Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Press Releases

Once Again, the Caliphate
The Times of London notes the increasing importance the al Qaeda-affiliated groups on Iraq are placing on establishing a militant Islamist state in the Sunni regions of Iraq.

My colleague Evan Kohlmann has a translation of a leader of al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq, where an important theme is, again, the conquest of specific territory in order to establish the beginnings of God's kingdom on earth.

These two fragments are but a small sampling of the growing, overt emphasis that the _jihadists_ place on establishing the physical caliphate on earth. It is not, in their minds, a fantasy, but a real and concrete objective to be achieved in conjunction with the divinely-blessed move toward spreading _jihad_ across the globe.

This emphasis on the caliphate is something that has the U.S. military deeply concerned, and, at the same time, has the _jihadi_ forces highly motivated. (Some interesting comments, possibly for public consumption, were that the movements in Iraq did not need outside money at this time, and that there are sufficient combatants for the current operational level).

"The US conviction that the Islamic State could seize power is based on its use of classic Al-Qaeda tactics and its adoption last October of a draft constitution," the Times says. "This was entitled Notifying Mankind of the Birth of the Islamic State and was posted on a website based in Britain. The group named 10 ministers under its emir, Abu Amer Al-Baghdadi. They included a war minister, Abu Hamza Al-Muhajer who is also known as Abu Ayub al-Masri and is Al-Qaeda’s commander in Iraq."

This analysis is borne out in the al Qaeda leader's comments, where he says that "our goal is to establish an Islamic state. We will start by freeing all the Muslim lands from the oppressor regimes..The Islamic State of Iraq is seeking to export the jihad to neighboring countries, primarily in ideological form and by inspiring jihad, as opposed to physical jihad activities."

It is our good fortune that the al Qaeda groups remain so uncompromising that they are alienating both other Sunni armed groups and local tribal leaders.

They are, at least for public consumption, largely unwilling to deal with Shi'ites. The al Qaeda representative goes so far as to affirm that "The Islamic State of Iraq has no connection to that atheistic country known as Iran," and he blasts Hamas as not sufficiently religious to merit help.

He also acknowledges that, while some tribal leaders support al Qaeda in Iraq, many "hate" the movement. These divides offer opportunities to weaken the _jihadi_ movement, although some of the tactical alliances that might be most useful are also the ones that would be most difficult to engineer or control.

The _jihadis_ are not destined to win. But what they have is a clarity of vision while facing an array of adversaries who do not have either particularly clear individual visions and nothing approaching a unified vision against the _jihadis_. That gives the _jihadis_ a very clear advantage.
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