Monday, September 24, 2007

More on the ISI puzzle

Al-Hayat says the statement yesterday accusing Hamas Iraq and the 1920 Brigades of treachery, and classifying them as belonging to "deviant" groups (a statement summarized in the prior post here) was actually an official Islamic State of Iraq pronouncement, and not just a discussion-piece as I had thought. Which also means the other side of that argument (namely: don't adopt this polarizing attitude) was amounted to a direct criticism of the ISI.

Today, following up on the puzzle that is the ISI, I would like to outline some of the points in a little essay that appears today on that same website (, flagged with their thumbs-up icon, by a long-time participant there calling himself Muhib ibn Uthaymeen. It is addressed to the Iraq jihadi community and two of the introductory attention-grabbing questions are: What the heck happened to al-Baghdadi's threat to wage war on Iran, made two months ago with a two month grace period (Baghdadi's latest speech a week ago said nothing about it). And what the heck happened to that threat of a new wave of suicide attacks, something that also hasn't happened?

The writer explains: The ISI has three enemies: The Americans, the nation of the rejectionists (Iran and Iran-in-Iraq), and the Sunni turncoats (groups including that of the late Abu Risha, Hamas Iraq, and others). Priorities change as conditions change, and right at this moment, he says, the top priority is fighting the Sunni turncoats. He says it is pointless to try and minimize the damage they have done to the ISI cause; true leaders like al-Baghdadi don't hide their heads in the sand.

He explains that in spite of their other differences, these three enemies generally work together when it comes to fighting ISI, so the ISI leadership, in fighting the Sunni turncoats, has been working to clear the field of those who would otherwise support them, namely the Iranians and the Americans.

First, the threat against Iran has had the effect of fending off Iranian influence in Diyala province (currently the biggest ISI base if there is one). I don't completely understand his tactical discussions here, but the gist of his point is that the warning to Iran was part of a strategy of keeping them away so that the ISI fighters could better concentrate on fighting the Sunni turncoats.

Second, the recent threat of a new wave of suicide-bombings was a ruse to get the Americans to withdraw to their bases for Ramadan, and this has had the effect of leaving the turncoat-Sunnis without effective American protection, thus enabling the ISI fighters to make new inroads against them in face-to-face fighting. Because in this type of fighting air-support isn't effective because of the inability to tell which side is which.

In other words, these two questions both have the same answer: The aim has been to clear the field for a Ramadan campaign by the ISI against the Sunni turncoats, by depriving them of Iranian and American support.

Moreover, this writer says, the ISI has been able to use the turncoat-US agreement to its own benefit. That is because the US agreed, in exchange for the turncoats' help in fighting the ISI, that it would in effect shut down the Mahdi Army, and this is what has happened with the recent declaration by al-Sadr of a suspension of activities. The writer says this has been felt particularly in Diyala province, where the Mahdi army opposition is much weaker than it had previously been.

Finally, the writer asks one of the obvious questions: If the chief enemy is the Sunni turncoats, why not name them and go after them openly?
But it would perhaps be undesirable to put this before ordinary people, who are still pretty much in the dark and don't yet see things clearly. Because the turncoats don't have any badge or mark to distinguish them from the ordinary run of people, or any distinctive way of dressing. Unfortunately you can't identify them without associating with them and getting to know them-except for a few of the famous names.
That's why the statements by al-Baghdadi, declaring war on the rejectionists and so on, don't also declare war on "the tribes" or on "Hamas Iraq":
[These turncoat groups] have not done actual damage to the common people, who don't yet see things clearly. Moreover what is the point of giving our enemies [this kind of an] occasion for a public-relations attack on the ISI?
There you have it: The ISI considers its main current enemy to be its own Sunni compatriots, but they can't declare that too openly because people "don't yet understand things clearly". Admitting, in effect, that they have to continue to forfeit any mass support. And secondly, they appear to be losing support among the jihadi community as well. Because why else would it be necessary to publish this kind of a convoluted justification of what on the face of it would appear to have been a series of empty threats, if not to stem a loss of support even among the jihadi community itself.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badger, there is no puzzle regarding the ISI – it’s a false flag outfit directed by client intelligence agencies with the aim of destroying the Resistance from within and driving Iraqis – especially Sunnis - into the arms of the US.

Contrast the gratuitous atrocities perpetrated by the ISI and its relentless vendettas against renegades and genuine Resistance factions alike with martyred PRESIDENT SADDAM HUSSEIN’S message of tolerance and forbearance in the RAMADAN LETTER which he addressed to his "brothers and comrades in the various factions of the courageous Iraqi Resistance" on 14 OCTOBER 2006:

“Resisting the invaders is a right and a duty, and the same goes for those who collaborated with the western or eastern enemy. But I ask you, brothers and comrades in the various factions of the courageous Iraqi Resistance, and you, the proud people of Iraq, to be guided by wisdom and justice in your Jihad and not to succumb to recklessness. Don’t engage in tit-for-tat violence and don’t attack for the sake of attacking when the opportunity arises while you are carrying a gun. I ask you not only to exercise tolerance, but to keep the door of forgiveness open for those who have lost their way, especially if they show some hope of being guided. Remember that it is your duty to save those who have gone astray from themselves and to show them the right path. Keep the door of forgiveness open for everyone until the day of liberation, which is coming soon, God willing…

Dear brothers, you have been oppressed by the invaders, their followers and associates, so don’t oppress anybody, otherwise your cause will cease to be just in the eyes of God and you will be easy prey for opportunists who seek to distort your struggle. It would be a terrible loss if that were to happen. When you achieve victory, remember that it is God’s victory and that you are his soldiers. Therefore you must be truly magnanimous and set aside any thought of revenge over the spilled blood of your sons and brothers, including the sons of Saddam Hussein. Remember what the merciful prophets taught us, especially the two honourable ones, Mohammad and Jesus, son of Mary. Both forgave and turned to God, beseeching him to forgive those whom they had forgiven, including those who had harmed them. Don’t forget that Mohammad forgave the pagans in Mecca after he had accomplished victory.

I know the heart of the freedom fighter and his love for his country and his people which is second only to his love of God. I expect you to heal wounds and not to inflict new ones….”

4:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


In case you're interested, Badger, the full text of President Saddam's Ramadan message in Arabic can be found here:

5:18 AM  
Blogger annie said...

the gov trollers on the iraqi sites have been boasting about how they have almost licked the insurgency. they say anbar, isi is almost finished. maybe they know something we don't know.. that we are going to 'finish them off' or something.. just in time to reward ISI #1 enemy w/a new state all of there own. meanwhile back in psyops land, they are resurrecting big z. first rice, and then there favorite right wing bloggette totten. i think the psyops are working overtime.

thats my guess anyway.

there is no puzzle regarding the ISI – it’s a false flag outfit directed by client intelligence agencies with the aim of destroying the Resistance from within and driving Iraqis – especially Sunnis - into the arms of the US.

if i was a betting woman, i'd put my money on this one.

8:37 PM  

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