Saturday, September 29, 2007

Holed up and waiting for death: al-Qaeda in Iraq

Anyone who's come here via Ace of Spades, Jawa Report or Gateway Pundit will probably have seen this video of the airstrike that killed senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Osama al-Tunisi, but for my money you can't watch it too many times, and I want to keep it handy so I can re-run it every 15 minutes.

Rusty at The Jawa Report has a very personal, and very powerful post on the demise of the man responsible for killing three American soldiers in the summer of 2006, including two who were kidnapped and almost certainly tortured before being executed. (Ace writes about how the hunt for the kidnapped soldiers was hampered by the FISA laws that many Democrats have fought against reforming.)

While al-Tunisi's death in itself is worth breaking out the champagne for, it's also great news on a strategic level, and suggests that time is running out for a lot of high-level AQI types. This man was a big, big player, as an MNF-Iraq press release explains:

Al-Tunisi facilitated foreign terrorists and helped equip them for improvised explosive device attacks, car-bombing campaigns and suicide attacks throughout Baghdad. Foreign terrorists conduct most of the high profile attacks in Iraq. Over 80 percent of the suicide attacks are conducted by foreign terrorists.

Brigadier General Joseph Anderson told a news conference that al-Tunisi "was one of the most senior leaders ... the emir of foreign terrorists in Iraq and part of the inner leadership circle". The general said al-Tunisi had been in line to succeed al-Qaeda in Iraq's current leader, believed to be Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

General Anderson outlined a series of operations over the last two weeks that produced the intelligence that led up to Tuesday's air strike. US forces will doubtless have gained more intelligence from the scene which will help lead them to other senior AQI figures, and perhaps even to al-Masri.

For me the most interesting and encouraging detail in this story is the note written by al-Tunisi that was found at the scene, which gives an insight into the rapidly diminishing effectiveness of AQI. As General Anderson explained:

"The key points in this hand-written note include, he's surrounded, communications have been cut and he's desperate for help. What I make of that is that we're having great success in isolating these pockets. They are very broken up, very unable to mass, and conducting very isolated operations."

I'll go to sleep tonight with a smile on my face, thinking about all those other AQI scumbags holed up like animals in the middle of nowhere, defeated, isolated, squabbling among themselves, scribbling notes that will never be delivered, freezing in terror at the sound of every distant aircraft, and waiting for the siren song of the precision-guided munition that will send them to hell.

Related: US casualties in Iraq are down again in September, and dramatically. Former Spook has the numbers. Hat tip: Pajamas Media.

No comments: