March 12, 2007
Has the Global Islamic Jihad Movement fractured?
Even as the leadership of the Democrats sets timetables for withdrawal from Iraq, the sands have shifted and leaders of the Global Islamic Jihad Movement are displaying signs that their own alliance has fractured. Some pundits have described the Democrat leadership's position over the war on terror as "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory"; a cynicism that perhaps never sounded as plausible as it does this week. But to understand how this Islamic jihad movement has splintered, we must understand how it fits together.
Reports from Southwest Asia tell us that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has distanced himself from the Taliban yet again, according to his own statements. This is important because Hekmatyar has been one of the chief training camp operators for Islamic jihad fighters for many years, a talent-in-trade he developed under CIA auspices against the Soviets in the 1980's. His role was well known when he went to Baghdad and requested aid for his "centers" from Saddam in1999.
Captured Saddam regime documents show that Helmatryar claimed that he once received 2,000 fighters to train from Iran (it was not stated but my guess would be Hezb'allah fighters). Back then, and for a short time afterward Hekmatyar was the Taliban's chief rival. It is unclear exactly when he reconciled with Mullah Omar, but it is likely the US action in Afghanistan forced Hekmatyar and his numerous followers to join sides with the Taliban. At the very least, their dispute for control of Afghanistan was rendered mute by US forces in their lands.
It also happens that the Taliban leadership and Hekmatyar had the same numbers on their speed dial lists, including Usama bin Laden and Saddam. The Taliban brainwashes the Pakistani and Afghani recruits in madrassas, and when they are ripe, sends them to terror camps that Hekmatyar and UBL run. It was Saddam that they both turned to in order to resolve their bitter contest against each other for Afghanistan.
In this mix is another man named Maulana (a clerical title) Fazlur Rahman. Usama bought his way into Rahman's heart back in the days of Soviet occupation with a million dollar deposit on his first trip to Pakistan. Rahman was kind enough to make sure that the leaders of two Pakistani Islamic jihad-centric political parties that he held sway over signed UBL's 1998 fatwa to provide religious justification for bin Laden's war against the United States. In a very real way, Maulana is complicit in the 9/11 attacks by giving UBL the religious ‘greenlight' for the attacks.
And indeed, after 9/11, it was Fazlur Rahman's Islamic jihad-centric political groups that helped sneak Taliban and al Qaeda leaders into Pakistan. One reporter from Pakistan, in an interview with a Taliban leader immediately after the Taliban fled Afghanistan, claimed that the official displayed two photos in his hut (guest house) in Pakistan. One was of Usama bin Laden, the other was of Maulana Fazlur Rahman. Captured ring leaders of the 9/11 plot were caught in the homes of members of those same Pakistani groups led by Rahman. It is more than a coincidence that the same man saw to bin Laden's needs before and after 9/11. Rahman, the Father of the Taliban was involved with 9/11, even if only in a logistical role. More recently, a cadre of terrorists from Abu Sayyaf was caught in one of his madrassas. He also had Saddam's number on his speed dial, as shown by his meetings in Baghdad and other documents from the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) claiming they had connections with him since the days of jihad against the Soviets.
It is important to note that Usama bin Laden's 1998 fatwa declaring war against the US had only three justifications, and US actions against Iraq constituted one of those three. Once you understand the connections among this group, it is clear what has happened. Essentially, Saddam paid his way into the 1998 fatwa by supporting Rahman. Usama bin Laden needed the fatwa so he included Iraq at Rahman's insistence.
But Usama also did so at al Zawahiri's (his al Qaeda co-captain) insistence, since al Zawahiri had worked with the IIS before. Zawahiri's group, Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) was supported by Saddam in Somalia. It was Saddam who initiated the action against US soldiers in Somalia through his contacts in the NIF (National Islamic Front) in Sudan. In effect, Saddam subcontracted EIJ's and bin Laden's fighters to attack US forces. This agreement was made under the auspices and precedent of a previous agreement with the EIJ, an Egyptian government opposition group, to attack the Egyptian government during the Gulf War, as Egypt was part of the coalition to oust Saddam from Kuwait.
It was at this point that the EIJ and UBL's followers would initially join forces, and later become al Qaeda. In a very real way, Saddam was the catalyst for al Qaeda.
The National Islamic Front's leader, Hussan al Turabi (with whom Saddam coordinated) happened to be best friends with Usama bin Laden, literally a neighbor known to take evening strolls with him. So close were the two that UBL married his niece. It is through this contact that the IIS orchestrated meetings with al Zawahiri, smuggling him into Baghdad on a delivery plane. Saddam was, in fact, the Mastermind of The Battle of Mogadishu.
The end of Saddam was the end of a major financer of the Global Islamic Jihad Movement. His money no longer flows through Rahman into the madrassas and terror training camps. The stress of losing Saddam and his wealth, plus being soundly defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan, has caused the terrorist leaders alliance to crack. Add to that the loss of support from the UAE and Libya, and the financial cost to al Qaeda has been enormous. Not only has al Qaeda been defeated on the battlefield, funding has become a challenge for the Global Islamic Jihad Movement.
But the separation of Hekmatyar from the Taliban is not the only indication that the movement has fractured. Asia Times reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad has written this week that the relationship between al Qaeda and the Taliban has faltered. If it is true (his reporting before has been insightful) this is one of the most significant developments in the war on terror. Divide and conquer still applies as a useful maxim.
Syed reports that al Qaeda has turned on none other than Maulana Fazlur Rahman. It seems that Rahman, a friend of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, helped the Libyan government round up some Libyan opposition group operators that were connected to al Qaeda. While Gaddafi was once also a benefactor of the Global Islamic Jihad Movement, through Rahman's groups, his capitulation to US and UN demands and now his movement against al Qaeda-related elements, signals he is no longer a sponsor. Syed also states that al Qaeda is planning on relocating from its safe houses of Pakistan to Iraq.
If this is true, it tells us three things.
1) The heat has been turned up on the Pakistani government to oust al Qaeda. This may be the case as evidenced by the capture last week of the highest ranking Taliban commander yet to be caught.2) It also tells us that if UBL has no place better to go than Iraq, he must be pretty desperate. He knows that hiding in the hills of Pakistan's Northwestern province is a much safer place than Iraq.3) And it tells us he is most likely planning on making his last stand in Iraq. He has to know he will be martyred there. But if he truly wanted to be martyred, he could have done it years ago. He must be thinking that the movement is near death and his death might give it a jump start. Or perhaps he believes that the Democrats' leadership will pull out from Iraq and he can win his fight to establish his Caliphate in Iraq.
Add to this the fact that the movement was recently driven from control in Somalia, and there is plenty of reason to understand the recent fractionalization of the Global Islamic Jihad Movement.
They are being beaten around the globe, American media be damned.
It is a universal truth that the surest sign that your enemy is on the ropes is when its commanders start infighting and their alliances falter. The evidence of this is surfacing even as Democrat leaders plan for withdrawal from the Global War on Terror.
[Side note: Thanks to Ryan Mauro for mentioning our research into the Saddam regime documents at the 2007 Intelligence Summit http://www.intelligencesummit.org/.]
Ray Robison is an occasional contributor to American Thinker. He blogs at Ray Robison.