Zawahiri becoming the AQ Baghdad Bob?

The leadership of al-Qaeda has stepped up its communications of late, but they don’t appear to be changing the messaging at all. The latest edition of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s missives comes just two weeks after his previous effort, and it turns out to be rather redundant. AQ’s winning in Iraq, and they’ll prove it by returning after we leave:

Marking the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, al Qaeda’s media arm released an audio recording, purportedly from the group’s second-in-command, saying U.S. troops there have failed.

“Where the American invasion stands now, after five years, is failure and defeat,” the voice on the tape — supposedly that of Ayman al-Zawahiri — said in the roughly 16-minute recording, which was posted Thursday on several militant Islamist Web sites. …

In the latest tape, the speaker says that if President Bush “kept all his troops in Iraq until the end of time and until they go to hell, they will not witness anything except failure and defeat, God willing.”

He also accuses Democrats seeking the presidency of “trying to deceive their people by saying that they will withdraw their troops from Iraq by talking to Iran.”

The invasion itself, though, did exactly what was intended — it drove Saddam Hussein from power and it ended the Ba’athist dictatorship he ran. Saying that the invasion didn’t succeed sounds oddly like Baghdad Bob reporting from Baghdad on state-run Iraqi TV that the Americans were suffering calamitous defeats while encircling his broadcasting station. Usually AQ refers to it as the occupation, which might make more sense but would still be just as incorrect.

The increasing rapidity of the messages speaks well for AQ’s technical networking but poorly for their effectiveness, especially in Iraq. Their plots get exposed before fruition in the West, and Iraq has turned into a meat grinder for AQI. Zawahiri can’t recruit many foreign fighters for Iraq, and those who do go wind up extremely disillusioned.

AQ appears to be compensating for its setbacks with ever-increasing claims of victory with ever-decreasing supporting evidence. The unreality of Zawahiri’s statements may have fooled people in the past when he issued them once every six months, making the tapes more of an event. Now, it’s just another Baghdad Bob moment.

Jazz Shaw Dec 01, 2021 11:01 AM ET