Picture of a weakened Iraqi insurgency
Document released Thursday by Iraq's government appears to show that Al Qaeda in Iraq feels vulnerable.
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"Here in Iraq, time is now beginning to be of service to the American forces and harmful to the resistance," reads the document, according to an English translation from Mr. Rubaie's office. "Massive arrest operations" have caused the resistance to "lose many of its elements," it notes. Insurgents are at a further disadvantage by the growing number of trained Iraqi forces, are losing a media campaign "presenting its work as harmful to the population," and suffering from tighter financial restrictions.Skip to next paragraph
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The result is that US and Iraqi tactics are "creating a big division among the ranks of the resistance and jeopardizing its attack operations," which have "weakened [insurgent] influence," the document reads.
It makes no mention of specific tactics, such as beheadings, targeting civilians and any Shiite Iraqis – elements pioneered in Iraq by Zarqawi – which have alienated many Iraqis sympathetic to the broader, antioccupation aim of the insurgency.
It says only that US and Iraqi forces are "taking advantage of the resistance's mistakes and magnifying them to misinform."
Among the solutions is to "use the media for spreading an effective and creative image of the resistance," the document states. That may prove difficult, says Ranstorp in Sweden, because a top Al Qaeda in Iraq media chief, Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, was believed killed in the week before Zarqawi.
"This means their ability to put on a brave face has been damaged," says Ranstorp. "There have been some substantive man losses – qualitative losses" of Al Qaeda operatives.
The Al Qaeda document gives a broad assessment, from apparent ordnance shortages to stoking a clash between the US and Iran. It also includes a lengthy list of potential "delegated wars" that would ease pressure on the resistance.
"The best of these wars to be ignited is the one between the Americans and Iran, because it will have many benefits in favor of the Sunni and the resistance," the document reads. Among those benefits are the "possibility of acquiring new weapons from the Iranian side, either after the fall of Iran or during the battles."
It even asks the rhetorical question of how to draw the US into open conflict with Iran. "It is necessary first to exaggerate the Iranian danger and convince America ... of the real danger coming from Iran."
Its six suggested methods that read like a how-to guide for creating friction. They include sending out "threatening messages against American interests" and blaming Iran; "executing operations of kidnapping hostages" and blaming Iran; "advertising" that Iran has chemical and nuclear weapons "and is threatening the West."
Bomb attacks against the West would be blamed on Iran "by planting Iranian Shiite fingerprints and evidence"; declaring ties between Iran and "terrorist groups (as termed by the Americans)"; and "disseminating bogus messages" that Iran has weapons of mass destruction and "there are attempts by the Iranian intelligence to undertake terrorist operations in America."
Violence continued, despite the Baghdad crackdown. Ten Shiites were pulled off a bus and executed by gunmen in Baquba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, and just a few miles east of the village of Hibhib, where Zarqawi was killed.