a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Al Qaeda: "Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest"

Posted by Thomas Nephew on October 5th, 2006

Following up on the post below about DeWine’s “we’re in it for us” statement, it looks like we’re also apparently in Iraq for Al Qaeda, judging by this October 2005 message from Al Qaeda lieutenant “Atiyah” to Zarqawi:

The most important thing is that the jihad continues with steadfastness and firm rooting, and that it grows in terms of supporters, strength, clarity of justification, and visible proof each day. Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest, with God’s permission.

The message was among the documents captured after Zarqawi was found and killed in June. The English translation was released in late September by the “Combating Terrorism Center” at West Point. Via Steve Benen and Marc Lynch (“Abu Aardvark”)*, who has a August 29 post that looks pretty spot-on in view of the Atiyah-Zarqawi message:

If the Americans left, al-Qaeda would likely soon follow because killing other Iraqis does them little good – it is fighting and killing Americans which sells videos and wins recruits. As Hezbollah’s experience demonstrates, resistance to a perceived occupation resonates in ways which a sectarian player in a civil war does not. While some of the most extreme jihadis may see killing Shia as an end unto itself, for bin Laden and al-Qaeda Central Iraq is a means to a wider end of mobilizing Arab and Muslim attitudes against America, against secular regimes, and towards Islamism. Without a major American presence, the insurgency would continue, but Iraq would lose its pride of place in the current jihadi universe. I’d go so far as to say that the homegrown Iraqi insurgency does indeed want the US out of Iraq, but al-Qaeda wants us in.

Stay the course?

* A.k.a. associate professor of political science at Williams College and author of Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, Al Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today.

EDIT, 10/4: “about…statement” and link to “post” added.
UPDATE, 10/5: Not surprisingly, Kevin Drum (a.k.a. “Washington Monthly”) got there before I did with Whose Interest? He adds the Suskind One Percent Solution kicker — the CIA concluding Bin Laden’s pre-election message was intended to help Bush win — to his post. Bush also thought that message helped him win, but didn’t appear to draw the additional conclusion.

2 Responses to “Al Qaeda: "Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest"”

  1. Nell Says:

    I heard this passage from the ‘Situation Room’ on CNN, which Atrios posted today, live yesterday afternoon. I hope there’s video of it somewhere, because the tone is just as important as the content. Ware sounded as if he were trying to reach through the camera and shake Blitzer by the shoulders:

    Listen, Wolf. This is the way to put it in a nutshell. If the US continues its policy and operations as they are now the situation will worsen and the enemies of the US – principally al Qaeda and Iran – will continue to strengthen.
    There’s a number of options that are presented to Washington at the moment. They either do this or they don’t do this. They either need to get serious about the battle here on the ground – physically against al Qaeda and the insurgency – and commit the troops that the commanders need, or they need to look for alternative solutions.
    At the end of the day what they’re facing is the potential of most of this country being subsumed by a Shia-led theocracy-style government with other parts of the government left as Western al Qaeda desert training camp facilities. To avoid that something radical has to be done.
    So Colin Powell is right. Staying the course will only strengthen America’s enemies.

    The “alternative” Ware apparently dares not name is: get the hell out.

  2. Thomas Nephew Says:

    I think the Shia-led theocracy is +/- inevitable; I think there’s a hope that the “western Iraq Al Qaeda training grounds” might be avoided if we get out quickly. I also think/hope/wish that the Sunni might reach some kind of modus vivendi with the Shia (and Kurds) that preserves a nominally united Iraq. Neither side loves Al Qaeda particularly, so they may be able to agree neither side wants a failed Sunni rump state. But the longer we’re there, the more fighting goes on and the more intractable the enmities become.
    I think regardless, Iran will win increased influence — but that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as all the US and Iraqi deaths it took to get there. No good solutions, no sparkling outcomes, no certainties — except less US blood and treasure lost the sooner we get out.

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