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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Iraq's Hydra

Did you see the story about the US killing the alleged #2 insurgent/terrorist in Iraq?

Don't make your plans to move to Baghdad just yet.

Via The Left Coaster, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, September 28, 2005:
But veteran counterterrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann said today there are ample reasons to question whether Abu Azzam was really the No. 2 figure in the Iraqi insurgency. He noted that U.S. officials have made similar claims about a string of purportedly high-ranking terrorist operatives who had been captured or killed in the past, even though these alleged successes made no discernible dent in the intensity of the insurgency.

"If I had a nickel for every No. 2 and No. 3 they’ve arrested or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’d be a millionaire,” says Kohlmann, a New York-based analyst who tracks the Iraq insurgency and who first expressed skepticism about the Azzam claims in a posting on The Counterterrorism Blog.
According to one unnamed official in the story, the dead insurgent was a "money guy," rather than a "brutal killer" as the President apparently said live on TV.

The big problem is that the insurgency seems to pose a herculean problem:
The real question is whether taking any one figure out will really have an appreciable impact on an insurgency that seems to have shown a remarkable resiliency. For nearly two years now, U.S. officials have touted previous arrests or captures, most notably that of toppled leader Saddam Hussein in December 2003, as developments that would cripple the insurgency....

Yet despite the hopes of U.S. military officials, the capture of these figures had little impact on the suicide bombing attacks that have been the signature of Zarqawi’s forces.
I'm tempted to ask, what have these guys been drinking, but virtually no one wants to talk about that.

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