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A better question is whom are we fighting? The response heard most often is that we are fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq. In May 2007 the President declared “Al Qaeda is public enemy number one in Iraq.” The opinion the Pentagon to the PFC is that America is waging a desperate fight against Al Qaeda both in and out of Iraq that will directly determine the national security on the streets of Europe and America. Additionally, for four years Abu Mussab Zarqawi, AQI’s first leader, was portrayed as the commander of the insurgency. It was an easily consumable media narrative so effective that even the Iraqis believed it until his death.
There is no question that Al Qaeda is a real threat but are they the main threat? Has AQI has been catapulted to the top of the insurgency by virtue of the fact that they carry out the most dramatic and sectarian attacks or hard intelligence? In fact, listening to Washington one would think that the coalition forces are pretty much fighting “All AQI. All the Time.” As with most things in Mesopotamia, this is not nearly so clear cut. The answer may or may not surprise you.
We Really Don’t Know Our Enemy That Well: It is well documented that the Sunni insurgency is composed of three wings of insurgents. It is composed of the nationalist Former Regime Loyalists (FRLs) and their former military elements (FREs). This force may be upwards to 29,000 active combatants carrying out over 100 unconventional attacks per day using improvised explosive devices, rockets and automatic weapons ambushes. The FRL-originated Jaysh al-Mujahideen is composed of former Saddam Fedayeen, Special Republican Guard intelligence officers, former-Ba'athists, Sunni volunteers and their families. The second wing is the nationalist Iraqi Religious Extremists (IREs). These are forces including the Islamic Army of Iraq, Ansar al-Sunnah and other smaller groups, which may total approximately 5,000 fighters, sprinkled throughout western, central and northern Iraq. On occasion come into the conversation when one of their attacks is particularly daring or when the coalition claims it is negotiating their departure from the battlefront. Inevitably these “lesser” insurgent groups are portrayed as bit players on the sidelines of the epic.
Finally, the foreign fighters of the Al Qaeda in Iraq and its umbrella group the Islamic Emirate of Iraq (aka Islamic State of Iraq) may be as few as 1,500 fighters and supporters and may also have direct links to the two other tiers.
Overwhelming evidence exists that that the FRLs have been waging the lion’s share of the insurgency. Until 2004 they were considered a separate part of the insurgency but recently they have been called ‘Al Qaeda-associated’ because AQI was operating in their area of operations … by 2007 it wasn’t hard for Washington to make a semantic and rhetorical leap to refer to all insurgency forces as “Al Qaeda.”
FYI this guys biography: http://www.intelligencesummit.org/sp...lcolmNance.php
Malcolm W. Nance is a 25-year veteran of the US intelligence community's Combating Terrorism program. He is a combat veteran who has served as an intelligence collections operator, cryptologist and interrogator. He has spent 17 years deploying on anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism intelligence operations in the Balkans, Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa in direct support to the Special Operations Command as well as assignments at the principle agencies of the Intelligence Community. In the Global War on Terrorism he served in Afghanistan where he conducted intelligence operations in Nangahar province (Jalalabad-Tora Bora) and 14 months in Iraq as a security director at the headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. There he studied the Iraqi resistance and Al Qaeda’s involvement in the insurgency. He is a FOX News analyst on Al Qaeda and the Insurgency.
“We like to say that dependability is more important than ability,” Bill Belichickism....
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