2007-08-17

Morning Report: August 17, 2007

Desperate terrorists murder hundreds, a jury gives a verdict, terrorist ties are investigated, and a foreign organization gets a label.

Iraq bomb attacks kill hundreds. Reuters via Yahoo: 'Angry members of a minority sect in Iraq said on Thursday they feared annihilation after scores were killed in possibly the worst suicide bomb attack of the four-year conflict. Frail clay houses in the centre of Kahtaniya, one of two villages targeted on Tuesday [August 14, 2007] by garbage trucks packed with explosives, were flattened for several blocks. Chunks of concrete and twisted aluminum lay in the street beside the destroyed homes of hundreds of Yazidis, a minority sect regarded by Sunni militants as infidels. Estimates of the death toll varied from 175 to 500.' Neo:
As this Ralph Peters column entitled “Killing for Congress” points out (I had titled my post before I saw his; the similarity in titles is a coincidence), the terrorist group was well aware that its former targeting of fellow-Muslims in Iraq has caused it to become hated there.

So al Qaeda was faced with a dilemma: how to generate enough gore to deflate recent reports (see this) that the surge is going rather well, without causing the Iraqi population to turn even further against it. An inventive answer was found: attack a group too marginal and powerless to matter much in terms of backlash, and kill enough of them to cause maximum consternation in Congress and American public opinion. Thus, the Yazidis, the perfect victims.

General Petraeus is not the only one with a timetable; al Qaeda has one, too—although if Petraeus fails by September he may not get a second chance; al Qaeda will always have another chance despite some losses, because its task is far easier (”we have to get lucky all the time, but the terrorists only have to get lucky once”).

However, US success in Iraq by September would be more terrible news for al Qaeda than it would even be for Representative Boyda; in terms of its reputation, its manpower, and its ability to recruit fresh blood. And so the stakes are rather high.

Michael Totten visited the Yezidi homeland in 2006; go to the post for more information about the Yezidis.

Padilla convicted. Bill West at Counterterrorism Blog: 'Jose Padilla and his two co-defendants in their Miami Federal terror trial have been convicted of all counts by a trial jury in US District Court today. After several months of trial, the US Government proved its case against the defendants beyond a reasonable doubt. The hard working prosecutors and investigators responsible for bringing this case to a successful conclusion should be congratulated. The jury of American citizens who did their duty and fairly heard the evidence and rendered the verdicts should be thanked by all Americans who value our system of justice. This long, complex and difficult case demonstrates how that criminal justice system can and does work.' West thinks there's reason to hope that one or more of the defendants will provide useful information. Go read the whole post at the link. Tammy Bruce: 'I would hope Supermax Prison is in their future, so they can experience that living hell for the rest of their pathetic lives. I was nervous about this verdict, considering juries can be known for having arrived on the short bus, but in this instance, they arrived at the right verdict in just a day and a half. Good for them and good for us. Now getting some big fish would be nice.'

HLF - HAMAS ties disclosed. IPT at CTB:
The terror support trial of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) continued this morning [August 16] with direct examination of the Legal Advisor for the Counterterrorism Division of the Israeli Security Agency (ISA), who testified under the pseudonym “Avi.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth J. Shapiro resumed her questioning by walking the jury through an extensive list of Zakat (Charity) Committees throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip that were controlled by HAMAS and received contributions from the global HAMAS charitable network - which included the Richardson, Texas-based HLF.

Posters, videos, key chains, postcards, documents, and other evidence was collected by the Israeli Defense Forces during Operation Defensive Shield in April of 2002. The operation, initiated in response to a series of terrorist attacks in March 2002 that resulted in the deaths of more than 100 Israeli civilians, revealed a cache of HAMAS propaganda stored in the offices and subsidiaries of these supposed charitable societies. “Avi” testified that the seized materials were used to glorify martyrdom and indoctrinate children. ...

Full post at the link. More here:
As the terror-support trial of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) continued today, FBI agent Lara Burns testified that a phonebook found at the home of Ismail Elbarrasse - un-indicted co-conspirator and former assistant to HAMAS leader Musa Abu Marzook - listed the names and numbers of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in the United States. On the first page of the phonebook under the title “Members of the Board of Directors” were fifteen names. Among those names are Ahmad Elkadi, Jamal Badawi, and Omar Soubani: the founding incorporators of the Muslim American Society (MAS).

This evidence confirms Counterterrorism Blog contributor Matthew Levitt’s expert testimony that MAS is the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, and is substantiated by a 2003 Chicago Tribune article that outlined the history of MAS.

CAIR isn't happy about the attention from CTB; CTB says too bad.

US to designate IRGC terrorist organization. Via CTB, again: 'The U.S. government is preparing to designate the IRGC, either as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) or under the authority of Executive Order 13224. This designation is intended in part to counteract the group’s growing involvement in a range of nefarious activities, as well as its increasing industrial and economic prowess. The U.S. government is preparing to designate the IRGC, either as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) or under the authority of Executive Order 13224. This designation is intended in part to counteract the group’s growing involvement in a range of nefarious activities, as well as its increasing industrial and economic prowess.' This also includes the Qods (Jerusalem) Force, which serves as the IRGC's link to Hezbollah. Douglas Farah has more:
While the Guard itself is heavily involved in businesses, internal repression and security, the al Quds (Jeruselem) Force is a much small cadre of senior Guard leaders who can call on special Guard units if it needs boots on the ground activities. ...

The Force seems to be the interlocutor between the Iranian military apparatus and al Qaeda, a relationship that has waxed and waned over time. Despite the strong hatred that often exists between Shi’ite and Sunni groups, they can, on occasion, work together.


Commentary. Notice how the MSM legitimizes the Yezidi bombing: 'Yazidis, a minority sect regarded by Sunni militants as infidels' (my emphasis). This serves to paint the mass murder in sectarian terms - rather than as a political act, which, as Neo argues, is what it really is.

Meanwhile, IraqPundit picks up an angle that doesn't interest the scribblers at Reuters:
Here's a piece of information you probably haven't seen. "The political values of Iraqis are increasingly secular and nationalistic, according to a series of surveys of nationally representative samples of the population from December 2004-March 2007." According to the study, "only 18 percent of those surveyed in October 2006 thought that having an Islamic government where religious authorities have absolute power is 'very good,' compared with 26 percent surveyed in December 2004."

Mansoor Moaddel, a sociologist described as "affiliated with Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research," said that, "So far, the surveys show a decline in popular support for religious government in Iraq and an increase in support for secular political rule." Note that support among Iraqis for a religious state, now declining, was never very great to begin with.

Here's the study:
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The political values of Iraqis are increasingly secular and nationalistic, according to a series of surveys of nationally representative samples of the population from December 2004-March 2007.

Findings from a July 2007 survey are expected to be released before the end of the summer.

So far, the surveys show a decline in popular support for religious government in Iraq and an increase in support for secular political rule, said sociologist Mansoor Moaddel, who is affiliated with Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR).

Go read the whole thing at the link. Money quote:
"The escalating violence in Iraq gives a bleak impression of that country's future," Moaddel said. "Sectarian conflict seems to be increasing on a daily basis, with militias massacring hundreds of Sunnis and Shi'is solely on the basis of their religious identities.

"Yet it would be a mistake to think that this bloodlust represents widespread sentiment among Iraqis as a whole. While neither American nor Iraqi security officials have yet found a way to tame the militias, the Iraqi public is increasingly drawn toward a vision of a democratic, non-sectarian government for the country."