Al-Qaeda's War on Iraq
Philadelphia Inquirer |
April 23, 2004
harb ala al Iraq."
This slogan, which means "The War
on Iraq," appears with each story on the Iraq conflict on al-Jazeera
television and its young media counterparts in the Arab world. It's a
motto designed to transcend all facts and opinion. The notion that this is
a war against Iraq is meant to mobilize jihadists and
demobilize ordinary Iraqis. If this is an American-led war "against" Iraq,
then the best way to come to Iraq's aid is to attack U.S. forces and their
The equation has its own logic.
It attempts to open the door for volunteers - including al-Qaeda and other
jihadists - to travel to Iraq from Syria, Iran and elsewhere to
wage a holy war. But the question today, as it has been since May 2003,
is: "Yes, there is a war against Iraq, but who is waging it?"
Tuesday's deadly bombings in
Basra provide us with the answer. In several mortar and car bomb
explosions, directed against police stations and civilians, terrorist
attacks killed more than 70 men, women and children and injured nearly
250. The slaughter was a vivid reminder of similar attacks in several
cities around the world including Istanbul, Riyadh, Madrid, Bali and
Moscow. Mass killing of civilians has all the al-Qaeda hallmarks. But the
Basra massacre has even more to tell us.
In targeting police stations, the
attacks were meant not only to kill security officers, but also to disrupt
the present and future security of Iraq. The aim goes beyond the British
troops deployed in this major Shiite city; the real targets are the Iraqis
who must become the backbone of stability and normal civil society in
Iraq. What the attackers want to achieve is the preemptive assassination
of normality for a society in search of peace and progress.
In place of these security
forces, which will be serving future democratically elected governments,
the terrorists want to see fundamentalist militia at the service of some
emir or other. Thus the forces of reaction desperately try to block the
march toward the future. If the new Iraq rises, radical forces will be
reduced to gangs, or at best, marginal radical factions, which could hope
to get at best only a few seats in the representative assemblies. That
future is what these killers are trying to forestall.
Al-Qaeda may be emboldened by its
bloodshed around the world and particularly in Iraq, but the Iraqis are
not the Spanish voters, totally blinded by their own media. The people of
Iraq have lived under terror longer than al-Qaeda has been in existence.
Ordinary Iraqis, who have no links to the Fallujah Fedayeen or supporters
of Muqtada al-Sadr, have deep instincts. They have been gassed in Halabja,
tortured in Baghdad and piled up in mass graves. They understand the
terror message; they know who their real enemy is. Yesterday morning in
Basra, they saw the monster devouring the lives of their children. Unlike
the Spanish voters, they will not submit to al-Qaeda, for one simple
reason: They know that there is a war against their freedom, and that
war on Iraq is al-Qaeda's war.