Well, who knows. It’s not unheard of for hardcore jihadists to have a change of heart after witnessing acts of extreme brutality. Hassan Butt claims to have had his moment on the road to Damascus after the London bombings and Ed Husain walked away after his cohorts allegedly murdered a Nigerian Christian. The revelation about Omar al-Baghdadi being an AQ smokescreen may have flipped some of them too. “These guys are not immune to nationalist tendencies,” a U.S. intel analyst told Newsweek in connection with its Zawahiri story; some Iraqi Salafists might not have taken kindly to the news that they’re actually working for Saudis and Egyptians.

Or maybe this is just U.S. propaganda manufactured to cause paranoia in enemy ranks. All theories are welcome.

Fed up with being part of a group that cuts off a person’s face with piano wire to teach others a lesson, dozens of low-level members of al-Qaeda in Iraq are daring to become informants for the US military in a hostile Baghdad neighbourhood…

“They are turning. We are talking to people who we believe have worked for al-Qaeda in Iraq and want to reconcile and have peace,” said Colonel Ricky Gibbs, commander of the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, which oversees the area…

It is impossible to corroborate the claims, but [Lieutenant James Danly] said that scores of junior al-Qaeda in Iraq members there had become informants since May, including one low-level cell leader who gave vital information after his arrest.

“He gave us dates, places and names and who did what,” Lieutenant Danly said. When asked why he was being so forthcoming, the man said: “Because I am sick of it and I hate them, and I am done.”

Doura is one neighborhood in Baghdad. North of the city, AQI is reportedly staging parades in local villages. The military is trying to cut that off at the root by brokering a truce between Sunni and Shiite tribesmen in the area to purge the local Salafists. That sort of thing’s worked well so far in Anbar where everyone’s Sunni. Let’s see how it works in Diyala.

Finally, take a moment to read this piece at Strategy Page about Al Qaeda’s “downward spiral” since 9/11. Money quote: “[A]l Qaeda is largely an idea, and a lot of web pages, rather that any kind of organization. It doesn’t work very well, except for politicians and media looking for a hook to help them get something else done.” That seems overstated, especially given the emphasis on training foreign-born lieutenants in the Pakistani camps and then sending them home to recruit and train others, but SP would know better than I would.