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U.S. spotlights Al Qaeda in Iraq weakness

The US military released four pages of a 39-page, typewritten Arabic document believed to be from a top Al Qaeda in Iraq leader.

By Sam DagherCorrespondent of The Christian Science Monitor / February 11, 2008


Of the 39-page, typewritten Arabic report by an Al Qaeda chief, the US military released only four pages Sunday. It's enough, they say, to show that Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is struggling to overcome major setbacks in Anbar Province, the Sunni stronghold where tribesmen rebelled against the organization, says a military spokesman.

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Rear Adm. Greg Smith says the document was found among the possessions of Abu Maysara, a former adviser to AQI's presumed leader, Abu Ayub al-Masri, after he was killed by coalition forces in a Nov. 18, 2007, raid on his safe house near Samarra.

"We have lost cities and afterwards villages.... We got away from people and found ourselves in a wasteland desert," read Admiral Smith, quoting from the document.

The release of this and other documents in recent days is part of a stepped-up US military media campaign against AQI to highlight the organization's state of disarray and desperation, says Smith.

It's a battle for hearts and minds against the militants. While AQI has shown diminished capacity in recent months, it has proven it can strike throughout Iraq.

"We do understand the impact of having an aggressive communications effort as part of the battle here in Iraq.... I will not apologize for being aggressive," says Smith. "We have lots of material ....It takes a long of time to sort through it."

He says countrywide military operations against Al Qaeda have yielded a treasure trove of documents, computers, compact disks, thumb drives, and other intelligence-worthy material that has been piling up at a central undisclosed location in Iraq where it's being analyzed and declassified as deemed appropriate.

On Sunday, Smith revealed to reporters in Baghdad excerpts of the document from Abu Maysara, saying the "analytical" document was written in the summer of 2007 by a mid- to high-level leader and intended for the circle of leadership as a critical assessment of the organization.

He said the document was undated and unsigned, leaving doubt as to whether it was authored by Abu Maysara, who according to Mustafa al-Ani of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, is an Iraqi known previously to be AQI's spokesman.

The document speaks of "disillusioned" foreign fighters stuck in the vast Anbar Province desert with diminished funds – unable to carry out attacks or suicide bombings because of US-supported and largely tribal groups of anti-Al Qaeda fighters known as Sahwa (Awakening).

Al Qaeda diary excerpts

Oct. 15 2007: .... There were almost 600 fighters in our sector before the Tribes changed course 360 degrees [sic] under the influence of the so-called Islamic Army (Deserter of Jihad) and other known believer groups. Many of our fighters quit and some of them joined the deserters, and later on I will mention the names of Fighters who stood by us (faithful fighters), but things started to get worse ever since, and as a result of that the number of fighters dropped down to 20 or less which led us to move some of our vehicles to another location.

Oct. 24 2007: There are very few tribe members who stood by us and supported us, such as members of the [redacted] Tribes that were surrounded by al-Sahwah [Awakening] fighters.... After the raid that we did against the houses and safe havens of the deserters which led to killing and injuring a lot of them, burning some vehicles and spoiling some of their vehicles and weapons which affected their morale and resources tremendously, knowing that the number of fighters who did the raid were 16 and not 150 fighters as they claimed after that.

Oct. 28 2007: My request to you is not to be negligent with the deserters/traitors at all.... We should have no mercy on them even if they joined the Iraqi Government security forces and do not let them have any sense of relief despite the fact that some of them ran away from our strong hand to unknown locations with their families. Even though our Jihadi Movement goals are at the early stages were to recruit as many as possible of the government employees in order to have access, sources and supporters among them in order to gain more information about the Government security forces and the infidels' military and tactical movement in order to ease our movements and missions against them despite the fact that I was against such goals for security reasons. Dear brothers I would like you to know that even though the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) achieved a lot of projects for the benefit of the people of Iraq such as bringing water, electricity and agricultural help to a lot of area ... we were mistreated, cheated, and betrayed by some of our brothers who used to be part of the Jihadi Movement, therefore we must not have mercy on those traitors until they come back to the right side – the ISI side – or get eliminated completely in order to achieve victory at the end, and I would like to mention here the name of one of families [subtribe] who betrayed us and lost our trust is the [redacted] family who were very good, faithful Jihadi fighters, but later on we found out that those people were nothing but hypocrites, liars, and traitors and were waiting for the right moment to switch sides with whomever pays them the most and at the end they fought against us and they tried to prevent us from attacking the al-Sahwah [Awakening] groups in [redacted] area by blocking our entrance to that area....

Source: Multi-National Forces – Iraq