AP Confused about al Qaeda in Iraq

by Frederick W. Kagan

It is very embarrassing for the Associated Press that it ran a story like this. The “Iraqi insurgent group” is the Islamic State of Iraq, which has been known for many months now to be nothing more than a front for al Qaeda in Iraq. In addition, it is also now well known that Abu Omar al Baghdadi is a made-up personage designed to conceal the group’s foreign control (the pseudonym screams “I am a Sunni Iraqi”). The real leader is Abu Ayyub al Masri (also known by yet another pseudonym, which the AP provides). Masri is an Egyptian, successor to Zarqawi, a Jordanian. Is the AP really this confused about what’s going on in Iraq? The significance of this is that the net result of such stories is to confuse a fairly straightforward truth — that al Qaeda in Iraq is a foreign-run Iraqi terrorist organization that has established a more or less meaningless front group to conceal its foreignness. For more details, see my recent article in The Weekly Standard.

Iraq Insurgent Group Names Minister
Published: September 3, 2007
Filed at 8:28 p.m. ET

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — A Sunni insurgent coalition in Iraq announced Monday the appointment of an education minister to the group’s so-called 10-member ‘’Islamic Cabinet,’’ set up in April to challenge the Iraqi government.

In a statement posted on an Islamic Web site, the Islamic State of Iraq, made up of eight insurgent groups, including al-Qaida in Iraq, said its leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi chose Mohammed Khalil al-Badria for the education position.

Al-Baghdadi tasked al-Badria with ‘’protecting our sons against moral and ideological deviation and raising a new generation of sons of Islam based on true Islamic teachings and away from the filth of secular tenets.’’

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified, but it was published by an Islamic Web forum that usually carries announcements by militant groups.

The formation of the Cabinet in April was meant to present the Islamic State of Iraq as a ‘’legitimate’’ alternative to the U.S.-backed, Shiite-led administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — and to demonstrate that it was only growing in power despite the U.S. military push against insurgents.

The group includes the new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, as ‘’war minister’’ and Sheik Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Falahi as ‘’first minister.’’ The U.S. military has identified al-Muhajer by a different pseudonym, Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

Al-Qaida in Iraq is blamed for some of the deadliest suicide bombings against Shiite civilians, as well as numerous attacks on U.S. troops and Iraqi soldiers and police.

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