War on Terrorism

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Intercepted al-Qaida Letter Reveals Tactics, Strategy

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

April 16, 2008 - Use silenced guns to kill coalition forces at Iraqi
security checkpoints, smuggle weapons in gradual shipments to reduce the risk of detection, and poison Iraq's water supply with nitric acid to spread disease and death. Such tactics were fleshed out in a terrorist letter intended for Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the foreign-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. But the document never reached Masri. Instead, coalition forces lifted it from the body of a terrorist they killed last month during an operation 30 miles northwest of Baghdad.

The slain terrorist and author of the 11-page missive was Abu Safyan, from Diyala, Iraq, according to
military officials who made available all but two pages deemed "not releasable" on the Multinational Force Iraq Web site.

Providing a glimpse into the proposed inner workings of al-Qaida in Iraq, the author discusses the need to split jihadists into three groups: snipers, assassination experts and martyrs. Each well-trained group should have an emir, or unit commander, at the lead. Through a series of coordinated surprise attacks, groups should work in unison to "bring down the city or the area," he wrote.

In addition to outlining extremist combat methods, Safyan advocated waging economic and psychological warfare, and his roadmap for success hinged on "continuous conflict" between Iraq's Shiite government, Sunni members of "Awakening Movements" and Kurdish nationalists.

"This will lessen the pressure against us and the Mujahidin brothers in all of Iraq when the enemies fight among themselves and weaken," according to the handwritten Arabic letter, penned in blue ink on lined paper, that coalition forces captured in a remote farmhouse March 5 along with a suicide vest and
computer equipment.

Army Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, today said the intercepted pages offer insight into the mind of a terrorist and provide further evidence about al-Qaida's overarching strategy and tactics of violence.

"This document is just one man's articulation, one terrorist's views about instigating conflict and turning Iraqis against each other. But it is also quite consistent with the patterns of violence we see from AQI," Bergner told reporters during a news conference in Baghdad, referring to al-Qaida in Iraq by the acronym AQI.

To strike at Iraq's economy, the document proposes attacking the fields, wells and pipelines that make up the national oil infrastructure. The author recommends targeting oil tankers and ships, specifically those in Basra, Kirkuk and Baghdad.

"Attack all the targets that strengthen the enemy economically and militarily," Safyan wrote. "Even the American
Army will weaken since it depends on the Iraqi oil and gas wealth. The enemy will gradually drown step by step."

The letter advises that a chemical offensive can inflict both physical and mental harm. Contaminating Iraqis' water can produce "killing and dangerous illness," and also convince the enemy "that we have a dangerous chemical weapon," Safyan wrote. "But in fact," he continues, "it's a psychological war that places fear in the enemy."

Page 8 of the document focuses on instigating fights between coalition forces and Iraqi groups, especially Sunnis who have rejected foreign extremism and
terrorism in droves in what has been referred to as "Awakening Groups." Safyan suggested infiltrating the Sunni cadres before planting and detonating mines "in their villages and streets."

Bergner said the author's call for violence against the Awakening movement typifies the kind of extremism many Iraqis have turned against. The confiscated document also reveals the threat such groups present to
terrorists, he added.

"These writings are further examples of the corrupt ideology that Iraqis are broadly rejecting," he said. "We have seen about 100,000 men choose a different path and join local volunteer groups like the Sons of Iraq instead."

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