AMZ Leaders Diminishing
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Over the past several months, Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces have captured or killed more than 20 of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s trusted lieutenants and other high-ranking network members.
Hundreds of other members of Zarqawi’s terror network have also been captured and killed as ISF and MNF-I forces continue to degrade his organization.
Coalition forces also just missed capturing Zarqawi during a raid on Feb. 20. The raid occurred between Hit and Haditha near the Euphrates River.
Zarqawi was able to escape capture as Coalition forces closed in on his vehicle. Zarqawi’s driver, Abu Usama, was captured during the raid.
“Zarqawi became hysterical. Zarqawi did not know where he was because he demanded repeatedly ‘Who lives in this area? What sub-tribe is here?’,” said Usama.
Zarqawi then quickly grabbed his American-made rifle with one magazine and an unknown amount of US dollars and escaped. Zarqawi left behind his computer, pistols and more ammunition, which were all seized in the raid. It is believed Zarqawi went back to Haditha and hid with members of local tribes who continue to provide him support and sanctuary.
Top leaders of Zarqawi’s network either captured or killed include terror-cell leaders, propaganda chiefs, bomb makers, drivers and other key lieutenants.
The degradation of the Zarqawi terrorist network in Mosul, Baghdad and western Iraq significantly impaired the network’s effectiveness in targeting Iraqis and Coalition forces in February and March. This also impeded his ability to move around and communicate freely.
Lately, in attempts to demonstrate control, Zarqawi’s network continues to detonate car bombs that are claiming the lives of Iraqi citizens. AMZ relies on incomplete stories and sensational footage to garner publicity for his terrorist network.
“Although Zarqawi’s network has been diminished, his followers can still muster forces for attacks,” said Col. Don Alston, MNF-I spokesman. “While these attacks have targeted ISF, Coalition forces and Iraqi citizens, they have resulted most often in killing numerous innocent Iraqi civilians.”
Zarqawi relies on one terrorist commander in particular, Abu Talha, the Qa ‘idat al-Jihad Fi Bilad Al-Rafidayn Emir of Mosul. Abu Talha and his network are responsible for the murders of hundreds of innocent Iraqi civilians. This most-wanted terrorist in Mosul has further separated himself from what Iraqis believed to be a jihad by resorting to stealing cars from the local population and continuing to conduct kidnappings to fund other terrorist activities.
Some key leaders formerly within the network and some associated with Abu Talha have become disenchanted and disgusted with the deterioration of Abu Talha’s operations. What they believed to be a jihad actually consists of acts of murder, theft and extortion. One detainee stated the QJBR network in Mosul has degraded to the point where Talha is receiving less funding from sources outside of Iraq and has to rely on theft, kidnapping and extortion to support terrorism and continue to rule Mosul by fear. Many are coming to the realization that Zarqawi’s tactics are no different.
Testimonies from captured members of the network indicate they had become disheartened by the criminal activities being carried out by the organization.
“Zarqawi represents the worst aspects of the insurgency,” said Alston. “He’s a foreign terrorist in Iraq, killing innocent Iraqis, and trying to delay them from their chosen destiny.”
NOTE: The attached chart (see below) depicts top leaders from Zarqawi’s network who have been captured or killed over the past several months. Also, below are paraphrased statements from former members of Zarqawi’s network who are now detained.
Abu Ahmed, Abu Muhannad
Detainee believes that the number of people who support AMZ is steadily declining due to the fact that if someone works with AMZ they know they will be killed/captured, as the CF has made a large number of arrests of AMZ key players.
Abu Qutaybah, Abu Ali
Detainee stated that he has no reason to help AMZ because he knows that AMZ will do nothing to help either him or his family.
Detainee informed interrogator more Iraqis need to know how well Americans treat their captives. If Iraqis knew this, they would be more willing to surrender instead of fight. This would also make the job of the interrogator easier also.
Detainee stated the fall of Fallujah had a serious impact on QJBR. It limited the organization’s movement, thereby its logistics, operational tempo, and recruiting. The renaming of AMZ’s organization to QJBR has had a negative effect on recruitment of at least Iraqis to the QJBR. QJBR is likely in survival mode and preoccupied with avoiding Coalition Forces.
Detainee said there were two events that have had a notable and negative impact on QJBR, especially in recruiting. First was the second successful CF campaign in Fallujah, and the renaming of the organization to QJBR.
The fall of Fallujah had a direct effect on the ability of AMZ and his organization to move around the country. This, subsequently, has had a negative effect on offensive operations, recruiting new members, and logistics. Recruiting has been affected by a reduced willing for members to want to join QJBR and fight the CF after the example set in Fallujah. Detainee said “everything” has become more difficult since the fall of Fallujah.
Abu Muad, Abu Sayf Al Urdani
Detainee stated the last time he talked with (name withheld) a lot of foreign fighters associated with the AMZ network were leaving all over Iraq and returning to their respective countries. Detainee didn’t know how many or who these people were. Detainee said after the second battle of Fallujah many of the Mujahideen fighters felt they had lost everything and it wasn’t worth fighting anymore. Detainee said the percentage of people loyal to AMZ is steadily declining due to the number of Mujahideen who were killed in Fallujah.
(Name withheld) expressed his concern to AMZ over the second battle of Fallujah. Detainee said he heard from other Mujahideen fighters that Abu Yassir, the Emir of Al-Jebeda district in Fallujah expressed his concern to AMZ regarding the second battle of Fallujah. Detainee stated a majority of the lower level Mujahideen fighters expressed their complaints to the leaders regarding the second battle of Fallujah.
Detainee believes that AMZ’s network is rapidly declining. Detainee states that starting from the fall of Fallujah, AMZ’s operations have changed. AMZ lost a major part of his group when Fallujah fell and things haven’t recovered. From about mid-December 2004 until his capture, due to all of the other members of AMZ’s network being arrested, this was causing major problems in his family and work life and he had been trying to find a way to escape from the group without putting his family’s lives in danger.
Detainee did reveal that many people in the organization are fatigued by the high OPTEMPO of CF, lack of security, and fear of getting captured or killed by CF. These fears are fueled by the high-profile operations that netted many senior-level AMZ associates. Each high-profile capture lends to the feeling among AMZ network that the end of the organization is near.
Additionally, losing Fallujah caused three problems: 1) visible loss against CF and new Iraqi Government, 2) loss of a safe haven for the AMZ Network, and 3) loss of key AMZ network members close to AMZ that were directing the country-wide efforts prior to Fallujah.
As'ad Ismail Abdullah (Al-Shimari)
The Detainee stated that he didn't see Americans raping Iraqi women, there was no Saddam's Army, and that Muslims were killing Muslims every day and that he did not know why he was in Iraq anymore but was unable to leave.
Abu Mustafa, Abu Amar, Hajji Essam
Mahmud Najjim, a friend of Detainee’s, was to contact Abu Qutaybah (detained) in late Jan 05 to set up a meeting between AMZ and Detainee. Detainee wanted to discuss with AMZ the innocent killings of Iraqis and find a peaceful solution to end the war.
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