Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Al Qaeda operative in U.S. custody"

aka Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi
(Image from Wikipedia)

Or so states the headline of a Yahoo! News blurb (Reuters) that I've just read early this morning.

Okay, what about him? This:
An Iraqi al Qaeda member accused of assassination plots against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and other attacks was transferred by the CIA to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo this week, the Pentagon said on Friday.
Sounds like a big fish. Has he done anything else? Does he have a name?
Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi was also accused of commanding al Qaeda's paramilitary operations in Afghanistan and launching attacks on U.S. and coalition forces from Pakistan, the Defense Department said.
Okay, he's done some big stuff. And he has two names. If correct, then he would know about al Qaeda's paramilitary tactics, among other things. What other things? These:
With al-Hadi, the Pentagon is now holding 15 men it considers "high-value detainees" -- a classification that indicates U.S. officials believe the capture had a significant effect on al Qaeda operations and the prisoner is capable of providing high-quality intelligence.
High-quality intelligence? More than tactics? Strategy perhaps? Or the inner workings of al Qaeda?
According to a U.S. government summary on al-Hadi, the detainee was "known and trusted" by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Inner workings, at the very least. But don't we already know a lot about al Qaeda's tactics, strategy, and inner workings? What I find most revealing about this man al-Hadi -- elsewhere known as al-Iraqi -- is how smart he is. A Newsweek article from last year, "Terror Broker" (Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, April 2006) informs us about al-Hadi al-Iraqi:
Born in Iraqi Kurdistan about 1960, he rose to the rank of major in Saddam Hussein's Army before joining the jihad in Afghanistan in the late 1980s. He speaks not only Arabic but Urdu, Kurdish, the Waziri tribal dialect of Pashtu and a courtly form of Persian. In the palatial salons of the gulf states he has raised millions of dollars for Al Qaeda. But dressed for the part he can easily pass for a mountain tribesman. "He's just like any Afghan," says Zabihullah[, an Afghan who acts as a liaison between the Taliban and Al Qaeda]. "He doesn't have the arrogance and formality of other Arabs."
So, who is this guy? Wikipedia identifies him as Nashwan Abdulrazaq Abdulbaqi (نشوان عبد الرزاق عبد الباقي). The Wikipedia article links to a US wanted poster, which add this to what we know:
Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi is one of Usama bin Laden's top global deputies, personally chosen by bin Laden to monitor al Qaeda operations in Iraq. Al-Hadi was the former Internal Operations Chief for al Qaeda. He has been associated with numerous attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and has been known to facilitate communication between al Qaeda in Iraq and al Qaeda. Al-Hadi rose to the rank of Major in Saddam Hussein's army before moving to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviet Union. He has a reputation for being a skilled, intelligent, and experienced commander and is an extremely well-respected al Qaeda leader. He has commanded numerous terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Al-Hadi is reportedly still in contact with Usama bin Laden.
Neither Wikipedia nor the Newsweek article clarify whether al-Hadi is Arab or Kurd, but since Zabihullah remarks that al-Hadi "doesn't have the arrogance and formality of other Arabs," then I'm assuming that he is an Arab who grew up bilingual among Kurds, which may partly account for his fluency in the Indo-Iranian languages Urdu, Pashto, and Persian.

That al Qaeda and Islamists generally are able to draw such brilliant men as al-Hadi, Abu Musab al-Suri, and Abu Bakr Naji suggests that a body count of big fish captured should not lull us into thinking that we're winning the struggle against Islamism. Rather, it should focus our minds on some stubborn facts. The Muslim world accounts for at least one billion individuals, and some studies show that up to 10 percent or more strongly sympathize with Islamism. If we assume that for the most part, women are not involved, then the 5 percent of Islamist sympathizers means that at least 50 million Muslim men might be willing to join the jihad. From that 50 million can be drawn many very highly intelligent individuals. Assume that 1 percent are "very highly intelligent." This would mean that at least 50,000 very highly intelligent men are potential recruits for Islamist jihad.

Of course, this is speculative, but whether the number is higher or lower, it still represents an enormous pool of highly intelligent, potential leaders for Islamism. Such statistics imply that the battle cannot succeed if we imagine it restricted to the battlefield. More importantly, the battle is an ideological one that will require non-Muslims to learn a lot about Islam. The intelligent tend to respect intelligence, and if non-Muslims know their Islamic sources, then they will gain insight into dealing with intelligent Islamists and perhaps learn how to dry up that pool.

As Marc Sageman concludes in "Understanding Terror Networks" (E-Notes, FPRI, November 1, 2004), "The war of ideas is very important and this is one we haven't really started to engage yet."



At 6:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the name is correct, there might have been an association with a group once know something like Harakat ul-Mujahidin. Very, very tactically able. Ruthless.

But this fellow (as pictured) appears too young. But having said that, an outsider looking in might be tempted to associate particular Native American practices in naming. First, a name drawn from some "esoteric", private, familial source: then as one distinguishes; another name.

As to nationality (ethnicity)? From some recent events one must not draw conclusions that that, matters. One might be drawn to suspect primarily Arabic heritage.

There is a very big 'however' here. The current administration in the US needs (again drawing upon the first) a coup. The US agencies mentioned to have been involved (per the yahoo story) seem to have relied in the recent past too much on what they've been told by relative youngsters.

A fellow named Chalabi comes to mind. That said admittedly, unusual forces were at work congealing practices such as waterboarding. Not that methods aimed at an area rather than an individual might have been used in the past.

The fact that this individual, and his alleged history is announced hours on the heels of the US Congress charting a different course tends to make me suspect.

I recall "dead-enders", "dying throes", etc.


At 7:33 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You may be right about the Administration needing a big fish about now, and rumors are that the US has had this guy for some time now, so perhaps this moment was chosen for specific effect.

Whether Iraq can be stabilized or not without letting the Sunnis and Shi'ites have their bloody civil war, I don't know.

But whatever the answer to that question, the problem that concerns me still remains, namely, what to do about the larger Islamist threat. Statistics (or at least my speculative numbers) suggest that unless the pool dries up, we'll never resolve the Islamist problem -- neither the big fish, nor the small.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Using my better judgement I'd pass this by other paths. But, you perhaps know I've not been one to avoid sitting atop a... . And this will not point toward any relatively short term solution.

Access retired Gen. Zinni's interview on "Meet the Press" last week. I would point out that this man knows his history. But for the immediate, his prescription is "likely" the best, as far as the one with dog doo is likely to unencumber it's foot.

As to the "forward problem"? My grandchildren's children will be dealing with the effects and the solutions.

The only path I see out of this morass, the Halberstam quagmire is an accommodation, agreement, however it is accomplished. I remember distinctly the hopes I had as a youngster. LSD against Iron Will, I saw Iron Will falter.

Somewhere, sometime ahead I hope to see giftshops selling the headshop trinkets of hope for a better world.

But fear requires exorcism, realities require adjustments. The answer you suggest shall not come from within our means, our arms, it will only come from within theirs.

Einstein when asked how WW III would be fought replied, "I do not know, but I do know how WW IV will be..., with sticks and stones".

I wish I could go back to when I sat on rooftops.

And start over.


At 8:51 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"Sat on the rooftop, Kicked off the moss,
Some of these verses, well they got me quite cross,
but the sun's been kind..."

Rooftops were good, as were school buses parked evenings in the lots of distant gyms as high-school boys played their games while other boys slipped out with girls to play theirs, and from the sidelines, I watched it all...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, no wonder I'm divorced. Now I understand where she got that note.

No, that was not it.

But I guess Jan's hearing the 'thump, thump' against the bus, was not imagination?

Actually this needs to be yesterday's topic.


At 9:58 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

No note via me, but this is yesterday's topic ... yesterdays long ago.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is yesterday's. And with rice steaming, fish boiling, and celery to be cut, a long ago note that leads to a tunnels end...

I knew that. My singleness, depended on no note. But she, an unknown she, did shriek.
Don't you hear that thump?

And in corridors clean no one expects a thump.

But fish boiling? One must rear his rump.


At 5:24 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, we're getting too esoteric for the uninitiated, and from my Site Meter, I see that someone from Baghdad was reading this entry for over 6 minutes, obviously perplexed and vainly imagining code words about Islamism, 4th-generation warfare, and who-the-hell-knows-whatnot.

Let's not overtax any more neural networks on the part of those who might think that we're actually saying something other than the nonsensical at this point.

I think, at any rate, that I've entered the arcane realm of the Lacanian imaginary ... whatever that is.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see your point:

72556, that's a zip code. Red truck, a strip of "B-line" atop the left side of the bed. Handicap license plate.

"Danger High Voltage" sign on the toolbox. Easy to spot, and check out. I may've slipped too far from generalities.


At 6:21 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yeah, that's pretty specific, even for Baghdad Bob, but he might lack technology for finding you anyway since he couldn't even spot the American tanks rolling through central Baghdad...

But at least he can now send you a letter...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh and Jeff,

You wouldn't perhaps know how much postage is from Gitmo would ya? Or maybe Leavenworth?

JK N3056Q

At 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I was thinking I might have to send you a letter.


At 6:47 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...


And all this time, I thought that you were navel-gazing.

Instead, you were looking upward, into that ocean of air.

Watch out for powerlines...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm no (blue) angel. But I pray I'm never irrevocably blue.

Site meter did say Baghdad, not Qatar?


At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That "November #" isn't what the majority may think. I take full responsibility, I may've well, we'll see.


At 3:34 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, it read "Baghdad," but that might not mean much. Your visits register from Plano, Texas (which always makes me think of Plain Ol' Texas), and you don't live in Plano.

Jeffery Hodges

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