Here’s a number that deserves more consideration than it’s received: 1,400. That’s the number of Iraqis murdered by al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2007, based on information compiled by MNF-I (Multi-National Force-Iraq).
If outrage over this slaughter of innocent Muslims is being expressed anywhere – in the fabled Arab Street, among human rights activists in America and Europe — I’ve missed it.
Similarly, how many of the protests over the assassination of Benazir Bhutto have been directed at al-Qaeda – which has claimed responsibility?
Nevertheless, Osama bin Laden may be concerned about the public relations fallout. In a recent recording, he said that “when our Muslim brothers die as part of our attacks against the infidels, crusaders, or their agents the apostates, we are extremely sad about it.” (Translation by SITE.)
And his forces are doing their best to keep him sad: In Iraq yesterday, 25 people were killed when a suicide bomber struck in Baghdad’s Zayouna neighborhood. The target was a crowd that had gathered to mourn a teacher, a Sunni Muslim, who had been killed by a car bomber four days earlier. An Iraqi army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Qasim Ata’ Zahil, blamed the attack on the Diyala network of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The U.S. military reports having killed 51 al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq in December. That’s many more than our troops eliminated in Pakistan last month. Despite that, al-Qaeda in Iraq still has the capability “to carry out these horrific, these barbaric attacks that target innocent civilians in their effort to incite sectarian tensions,” said U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner.
Bergner added that al-Qaeda would remain the top security challenge for U.S. forces in Iraq in 2008. “We know it will be a tough fight,” he said. “But even in the midst of this tough fight, Iraqi forces and the people are standing up and reclaiming their communities, their neighborhoods and their lives.”
John Edwards said today that “if elected president he would withdraw the American troops who are training the Iraqi army and police as part of a broader plan to remove virtually all American forces within 10 months.” Sounds like a plan — if defeating al-Qaeda is not on your to-do list.