Sunday, June 18, 2006

Zarqawi's successor

* jeralyn:
"As if it's not bad enough that at least one of the Guantanamo detainees who committed suicide last week didn't know he had been cleared for release, now we find out some of them didn't even know they had lawyers."
* laura:
And absolutely worth jumping over to the Counterterrorism Blog's Evan Kohlmann, who suggests the Pentagon is either -- confused -- or may in fact be misleading everybody about Zarqawi's successor:
When Al-Qaida subsequently announced that Zarqawi's actual successor would actually be another unknown named Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, the Pentagon revised their earlier statement and Major General William Caldwell explained to a press conference, "We think that Abu Ayyub al-Masri is in fact, probably, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir. They are probably one and the same."

Unfortunately, this conclusion has been called into serious doubt by a host of fairly credible sources. Many in the jihadist community that support Al-Qaida are openly scoffing at Major General Caldwell's latest press conference...

It is certainly possible that these press conferences are a deliberate ploy by the U.S. military to flush out Al-Qaida and force them to better identify their replacement leadership in the wake of Zarqawi's demise. But unless this is the specific and narrow purpose, the Pentagon should be especially careful that it does not engage in misleading speculation in the media--or it endangers losing significant credibility. With all due respect for the difficult task they have been handed, the military has already committed serious public relations blunders in reporting on progress made in fighting Zarqawi's movement, such as their past insistence on assigning meaningless numeric values to captured or killed Al-Qaida operatives. Let's hope this isn't yet another one...
It's not clear what exactly is going on here. But if it's true that the disinformation is deliberate, that is quite troubling. In another age, such deliberate disinformation going straight into the American papers from the DoD might have been considered against the law, but there doesn't seem any authority left in this country which considers it its responsibility to check such things.

* and for more on the latest fake zarqawi documents, see abu aardvark - he, along with everyone else, is confused about the bit suggesting that zarqawi wants an iran/US war:
"The one intriguing part of the documents is al-Qaeda's alleged grand plan to foment a war between the United States and Iran. That actually makes sense - it would serve both Zarqawi's anti-Shi'a agenda and bin Laden's "clash of civilizations" agenda. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if that part were accurate enough, even if the documents aren't real. But - and here I enter pure speculation mode - in whose interest would including that bit in the documents be, were we to assume that the documents are not 100% authentic? Let's assume that the drafters think that all other things equal, the US (at least under this administration) is more likely to do the opposite of whatever it thinks al-Qaeda wants (never having heard of Brer Rabbit, I suppose, so that bin Laden telling us to do something is good enough reason to do the opposite... Bin Laden tried to beat Bush, we must vote for him! Bin Laden said we should get out of Iraq, we must stay in!). So documents showing that al-Qaeda wants a war between the US and Iran would make such a war less likely, all other things equal. Just the sort of thing a pro-Iranian Iraqi Shia Prime Minister might want, no? "
* and i'm not sure what happened to the thumbdrive story. here's wapo:
Also Thursday, the Iraqi government released a document it said was found before Zarqawi's death during a raid on an insurgent safe house.

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