They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Friday, September 16, 2005

Iraq: Al Qaeda and Insurgents - new split or new partnership?

db: There seems to be some inconsistency between Colonel Robert Brown's [Commander of The 1st Brigade] statement below - where he refers to a 'split' between al Qaeda and the insurgents - and other reports coming out of Iraq which reference other US military sources reporting Zarqawi as an increasingly powerful and dominant player - 'drawing the other groups into his fold'.

[All emphasis has been added by db]

Presenter: Colonel Robert Brown, Commander of The 1st Brigade. Infantry Division, Multinational Force-Northwest - speaking via tele-link from Mosul

Wednesday, September 14, 2005 11:00 a.m. EDT

Q Colonel, this is Bob Burns from AP. In your description so far of the insurgency, you've referred exclusively to al Qaeda and terrorists. Do they actually represent the predominant element in the insurgency? What about the former regime elements in your area?

A COL. BROWN: Yeah, that's a great question. I apologize. Concentrating a little bit too much on al Qaeda. There are other folks involved. There's former regime elements. What we have seen - we saw prior to January, the former regime elements and other extremist groups and other borderline terrorists groups that were working pretty well together prior to elections. What we've seen since February on is many of these former regime elements are coming forward; they want to be involved in the political process. They realize it was a mistake to align themselves with al Qaeda. And the biggest split we saw was when al Qaeda got so desperate and started attacking women and children, and then Zarqawi said it was okay to attack women and children. That's the biggest split that we saw. At that point, many of those - you know, ones we captured, turned themselves in. We had many other - you know, the former regime, some borderline Sunni groups, Ansar al-Sunni, some of these other groups that realized that this was not what they signed up for, and there was a real split there. And so the reason I'm concentrating right now so much on al Qaeda is that clearly is our biggest threat.

..So we did see that prior to January, a lot of these groups working together. We don't see it as much now at all, and many of the folks are moving over to the, "Hey, how can I get involved in the process," stepping forward wanting to be involved and wanting to make this government work and get involved, and realize that that's their best hope for a bright future.


latimes: Al Qaeda's top operative in Iraq is drawing growing numbers of Iraqi nationals to his organization, increasing the reach and threat of an insurgent group that has been behind many of the most devastating attacks in the country, U.S. officials and Iraqi government leaders say. Read more

db: It's possible that Colonel Robert Brown was simply referring to his own observations in the area local to him and that the 'split' he refers to is some sort of exception to the Zarqawi obsessed feeding frenzy that we are seeing elsewhere - and was overlooked by reporters gobbling up the contradictory US/Iraq government and military pronouncements. But it doesn't really read like that. It's also possible that he was just 'off message' - unaware that there is a new blitz underway that seeks to cast all those who oppose the US occupation and it's Iraq 'puppets' as coming under the leadership of Zarqawi; and if so we can expect a change of tune from him in the coming day or two. Hence Brown is now on our 'watch list'.