Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden lamented the lack of unity among insurgents in Iraq in a new audiotape. Analysts say that Mr. bin Laden's latest tape adds to evidence that the group has failed to extend its strength or spread its message inside the troubled country.
The Associated Press said the new audiotape, played on Al Jazeera television, could not be independently confirmed as authentic but that the voice resembled bin Laden's.
The message of his new audiotape Monday reflected the growing disarray among Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgents and bin Laden's client group in the country, both of which are facing heavy US military pressure and an uprising among Sunni tribesmen ...
He used the word "ta'assub" – "fanaticism" – to chastise insurgents for putting their allegiance to tribe or radical organization above the larger fight to overcome American forces ...
He warned followers "against hypocritical enemies who are infiltrating your ranks to create sedition among mujahedeen groups."
According to The Washington Post, the military believes that Al Qaeda in Iraq, which established itself in the country after the US's 2003 invasion, is largely a spent force, partially due to military strategy and partially because the movement's own operatives' attempts at enforcing their version of Islamic law have alienated many Sunni Iraqi tribesmen in Anbar Province, where it has largely been based.
The Guardian newspaper of Britain says the latest bin Laden tape represents a shift in tone from earlier communications and points out that it seems to emphasize Al Qaeda's errors.
"Everybody can make a mistake, but the best of them are those who admit their mistakes," he said, adding in a rare moment of self-criticism that he advises "himself, Muslims in general and brothers in al-Qaida everywhere" not to be extreme.
The latest recording came amid Iraqi government reports of a sharp drop in violence in Iraq, following a series of US-led offensives in Washington's "surge" strategy.
Bin Laden's followers in Iraq have angered other Sunni groups and tribes through their hardline interpretations of Islam and the indiscriminate killing of civilians. Some Sunni groups have joined forces with al-Qaida in Iraq to set up what they call an Islamic state in the country, but other groups and tribal leaders, especially in Anbar province, have rejected the move and have cooperated with the US.
Writing on the counterterrorism.org blog, Walid Phares argues that bin Laden's latest rhetoric reflects a loss of control of events in Iraq.
Today's audio … was dedicated to whip the chaotic commanders of Jihad in Iraq. Usama's message was more so the expression of a frustrated (self appointed) "Caliph" trying to reign in on his emirs gone wild in the deserts of Middle Earth. The "Lord" is upset with how al Qaeda Iraq has administered the struggle, the people and the image.
… In fact he criticized the "emirs" for the recklessness of their Jihad in the land of the two rivers. If one reviews the public statements of Bin Laden, at least since 1996, this would be the first time he would talk about the Jihadists' mistakes, not the errors by Muslim rulers in general: Now these are his own fighters who are at fault.
At the end of the day, this tape show -as I have argued since last summer- that al Qaeda central feels that their strategic initiative in Iraq is lagging behind. Two things went wrong for al Qaeda: One was the misbehavior of its own barons on the ground, and two -one can see it clearer now- the (US led) surge has worked so far
George Washington University political scientist Marc Lynch on his blog, abuaardrvark.com, says there are growing indications that Iraqi Sunni Arab leaders are pulling Sunni insurgents and politicians away from Al Qaeda and closer to a more mainstream political process.
The al-Haq News Agency reported over the weekend that Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi's Iraqi Islamic Party had issued a statement welcoming the formation of the Political Council for the Iraqi Resistance.
If this is an authentic statement (and I haven't seen it denied) it would be significant because it would mean that Hashemi - the highest ranking Sunni in Maliki's government ... is attempting to bring the "nationalist-jihadist" factions of the Sunni insurgency directly in to the political arena.
The Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance seems to represent the most ambitious effort to date by the major factions of the Sunni insurgency to present a public political face and outline a political agenda. It includes, among others, the Jihad and Reform Front (a coalition led by the large nationalist-jihadist Islamic Army of Iraq) and Hamas Iraq (a Muslim Brotherhood-linked faction which split from the 1920 Revolution Brigade last fall) … Other Sunni factions remain wary, al-Qaeda in Iraq has been scathingly critical ...