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The Imaginary Emir: Al-Qa'ida in Iraq's Strategic Mistake

Author: Brian Fishman; MILITARY ACADEMY WEST POINT NY COMBATING TERRORISM CENTER.
Publisher: Ft. Belvoir Defense Technical Information Center 18 JUL 2007.
Edition/Format:   eBook : English
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
On July 18, 2007, GEN Kevin Bergner confirmed suspicions that the "Emir" of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) -- Abu Umar al-Baghdadi -- is fictitious. The information was provided by Khalid al-Mashadani, who was the Minister of Information within the ISI before he was captured by U.S. forces on July 4, 2007. If al-Mashadani's information is accurate, the al-Baghdadi deception underscores the fact that al-Qa'ida in  Read more...
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Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Brian Fishman; MILITARY ACADEMY WEST POINT NY COMBATING TERRORISM CENTER.
OCLC Number: 227940705
Description: 4 p.

Abstract:

On July 18, 2007, GEN Kevin Bergner confirmed suspicions that the "Emir" of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) -- Abu Umar al-Baghdadi -- is fictitious. The information was provided by Khalid al-Mashadani, who was the Minister of Information within the ISI before he was captured by U.S. forces on July 4, 2007. If al-Mashadani's information is accurate, the al-Baghdadi deception underscores the fact that al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI) made a major strategic mistake when it established the ISI in October 2006. To exploit this mistake, the United States should not simply attack the AQI/ISI organization in Iraq, but rather highlight the ISI's ideological failures. The ISI was created to replace the al-Qa'ida in Iraq "brand name" to improve AQI's appeal with two constituencies: Sunnis in Iraq -- including insurgents -- and senior jihadi scholars outside of Iraq. The ISI's fundamental problem is that these constituencies have contradictory goals and interests: Sunnis in Iraq tend to be focused on pragmatic issues like security, occupation, and electricity; Jihadi ideologues outside of Iraq are primarily interested in the "proper" imposition of Islamic law and using the ISI to publicize their ideas. The ISI cannot satisfy the jihadi ideologues without controlling Sunnis in Iraq enough to credibly impose Islamic law. Conversely, the ISI cannot control Sunnis in Iraq without moderating its ideology, which alienates some jihadi scholars and discourages AQI's diehards. The ISI did have its defenders, including central al-Qa'ida figures Abu Yahya al-Libi and Ayman al-Zawahiri. But despite these efforts, the ISI is failing. It has alienated Sunni insurgents in Iraq by demanding obedience and still cannot generate consistent support from jihadi scholars outside of Iraq. The revelation that al-Baghdadi is fictitious implies that AQI/ISI is still commanded by Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir, who is thought to be Abu Ayyub al-Masri, an Egyptian.

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