Wednesday, April 26, 2006


As usual, Frontline has a great companion website to their program on the Iraqi insurgency. This interview with reporter Michael Ware is very interesting, particularly on the significance of Zarqawi and what he means to a new generation of terrorist jihadis:
WARE: Zarqawi, in many ways, has not only confronted the West, but he's also challenged the jihad community itself, and he's forced it to look again at itself and its strategic objectives, and even its tactics. So he's enflamed great debate.

Nonetheless, the suspicion that I harbor is that in the final wash down the track, be it in years or in generations, what we will see is that the form of Islamic militancy will have more of the mark of Zarqawi than it will of the more moderate. It's this young generation that's being enthused by Zarqawi; it's he that has brought them alive.

Q: And bin Laden is not a part of that generation?

No. Certainly the way I see it, and the way it's been expressed to me by individuals who have become a part of Zarqawi's organization, Sept. 11 was the end of a form of Al Qaeda. Sept. 11 was the final product of the Afghan generation. ... And I'm sure the Al Qaeda strategists knew that after Sept. 11 an attack would come, and the organization would be dispersed, and [they would] have to revert to an underground movement and would be under great stress. And if you look at what bin Laden has said, and if you just analyze the nature of the actions, it was an inspirational event: "You see what we can do? Now you go out and do it. We've trained you. We've funded you. We've shown you the way." And that's always been a fundamental Al Qaeda principle.

So very much it was franchised terrorism, and it was, "Think globally, act locally," with a very local phase to every manifestation. And it didn't have to be Al Qaeda in every appearance. It was Abu Sharif [leader of Asbat al-Ansar, a Lebanon-based group] here and the Moral Liberation Front there, and something else here and something else here. But in all its permutations, it was a furtherance of a fundamental Al Qaeda-inspired ideology or concept. It's the idea that is most powerful.

So what we saw after Afghanistan is this movement seeking its new birth, its next platform, and through Zarqawi we see this personified. He had a camp in Herat, [Afghanistan], for his organization, which was not Al Qaeda but was definitely affiliated and working within it. It's then reported that he went to Kandahar, joined the defense of that, and eventually fled through Iran. Then there [are] various reports about where he went and how long he spent and whatever. But essentially, what he was doing was ... shopping around as a terrorist consultant for hire. He was looking for the next place or group or cause on which to graft himself. And ultimately, the U.S. administration gave him Iraq as the next platform upon which to build the new generation. It was the ultimate tool with which to recruit.

If you go back and you see the letter that Zarqawi wrote to Osama bin Laden, which was intercepted, ... it constitutes Zarqawi's business plan. "This is what I intend to do with this platform, seeking the support of Osama bin Laden." You go back and read that document now, and Zarqawi has followed through with everything that he promised. Every tenet that he outlined, he has, if not fulfilled, he has pursued vigorously. And it was here that Al Qaeda was given a rebirth. This is what we're now seeing: This Bush administration is the midwife to the next generation of Al Qaeda, and that's a generation that is principally being shaped or flavored by Zarqawi. ...

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