Saturday, October 08, 2005

Even Jihadis Agree: Fight in Iraq, Center of Islam

Two days after I posted Why al Qaida Is Fighting For Iraq, a letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi was finally released by intelligence sources. The complete letter has not been released, but Gateway Pundit has more of the translation. In it, Zawahiri informs Zarqawi:

The letter of instructions and requests outlines a four-stage plan, according to officials:

First, expel American forces from Iraq.
Second, establish a caliphate over as much of Iraq as possible.
Third, extend the jihad to neighboring countries, with specific reference to Egypt and the Levant -- a term that describes Syria and Lebanon.
And finally, war against Israel.

U.S. officials say they were struck by the letter's emphasis on the centrality of Iraq to al Qaeda's long-term mission. One of the two excerpts provided by officials quotes Zawahiri, a former doctor from Egypt, telling his Jordanian-born ally, "I want to be the first to congratulate you for what God has blessed you with in terms of fighting in the heart of the Islamic world, which was formerly the field for major battles in Islam's history, and what is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era."


This letter was written some time shortly after the July 7 London Bombings. In my own post on the subject I wrote:

Not only was Baghdad the near physical heart of the medieval caliphate, it was, during several dynastic rules, the literal heart of the caliphate being the seat of numerous Caliphas, or rulers, after the demise of Mohammed. Later Ottoman rulers made their seat of rule in Constantinople, but, Baghdad has long been considered the jewel of the empire. [snip]

In Islamic history, he who holds Baghdad, holds the caliphate.


I listed two important battles for control of Baghdad. Two battles that turned the tides of Islamic history. There are several more. What we already know about this enemy is that they base their ideology, strategies and even individual operations based on historical figures, battles and dates in Islamic history. They are slightly predictable because they like to use the same techniques that have worked before. They like historical concepts because many of their followers and simple foot soldiers are very familiar with this, having been largley indoctrinated from youth with the information, and, therefore, can more easily identify with the organization and operation. They also receive motivation believing, not only that they are walking in the footsteps of martyrs to the gates of paradise, but that they are following the great warriors of Islamic history.

I'm more than positive that the government will have recognized this and have strategists and analysts that know this as well and use it to predict operations, goals and suggest counter measures. My point being:

...if you know what will do the most physical and symoblic damage to his cause, you don't sit around and do nothing about it. You stick a dagger in the heart of his strategic goals, twist it good and seat it deep, making sure that he can never pull it out without bleeding to death.

And, right now, that is what OBL and Zarqawi are trying to do: pull the dagger out of the heart of the caliphate. Just as we cannot give up this strategic and symbollically valuable piece of realestate to the terrorists and other civil insurrection, they cannot but come there and fight for it because, if they withdraw, they will have conceded the fight and seriously damaged any future where they can meet their strategic goals (if not destroy their movement for many years to come).[snip]

...we must stay in Baghdad and Iraq until democracy and security is established for the most important reason: because it will kill the caliphate.


The president and his speech writers obviously already had fore knowledge of this memo or letter before preparing his speech to the National Endowment for Democracy where the president basically re-iterates a number of points in Zawahiri's letter.

What is very important about this information is that, while individual attacks may not be predictable, over all strategic goals and the line that they will follow are predictable. Further, they literally spell it out for us in their own modern literature, letters and audio tapes.

For instance, why has Al Qaida now moved into Gaza and attacked Sharm El Sheikh in the Egyptian Sinai? It gives them access to two important cities with historical, symbolic and strategic importance: Cairo and Jerusalem. In his book, Knights Under the Prophet's Banner, Zawahiri discussed the importance of the Islamic movement in Egypt and his disgust with the Muslim Brotherhood for making political arrangements with Mubarek, promising to fore go terrorist attacks and changing their goals to include participating in elections, part of the quasi-democratic movement in Egypt which we know the Islamists, particularly, OBL, Zawahiri and Zarqawi, based on the teachings of Sayyid Qutb (also, Qutbh, Quttib), which states that this is a sin against true Islam, that freedom and liberty means decadence, literally suborning sin in the Islamic body politic and what they fear will be the demise of "true Islam".

We know from Zawahiri's book, while he outlines how he ended up joining bin Laden after the assassination of Sadat and their vision for global jihad, that his heart has always been set on the Islamization of Egypt.

Historically, Egypt has a significant importance for Islam and the caliphate. I mentioned Sal ah Din (also, Saladin, Sal al Din, etc) before. There were several leaders with a similar name. In 1168, Saladin was sent with his Uncle by Nur ed Din to capture Egypt which had become rebellious and had made a deal with the Christian crusaders whom they felt were somewhat kinder than the Seljuks (Saladin's tribe). Saladin had come to Egypt with his uncle, General Shirkuh. After driving out the Christians, Shirkuh was made Vizier, but died soon after. Saladin took his place. When the Caliph al Adid died, Saladin was the strongest candidate with familial connections, many resources from Egypt and a strong army. He became the next Caliph. From Egypt in 1172, he drove the crusaders out of Palestine, capturing Jerusalem, Tyre, Antioch, Acre and many other strategic places. His last stop was Damascus, having driven out the French, where he died in 1193 having greatly expanded the territory of the Caliph and prepared the way for the Ayyubid dynasty of the Caliphate.

Zarqawi also mentions Saladin in his letter captured in early 2004. Zawahiri refers to him briefly in his book, but largely concentrates on the last 50 years of the Islamist movement in Egypt.

With current activity in the Sinai and Gaza strip, along with the historical record, we can largely surmise that Egypt, specifically Cairo, will most likely be the next front of the battle. Zawahiri conveniently tells us in his letter to Zarqawi:

Third, extend the jihad to neighboring countries, with specific reference to Egypt and the Levant -- a term that describes Syria and Lebanon.


Besides historical context, why would Egypt be the next logical place instead of Jerusalem, Damascus or even Riyadh/Mecca/Medina?

I said in the comments of my earlier post that there are three reasons to take a specific location:

1) Confront the enemy directly
2) Strategic value: some place that sets your forces up to be able to take other strategic points or confront the enemy directly on land of your choosing
3) Symbolic: it can sap the energy out of your opponent(s)

There are other factors as well such as your own strength. In the case of Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia, both areas present problems that require the jihadists to have significant military strength and support among the general populace before they can make any in roads to these areas. For instance, Jerusalem is guarded by the Israeli forces that are militarily light years ahead and have a long history of confronting terrorists. They are also supported by the US which will lend strong support if al Qaida attacks them directly. OBL and Zawahiri cannot but be aware of the humiliating defeat of the Arab armies when they were not as well trained or equiped as their IDF counter parts. Also, to do so without having a large base from which to operate, plan and carry out attacks would make them very isolated should they succeed. Lastly, Hezbollah is a client of Iran and Syria, is largely Shi'a and may confront them directly for possession of the city which might bring in much heavier support from Syria and Iran.

Saudi Arabia also has strong allies. It controls a lot of resources and two main sea going thorough fares. Unfortunately, it is not only the west that is involved here, but major players like China and Europe. He has to be wary of these players just as the US does. Any interruption in fuel to China may cause them to believe that their national security is in danger and bring them into some sort of tacit support for the current regime. On the other hand, the sale of resources, like oil, is a source of revenue for bin Laden and cohorts. It also provides many of his top recruits as well as large numbers of foot soldiers he currently enjoys. For this reason he has issued contradictory orders about attacking Saudi oil infrastructure and not to attack it because it will be a large source of funding later. Last, many are known to the Saudi government. If they tried an internal attack, as we see now, many of them would be found quickly, tried and probably executed. They need Saudi Arabia right now for funding and recruiting.

Egypt presents the best since the US gives a large amount of aide there, has business there, does military manuevers with their military, thus providing direct conflict. Strategically, it would control shipping through the Suez Canal and allow AQ to control or harrass shipping in the Mediteranean and Red Sea, specifically to the state of Israel and of Lebanon, putting a blockade of sorts into place, isolating and weakening Israel and Lebanon, his two next goals. Of course, the symbolic value of having ridden into town in Saladin's shoes. Other issues like Islamist organizations having popular support among the citizens, having infiltrated the highest ranks of government and the military would provide a receptive citizenry. Lastly, the resources and territory controlled will provide his militia units with weapons, money and a place to train.

After Baghdad, Egypt is the second most important place to al Qaida and is or will most likely become the next battle front. Because Zawahiri and Zarqawi said so, not because we choose it.

Thoughts:

March 11, 1917 Baghdad is taken by the British-Indian forces
March 11, 2003 Madrid train bombed by Muslims causing the election of Jose Zapata and Spain withdraws it's forces from Iraq.

September 11, 1941 Pentagon ground breaking
September 11, 1990 President George HW Bush delivers a nationally televised speech in which he threatens the use of force to remove Iraqi soldiers from Kuwait, which Iraq had recently invaded.
September 11, 2001 Attacks on the WTC, Pentagon and one plane headed towards Washington, DC crashes in Pennsylvania killing 2973.

July 7, 1799 Ranjit Singh's men take up their positions outside Lahore. He used European mercenaries to build his armies, eventually conquering Punjab, Peshwawr, Jammu, Kashmir, abolishing the Jizya tax and establishing Sikh control of the area, having driven out the Afghans.
July 7, 2005 Islamists, largely of Pakistani origin, bomb London Train System.

July 21, 1718 Ottoman Empire signs a treaty with Austria and Venice. The empire lost Serbia, Bosnia, and Walachia.
July 21, 1774 Ottoman Empire signs a treaty with Russia ending a six year war causing it to lose the Crimean Khanate, cede access to the Black Sea
July 21, 2005 Second London bombings I'm sure there is some other significant Muslim/Western interface on July 7 in history or another significant Islamic historic moment on this date. I'll let you know what I find.

Think about it. It is very much like replaying history, like serial killers that follow specific acts and choose specific victims based on an already preconceived time line and story. Every act has a preceptor. We may be able to unlock future dates. These dates may also be specific to or include current or modern events. The first London bombing took place several days after the WTO began to meet in Scotland. Were the attacks timed to coincide with a specific date that fell during those talks? This is purely speculation but we know that the second bombing of Bali was within days of the third anniversary of the first bombings. The second London train bombing occured exactly two weeks to the day of the first attack.

I wonder if all dates of terrorism specifically targeted at the west has any significant Islamic or Islam and the west significance? The most difficult to find has been July 7 because it did not seem to equate except that Rijhat was the third "Lion of the Desert".

I'll think about it some more. It is only the dates that seem to nearly rhyme in severa cases with others that makes me wonder: 9/11, 3/11 and 7/7.

Unless this was designed to keep us guessing, my guess is on a pattern with purpose.

Update:

Speaking of Saladin (Salah ad Din), the province covering most of the Sunni Triangle is Salah ad Din, encompassing Tikrit, Bayji and Samarra to name a few of the areas that we routinely hear in the news. Tikrit is also the home town of Saddam Hussein who liked to style himself as either Nebuchadnezzar or Saladin, depending on which day or mood he was in. (hat tip: Security Watchtower

1 comment:

Paul said...

The president and his speech writers obviously already had fore knowledge of this memo or letter before preparing his speech to the National Endowment for Democracy

Well, I think, so did you, given your post two days ago. Thanks for doing so much work! I am getting more of an education about these Islamic terrorists and their goals than I thought possible. I certainly find what you say quite sensible. We are in for a long war, I hope we are up to it; we can be if only the Left reads posts like yours and joins in support of this fight.
I doubt that will happen, as our young people fight, traditions for which they fight are being torn down behind them by the Left.