Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Two Views of the War Part II: Connectivity

In Part I of this series we reviewed the reasonable opposition to the Iraq war based on the legitimate opposition's strategic concepts of the terrorist threat to the United States. This opposition is largely based on a divergent view of the Islamist/Salafi movement currently posing the main and direct threat to the United States security. This opposing view sees the movement in two parts: 1) Al Qaida, Osama bin laden and his leadership which has attacked the United States and poses the main threat to the continuing security of the United States; 2) Indigenous regional organizations that are no threat or an extremely limited threat to the security of the United States. This view allows that the correct action would be to take out the leadership of Al Qaida, including Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri, thus immediately eliminating or severely limiting the direct threat to the United States.

This point of view is promoted based on the disseminated and informal organization of the Islamist/Salafi movement. This same disseminated and informal organization can be seen in the organizations currently operating in Iraq and should provide an idea of how the larger world organization (or movement) is connected.

To view the organization of Islamist/salafist terrorist groups in Iraq right click on this link(pdf) and choose "open in a new window".

This circular chart was provided by Evan Kohlman and noted at Bill Roggio's Fourth Rail.

The first thing to note is that Mr. Kohlman has properly chosen a circular "flow chart" for this organization. The second thing to note is that there are few "direct reports" to Zarqawi on this chart. This is because Al Qaida is not one giant militant organization with thousands of followers, but is, instead, a clearing house or, if you will, a contractor that has a very large and varied list of "subcontractors" on whom they call and cooperate with in order to complete a central project or meet specific goals. Al Qaida as the central contractor does have a number of their own "employees" with specific functions within the group, including leaders that over see different parts of the operations such as: Public Relations; Media (not to be confused with PR though playing a part in it, this section is made up of information systems technicians, communications, vidoe and audio, etc) Politics; Policy (ideology); indoctrination/education; civil affairs; operations planning; recruitment; security; military (not to be confused with security which is responsible for the protection of the leadership).

Evan Kohlman's chart for the Iraq congingent indicates a very similar organization where the only direct reports to Zarqawi are members of the immediate organization. Kohlman's chart refers to Zarqawi as "Deputy Commander of Al Qaida in Iraq". For our purposes of explanation, it may be easier to refer to him as the "Project Manager". Even then, Zarqawi can be best viewed as a "contract employee" who was not a member of the base organization of Al Qaida until he proved to be an able leader during his "probationary period" in 2003. In 2004, the Al Qaida group decided to become the major investor in the project where in Zarqawi received his official "contract" with Al Qaida and changed the name of his "project" to Al Qaida in the Land of Two Rivers in Iraq.

Another way to look at it is from the view of a construction project. The construction starts out under the auspices of a smaller agency, runs into issues or determines that it needs an influx of cash and/or more resources to complete the project. A larger organization contracts with Zarqawi to assess the situation, make recommendations on how to improve the project and a proposal for the larger organization to participate. The larger organization is prepared to lend it's name, money and resources to the project on condition that their name now takes precedent on the name of the project, any billboards or other advertisements. The prestige of the name and the contact list for investors and subcontractors is worth millions alone, even if the top organization is unable to invest cash. Once the deal is made, Zarqawi is taken on as the "project manager" and the larger organization leaves it to him to organize, subcontract, fund and manage the over all project with expectations of regular reports back to the investors and board of directors along with producing results.

The main organization has limited direct involvement in the project except to provide general guidance, subcontractor contact lists, general expertise from their immediate stable including military trainers, intelligence, media and explosives (to name a few), as welll as setting goals and peformance indicaters. As long as the project is going in the way that they expect and producing results.

In which case, it may be surmised that the Iraq project is not going as expected by Al Qaida based on this second communique from Zawahiri, (hat tip: Security Watchtower) the COO of Al Qaida, questioning the tactics Zarqawi is using, re-enforcing the over all goals of the organization and reminding Zarqawi that this "project" and future "projects" depends on getting acceptance of the general population who will be less likely to assist if they feel that the project would be detrimental to their over all existence. Much like trying to get the citizens to "buy into" a construction project that is supposed to bring in dividends to the community in the future, but will cost them dearly in additional "taxes" to finance the building of the project. These "taxes" come in the form of war, death, economic depravation and a change in religion. A fairly heavy burden on the populace in the immediate future, but is supposed to construct a utopic ulema for all "right minded" Muslims.

Zawahiri reminds Zarqawi that it isn't just "right minded" Muslims that need to buy into these projects, but the community as a whole. "Right mindedness" can be developed during or after the project development. Zawahiri provides the most recent example of this problem by pointing out why the Taliban failed to obtain popular support and, in essence, the failure of the Afghanistan project. Further, Zawahiri suggests, at least twice, that the view from where he is does not provide a good foundation for making decisions about the Iraq project and that, maybe, he should come to Iraq and see for himself. He was politely rebuffed by Zarqawi a few days later in a statement aired on international news where he justified his tactics and basically said all things are well.

That appears to be a matter of opinion for both sides.

Continuing with our review of the Iraq Al Qaida, the next point of reference in Kohlman's chart are the five red blocks at the top of the page that references five direct reports to Zarqawi. These are the military organizations that have directly pledged allegiance to Zarqawi and come under his direct operational guidance. These groups actively belong to Al Qaida and perform operations directed by Zarqawi or his military commander, Abu Usaid al Iraqi (an Iraqi who has pledged allegiance to Zarqawi and Al Qaida).

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