Friday, March 04, 2005

Terror Rats

Ralph Peters writes in the New York Post Online:
World Terrorist No. 1 sent a message to Regional Terrorist No. 1: We're losing. We need a different strategy.

Osama wants Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to shift his sights from Iraq's population, to help carry the struggle back to American soil. With the old order beginning to crack in the wake of Iraq's elections, bin Laden sees that his last, desperate hope is to hurt America so badly that we quit the fight.

Osama is a strategist. He may not be a very good strategist — he called the after-effects of 9/11 utterly wrong. But he thinks in global terms, in time-frames that look decades into the future and centuries into the past. He's a big-picture guy.

Zarqawi is a hit man. He thinks tactically. Faced with the humiliation of 8 million Iraqis defying his threats and lining up to vote, his instinctive response is to lash out, to punish, to kill without stopping. Monday's bombing in Hilla took 115 Iraqi lives. It was a classic Zarqawi operation.
It's an interesting idea, that Osama is into that whole "strategery" thing, and the comparitively obtuse Zarqawi is a trigger happy bomber and hitman.

It certainly illustrates one of the operating theories about al Qaeda, that there are cool customers in al Qaeda and hotheads. The groups have very different roles. Since OBL is one of the cool customers he prefers to promote other cool customers to the top of the organization. In OBL's organization, hotheads get assigned to suicide missions. Zarqawi has lasted a lot longer than OBL expected him to, and is becoming a pain in the Osama.

Expect Bin Laden to attempt to get Zarqawi to go out in a final blaze of glory that takes a bunch of people with him, and the sooner the better. Alternately, Zarqawi might decide to turn the tables on Bin Laden and Zawahiri and assassinate them instead. He already tried it once, long before he joined al Qaeda. Why not again? It's not like he's afraid of what they could do to him.

Summing up, expect the rats to turn on each other.

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