Iowahawk reports that the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has a new room-mate in the Islamic Paradise.
One of two known Al Qaeda leadership councils meets regularly in eastern Iran, where the American intelligence community believes dozens of senior Al Qaeda leaders have reconstituted a good part of the terror conglomerate’s senior leadership structure.
That is a consensus judgment from a final working draft of a new National Intelligence Estimate, titled “The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” on the organization that attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The estimate, which represents the opinion of America’s intelligence agencies, is now finished, and unclassified conclusions will be shared today with the public.
The classified document includes four main sections, examining how Al Qaeda in recent years has increased its capacity to stage another attack on American soil; how the organization has replenished the ranks of its top leaders; nations where Al Qaeda operates, and the status of its training camps and physical infrastructure. …
In the estimate’s chapter on Al Qaeda’s replenished senior leadership, three American intelligence sources said, there is a discussion of the eastern Iran-based Shura Majlis, a kind of consensus-building organization of top Al Qaeda figures that meets regularly to make policy and plan attacks. The New York Sun first reported in October that one of the Shura Majlis for Al Qaeda meets in the federally administered tribal areas of Pakistan, one of the areas the Pakistani army this week re-engaged after a yearlong cease-fire. Both Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, participate in those meetings.
he other Shura Majlis is believed to meet in eastern Iran in the network established after Al Qaeda was driven from Afghanistan in 2001.
Following that battle, a military planner trained in the Egyptian special forces, Saif al-Adel, fled to Iran. Mr. Zawahri then arranged with the then commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Ahmad Vahidi, for safe harbor for senior leaders.
The three main Al Qaeda leaders in Iran include Mr. Adel; the organization’s minister of propaganda, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, and the man who some analysts believe is the heir apparent to Mr. bin Laden â€” one of his sons, Saad bin Laden. The locations of the senior leaders include a military base near Tehran called Lavizan; a northern suburb of Tehran, Chalous; an important holy city, Mashod, and a border town near Afghanistan, Zabul, the draft intelligence estimate says.
In 2003, Iran offered a swap of the senior leaders in exchange for members of an Iranian opposition group on America’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, the People’s Mujahadin.
That deal was scuttled after signal intercepts proved, according to American intelligence officials, that Mr. Adel was in contact with an Al Qaeda cell in Saudi Arabia.
In the aftermath of the failed deal, Al Qaeda’s Iran branch has worked closely in helping to establish the group in Iraq. The late founder of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had multiple meetings with Mr. Adel after 2001. In the past year, the multinational Iraq command force has intercepted at least 10 couriers with instructions from the Iran-based Shura Majlis. In addition, two senior leaders of Al Qaeda captured in 2006 have shared details of the Shura Majlis in Iran.
“We know that there were two Al Qaeda centers of gravity. After the Taliban fell, one went to Pakistan, the other fled to Iran,” Roger Cressey, a former deputy to a counterterrorism tsar, Richard Clarke, said in an interview yesterday. “The question for several years has been: What type of operational capability did each of these centers have?”
AP reports that the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s cell phone has been examined and was found to contain some intriguing phone numbers.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had the phone numbers of senior Iraqi officials stored in his cell phone, according to an Iraqi legislator.
Waiel Abdul-Latif, a member of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s party, said Monday that authorities found the numbers after al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was killed in a U.S. air strike on June 7.
Abdul-Latif did not give names of the officials. But he said they included ministry employees and members of parliament.
He called for an investigation, saying Iraqis “cannot have one hand with the government and another with the terrorists.”
A terrorist fifth column inside the hastily assembled Iraqi government, I suppose, was always a strong possibility.
The Gulfnews reveals that Abu Musab al Zarqawi, while an full-time employee (Jihad Executive Director and Emir) of Al Qaeda working in Iraq, was collecting unemployment benefits in India.
Lucknow: Iraq’s deceased Al Qaida leader, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, was registered for unemployment benefits in India, a recent report suggests.
A query has been ordered to certify how Al Zarqawi, who was killed in a US air strike in Iraq last week, came to be registered as an Indian resident.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary, N C Bajpai, is particularly concerned about reports that the late Al Qaida leader, who was registered under the name of Ama Zarqawi, was made eligible for unemployment benefits by the Lucknow district administration.
Disciplinary action has been ordered by the principal secretary and district administration against those responsible for the lapse.
Better check the US Social Security beneficiaries list.
Jim Dunnigan’s Strategy Page offers an insider’s assessment of the developing situation.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has been virtually wiped out by the loss of an address book. The death of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi was not as important as the capture of his address book and other planning documents in the wake of the June 7th bombing. U.S. troops are trained to quickly search for names and addresses when they stage a raid, pass that data on to a special intelligence cell, which then quickly sorts out which of the addresses should be raided immediately, before the enemy there can be warned that their identity has been compromised. More information is obtained in those raids, and that generates more raids. So far, the June 7th strike has led to over 500 more raids. There have been so many raids, that there are not enough U.S. troops to handle it, and over 30 percent of the raids have been carried by Iraqi troops or police, with no U.S. involvement. Nearly a thousand terrorist suspects have been killed or captured. The amount of information captured has overwhelmed intelligence organizations in Iraq, and more translators and analysts are assisting, via satellite link, from the United States and other locations.
Perhaps the most valuable finds have been al Qaeda planning documents confirming what has been suspected of terrorist strategy. Also valuable have been the al Qaeda assessment of their situation in Iraq. The terrorist strategy is one of desperation. While the effort continues, to attempt to trigger a civil war between Sunni and Shia in Iraq, this is seen as a losing proposition. The new strategy attempts to trigger a war between the United States and Iran. This would weaken the United States, and put the hurt on Iran, an arch-enemy of al Qaeda. Other documents stressed the need to manipulate Moslem and Western media. This was to be done by starting rumors of American atrocities, and feeding the media plausible supporting material. Al Qaeda’s attitude was that if they could not win in reality, they could at least win imaginary battles via the media.
Zarqawi considered al Qaeda’s situation in Iraq as “bleak.” The most worrisome development was the growing number of trained Iraqi soldiers and police. These were able to easily spot the foreigners who made up so much of al Qaeda’s strength. Moreover, more police and soldiers in an area meant some local civilians would feel safe enough to report al Qaeda activity. The result of all this is that there are far fewer foreign Arabs in Iraq fighting for al Qaeda. The terrorist organization has basically been taken over anti-government Sunni Arabs. That made the capture of Zarqawi even more valuable, as his address book contained a who’s who of the anti-government Sunni Arab forces. This group has been hurt badly by last week’s raids.
The government deployed two infantry divisions and over 40,000 police in and around Baghdad to prevent “revenge” attacks by terrorists not yet rounded up by the growing wave of raids. Al Qaeda has announced an increased number of attacks. These have not occurred, although it is believed that more attacks are possible, as many attacks in various stages of preparation can be rushed forward before they are aborted by a raiding soldiers or police. At the moment, most al Qaeda members appear to be scrambling for new hiding places.
The damage done by the post- Zarqawi raids has spurred the Sunni Arab amnesty negotiations. These have been stalled for months over the issue of how many Sunni Arabs, with “blood on their hands”, should get amnesty. Letting the killers walk is a very contentious issue. There are thousands of Sunni Arabs involved here. The latest government proposal is to give amnesty to most of the Sunni Arabs who have just killed foreigners (mainly Americans). Of course, this offer was placed on the table without any prior consultations with the Americans. Naturally, such a deal would be impossible to sell back in the United States. But the Iraqis believe they could get away with it if it brought forth a general surrender of the Sunni Arab anti-government forces. The Iraqis, after all, are more concerned with Iraqi politics, than with what happens in the United States. Iraqi leaders believe that the U.S. has no choice by to continue supporting Iraqi pacification efforts. However, the spectacle of amnestied Sunni Arabs bragging to Arab, European and American reporters about how they killed Americans, might have interesting repercussions.
(Sung to the tune of Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl)
Hey where did he go,
Days when the bombs came
Laughing so hard I can’t swallow,
Man, Al-Queda is so frickin’ lame,
Laughing and a running hey, hey
They’re tripping and a humping
In the late evening smog when
Zark’s hearts quit thumpin’ and you
My hadji girl,
You’re my hadji girl.
When Zark was laid so low
Going down one last time
Blew his ass to the patio
Crouching in the sunlight laughing,
Hiding behind a concrete wall,
Tripping and hiding
As the two bombs fall, and you
My hadji girl,
You’re my hadji girl.
Do you remember when we used to sing,
Allah allah la la la la la la la la la te da
Old Zark had his day,
But now he is all alone.
I saw him just the other day,
As he laid there and groaned,
Cast my memory back there, Lord
Sometime I’m overcome thinking ’bout
When they killed Zark’s sorry ass
With those two Mk 82
My hadji girl
You’re my hadji girl
Do you remember when we used to sing,
Allah allah la la la la la la la la la te da
Jeff Goldstein of the illustrious Protein Wisdom blog scoops the MSM with the first anywhere post-death interview with Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
protein wisdom: “First of all, I’d like to thank you for taking this time to sit down with me, an infidel dog, and a Jew infidel dog, to boot. But I think it’s important that we as Westerners try really to understand what it is that motivates people like you—21st century Minutemen, the Thomas Paines and George Washingtons of the new Caliphate, to hear some speak of it.”
The Israeli-based purveyor of Intel-gossip Depkafile tells us that Jordanian intelligence provided the breakthrough leading to the successful targeting of Zarqawi.
(It is generally believed that Depkafile functions as a mouthpiece for Mossad, and commonly distributes rumors or even false stories, but this one serves no obvious Mossad agenda, and could possibly even be true.)
The final breakthrough in the long pursuit of the most blood-stained terrorist of them all, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, came from Jordan.
The source was Ziyad Halaf al Karbouli, also known as Abu Hufeiza, one of the lowlifes Zarqawi employed to attack and rob the convoys plying Baghdad’s main supply route across the Jordanian border and murdering their Iraqi or Jordanian drivers. Foreigners riding along were taken hostage. DEBKA-Net-Weekly reveals that he was picked up — not by chance, but in consequence of a well-laid Jordanian sting operation set up and executed by King Abdullah’s old unit, The Riders of Justice of Jordan’s 71st Commando Brigade – and on his orders.
Jordanian intelligence had a score to settle with Zarqawi’s highway robber-in-chief. Last September, he kidnapped a Palestinian called Khaled Da Siko, who was an important Jordanian undercover agent, assigned with penetrating Zarqawi’s following. The abduction took place in Ruthba in western Iraq. When Abu Hufeiza asked Zarqawi what to do with his captive, he was told to execute him forthwith, which he did.
From that moment, Jordanian intelligence never let up on their efforts to lay hands on the kidnapper to exact revenge.
The Riders of Justice infiltrated western Iraq at the beginning of 2006 and scoured al Qaim, Ruthba, Falujja and Ramadi for the wanted man. At some point, they realized that even if they overpowered his bodyguards and killed him, they would never make it back to Jordan past Zarqawi’s killers. It had become necessary to go for the boss, who was in any case under sentence of death in the kingdom.
In early April therefore, a decision was taken in Amman to lure Abu Hufeiza into entering the kingdom in defiance of Zarqawi’s prohibition. Double agents held out an offer of a Jordanian base for al Qaeda, plus information on ways to lay hands on the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing through the funding channel between Jordan and Iraq.
Abu Hufeiza swallowed the bait. He was dazzled enough to picture himself handing the rich booty over to Abu Zarqawi and being promoted to his Number Two in al Qaeda’s Iraq hierarchy by his grateful master.
The moment he and his bodyguards set foot on Jordanian soil, all got up as Iraqi businessmen on a shopping trip, the trap snapped shut; they were surrounded by the Riders of Justice and hauled to Amman for questioning.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terror sources report that Abu Hufeiza held nothing back from his Jordanian interrogators. He was the source of the first real lead to Zarqawi’s location to be made available to the US command and intelligence in Iraq.
Abu Hufeiza also gave away certain members of the Butcher of Baghdad’s command group. Here is a summary of the data the Jordanians extracted from him:
The name of al Qaeda chief’s chief of operations, Yassin Harabi — an Iraqi Sunni codenamed Abu Obeida. Going down the chain of command, he identified Yunas Ramlawi, a Palestinian from the West Bank town of Ramallah, and Muhammad Majid, a Saudi Arabian known as Abu Hamza.
The descriptions he gave the Jordanians were good enough for identikit portraits and betrayed their hideouts, how they stayed in touch with Zarqawi and their movements.
This data haul Jordanian intelligence whipped across to Washington where analysts went to work on it and rushed their findings to American headquarters in Baghdad.
All of a sudden, the US military in Baghdad had an intelligence bonanza instead of chance identities of the odd Zarqawi adherent which was all they had to work with before. From Abu Hufeiza Jordanian intelligence had extracted the first clue to the location of the safe house near Baquba, where Zarqawi was actually in conference with his senior commanders. The next link in the chain came from a senior Zarqawi commander in Iraq, who fell into American hands and was persuaded to part with the final steps that brought two US 500-pound bombs crashing down on Zarqawi’s last address.
At first, some American officers queried these offerings as disinformation designed to trip them up. But when US commander General George W. Casey and American ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad ordered the input examined and cross-referenced, it proved solid enough for direct action.
Today’s Wall Street Journal has a story which appears to be incorporating the Depkafile report:
Perhaps the most important arrest, however, say Middle East and European intelligence agents, was Jordan’s capture last month of an al Qaeda logistics and smuggling agent, Ziad Khalaf Raja al-Karbouly. Mr. Karbouly went on Jordanian television after his arrest and described murdering Jordanian truck drivers moving goods into Iraq. He also described carrying out political assassination of Moroccan and Kurdish diplomats on the orders of Mr. Zarqawi.
The Jordanians worked with agents inside Iraq to draw Mr. Karbouly across the border, Jordanian intelligence officials said last month. And the al Qaeda operative provided Jordanian interrogators with important intelligence on Mr. Zarqawi’s top aides, including his spiritual adviser, Abu Abdul-Rahman. In recent weeks, U.S. military personnel said they monitored Mr. Rahman’s movements and, ultimately, were drawn to Mr. Zarqawi’s hideout near the Iraqi city of Baqubah.
The Jordanian operation “offered a critical link” on al Qaeda’s leadership structure, said a European counterterrorism official.
Iowahawk publishes presumably the last Zarkman report. This one is from the Islamic Paradise.
despite Zarqawi’s death, reports the inimitable Scott Ott.
As Blackberry devices and cell phones on Capitol Hill hummed with news of the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi yesterday, Congressional Democrats vowed that despite the loss they would fight on in “the war on the war on terror.”
“Zarqawi will be missed because he put a human face on the futility of the illegal U.S. occupation of Iraq,” said one unnamed lawmaker, who assured a reporter that “Democrats are still optimistic. We’re still looking for the silver lining.”
Rep. John Murtha, D-PA, a former Marine and vocal critic of the military occupation of Iraq, immediately denounced “the Zarqawi massacre” and suggested that the F-16 pilot who dropped the bombs had snapped under pressure and murdered the al Qaeda leader “in cold blood.”
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA, demanded an explanation of the secret intelligence gathering techniques and surveillance used to find Mr. Zarqawi.
“I want to give the president an opportunity to explain the program to the Congress and to assure the American people that nobody’s civil rights were violated,” said Sen. Specter.
Meanwhile, Democrat National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and former presidential candidate Al Gore observed a moment of silence as they heard of the passing of Mr. Zarqawi, a fellow Internet pioneer.
Iraqi blogger Hammorabi gloats over US forces at last succeeding in nailing Zarqawi’s well-deserving hide to the barn door:
The Prime Minister of Iraq Mr Al-Maliki just announced that the criminal and terrorist thug Abo-Mousab Al-Zarqawi was killed by the Iraqi forces in the last few hours.
Zarqawi who is Jordanian from Palestinian origin was responsible for thousands of crimes against the Iraqis and the MNF as well as against humanity. He appeared recently in a video challenging the American and Iraqi forces. He beheaded by his dirty hands many Iraqis and foreigners.
Zarqawi was with at least 7 among his closest thugs in an area called Hib-hib in Diyala province north east of Baghdad before the MNF and Iraqi forces attacked them last night.
The attack was first by the US forces with an air strike to a selected target where they cockroaches were hiding in. On the same time and in the ground were the Iraqi forces making an advance towards the target and securing the area before and afterward.
Zarqawi without doubts went into the bottom of the Hell with blood of many innocent children, women and men in his dirty hands.
There were celebrations going on now in the holy city of Najaf and Kerbala. On the other hands there are sadness and shock among his allies in the region and abroad like Al-Jazeera Qatari TV and other Arab pro-terrorists thugs.
Zarqawi and his aides simply went to Hell and this is the worst fate for any one like them.
A lot of people (this blog included) laughed at poor little Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, just because he didn’t know how to work the FN M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) machinegun, and C.J. Chivers at the New York Times thinks we were being unfair. He’s even found some experts he can quote defending Zarqawi.
(You know how it is: Whenever any enemy of the United States is under attack, you can count on the New York Times to come bustling to his defense.)
An effort by the American military to discredit the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by showing video outtakes of him fumbling with a machine gun — suggesting that he lacks real fighting skill — was questioned yesterday by retired and active American military officers…
But several veterans of wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, as well as active-duty officers, said in telephone interviews yesterday that the clips of Mr. Zarqawi’s supposed martial incompetence were unconvincing.
The weapon in question is complicated to master, and American soldiers and marines undergo many days of training to achieve the most basic competence with it. Moreover, the weapon in Mr. Zarqawi’s hands was an older variant, which makes its malfunctioning unsurprising. The veterans said Mr. Zarqawi, who had spent his years as a terrorist surrounded by simpler weapons of Soviet design, could hardly have been expected to know how to handle it…
An active-duty Special Forces colonel who served in Iraq also said that what the video showed actually had little relationship to Mr. Zarqawi’s level of terrorist skill. “Looking at the video, I enjoy it; I like that he looks kind of goofy,” said the Special Forces officer, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on military matters. “But as a military guy, I shrug my shoulders and say: ‘Of course he doesn’t know how to use it. It’s our gun.’ He doesn’t look as stupid as they said he looks.”
Oh, is that so, now?
Well, even Zarqawi’s defenders in the Times admit that he looked awkward handling the M249 SAW, and was unfamiliar with its mechanism.
Experienced shooters undoubtedly also noticed that Zarqawi is holding that machinegun tucked under his arm, Hollywood gangster fashion, and is making no effort actually to use the gun’s sights.
“Many days of training” may be required to teach soldiers how to disassemble and reassemble such a weapon by feel in the dark, how to maintain it, repair it, and to inculcate intimate familiarity with its shooting characteristics and capabilities; but, on the other hand, all semi-automatic and full automatic weapons have in common the same kind of operating lever, used to pull back the bolt and chamber the first round, or to clear a misfed cartridge.
An “older variant” might have a greater tendency to jam, but there is no difference whatsoever in the way you clear the jam between that M248 SAW and the AK-47 or the M16, or even the Remington 1100 semi-auto shotgun you use for pheasant hunting or to shoot trap for that matter. You just do what Zarqawi’s jihadi helper did: you pull back the lever, ejecting the misfed round, and then release it to go forward and chamber another one. That is not a complicated procedure, and it works essentially identically on all semi- and full-auto weapons. Anyone basically familiar with guns could do it without assistance.
Zarqawi looked and behaved exactly like somebody who had never shot a gun in his life.
And Times’ Reporter Quivers even finds another expert to make yet another point defending Zarqawi’s honor, and to warn us to watch out about whom we speak disrespectfully.
But the retired and active officers said the public presentation of the tape did not address elements that were disturbing, rather than amusing: the weapon was probably captured from American soldiers, indicating a tactical victory for the insurgents. And Mr. Zarqawi looked clean and plump.
“I see a guy who is getting a lot of groceries and local support,” said Nick Pratt, a Marine Corps veteran and professor of terrorism studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany. “You cannot say he is a bad operator.” He added, “People should be careful who they poke fun at.”
Captured in combat? Right! Zarqawi won how many engagements against American forces? That SAW was either pre-war Iraqi army stock, looted from some military arsenal, or it just “fell off the truck” in the course of being delivered to Iraqi army or police units.
Patricia, in a comment at Tim Bair:
Can you imagine the effort it took for reporters to locate and call sympathetic ex-military and solicit quotes about what a he-man Zarqawi is? Stunning, especially for a paper that is supposedly the gold standard of world news.
That sound you hear is their stock price hitting bottom…
Confederate Yankee asks: Who do you choose to believe?
Jason at COUNTERCOLUMN goes into CNN’s echo of the Times story in detail.