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Window into the Midset of Jihadists
The Middle East Media Research Institute and the NEFA Foundation offer two interesting and enlightening views into the current mindset of Islamist jihadis, particularly as it relates to the Iraq conflict.

MEMRI transcribes an interview with a person claiming to be a former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. Several things are striking. One is the rather striking disregard for human life, and the assumption in the discussion that one human being (if of the proper Muslim stripe) can and should kill everyone else. There is no wavering on this, as seen in the response to who the Islamists are targetting:

Everybody was targeted, but the Americans took precedence."

Interviewer: "Who is 'everybody'?"

Jawhar: "Whoever fights against 'there is no god but Allah.' Is there anyone who defends the Americans any better than them? The infidels are one and the same. An infidel is an infidel - whether he is a Palestinian, a Jew, or an Argentinean. The infidels are one and the same, while an American Muslim is a Muslim. So what's the problem? What, an Iraqi who is an apostate and who helps the Americans should be treated like a VIP? He is worse than the Americans."

It is also interesting to note the claim not to hold Iraqis for ransom, which would be against Islamic law. Unfortunately, that means they are usually killed.

Another interesting factor is the nationalities Jawhar claims were in Iraq, from Europeans to Americans to Africans. It seems this is likely true, showing the transnational nature of the threat, and the ability the Internet gives to recruit people from every corner of the globe.

It is also clear that Palestine remains dear to the heart of the jihadists, and that many would prefer to fight there in Iraq. But, for unexplained reasons, Jawhar says that Lebanon and other powers will not let the jihadis operate there freely. These same restrictions clearly do not hold for those seeking to fight in Iraq.

There are also clearly points of vulnerability, expressed by Jawhar and Abu Omar Al Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Jawhar says that what the insurgents most fear is the U.S. air force, and makes it clear that the ability of aircraft to monitor the insurgent movements has greatly disconcerted his combatants.

And al Baghdadi makes it clear that, like Zarqawi before him, he views the Shi'ite Muslims as a primary enemy. This was a constant source of friction between Zarqawi and the Osama bin Laden/Zawahiri wing of the old-guard al Qaeda, who view the Shi'ia as a lesser evil to be dealt with at a future date, not to wage war against now.

It is also clear that much deeper divisions remain among the Islamists. They have been publicly insulting each other for several months, and the new message is far from conciliatory.

One of the root causes of this, according to military and intel folks, is that the U.S. forces have become, in recent months, much more adept at cutting off the flow of funds to the insurgents. As the competition for increasingly-scarce resources has heated up, so has the internal fighting. That is an important lesson.

As the jihadis know, the more fronts they can make us fight on, the better off they are. But the converse is also true. The more fronts they have to fight on, the less time they have to kill us.

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