A Quiet Triumph May be Brewing

There are signs that the global Islamic jihad movement is splitting apart, in what would be a tremendous achievement for American strategy. The center of the action is in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the very territory which is thought to harbor Usama, and from which Al Qaeda was able to launch 9/11. Capitalizing on existing splits, a trap was set and closed, and the benefits have only begun to be evident.

There were already signs of a split, but recent events strengthen that trend. In March and again in May of this year I reviewed relevant South Asian media reporting to predict that the global Islamic jihad movement was cracking up. That theory focused on a split between the leadership of al Qaeda and the jihad groups that secure them in Pakistan such as the Taliban.

NBC News reports that a large operation is ongoing at the Tora Bora fortress in the mountains along the Afghani-Paki border and we may have just missed Usama bin Laden. I must admit that this caught me off guard. The US media has not been talking about a fight there at all, much less a large scale battle with al Qaeda leadership. So I perused one of my favorite anti-terror blogs The Jawa Report. Jawa has a link to another blog called the Internet Anthropologist which has been tracking what is going on in Tora Bora.

The Trap

Let me summarize the fantastic work that the Internet Anthropologist has been doing. You may remember a couple of months ago a report that al Qaeda and its' affiliates had abandoned their training camps in Pakistan along the Afghan border. The initial report caused quite a blog storm but soon the mystery was forgotten. According to AI, which links to references for all of this, the US got fed up with not being able to reach al Qaeda inside Pakistan. Then a few months back the US government told the Pakistani government that we had the coordinates for twenty-nine terror training bases and in a week we will be destroying them (perhaps on Cheney's visit this summer). The intent was to drive the terrorists from those camps so we could get to them.

It worked. That's why those camps emptied out.

So the US left the terrorists an escape route into Tora Bora. Once they had detected a large group of al Qaeda at the fortress and the likelihood of High Value Targets as determined by large scale security detachments, the US dropped the curtain on the escape routes back into Pakistan. We have been pounding the hell out of them for weeks in near complete secrecy.

But an observer may wonder why, if al Qaeda had to vacate the camps, didn't they just go to other hideouts in Pakistan? According to this article in the Telegraph:
The Uzbeks are a surviving remnant of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al-Qa'eda affiliate that fought with the Taliban against the Americans in 2001.

Its surviving members fled into Pakistan's lawless tribal belt where earlier this year their hosts turned against them following a dispute. Afghan leaders say that the Uzbeks were recently given the choice to fight the Americans in Afghanistan or face annihilation by the local tribes.

At least one sizeable group of al-Qa'eda and Taliban fighters is continuing to resist despite heavy bombing raids and attacks from US Special Forces. American military spokesmen declined to corroborate the claim, saying the operation was ongoing.
As a reminder, "Uzbeks" is a synonym for al Qaeda in the Pakistani border region and what the locals call all foreign jihadists. So the reporting from Pakistan earlier this year was spot on. Some powerful Taliban leaders have turned on al Qaeda and when their terror camps were targeted by the US they had nowhere else to go.

The Key Defection

In addition, the leader of the Pakistani jihadist groups, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, was notified a few months ago that he was on a Dead Pool style list of people that al Qaeda wanted assassinated. Rahman came to our attention in captured Iraqi documents as the go between for Saddam and the Taliban arranging military and security agreements between the two in 1999. (Our book Both In One Trench: Saddam's Secret Terror Documents will be available on Amazon.com in a few weeks.) I mentioned before that he had turned over al Qaeda associated terrorists to the Libyan government and this had made him an enemy of al Qaeda.

He is probably the most responsible for turning the Taliban -- which he had a significant hand in creating -- against al Qaeda. Which means, believe it or not, on some level he may be working with the Pakistani government and possibly the US government, since he is purely an opportunist. No doubt he will not advertise that fact to his jihadists buddies.

This cannot be overstated: it is the most crucial development since the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Cutting al Qaeda's support in Pakistan has been a massive coup, of which our media has no clue of right now. It is the exact sort of thing that the Democrats and their media accomplices always complain that we are not doing and then completely ignore when we do it.

It bears mentioning that this cutting off of support might not have happened if Saddam had been left in power to flood the Pakistani jihad groups with cash through the Maulana and his associates. Cutting off this funding took the Maulana out of play as a major money raiser for al Qaeda and the Taliban. Without that cash, he became dispensable to al Qaeda, which may not have realized that this man wielded such power among the Taliban that he could turn them against al Qaeda.

Signs the Jihadists are hurting

By way of correlation, you may remember that the German government recently arrested Islamic terrorists planning an attack on US targets. It turns out that those men were trained and controlled by Uzbek terror camps in Pakistan -- this time meaning actual Uzbeks. The stated purpose of the attack was to force the German military to cease operations at an Uzbekistan base which is supporting operations in Afghanistan. The German terrorists were part of the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) which is an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
Other recent reports have noted that the order to the terrorists to start the attacks stated it was crucial for them to "go now" and attack within days during early September.

So let's put this together. The Uzbeks of the IMU/IJU, a major portion of al Qaeda in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region were driven out by an impending US assault on their camps. They were at war with the local Taliban and had nowhere to go but Afghanistan. They were lured into Tora Bora and surrounded then attacked suffering brutal losses. They then activated a terror cell in Germany and urged them to attack now. Why?

To cause the German public to demand an end to operations in Afghanistan just as the Madrid train bombings caused the Spaniards to demand an end to that government's involvement in the war on terror. Since the Germans are the only western forces allowed to operate in Uzbekistan this would help al Qaeda forces trapped in Tora Bora.

Which leads us to these inescapable conclusions:

The Stategy is working

Despite liberals' claims that al Qaeda terror cells are a bogey-man of the Bush Administration used to scare people to vote Republican, we can now see a direct case in which a terror cell was activated for a specific purpose: to save their jihadist buddies dying at Tora Bora.

The claim that fighting a terrorist is "giving them what they want" is one of the greatest fallacies of our time. When they attack us, it is for a specific purpose. When we do the exact opposite of what they want, they lose. They want us to disengage in the places they want to control, and then go home. Fighting them militarily, politically, economically, and diplomatically is the only way to defeat them. Giving in to them only makes them stronger.

The Bush Administration, most likely through the CIA and DIA, has pulled off a fantastic maneuver to split the global Islamic jihad movement at its base. This is the kind of stuff we may not hear about in detail for another fifty years. Congratulations to our President and our brave soldiers and intelligence assets for making this happen.

Al Qaeda is losing in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The fact is now inescapable that they have lost the ability to impose their political will on the West, although this does not mean they still can't hurt us.

Those politicians, Democrats or Republicans, who are calling for disengagement now are severely misinformed.

The jihadist threat to the Pakistani government has in fact been significantly reduced. A few days ago Usama bin Laden reportedly made a rare call for direct attacks on the Pakistani government. That is because Pakistani troops have cut off the escape route from Tora Bora and he is trying to save his men, or possibly himself. He is trying to go around the Taliban leadership, which now opposes him and appeal directly to the people. It is a call made in desperation.

In previous writings I mentioned rumors that he might be going to Iraq himself. If he has no secure place in Pakistan or Afghanistan, it may actually happen. I doubt Iran would want the additional heat of hosting him. Iraq may be the only place left for him to go.

Since President Bush has been "advising" Senator Clinton on Iraq, and since she recently refused to commit to troop withdrawal, one has to wonder if secret plans are being drawn up to lure Usama bin Laden to Iraq where it will be much harder for him to hide.

Ray Robison is proprietor of the blog Ray Robison: Pointing out the Obvious to the Oblivious.
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