ArchiveOODA OriginalRisk Intel Report

Sunnis say Iraq PM must engage with insurgents

As the associated TRC Intelligence Report notes, Zarqawi?s death removes a key operational leader and source of rallying inspiration of not only al-Qaeda in Iraq , but also to Zarqawi?s global network that stretches through the Middle East and into Europe. The intelligence operation that led to Zarqawi?s assassination?notably leveraging informants within his organization?and the counterterrorism raids against his network have likely dealt a near-term blow to his operations echelon. These operations, in addition to rolling up, disrupting, and degrading parts of Zarqawi?s network, have likely disrupted associated groups and cells by forcing them to take extraordinary defensive operational security measures such as going underground or fleeing areas of operation and/or breaking existing operational security protocols to make contact with associates?all part of an animation of his network that may better reveal itself to intelligence and military actions. Further, these operations and their widely known use of agents within the network likely also had the effect of straining, sabotaging, and possibly fragmenting group cohesion by stoking internal distrust and paranoia and possibly internal and inter-group conflict, all serving to heighten dysfunction in group operations. Despite these operations, it is likely that al-Qaeda in Iraq and its network will become more atomized and operationally autonomous without Zarqawi, an organizing Leviathan who sat astride his group?s network, and as cell leaders assert greater control and vie for power and status within the insurgency. Associated groups and cells are likely to carry on the fight with more entrepreneurial attacks. It remains to be seen if the emergent field commanders and Zarqawi?s replacement continue his jihadist strategic and operational legacy of conducting extremely brutal and indiscriminant attacks against the US and Iraqi government targets, foreign personnel, perceived collaborators, and the Shia community all in an effort to undermine the Iraqi government, to conduct a violent jihad against anointed enemies of Islam, and to stoke a sectarian civil war. A dissonance in strategy and tactics between Zarqawi?s jihadists and the more secular, politically moderate, nationalist Sunni insurgency angered the Sunnis and led to clashes between the two and led to a general turning against the foreign jihadists in Sunni areas. Some reports suggested that Zarqawi, likely under pressure from the al Qaeda core leadership, took steps to moderate the scope and nature of his violence to avoid alienating and angering the Sunni insurgents and communities and to maintain operational collaboration and societal support for jihadists. Successor leaders may learn from Zarqawi?s strategic mistakes and seek to calibrate their attacks and campaigns more finely so as to ingratiate?rather than alienate?their operations to Sunni insurgents. Recent reports suggest that some hardline Sunni rejectionists had joined up with al-Qaeda in Iraq and that Sunni insurgent and societal sentiment was turning against Zarqawi?s jihadists, seemingly underscored by reports that it was Iraqis?likely Sunnis?who served as the critical informants for US special operations forces and whose information proved pivotal in mounting the assassination strike. In addition to the constituent jihadists groups within Zarqawi?s network likely to press on with attacks, other, more independent jihadist groups and networks in Iraq may take on a greater operational potency and profile. Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post recently quoted Nawaf Obaid, director of the Saudi National Security Assessment Project, as saying that, jihadist groups led by Egyptian, Saudi, and Algerian commanders present a greater military threat than Zarqawi?s network. The strongest, according to Obaid, are north African groups, composed of veterans of the civil war in Algeria . Of greater concern for the security of Iraq is the building sectarian conflict. On this front, Zarqawi?s network?s attacks against the Shia community may have

Want more insight?

This content is restricted to members only. Members get access to all of the content on this site. This includes over 3000 Risk Intel Reports, the Attack Database (10,000 entries), over 3000 Intel Advisories, Threat Group Profiles on 500+ groups and over 100,000 curated OSINT excerpts. Your membership also supports the cost of producing our hand-curated Daily OSINT report.

Please consider becoming a member. For more information please click here. Thanks!
OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

OODA is comprised of a unique team of international experts capable of providing advanced intelligence and analysis, strategy and planning support, risk and threat management, training, decision support, crisis response, and security services to global corporations and governments.