Not for the first time, major media organizations are misrepresenting al-Qaeda in Iraq, calling it a “homegrown” insurgent group and quoting someone who does not exist as its “Iraqi leader.”
The fact is al-Qaeda in Iraq was established by foreign terrorists closely tied to al-Qaeda leaders believed to be living in the Frontier Provinces of Pakistan. The first leader of AQ in Iraq was Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian by birth. His successor, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, is in an Egyptian.
Zarqawi pledged alliance to Osama bin Laden in 2004. (BTW, most analysts believe Zarqawi was living in Iraq, openly, while Saddam Hussein was still in power; also that he frequently visited an Ansar al-Islam camp in northeastern Iraq – that, too, was linked to AQ Global).
Bin Laden publicly recognized and supported Zarqawi. Since Zarqawi’s death, al Masri has led the AQ’s branch office in Iraq also with OBL’s blessing.
According to U.S. intelligence, many top AQ leaders in Iraq also are foreign terrorists, as are most of its suicide bombers.
The New York Times makes this error here.
The Washington Post makes it here and also quotes “Omar al-Baghdadi” (which translates as “Omar the Guy From Baghdad”) despite the fact that U.S. military spokesmen have said repeatedly that Omar al-Baghdadi does not exist.
As Brig. Gen Kevin Bergner phased it, Omar al-Baghdadi is “a creation of the al-Qaeda in Iraq leadership to help put an Iraqi face on the leadership of their efforts here in Iraq, and that they use another individual to be his voice; it’s someone who has never been seen, but that that is really just his voice, and that what the individual — this fictitious person says is directly driven by al-Masri and is really just al-Masri’s guidance being articulated by this actor in the form of a fictitious character.”
Should we chalk this up to carelessness? Or is it purposeful distortion? Discuss among yourselves.