That most splendid utensil points to a fascinating report from her Middle Eastern sources that explains in reasonable detail how Al-Zarqawi fits with Al-Qa'ida and what's going on in Iraq.

Al-Hayat: "Some of the operations of Al-Zarqawi's group in Iraq are extremely brutal: incidents of beheadings and boasting of them before the cameras in videos later distributed over the Internet, and car bombs killing dozens of civilians… There is widespread criticism to the effect that this group's operations damage the image of Islam."

Nu'man ibn 'Uthman: "I personally believe that these operations indeed damage [the reputation of] Islam. This is due to a mistake common to those movements categorized as ' Jihadist.' These movements base themselves on a religious-theological dimension, disregarding the present reality and the nature of things… This is the source of the[ir] mistake… For example, the slaughtering of hostages and airing it on the TV screens - I believe that those who perpetrate this consider only themselves and do not consider the effect on those they want to address. They focus on their desire to affirm that they are strong and capable of taking revenge…

"This brings us back to the basic problem, namely, that there is a confusion of strategies … [that were developed by Islamist groups] in Egypt … for the struggle against the existing regime, which they considered illegitimate. This has been going on for at least thirty years in Arab countries and in effect has not succeeded in realizing its aims… This does not suit the reality in Iraq for a simple reason: that Iraq now needs to revert back to the stage of being liberated from colonialism, [a stage] which the Arab and African nations had entered after WWII… The logic of a war of liberation is totally different from the logic of a struggle against the existing regime in one's own country.

"There is now an analogy between Al-Zarqawi's group and the GIA in Algeria. As far as tactics, they, Al-Zarqawi's group, carry out acts that we regard as mass slaughter, and [we see] scenes of the slaughter of military personnel or civilians and the issuing of declarations boasting of these actions and counting the dead. The GIA has made these things a matter of common occurrence and subsequently they pay the price for it. Now it seems to me that the group of Al-Tawhid Wa-Al Jihad [Al-Zarqawi's group, 'Monotheism and Jihad '] have contracted the worse form of this [disease] from the GIA - namely, [mode of] operation of displaying your force and asserting your existence and maintaining continuity by choosing very easy targets, usually unarmed civilians… These methods, in my point of view, will eventually lead to the isolation of Al-Zarqawi's group."

And there's much more.

(Now I'm going to spell "al Qaeda" this way so I can find this post with a text search later.)

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