Schumer and AP: Selective Amnesia

An interesting recent claim about al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) says it is a totally homegrown and separate entity from the al Qaeda (AQ) that Osama bin Laden heads.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, on Tuesday’s “Larry King Live” said, “The al Qaeda the president is talking about is different than the al Qaeda of Mesopotamia, which is the al Qaeda that’s in Iraq. The al Qaeda that bin Laden is in charge of is a totally separate organization.”

And AP’s Jennifer Loven, in an article on the same day, claimed that AQI “”is mostly homegrown … “. She further claims that, “[t]here has been no evidence presented that the group is plotting or intends attacks outside of Iraq,” and, “[t]here is little or no evidence of coordination between the two groups.”

Really?

Well then I assume Sen. Schumer and Ms. Loven are able to explain why this “homegrown organization” was started by foreigners. AQI’s founder was Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian, and his successor, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, is Egyptian. Please explain why a “homegrown organization” chooses to appoint a foreigner as its head and then when he eats a 500 pound JDAM, replaces him with another foreigner — does that sound like something a “homegrown organization” would do?

After that, Schumer and Loven can explain why Zarqawi publicly pledged alliance to bin Laden, and promised “to follow his orders in jihad.”, or why bin Laden publicly declared Zarqawi the “Prince of al Qaeda in Iraq,” instructed followers to “listen to him and obey him,” and regularly communicated with him through his second-in-command Zawahiri.

And it would be peachy-keen if they could also include an explanation as to why the U.S. intelligence community reported that many of AQI’s other senior leaders were also foreign terrorists, including a Syrian who is AQI’s emir in Baghdad, a Saudi who is AQI’s top spiritual and legal adviser, and an Egyptian (Abu Ayyub al-Masri) who fought in Afghanistan in the 1990s and (like Zarqawi) has met with bin Laden.

Once they’re finished with that, they can explain why bin Laden, in his 12/28/04 audio message to Muslims in Iraq, claimed Baghdad is “The Capital Of The Caliphate.” That is, if he had no connections there why would he say, “I now address my speech to the whole of the Islamic nation: Listen and understand. The issue is big and the misfortune is momentous. The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation. It is raging in the land of the two rivers. The world’s millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate.” Why make that claim if you have nothing to really back it up. And in ’04, AQ actually thought they were winning in Iraq if you’ll recall.

And, of course, there’s that inconvenient statement by AQ’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri made to coincide with our Independence Day in ’07 in which he said, “I convey to you the Mujahideen’s commanders mobilization of you, so hurry to Afghanistan, hurry to Iraq, hurry to Somalia, hurry to Palestine” to explain. Maybe Schumer and Loven can tell us who Zawahiri is referring to when he cites the “Mujahideen’s commanders mobilization” order? If Zawahiri is AQ’s number two, then there’s only one “Mujahideen commander” he answers too — and he’s ordering AQ followers to Iraq.

And who can forget, other than Schumer and Loven, that October 2005 missive from Zawahiri in which he laid out the AQ plan for Iraq:

ZAWAHIRI: “…Jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals: The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate — over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq … The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq. The fourth stage: It may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.”

Last but not least, to the Loven claim that “[t]here has been no evidence presented that the group is plotting or intends attacks outside of Iraq,” I refer her to July 2007 NIE which is quite specific about her claim:

“We assess that al-Qa’ida will continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the Homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups. Of note, we assess that al-Qa’ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland. In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa’ida to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.”

You know, given all of that, I’m just not seeing much to back the Schumer/Loven assertions, are you?

While AQI may have become functional after the invasion, it wasn’t then and isn’t now a homegrown and wholly separate organization. And unless both Schumer and Loven can come up with something other than the rather weak claims they’ve made, they should be taken with the giant grain of salt they deserve.
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First published at QandO

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