Iraqi Insurgents Fear bin Laden Hijacking Rebellion

Iraqi Insurgents Fear bin Laden’s Moves (CNN – AP)

Osama bin Laden has vowed to turn Iraq into the front line of his war against the United States, but Iraqi insurgents seem worried that he’s out to hijack their rebellion. At times, the Iraqis and foreign Muslim militants seem to be competing. Media reports and Web statements have speculated that a Saudi carried out the December 21 suicide bombing of a U.S. mess tent in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that killed 22 people. But Ansar al-Sunnah, the homegrown group that took responsibility for that deadliest of attacks on a U.S. target in Iraq, named the bomber as Abu Omar of Mosul, a nom de guerre that pointedly claims him as an Iraqi.

Earlier this month, a posting on Ansar al-Sunnah’s Web site told foreign militants to stop coming. The group, which defines itself as both nationalist and Islamic, said it needed money, not more recruits. “We have concrete information that a sharp division is now broiling between” Iraqis waging a nationalist war and foreign Arabs spurred by militant Islam, said Mouwafak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi government’s national security adviser. “They are more divided than ever.”

Al-Rubaie said one reason was the perception among Iraqis that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant whom bin Laden endorsed as his deputy in Iraq, was of little help during the American onslaught on the Iraqi insurgent hotbed of Falluja in November. “Al-Zarqawi and his group fled Falluja and let the Iraqis face the attack alone,” al-Rubaie said in a telephone interview.
Some Iraqis may have drawn parallels between the debacle in Falluja and what happened to Afghanistan after it became bin Laden’s headquarters.

Quite interesting. And, really, not surprising. The “insurgency” has always been a loose construct consisting of some combination of Baathist dead enders, mostly foreign jihadists, and young Iraqis frustrated by the occupation. The goals of these groups intersect only in that they wish to see Westerners out of Iraq.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. If you remember, this was actually one of the goals of the Fallujah campaign – to drive a wedge between the two groups. If the “opposition” can’t stay united, but instead fractures into “insurgents” and “foreign Islamists”, they’re going to have a much harder time accomplishing anything.

    This is definitely a good sign.