Friday, May 05, 2006

Zarqawi's bloody memo

My daily Borzou Daragahi link... This counter-propoganda effort by the U.S. military could be designed to splinter some of (more of?) the insurgency away from Zarqawi. Earlier in the week, the Iraqi president was optimistic after talks with some nationalistic Sunni militants, Register Guard.

Today's Los Angeles Times:
The memo, if authentic, provides some of the strongest evidence to date to support an accusation U.S. officials repeatedly have made — that Abu Musab Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, has been deliberately trying to exploit the country's simmering sectarian and ethnic tensions to spark a full-blown civil war.

The authenticity of the memo could not be verified independently, but its language appears to resemble that of Iraqi insurgency material posted on the Internet and distributed on fliers. Moreover, the memo's call to shift the focus of attacks from Americans and toward Shiites appears to reflect the reality on the ground.

U.S. officials sought to gain maximum public relations advantage from the memo and unflattering outtakes from a recently released Zarqawi propaganda video, sharing them with the media.

The footage shows a flustered Zarqawi in running shoes, struggling to get his machine gun to fire. Another shot shows a deputy grabbing a recently fired machine gun and apparently scalding his hand on the hot muzzle.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, spokesman for U.S.-led forces in Iraq, said Zarqawi's bloopers and the strategy memo were discovered in a raid on an alleged hide-out in Yousifiya, south of the capital. U.S. military planners say the village is being used as a staging ground for stepped-up insurgent operations in Baghdad.

U.S. officials acknowledge that Zarqawi's foreign fighters make up only a small part of the mainly Sunni Arab insurgency, but say their attempts to start a civil war represent the greatest threat to Iraq's stability.


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