Risk Intel Report

Zarqawi Reportedly Forms New Armed Wing

Zarqawi?s communiqu? seems to be directed internally toward insurgent elements and externally toward potential fighter recruits and certain segments of Iraqi society that might serve as support networks for insurgent elements, in an effort redefine and legitimize his jihadist network?s terrorist operations in Iraq as well as to stoke sectarian conflict between Iraq?s Shia and Sunni communities. Zarqawi is responding to what he describes as the view of ?some? who perceive him as intentionally and indiscriminately attacking regular Iraqis and security forces recruits as part of his terrorist campaign against the Iraqi government and international forces. These tactics and targeting have provoked ire from more nationalist, native Iraqi insurgent elements and societal support networks and from the Iraqi populace in general that perceives the insurgent activities as those of nationalist liberation and defense of those regular Iraqis. These rancorous dynamics threaten to provoke internecine conflict among native nationalist groups and Zarqawi?s foreign fighters, and/or isolate Zarqawi?s network from valuable operational collaboration from such groups and networks, as well as sully the image of foreign fighters among the populace, thus threatening recruitment flows (WAR Report). Zarqawi would, therefore, seem to be rebutting this perceived image?which Zarqawi characterizes as ?dishonorable’?and justifies his network?s operations by demonizing the Iraqi security forces as ?an army of apostates and mercenaries that has allied itself with the crusaders who came to destroy Islam and fight Muslims,? thus legitimatizing them as jihadist targets. That Zarqawi perceived a need to issue such a justification would suggest the possibility that rancorous sentiments, and potentially internecine conflict dynamics, had built up between the foreign jihadist fighters and the more nationalist groups within the insurgency and Iraqi society, and they now pose a threat to Zarqawi?s group and operations. Further, by forming the Omar Brigade to take on the Badr Brigade, Zarqawi seems to be seeking to provoke the Badr Brigade into a more combative posture and activities and ultimately to drag the group into the insurgency-counterinsurgency, sectarian milieu. This would, in turn, compel the group to become a potentially destabilizing militant element that the Iraqi government would, reluctantly, be compelled to engage, control, and potentially demobilize (WAR Report). Further, by highlighting the continued presence and operations of private Shia militias and their menace to Iraq?s Sunni community and provoking more combative activities from the group, Zarqawi is also likely seeking to achieve a long-held strategic goal of stoking sectarian conflict between Iraq?s Shia and Sunni communities.

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