Detailing the defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq (updated)

Al Qaeda appears to be crumbling in Iraq, a spectacular victory in the War on Terror. A senior leader has bared his soul to Amit R. Paley of the Washington Post, painting a vivid picture of what the surge has done to al Qaeda in Iraq. Here are some notable points from Paley's excellent article.

- In 2007 alone, over 2,400 AQI members killed, almost 9,000 captured.

- Post Reporter meets with AQ in Iraq a senior leader, or emir, Riyadh al-Ogaidi, who used to travel with 20 bodyguards. Now he goes alone to remain anonymous.

- Ogaidi also said AQI membership plummeted from about 12,000 in June 2007 to about 3,500 today.

- Foreign fighter infiltration greatly reduced. Riyadh al-Ogaidi, a senior leader, or emir, of al-Qaeda in Iraq, said the total number of foreign fighters in Iraq is "in the tens -- not more than 200." US military agrees with the drastic reduction claim.

- They are begging tribal leaders to allow them back in, promising to be good this time.

- He tips that AQI is fractured, saying of the AQI top dog ,"He is mild-mannered and weak".

- He said of the Anbar awakening ""This also created panic, fear and the unwillingness to fight. The morale of the fighters went down."

- He said because of the surge and Anbar Awakening, "We found ourselves in a circle not being able to move, organize or conduct our operations,"

- Quote from AQI leader Abu Hamza al-Muhajer. "The Americans have not defeated us, but the turnaround of the Sunnis against us had made us lose a lot and suffer very painfully."

So what does all this mean? Why would an AQI leader come out and bare his soul, air the dirty laundry like this? Why would he beg Sunni tribal leaders to accept that they are changing to a kindler gentler al Qaeda?

This AQI leader is blasting the top leadership, blaming them for the loss, and laying the ground work to save face. If you ignore the typical tough talk and just focus on his overall message here, it's pretty obvious that this is about as close as we are going to get to an official surrender. It's an unofficial surrender with the AQI leader telling his fighters that they have no reason to fight for AQI anymore. He is asking tribal leaders to stop killing them.

Of course, this doesn't mean all AQI fighters will follow him into retreat and all fighting will just stop. But as the article quotes from an Iraqi-Sunni

"Al-Qaeda is almost done and finished. It no longer scares anyone," he said. "It is like an old man on the verge of his grave." 
Update -- John B. Dwyer writes:

The Amit Paley Washington Post article excerpted has the phrase "softer approach" in its sub-head. As explained in the article, this means that only AQ-approved Sunnis will not be killed.  However, Shiites, American/coalition forces and pro-coalition Sunnis will continue to be killed, maimed & wounded. 

Gotta love those discriminating murderers.

Meantime, as Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman, Rear Adm. Smith noted in his 6 Feb. briefing, Al Qaeda's latest operational initiative involves recruiting, training & using kids aged 8-14 for terror attacks. 

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