October 27, 2007: On October
22nd, Osama bin Laden admitted that al Qaeda had lost its war in Iraq. In an
audiotape speech titled "Message to the people of Iraq," bin Laden
complains of disunity and poor use of resources. He admits that al Qaeda made
mistakes, and that all Sunni Arabs must unite to defeat the foreigners and Shia
Moslems. What bin Laden is most upset about is the large number of Sunni Arab
terrorists who have switched sides in Iraq. This has actually been going on for
a while. Tribal leaders and warlords in the west (Anbar province) have been
turning on terrorist groups, especially al Qaeda, for several years. While bin Laden appeals for unity, he shows only
a superficial appreciation of what is actually going on in Iraq.
Bin Laden doesn't discuss how
the Americans defeated him. It was done with data. Years of collecting data on
the bad guys paid off. Month by month,
the picture of the enemy became clearer. This was literally the case, with some
of the intelligence software that created visual representations of what was
known of the enemy, and how reliable it was. The picture was clear enough to
maneuver key enemy factions into positions that make them easier to run down.
Saddam's henchmen, the main
enemy, were no dummies. They were smart enough, and resourceful enough, to
build a police state apparatus that kept Saddam in power for over three
decades. However, for the last three years, that talent has been applied to
keeping the henchmen alive and out of jail. But three years of fighting has
reduced the original 100,000 or so core Saddam thugs, to a few thousand
diehards. Three years ago, there were hundreds of thousands of allies and
supporters from the Sunni minority (then, about five million people, now, less
than half that), who wanted to be back in charge. Now the remaining Sunni Arabs
just want to be left in peace. Thus the Sunni nationalists of in the Baghdad
suburbs are shooting at, and turning in, their old allies from Saddams Baath party
and secret police. This isn't easy for some of these guys, but it's seen as a
matter of survival. While the fighting in and around Baghdad is officially
about rooting out al Qaeda, and hard core terrorists, it's also about taking
down the Baath party bankers and organizers who have been sustaining the
bombers with cash, information and encouragement.
Bin Laden can't openly talk
about any of this, because that would be admitting he had made a deal with the
devil back in 2004, when al Qaeda and the Iraqi Sunni Arab terrorists united.
The Baath party has always been secular. Not exactly anti-religion, but not
something al Qaeda could openly embrace. Many of the Iraqi Sunni Arab
terrorists are religious, but not religious enough for the al Qaeda hard core.
And it's the hard liners that usually set the agenda. That's a fatal flaw with
groups that depend on terrorism to keep the fight going. Cracking down on the
hard core requires more clout and muscle than al Qaeda possesses these days.
And that's another unspoken reason by bin Laden is singing the blues.
Bin Laden's latest audio
recording brought forth a furious reaction from many of his followers. The main
complaint was that only excerpts of the message were being reported on by the
Arab media, and that if the entire message were put out there, the excerpts
would not appear so damaging. The excerpts concentrated on bin Laden admitting
mistakes, criticizing al Qaeda operations in Iraq and urging Islamic radicals
to get their act together.
Al Qaeda is under a lot of
pressure of late. In addition to defeat in Iraq, the organization is being
battered in North Africa, South East Asia, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Bin Laden has not got any good news to talk about, and that's what's really got
his followers angry.