership.
- From Saturday, an AP piece on the growing rift between AQ and other Islamist wackos.
- And finally, an op-ed from — Fareed Zakaria? In Newsweek? — declaring AQ a spent force.
Update: Everything you wanted to know about Task Force 145 but were afraid to ask. Once again, from Bill Roggio at the Counterterrorism blog. Murderers’ row:
– TF-145 is comprised of Army Delta Operators, Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Rangers, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron, British Special Air Service, and British paratroopers. Left out are the myriad of intelligence assets likely assigned to TF-145.
Update: Nothing yet about this on JihadTV’s website. Go figure.
Update: ABC News says it’s obtained one of the documents seized in the raid on the safe house. Pretty much the same stuff AQ has been doing all along — provoke sectarian tension by killing Shiites — except the emphasis is on Baghdad now. But here’s the interesting part:
The document complains that the losses of American forces in Baghdad “are hardly worth mentioning” compared to American losses in the Western provinces. And, in the concluding paragraph, the document says the “rank and file” of the mujahideen in Baghdad know their leadership does not have “a broad view” or “a well-knit plan” and that “this has led to strategic losses for us.”
Dare I say it? It sounds like … a quagmire.
Somewhere right now in Saudi Arabia, the jihadi equivalent of Andrew Sullivan is whining on some message board about the insufficient number of mujahedeen in the field.
Oh — ABC also confirms that it was indeed Task Force 145 that recovered the docs. Sweet.
Update: Via the Belmont Club, here’s Barry McCaffrey, war skeptic, just back from Iraq:
The foreign jihadist fighters have been defeated as a strategic and operational threat to the creation of an Iraqi government. Aggressive small unit combat action by Coalition Forces combined with good intelligence – backed up by new Iraqi Security Forces is making an impact. The foreign fighters remain a serious tactical menace. However, they are a minor threat to the heavily armed and wary U.S. forces. They cannot successfully stop the Iraqi police and army recruitment.
He calls the Iraqi Army “a brilliant success story.”