Al Qaeda in Iraq Near Defeat?

Recently captured documents released yesterday by CENTCOM show an al Qaeda in Iraq that is dispirited and weak.


In one document as released by the U.S., an unidentified al-Qaida member writes that the influence and power of Iraq’s Shiite majority cannot be taken lightly, especially in Baghdad, “particularly when the power of the ministries of Interior and Defense is given to them, compared to the power of the mujahedeen” in the city. The document says that the Baghdad cells are capable of only “hit and run” operations, leading the public to conclude that “the Shiites are stronger in Baghdad and nearer to controlling it, while the mujahedeen … are not considered more than a daily annoyance to the Shiite government.”


[T]he strategy document complains that “the strength of the brothers in Baghdad” is based mostly on car bombs and “groups of assassins lacking any organized military capabilities.” The writer complains that the Americans and the Iraqi government forces “were able to absorb our painful blows,” raise new recruits and “take control of Baghdad as well as other areas, one after the other.” “This is why every year is worse than the previous year, as far as the mujahedeen’s control and influence over Baghdad,” the document said.

The full CENTCOM translation is here. Ed Morrissey gives a reasonable analysis.

Of course, as several of Morrissey’s commenters point out, al Qaeda in Iraq is but a fraction of the “insurgency.” Still, the suicide bombings are what has captured the attention of the Western press and seem to have had the most impact in making Americans lose faith in the war effort. It would be ironic, indeed, if the same set of objective facts was simultaneously making both sides think they are losing.

Update: Cori Dauber is amazed that Morrissey did a better job of interpreting the translation than CENTCOM’s press office, which dramatically underplays the document.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Terrorism, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


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  2. McGehee says:

    Cori Dauber is amazed that Morrissey did a better job of interpreting the translation than CENTCOM�s press office, which dramatically underplays the document.

    I suspect there is a phobia or an allergy within this administration, about being perceived as “triumphalist.” Considering how often war opponents dredge up the imaginary “cakewalk” prediction, they might as well not bother trying to avoid it, IMHO.

  3. Iowa Voice says:

    Captured Al Qaeda Documents Show We’re Winning In Iraq…

    Not much to add to this, but it’s something that needs to be repeated over and over and over again:

    CENTCOM announced today that they had captured al-Qaeda correspondence in Iraq that discusses the state of the insurgency, especially around Baghdad…

  4. erg says:

    Considering how often war opponents dredge up the imaginary �cakewalk� prediction,

    Imaginary ? What a lie. Ken Adelman, leading neocon, personal friend of Cheney, said the war would be a cakewalk, and after Saddam’s statue fell, actually published an article in the Washington Post saying essentially “I said cakewalk, and it was a cakewalk”.

  5. Roger says:

    Since when has Al Qaeda ever been strong in Iraq? Not much there to “weaken” is there?