“The Iraqi security officials on Monday variously accused two Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi forces or TRYING TO PLANT EXPLOSIVES.”
-- Ellen Knickmeyer, “British Smash into Jail to Free Two Detained Soldiers,” Washington Post, September 20, 2005 (my emphasis)
That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t exist; it simply suggests that prudent people will challenge the official version until his whereabouts and significance in the conflict can be verified.
At present, much of the rationale for maintaining the occupation depends on this elusive and, perhaps, illusory figure. It’s odd how Al-Zarqawi appears at the precise coordinates of America’s bombing raids, and then miraculously vanishes unscathed from the scene of the wreckage. This would be a remarkable feat for anyone, but especially for someone who only has one leg.
Al-Zarqawi may simply be a fantasy dreamed up by Pentagon planners to put a threatening face on the Iraqi resistance. The Defense Department has been aggressive in its effort to shape information in a way that serves the overall objectives of the occupation. The primary aim of the Pentagon’s “Strategic Information” program is to distort the truth in a way that controls the storyline created by the media. Al-Zarqawi fits perfectly within this paradigm of intentional deception.
The manipulation of information factors heavily in the steady increase of Iraqi casualties, too. Although the military refuses “to do body counts,” many people take considerable interest in the daily death toll.
Last week, over 200 civilians were killed in seemingly random acts of violence purportedly caused by al-Zarqawi. But, were they?
Were these massive attacks the work of al-Zarqawi as the Western media reports or some other “more shadowy” force?
One member of the Iraqi National Assembly. Fatah al-Sheikh, stated, “It seems that the American forces are trying to escalate the situation in order to make the Iraqi people suffer…. There is a huge campaign for the agents of the foreign occupation to enter and plant hatred between the sons of the Iraqi people, and spread rumors in order to scare the one from the other. The occupiers are trying to start religious incitement and if it does not happen, then they will try to start an internal Shiite incitement.”
Al-Sheikh’s feelings are shared by a great many Iraqis. They can see that everything the US has done, from forming a government made up predominantly of Shi’ites and Kurds, to creating a constitution that allows the breaking up of the country (federalism), to using the Peshmerga and Badr militia in their attacks on Sunni cities, to building an Interior Ministry entirely comprised of Shi’ites, suggests that the Pentagon’s strategy is to fuel the sectarian divisions that will lead to civil war. Al-Zarqawi is an integral facet of this broader plan. Rumsfeld has cast the Jordanian as the agent provocateur, the driving force behind religious partition and antagonism.
But, al-Zarqawi has nothing to gain by killing innocent civilians, and everything to lose. If he does actually operate in Iraq, he needs logistical support for all his movements, including help with safe houses, assistants, and the assurance of invisibility in the community (“The ocean in which he swims”). These would disappear instantly if he recklessly killed and maimed innocent women and children.
Last week the Imam of Baghdad’s al-Kazimeya mosque, Jawad al-Kalesi said, that “al-Zarqawi is dead but Washington continues to use him as a bogeyman to justify a prolonged military occupation…. He’s simply an invention by the occupiers to divide the people.” Al-Kalesi added that al-Zarqawi was killed in the beginning of the war in the Kurdish north and that “His family in Jordan even held a ceremony after his death.” (AFP)
Most Iraqis probably agree with al-Kalesi, but that hasn’t deterred the Pentagon from continuing with the charade. This is understandable given that al-Zarqawi is the last tattered justification for the initial invasion. It’s doubtful that the Pentagon will ditch their final threadbare apology for the war. But the reality is vastly different from the spin coming from the military. In fact, foreign fighters play a very small role in Iraq with or without al-Zarqawi. As the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) revealed this week in their report: “Analysts and government officials in the US and Iraq overstated the size of the foreign element in the Iraqi insurgency…. Iraqi fighters made up less than 10% of the armed groups’ ranks, perhaps, even half of that.” The report poignantly notes that most of the foreign fighters were not previously militants at all, but were motivated by “revulsion at the idea of an Arab land being occupied by a non-Arab country.”
The report concludes that the invasion of Iraq has added thousands of “fresh recruits to Osama bin Laden’s network”; a fact that is no longer in dispute among those who have studied the data on the topic.
The al-Zarqawi phantasm is a particularly weak link in the Pentagon’s muddled narrative. The facts neither support the allegations of his participation nor prove that foreigners are a major contributor to the ongoing violence. Instead, the information points to a Defense establishment that cannot be trusted in anything it says and that may be directly involved in the terrorist bombings that have killed countless thousands of Iraqi civilians.
Regrettably, that is prospect that can’t be ignored. After all, no one else benefits from the slaughter.
[Note: Since this article was written, the Washington Post has added to our suspicions. In an article by Ellen Knickmeyer, “British Smash into Iraqi Jail to free 2 detained Soldiers,” 9-20-05, Knickmeyer chronicles the fighting between British forces and Iraqi police who were detaining two British commandos. “THE IRAQI SECURITY OFFICIALS ON MONDAY VARIOUSLY ACCUSED THE TWO BRITONS THEY DETAINED OF SHOOTING AT IRAQI FORCES or TRYING TO PLANT EXPLOSIVES.” (my emphasis)
Is this why the British army was ordered to “burst through the walls of an Iraqi jail Monday in the southern city of Basra”…followed by “British armored vehicles backed by helicopter gun-ships” ending in “hours of gun battles and rioting in Basra's streets”? (Washington Post)
Reuters reported that “half a dozen armored vehicles had smashed into the jail” and the provincial governor, Mohammed Walli, told news agencies that the British assault was “barbaric, savage and irresponsible.”
So, why were the British so afraid to go through the normal channels to get their men released?
Could it be that the two commandos were “trying to plant explosives” as the article suggests?
An interview on Syrian TV last night also alleges that the British commandos “were planting explosives in one of the Basra streets.”
“Al-Munajjid: In fact, Nidal, this incident gave answers to questions and suspicions that were lacking evidence about the participation of the occupation in some armed operations in Iraq. Many analysts and observers here had suspicions that the occupation was involved in some armed operations against civilians and places of worship and in the killing of scientists. But those were only suspicions that lacked proof. The proof came today through the arrest of the two British soldiers while they were planting explosives in one of the Basra streets. This proves, according to observers, that the occupation is not far from many operations that seek to sow sedition and maintain disorder, as this would give the occupation the justification to stay in Iraq for a longer period. [Zaghbur] Ziyad al-Munajjaid in Baghdad, thank you very much.” (Copyright © 2005 Syrian Arab TV and BBC Monitoring)
And then there was this on Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, 9-19-05; Interview with Fattah al-Shaykh, member of the National Assembly and deputy for Basra:
“[T]he sons of Basra caught two non-Iraqis, who seem to be Britons and were in a car of the Cressida type. It was a booby-trapped car laden with ammunition and was meant to explode in the centre of the city of Basra in the popular market. However, the sons of the city of Basra arrested them. They [the two non-Iraqis] then fired at the people there and killed some of them. The two arrested persons are now at the Intelligence Department in Basra, and they were held by the National Guard force, but the British occupation forces are still surrounding this department in an attempt to absolve them of the crime.” (Copyright © 2005 Al Jazeera TV and BBC Monitoring)
Does this solve the al-Zarqawi mystery? Are the bombs that are killing so many Iraqi civilians are being planted by British and American Intelligence?
We’ll have to see if this damning story can be corroborated by other sources.]
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at: email@example.com. Thanks to Michel Chossudovsky at the Center for Research on Globalization for the quotes from Al Jazeera and Syrian TV.
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