Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Zarqawi Pulling Rank?

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has had his share of troubles lately. Criticism that he ought to stop blowing up Muslims, for example. Periodic open warfare between al Qaeda in Iraq and Baathist insurgents. You know, the usual war lord stuff.

So today, he released a new video. In an insightful analysis by Walid Phares on Counterterrorism Blog, seven points are made, two of which particularly caught my eye:
The first assertion by Zarqawi in this message is his "wala'" (faithful affiliation) to Usama Bin Laden, the "supreme Emir" of al Qaida: This is a dual message: Bin Laden will decide what Jihad to conduct in Iraq because he is the supreme leader. And his representative, hence Zarqawi. will execute. This is a message to all other Jihadists and Salafi activists in Iraq: There is a chain of command out there.

Second assertion in the message is about "humility." Zarqawi confirmed that he indeed is the "emir" of al Qaida's organization in Iraq, but at the same time, he is honored to be accepted as a member of the Shura Council in Iraq, the supreme Jihadi instance. This may sound complicated to lay people in the West, but in al Qaida's language, this means that al Qaida is an executive branch of a movement which the "Council" is the supreme and legislative body of. In other words, Zarqawi is asserting that he is not alone, and that there are plenty of clerics and ulemas around him, helping out in shaping the policy.

I've produced a corporate video or two in my time, and believe me, you don't spend two-sevenths of your time on organization charts. So what's up with Zarq?

Two things, in my view. One, a bit of kowtowing to Big Bin. More than just calling attention to the chain of command, he's personally acknowledging that there's a chain of command -- either because he stepped out of it ... or he didn't.

If he was out of line, attacks against civilians may decrease. If he made the statement as a confirmation that he's always followed Bin-biddings, expect more of the same.

Second, he's pulling rank. As a Navy brat, I remember rank-pulling with particular disdain; it's the characteristic of officers who aren't leading but are commanding others to respect their leadership. Pissants.

So the video may well be evidence of a man who's leadership is being effectively challenged, someone who's running a bit scared, so he's making sure everyone knows that he's the bully who's got the big bully behind him.

Finally, Athena at Terrorism Unveiled points out that Zarq is wearing a suicide vest on the video, as he always does, so he can "martyr" himself when we get close to capturing him.

Martyr schmartyr. Let's make him Hell's hamburger tomorrow.

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