Saturday, October 27, 2007

Leaving the Holodeck

Here's what should be good news from Iraq --

BAGHDAD - At least 32 people were reported killed in a fresh wave of Iraq violence, authorities said Saturday.

Police sources told Presse-Agentur DPA (German national news agency) at least 16 Al Qaeda-affiliated militants were gunned down overnight during armed clashes between them and police forces in southern Samara, 118 kilometres north of Baghdad.

The militants belonged to The Islamic State of Iraq, an Iraq-based extremist group with strong links to the Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist network.

‘Two of the militants were Arabs, while one was Iranian. These were among the dead in the clashes,’ said an official source who refused to be identified.

Here's the problem with the good news. The official US position is that the Islamic State of Iraq does not exist --

"Along with al-Masri, al-Mashhadani co-founded a virtual organization in cyberspace called the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006," [General Kevin] Bergner said. "The Islamic State of Iraq is the latest efforts by al-Qaida to market itself and its goal of imposing a Taliban-like state on the Iraqi people."

In Web postings, the Islamic State of Iraq has identified its leader as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, with al-Masri as minister of war. There are no known photos of al-Baghdadi. Bergner said al-Mashhadani had told interrogators that al-Baghdadi is a "fictional role" created by al-Masri and that an actor is used for audio recordings of speeches posted on the Web.

"In his words, the Islamic State of Iraq is a front organization that masks the foreign influence and leadership within al-Qaida in Iraq in an attempt to put an Iraqi face on the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq," Bergner said.

So if Bergner is right, the incident in Samarra was perhaps al-Qaeda in Iraq falling out with its imaginary bloggers. Now in fairness to the US military, other news accounts are identifying the opponent as the "Islamic Army". But it's not like they would make a good set of allies for the democracy project in Iraq either.

No comments: