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Thursday, June 29, 2006

MEMRI: al-Zarqawi Post Mortem: How He Lost His Sunni Allies Prior to His Killing

Inquiry & Analysis-Iraq/Jihad & Terrorism Studies Project
June 30, 2006
No. 284

Al-Zarqawi Post Mortem: How He Lost His Sunni Allies Prior to His Killing

To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit: HTML PAGE OF THIS ARTICLE: al-Zarqawi Post Mortem . By D. Hazan*


Though Abu-Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi is no longer a player in the Iraqi arena, it is important to review and analyze the military and political circumstances in Iraq surrounding his killing. This report presents the deterioration, prior to Al-Zarqawi's death, of his relations with his Sunni allies, which had reached the point of violent clashes and mutual killings. This violence emanated from the increased political participation by Sunni organizations and parties in the elections and, subsequently, in the establishment of a new democratic government in Iraq - and from Al-Zarqawi's opposition to these developments.

Al-Zarqawi realized that this process was isolating him more and more, and that, consequently, the threat to his life was increasing. This realization led him to react in a contradictory, almost hysterical manner, repeatedly alternating between threats and pleas. On the one hand, he escalated his threats against his Sunni allies who had turned to take part in the political process in Iraq - first in the 2005 elections and later in the establishment of the new government. On the other hand, he implored them in flattering tones not to lay down their weapons but to continue the jihad, comparing them to the Prophet Muhammad's warriors. The following are examples:

In his January 8, 2006 speech, Al-Zarqawi begins by calling the Sunnis "the next enemy... like evil that is hidden and lurking." He then reminds them of their great accomplishments so far: "[The losses you have caused to the U.S.] include over 15,000 wounded and killed and over half a trillion dollars [spent]... and we say that these figures are the figures [released by] the Crusader enemy and are much lower than the true figures...." He reminds the faithless Sunnis that "abandoning [the duty] of jihad is considered unbelief," and warns ominously: "This is the last call to the Sunnis in general and to the supporters of the Islamic Party in particular: Whither are they leading you, and on what path are you walking?" He ends by once again exhorting the Sunnis, "Accordingly, do not be the harbingers of evil for the nation of the Prophet [Muhammad], and do not choose for yourselves a destiny of failure - because its end is evil and lamentable," and again reassures them that "the U.S. is now drawing its final breaths, and is about to fall, owing to the attacks of the jihad fighters in Afghanistan and in Iraq."

In his April 21 video, Al-Zarqawi follows a similar pattern, warning the defecting Sunnis: "Allah said: 'And whoever amongst you takes them [the Jews and Christians] for a friend, is surely one of them'(1)... We hereby renew our call and warn anyone who is acting for the deployment and the establishment of the [Iraqi] military and police apparatuses, which were established [from the outset] in order to implement the plans of the occupiers and to instill a regime that is not according to [the Koran] brought down by Allah. Beware of anyone who joins apparatuses like these, which collaborate [with the enemy]. I have sworn that among us they will find nothing but a sharp sword, and that between us and them [there will be] battles the horrors of which will turn the young men's hair white..." (See excerpts in this document, below).

Changing tack, Al-Zarqawi then urges the Sunnis to carry on waging jihad, because victory is nigh:(2) "Continue your jihad, intensify your operations, and multiply your blows. By Allah, these are the victories of Islam. By Allah, these are the final moments before the servants of the cross declare their defeat in the Land of the Two Rivers. Collapse of the motivation to fight has become the most prominent characteristic of the armies of the Crusaders."

He then entreats: "Where are the lions of the Al-Anbar province? Where are the lions of the Salah Al-Din province? Where are the men of Baghdad? Where are the knights of Nineveh and the heroes of Al-Diyala? Where are the heroes of Kurdistan? Where are you, lions of monotheism, oh descendents of Khaled and Al-Muthana, of Sa'd, Al-Miqdad, and Salah Al-Din? Where are the muhajirun? Where are the ansar? Where are the people of surat Al-Tuba and surat Al-Anfal, of the Koranic chapters of conquest and fighting? Oh, vanguard of the nation - who will help the bereaved mothers? Who will help the women in the prisons of the Crusaders? Who will help the pure women in the prisons of the hatred-filled Rafidite Shi'ites? By Allah, there is no life except the life of the world to come."

He then turns back to threats and warnings: "Beware not to lay down your weapons, for your lot will be sorrow, regret, shame, and humiliation in this world and in the world to come. You used to pray day and night for Allah to open before you the path of jihad for the sake of Allah in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere. Then Allah made ready for you the jihad deal in your own land. He opened the gates of Paradise for you, and wanted your own good - beware, oh mujahidoon, not to close these gates by your sins."

It is important to note that Al-Zarqawi's and Al-Qaeda's isolation in Iraq has ramifications also for Al-Zarqawi's successor, who will sooner or later face the same situation. This was the main concern behind a document released after Al-Zarqawi's death by the general leadership of the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF); in it, the group attempted to deny that Al-Zarqawi and Al-Qaeda were becoming increasingly isolated from their former Sunni allies - which was in fact already widely known to the Arab public (see Appendix).

* D. Hazan is director of MEMRI's Islamist-Jihadi Website Initiative.


(1) Koran 5:51.
(2) For the full transcript, including these excerpts, and to view the clip, see MEMRI Special Dispatch 1149, "New Video by Al-Qaeda Commander in Iraq Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi," April 26, 2006, MEMRI Link to Video .


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