Thursday, August 2, 2007

Civil War in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, doesn't really exist. Maybe.

My guess is that the U.S. Army Brigadier General who made the announcement earlier this month is right.

Army Brigadier General Kevin Bergner announced that the Islamic State of Iraq is a cyberspace fake, and that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi is a virtual leader of a Web hoax. The fake Islamic State of Iraq was cooked up by by an Iraqi terrorist and Egyptian Abu Ayyab al-Masri, al Qaeda in Iraq leader, and Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda number two world leader.

If Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, non-existent leader of a fake organization, is an "Iraqi" leader of the "civil war" in Iraq, then the conflict in Iraq starts looking a lot less than a civil war, and much more like the work of a group from outside Iraq.

It's early days, but I think that the U.S. Congress should stop, take a deep breath, and think very hard about whether their "civil war in Iraq" is real, or as fake as any other online hoax.

Especially the Senate. They'll probably be voting soon on whether or not to abandon Iraq to whatever armed faction is left in the chaos that would follow after a U.S. troop pullout.

That's my opinion. The rest of this post is what I dragged out of the news.

It's been hard to find much information about this online. Some of the first references I found were a USA Today blog, and an article in the Sacramento Bee.

A more detailed source was Al Qaeda in Iraq Duped Into Following Foreigners, Captured Operative Says, a DefenseLink News article dated July 18, 2007.

The man thought to be the senior Iraqi in al Qaeda in Iraq, Khalid Abdul Fatah Daud Mahmud al-Mashadani, was captured in early July. According to the U.S. military, al-Mashadani said that he was one of the people who created a virtual organization, called the Islamic State of Iraq, on the Web in 2006.

Army Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, made the announcement.

"The rank-and-file Iraqis in (al Qaeda in Iraq) believed they were following the Iraqi al Baghdadi, but all the while they have actually been following the orders of the Egyptian Abu Ayub al Masri," DefenseLink quotes Bergner as saying. "Mashadani has said in his own words that the Islamic State of Iraq should be free of foreign influence, but that is not the case."

Quoting from the DefenseLink article: "In fact, Bergner said, Masri relies solely on the direction of foreign leaders and doesn’t trust or seek the advice of Iraqis in the network.

'The disclosures of Mashadani show how (al Qaeda in Iraq) leaders misrepresent themselves and purposely deceive the Iraqi people and their own members,' Bergner said. 'ISI leaders cloak themselves in Iraqi nationalism, but in fact their purpose is to subjugate the Iraqi people under a foreign-led terrorist organization that wants to impose a Taliban-like ideology on Iraqis.'"
The DefenseLink article didn't mention Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi's name did turn up in a Reuters article. Reuters has Bergner saying that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi is a non-existent figurehead for the virtual Islamic State of Iraq.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.