Sunday, January 23, 2005

Al-Zarqawi: The Ghost in the Machine

If the insurgent terror genius Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi didn't really exist (and there's about as much proof of that as there was of WMD), the Bush administration would have to invent him. That's not to imply Zarqawi and the likes of Osama bin-Laden don't exist, because clearly they do, but BushCo needs them as much as they need BushCo.

Think about this for a minute. Zarqawi has a king's ransom worth of money as a bounty on his head, and not a single person in Iraq seems to be able to pin down where he is, how he moves about, or the nature of his command and control structure. The guy's been raising hell for nearly two years. Occupation forces have destroyed a city the size of Austin, Texas in an effort to smoke out Zarqawi and his crew.

And yet the Occupation Office of Disinformation continues to blame Zarqawi daily for all of Iraq's ills, because there has to be a boogeyman and mastermind behind the carnage that mounts daily. From a PR standpoint, there has to be a name and a face to personalize the ongoing war against what is tantamount to an army of ghosts. Admitting that there's a "anti-occupation movement" which would probably continue even if Zarqawi does exist, was captured, and given a summary Islamic execution on live television would be a self defeating exercise for BushCo and its corrupt puppet regime in Iraq.

Why self defeating? Because the carnage wouldn't stop. The guerilla movement wouldn't instantly dry up and blow away. If nothing else, the command and control structure (such as it is) of these loosely knit guerilla organizations has proven very flexible:

...The insurgent groups are reported to include supporters of the former regime, self-declared Iraqi nationalists, and Islamist extremists. It is unclear to what extent the groups work together toward their common goal of driving U.S. troops from Iraq and preventing the creation of a new political order.

At least one extremist Sunni group has shown itself ready to fan Iraq's communal tensions by also directly attacking the Shi'a community. The group, led by self-declared Al-Qaeda ally Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, tried to assassinate the leader of the best organized Shi'a political party in a suicide bombing in Baghdad in December...

There's still that little matter of 380 tons of RDX that went missing, and someone has their hands on it. So how does BushCo respond once (if) al-Zarqawi is taken into custody (or laid out on a morgue slab), and the bombings / beheadings / kidnapping / executions continue? That's the point - with no Zarqawi to blame, BushCo is exposed until they can gin up another boogeyman.

Maybe they just fall back on the "last gasp of a dying insurgency" line of bullshit for another few months. Who knows. They haven't written the script that far ahead yet.

The bottom line is that when reports like this one hit the wire, they need to be taken with big, fat grains of salt:

Iraq's interior minister on Saturday refused to comment on rumors that the top terror leader in the country had been taken into custody.

"I wouldn't like to comment for the time being," Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib said when asked about rumors that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been arrested. "Let's see. Maybe in the next few days we will make a comment about it."

Pressing him, a reporter asked, "Does that mean he is in custody?"

"No comment," the minister repeated, although he said that arrest warrants had been issued for al-Zarqawi and several officials from Saddam Hussein's regime, including Saddam deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri and the ousted leader's half brother, Sabaawi al-Hassan...

Reports like this that are spun out of whole cloth are done for one reason - to provide the false illusion that hey, maybe the guy is in custody, and a new day dawns in Iraq. It's hard to understand how moronic exchanges like this between reporters and Iraqi officials are given any more credibility than Baghdad Bob's press conferences.

Perhaps it plays well in the Arabic press. Maybe statements like these are an attempt to provide the sense that they're closing in, to make Zarqawi go mobile, and increase the chance that someone not sympathetic to his cause will recognize him and alert the authorities. But here's the angle that the press isn't really reporting: the Iraq military (such as it is) and polizia are rife with infiltration by people either in or sympathetic to what is truly a loosely organized and compartmentalized insurgency:

Counterinsurgency experts said such attacks require not only careful planning but highly accurate information about the targets themselves. The ability of insurgents to gather such intelligence is widely attributed to their infiltration of organizations such as the National Guard and ruling political parties...

When an outlaw is getting inside information, it's a good bet the ghost in the Iraqi machine will always be one step ahead of the law - and a good bet that the ghost will continue to make tapes like this:

BAGHDAD - Iraq's most feared terror chief declared a "fierce war" on democracy in a new audio recording posted Sunday on the Web, as insurgents attacked another polling station to be used in next weekend's landmark elections...